My Favorite Websites for Math Teachers

26 October 2015

My Favorite Websites for Math Teachers  mrseteachesmath.blogspot.com

There are several websites that I used ALL THE TIME when I was teaching.  I thought I’d share them with you!  In no particular order…
  • Wolfram Alpha - This website is essentially an academic google.  You can search all kinds of stuff and it will give you an encyclopedic type answer.  However, it is made by the same company as Mathematica.  It will do all kinds of math computations for you without you having to code anything.  It has greatly contributed to my laziness while making keys for homework and tests :)  You can type in things like you would in Google and get answers.  Check out the beauty below.
My Favorite Websites for Math Teachers  mrseteachesmath.blogspot.com
  • Youtube - Youtube is great for finding video clips to enhance lessons.  I have written about videos for teaching slope.  Lots of teachers have also posted videos of themselves teaching lessons.  This could be a great alternative if you need to be out sick, but still teach content.  It’s always nice to have options!
  • Pinterest - I don’t think Pinterest is new to anyone, but it’s still a great place to get ideas.  I often use the search function like google to search for topics or keywords for lessons.  I have a Pinterest board for each high school math course and lots of boards for other school related things too.
My Favorite Websites for Math Teachers  mrseteachesmath.blogspot.com
  • Teachers pay Teachers - I talk about Teachers pay Teachers quite a bit, but it really has been so helpful for me.  There have been several times that I’ve been in a bind and needed something quickly.  TpT has always come through for me.  It’s nice to get the free resources, but if you’re willing to pay, you’ll get very high quality resources.  You can find my store here.
  • Graph Free - This is my favorite online grapher.  I like the Geometer’s Sketchpad software, but it has limitations.  My favorite part about Graph Free is that it is so easy to plot piecewise functions.  You can change the “Plot Function” from Function to Piecewise.  The “Grid Type” can also be changed for trig graphs.  There are video demonstrations if you want a tutorial as well. 
My Favorite Websites for Math Teachers  mrseteachesmath.blogspot.com


My Favorite Websites for Math Teachers  mrseteachesmath.blogspot.com
  • Kahoot - Kahoot is a website that lets you make quizzes for your students to play in class.  It ends up being a fun game.  I wrote about creating a Kahoot and explained how it works here.

While there are tons of great websites out there for math teachers, these are my favorites!

What website could you not do without?
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Triangle Congruence Interactive Notebook Page

22 October 2015

My geometry students always seem to fall within two categories: they love triangle congruence (because they think it's easy) or they hate triangle congruence.  There seems to be no middle ground.  My students that hate triangle congruence seem to have the biggest problem remembering the theorems.  The letters of the shortcuts just seem to swim in their heads.  So, I created this foldable to help them sort it out.

Triangle Congruence Interactive Notebook Page - idea for geometry  |  mrseteachesmath.blogspot.com

All of the triangle congruence shortcuts are listed, including the "false shortcuts" that students seem to fall for.

Triangle Congruence Interactive Notebook Page - idea for geometry  |  mrseteachesmath.blogspot.com

Inside each of the tabs is an example and the theorem written in words.  I always like to include theorems written in words so students can become more comfortable with math language.  You can find the foldable here.

Triangle Congruence Foldable - for geometry interactive notebook  |  mrseteachesmath.blogspot.com

Triangle Congruence Foldable - for geometry interactive notebook  |  mrseteachesmath.blogspot.com

Every year, my students ALWAYS seem to use SSA as a shortcut.  I try to ham it up and make a big deal out of not using it.  I say "Ahhh! We don't use bad words in math class - forward or backward!" and "There are no donkeys in here!".  I try to go over the top with acting so that my students will remember.  I like to show this video to help students visualize why it doesn't work.

What is your favorite activity when teaching triangle congruence?

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Two-Step Equations Interactive Notebook Page

19 October 2015

I’ve seen elementary school teachers use paint samples in interactive notebooks, and I knew I could think of a place to use them for older kids.  I’ve seen something like this before, but I couldn’t find where to link it :)

I used a four color paint sample to illustrate solving two-step equations.  Here is the completed page:

Solving Two-Step Equations Interactive Notebook Page Idea - for algebra in middle school or high school  | http://mrseteachesmath.blogspot.com/

I used the first color to write the equation.  The next color shows the add/subtract step.  The third color shows the multiply/divide step.  The last color shows substituting in the solution to check the answer.  I think it is very important to have students check their answers, to make sure they are correct.  Off to the side, the steps are explained.  Students could write whatever they needed to in order to remember what to do next.  

Solving Two-Step Equations Interactive Notebook Page Idea - for algebra in middle school or high school  | http://mrseteachesmath.blogspot.com/

At the bottom of the page, I have two practice problems.  Since the steps are listed above, it is a good place for students to do their first independent practice.

Solving Two-Step Equations Interactive Notebook Page Idea - for algebra in middle school or high school  | http://mrseteachesmath.blogspot.com/


If you’re teaching two-step equations, I hope this helps give you ideas!

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I've Been Busy!

10 October 2015

You may or may not have noticed that I've been laying low for a little bit.  I had a baby last month!  The past month has been a blur and it's gone by so fast!

This is the little guy that I've been busy with :)
I'll be around, but this little guy is my first priority.  I think he sure is cute!


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Classroom Management Tips

04 October 2015

Today, I wanted to share with you some classroom management tips that I’ve learned over the years and some tips that friends have shared with me.  It’s not fun to learn lessons the hard way, so hopefully this will help you solve any problems you’ve been having or will help you prevent future problems.

Many of these tips aren’t groundbreaking, but it’s helpful to have a reminder of what we should be doing.  Keep in mind that not everything works for everyone.  A perfect solution for one teacher may not work at all for another teacher.  The most important thing with any classroom management technique is to be fair and consistent.

Classroom Management Tips for Middle School and High School Teachers


Classroom Management Tips

Everything you do must have a routine or procedure.  If you don’t tell students a particular way to do something, they will likely invent their own way (and you might not like it!).
Mrs. E Teaches Math

Establish your rules, expectations, and procedures on the VERY FIRST DAY! If you want your students to line up outside your classroom prior to entering your room, students need to know this right from the get-go! If you plan to collect homework as they enter, they need to know to have this out and ready. Your students also need to have a clear understanding of how discipline issues, not completing assignments/homework, will be handled. After 3 missed assignments, will you give them lunch detention, call their parents, etc? The most important piece of advice I would give is to make sure students know this right off the bat. The first week of school, go over your rules/expectations/routines repeatedly each day.

Using a classroom behavior chart is common in elementary classrooms but my middle school students liked it, too. One year I started using one and in the beginning, they weren't too keen on it. but he following year, when I had the same students again, they all asked for it! So even a technique that is associated more with little kids can definitely work with older students as well.
Also, because not all the families of my students had Internet access at home, I created a form to let parents and guardians know how their children did during the week. It has space for providing info about behavior, homework, work done in class, and participation. There are English and Spanish versions. I sent it home on Friday and students had to get it signed and return it the following Monday. A few times when I didn't send the form home--because we had a short week--a couple parents who did have Internet access emailed and asked me where the form was! This is the product I created.

Warmups (I call it bellwork) work very well for me.  Once the routine is established, I don’t have to get the class settled down or anything at the beginning of class.  It helps me get organized and prepare for class to start.  You can read a whole post about how Bellwork Keeps Me Sane.
Mrs. E Teaches Math

Be organized
Be prepared
Don't take the odd comment / remark too seriously.
Have a good sense of humor. 
Breath in... breath out... count to a 100... 

I put a timer on my front board (smartboard), so students know exactly how long they have left for their activity.
Use warm ups!
I (usually) have my students remain in a seat (doesn't have to be their seat) until the bell if we finish early.

Incorporate acceptable movement into your lessons.  Students could stomp their feet if they agree with an answer, hold up a card to answer, use thumbs up and thumbs down, move to stations, whatever.  Students are given an acceptable outlet to fidget to move or get energy out and you are still able to teach the lesson.
Mrs. E Teaches Math

Talk softer when students get louder...or stop talking all together. Wait, wait for the silence. Don't let students think it's okay to talk while you're talking.

I build all the classroom rules with students -- and I teach tone so that students can relate good tone to their own brainpower - and to their own success in my classes. They love to monitor their own tone and I created a product so they keep track (of what becomes their participation grades). 

I like to interrupt myself when students start talking.  It works best if I raise my volume a tiny bit and then stop in the middle of a word.  Whenever another student begins to talk again, I interrupt myself again.  Except for interrupting myself, I have no other reaction to what’s going on.  If this continues more than twice, it starts to really annoy the rest of the class.  I’ve found that their classmates will ask the talkers to be quiet.  Success!
Mrs. E Teaches Math

Allow the students to move around and/or sit on the floor. They get to be more comfortable, and it helps their brains focus.

Be fair and consistent
Don't cave to whining--if it works, the whining continues
Use a no-hands policy to keep everyone engaged
If your students present you with a good argument for something (switching a due date, doing an assignment differently), listen and consider. They will respect you more if they know you listen.
Be yourself--they will respect you more if you're real

This year when my students came in on the board it had what they needed for the day. They would take out what they need and then put their backpacks and everything else in the back of the room. This cut down on students putting their stuff away with three or more minutes left of class and students being on their phones trying to hide it. 
I also greet each student with a handshake at the door. It helps welcome the students and sets the tone for the class.
For lab days or group work each student is assigned a role and has a job to do. This helps make everyone accountable for the group task. 

Know your personality and teaching style and use that to make a seating chart.  It took me a few months to realize that rows just don’t work for me.  Students wasted time finding partner to work with and I felt like students had too many opportunities to visit.  I finally figured out that I work well when students are in partners.  If kids are going to talk, it’s really only convenient to talk to their partner and they don’t have to move around the room as much.  Also, it totally eliminated the “Can you go back?  I didn’t write that down.” because they could just look at their partner’s work next to them.
Mrs. E Teaches Math

Speak in very clear, direct commands.  “Put your notebook under your desk.” leaves no room for questions.  Students know exactly what they should do, where to put it, and when to do it (now).  Leave no room for ambiguity in your speech.  For some people, this takes a lot of practice.
Mrs. E Teaches Math

Zip tie a pencil pouch with everything students will need (eraser, glue stick, MECHANICAL pencil, scissors, etc.) for your class to the back of each chair in your room. I say mechanical pencil because those never need to be sharpened and students won't need to leave their seats in order to complete assignments! 
In order for the above tip to work, you need to spend the first couple weeks of school checking pencil pouches right before the end of class to make sure students have put all your supplies away. This sets the tone that they are responsible for the items in their pencil pouch.

1) Follow through with all your rules and expectations!
2) Don't let them think your nervous 

The key is organization, the more complete the better.
For the teacher:
-Know your standards, objectives, and goals both for the day, week, semester and year and plan accordingly. Have at least plans for next week’s lessons ready to go before you leave on Friday afternoon. That includes all the handouts printed for each day.
-Smooth, quick transitions between activities. All papers, books, material set up and ready to use for each period before the start of school. That includes the agenda on the board for each class.
-A specific seating chart, with attendance taken as soon as the bell rings. Late students lose points on their attendance grade.
-A specific due date, late penalties, and a cut-off date for each assignment
-All assignments and tests graded and returned in a timely manner.
-All grades ready to be printed out at a moment’s notice. (Electronic grading books are wonderful.)
-Class sets of books kept in a specific easy to reach location. Students trained to handout and gather books up at the start and end of a lesson.
-Keeping the classroom clean and neat. (Cupboards and shelves are orderly and not jumbled messes.) The floor, chalk /white boards and desks are kept clean. Gum, crumbs, graffiti, and sticky surfaces are not to be tolerated.
For the students:
-A complete heading on each paper, in a specific location.
-Students trained to clean up the class before the bell rings for dismissal.
-Students trained to be ready to start class when the first bell rings. (Pencils out, agenda written down, homework ready to be turned in, books and papers for the lesson on the desk.)
-Students are responsible and held accountable for arriving on time, being respectful, and completing their assignments.


Do you have your own classroom management tip?  Share in the comments!

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