## Properties of Quadrilaterals Interactive Notebook Page

I love teaching quadrilaterals because there are so many fun activities to do!  Once my students have learned all of the properties of quadrilaterals (a few lessons over several days), I like to have a lesson where they “put it all together”.  I tell the story of the quadrilateral family tree, and have students make their own study guides to help them organize all of the properties in their minds.  This interactive notebook page and activity would be a prefect way to wrap up that lesson!

First, this is the page that would be good to use during the lesson.  I color-coded the different blocks to help students see the differences between the categories.  This half page was a free product from Math to the Core.

Here are some close-ups:

Then, on the facing page, students can complete an always-sometimes-never activity.

I have the cards in my Teachers pay Teachers store.  Instead of using them as a matching activity, they can be glued into an interactive notebook as a student-output activity.

## Teachers Share: Lessons that Bombed... and How to Fix Them

We all have lessons that just don't work out.  Sometimes we expect too much, sometimes or materials don't work, and sometimes we just have an off day.  There are tons of reasons a lesson can "bomb".  I asked around and lots of teachers shared a lesson of theirs that was less than stellar, and how they fixed it.
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The first year with a new curriculum we were to assign 3rd graders a 7 week research project of how technology in various areas have improved human need. We struggled and turned to TpT to find graphic organizers and planning pages. We ended up taking 9 weeks instead of 7 and consolidated the topics the next year.

The first time I taught Geometry proofs, I followed the textbook to introduce the concept of two-column proofs. It included a few Algebra proofs, but they were the typical Algebra proofs in which you just solve an equation and justify each step. My students really struggled when we got into the Geometry proofs. The first Geometry proof lesson was really rough. The kids complained that it made no sense at all. I realized that the main source of their confusion was the Transitive Property and Substitution. I actually went back and re-did the entire introduction to proofs and created a whole new breed of Algebra proof to break this process into bite-sized pieces. The kids got comfortable with manipulating and combining the steps within their proofs BEFORE having to work with a diagram or new Geometry concepts. It made a huge difference, and I was then able to perfect my proof unit for the next class. Now, this is my favorite lesson to teach. Read more about it here.

For one of my teacher evaluations I had an exciting lab planned. I found a bunch of elodea (an aquatic fish tank plant) on ebay at a much cheaper price than the local pet stores. Score! So I ordered a bunch of it, and it came in the mail the day before my evaluation. I live in Phoenix, where the inside of a metal mailbox can reach temperatures of... well lets just say really stinking hot! As I walked to the mailbox after school, I could smell a rotten fishy smell from 50 feet away. I was near tears as I opened my rotten package. After scrambling to 3 pet stores that evening, I luckily found enough to make it through my evaluation the next day. Lesson learned- don't order things on ebay when it comes to teacher evaluations!

My first year teaching, I had the hilarious experience of once trying to teach the same lesson plan to a class for a second day in a row. I had four sections criss-crossing across the weekly schedule and just got mixed up. I had been teaching it for about 10 minutes when one of my students said, "Um? I think we did this yesterday? I mean, we liked it..." It was the first time I ever had to make up a lesson plan on my feet, and it was actually pretty freeing. Once I realized I could make up 40 minutes of activities from scratch with all my students watching, I felt less stressed about having everything prepared down to the second.

I had a scheduled observation coming up and decided to teach a lesson using the SmartBoard I had recently received for my classroom. Using a SmartBoard was new for me and I wanted to get feedback on how I was doing with it so I taught a lesson that was completely new. I had a pretty good relationship with my supervisor so I wasn't afraid of taking the risk during an observation whose purpose was to evaluate my teaching ability. Well, that might not have been the smartest thing to do! While not a complete disaster, the lesson did not go well at all. It was a fifth grade ESL Social Studies class and I was trying to teach about Native American cultures and regions. About halfway through the period, it was becoming increasingly clear that the kids did not understand what was going on. Nevertheless, I kept going.
The post-observation conference was actually very helpful. She gave me several suggestions not only for how I could have better designed the lesson to begin with but also how I could have salvaged it once I realized it wasn't going well. She also gave me some recommendations for future lessons. For my lesson with that class the next day, I completely redid my lesson plan and instead retaught the concepts the kids were confused about. When my supervisor came to observe me the next time, I made sure I incorporated her recommendations into my lesson. Her write-up of that observation indicated her satisfaction about that and the feedback was much more complimentary.
What I also learned was that if a lesson isn't going well, even if someone is observing you and is expecting to see something in particular (because it was discussed in advance), don't be afraid to change course partway through the lesson. It's better to stop and regroup than to mindlessly continue doing something that isn't helping students learn. The purpose of a lesson is to provide instruction in a comprehensible way and if that's not happening for the students, then it's better to change what you're doing. If you sense that something isn't going well, don't wait for someone else to confirm that! Go with your instinct--teachers have to make decisions on the fly all the time and even if it's during an observation by your supervisor, don't be afraid to make a decision during that time, either.
This product can help teachers figure out how they feel about various aspects of teaching, including professional development.

In my first year (Back before Pinterest, TpT, and common core), I had an objective about text features. There was no exemplars of what the text features were or suggestions of how to teach the lesson. The lesson itself was a failure because I wasn't clear on the objectives or the methods that would have my students understand the features. Even worse, it was the day my principal and a consultant chose to observe me. Afterwards, my principal and I came up with a plan to help me improve my lesson planning. I think it was a huge growth moment because I needed help and I had to humble myself to get the help I needed to develop myself as a teacher. It was a tough but very necessary lesson.

Every year when I try to teach inverse functions in Algebra 2 and Precalculus, it doesn't resonate with students what inverses are, how they look on a graph, how to find an inverse given a function, or what happens when they are composed. The only thing I can get them to remember is that the domain and range switch. I've even tried breaking the lesson up into two days, but the results are the same....they look at me like I just taught them math in a foreign language and honestly, sometimes I feel like I have because I know I haven't found a good way to teach it.
This year I tried something completely different by having them do a discovery lesson on inverses that they could work on with a partner. I was very nervous to try this method with such a difficult topic, but I thought what the heck, I'm going for it. I was pleasantly surprised how well they did with it, and they rocked the quiz that was given a few days later. I even had one student come in "bragging" that she taught two other students how to do inverses. What?!?! A student is doing the teaching.....I couldn't ask for anything more. I find so much value in students effectively communicating math with each other. The students were definitely overwhelmed at first, but the end result showed they learned the material with minimal help from me and were able to prove they retained the information. I'm sure there are many more great methods, but I'm just happy I found one that finally worked well for my students.

This isn't so much as a bomb as a failure to get kids to listen.  I was getting really tired of having to reteach lessons on paragraph structure, embedding and citing quotations, etc.  My students were given lessons and handouts but they would never dig through their binders to find them. So I created my English Student's Guidebook, an easy to use flip book that they can use as a quick reference.

A new principal, who wasn't familiar with me or my teaching, did an unannounced observation. Unfortunately, it was one of those days where everyone was working independently on a worksheet. There was no cooperative groups or differentiation that could be seen...and we know how they LOVE both of these! Fortunately, I had a planned observation coming up, so I decided to create task cards on a variety of different objectives and assigned students to groups based on the area that they needed to work on (one group worked on point of view, one group did Common Core Vocab, and another did text structure). Of course, it could be set up any way the teacher felt worked best, but for observation purposes, this is how I did it that day. Although they're called "End of Year Test Prep Task Cards," they could be used at any point.

I was teaching factoring quadratics. I thought I would make it kinesthetic with number and variable cards. Previously, my students had used similar cards to factor. The lesson had gone great, so I thought I would use the same principles. Unfortunately, it was a disaster! The students could factor the different parts of the quadratic, but making the connection to the next steps were just not there. There was a lot of frustration on my students' part and mine. I don't know why I hadn't seen it. So, we scrapped it (fortunately it was just one center) and used other centers that day. The next day, I tried again with a completely different method I had seen using boxes, and it really clicked. While the second lesson wasn't as kinesthetic as the first one, the students still learned the concept and were actively engaged. Bad lessons happen, and sometimes I just can't foresee them. Still, it's what you learn out of it that makes you a better teacher.

I was teaching a brand new speech class. The school was unhappy with the old curriculum and told me to, "make it better."  One class I was setting up my Crowdrise project.  I was REALLY excited. It was going to involve infographics, presentations, videos, and more! Students would be making a difference in the REAL WORLD, not just my classroom. However, once we started I realized that students had no clue how to take into account audience. Once I realized that I divided the project up in a very chunky manner. They finished the first infographic and then we switched to a different project.  I put the first one on hold and we spent about two weeks just focusing on an Audience Project (The Shirt Day Project).  Once that project finished, their grasp of speaking to different audiences had MASSIVELY improved, and they were ready to go to the project we put on pause. I don't ever think there's a problem with pausing a project or book to work on something else if you realize your students need more help in that area.

Did you ever have a lesson that totally fell flat?

## Compound Interest Interactive Notebook Page

In Algebra 2, I loved teaching about compound interest.  I didn’t have to try as hard to keep my student’s interest, because we were talking about money!

Here is an example for an interactive notebook page.  The foldable is by The Math Nerdette.  You can find it for FREE on Teachers pay Teachers.

Under the left flap, I wrote what each of the variables represents.

Under the right flap, I wrote about the different ways things can be compounded.

At the bottom of the foldable, I wrote out an example.  Since it is blank, you can choose how easy or hard you want the example to be.  You could even change the example based on the level of each class period you have.  I also wrote the formula for continuous compounding.  I teach this formula at the same time, but I notice that students don’t need as much practice with this one.

Then, at the bottom of the page, I glued in a typed out example.  This can help save time in class.  You can download the file for the example here.  I like using a comparison problem for an example, because it gives students practice with both formulas.  I like to put a question like this on my test :)

## What Can a Teacher Do to be a Good Mentor?

When I first started teaching, I had a great mentor teacher.  She would quietly listen to me vent, give helpful ideas, and share good news.  We were teaching the same prep and she gave me TONS of materials labeled by unit.  My first year would have been much rockier if it wasn’t for her.

Then, a few years later, I was given the opportunity to be a mentor for another new teacher.  I tried to emulate everything my mentor did for me, in order to make her year smoother.  After reflecting back over this experience, I asked other teachers for qualities that make a good mentor.  You don’t even have to “officially” be a mentor to a new teacher; it is important that we help each other out when we can.

What can a teacher do to be a good mentor?

Don't bombard them with "stuff"!  I know we all want to share, but the last thing a new teacher needs is piles of stuff to go through (no matter how wonderful it is) when they're already overloaded.  Instead, ask them specific meaningful questions: "How are you planning on introducing this novel?" Or "Do you have a plan for comparing fossil fuels and alternative fuel sources?"  Then you can share specific lessons, ideas, or activities that they can use right away.

The best thing my department chair did for me during my first year was invite me to have lunch with her and then listen to my stories.  I would bring scones, she would make fruit salad, and she would say nice things about what I was doing.  She never tried to tell me what to do or made me feel badly about a problem, she just listened and supported me.  I have had far more critical and judgmental department chairs since then, and I think she helped me the most to want to improve and to work hard.

A mentor teacher needs to be available to their mentee: set a regular catching up time every week or two. This is important because often times in the busy of the school year, teachers get into their own groove.
Mentor teachers need to ask frequently: How are you doing? What do you need? The first question is important because teaching is an emotional job, and the new teacher needs to know that you are there. The second questions is framed, so the new teacher has an opening for whatever it is he or she needs as opposed to responding to Do you need anything? which results in a no.

A teacher needs to be supportive of new teachers and help them with ideas but also open to the ideas of the new teacher. I found it very helpful to do a co-plan/co-teach because seeing how it is done is better than just being told.

Listen! They need to be able to work through their issues as a new teacher without being told what to do. Of course, we vets should be there to guide and advise but just as with our students, new teachers will come to their own solutions if we give them a chance to talk it out.

* Be patient. It is so hard to come in as a newbie especially when everyone else is settled, has their classes up and running, knows everybody else etc. It can be so daunting! Do not expect them to walk in, amaze everyone first day then go home.
* Be social. Ask questions, chat with them, find out information about them, a flowing conversation can quickly lead to a friendship!
* Introductions and Tour. Introduce them to others around the School, point out different areas of the School - where are resources stored?!?!?! A vital piece of information that everyone needs to know yet people may not realize to pass this information on.
* Push not Pushy. Over the course of a School year you will be able to find out so much about the new teacher; what makes them tick, strengths, weakness, what they need to work on yet what areas they could teachers others on! I believe in pushing people out of their comfort zone to achieve something, but don't become over pushy. Push them to achieve the best that they can - don't push them over the edge!
* Supportive. EVERYONE has a bad day. You are not working in a proper classroom if you've never had a bad day. It happens to us all, it could be something from your personal life, classroom etc. Be sure to support them, this could be just listening to them rant, chatting with them or a general coffee chat.
* Role Model. Make sure you practice what you preach. It is all well and good telling newbie Sally that she HAS to teach phonics everyday yet you teach it once a month... that she HAS to have reports done by Friday, yet you won't do yours for another 3 weeks... fair is fair, be sure to be consistent and show that you are a good role model. This may even mean inviting the newbie to observe one of your lessons so they can get ideas!!
* Pairs. Noah wasn't stupid, he put 2 of every animal on that Ark for a reason. 2 heads are better than one (of course he also needed 2 to breed but never mind let's skip that part) 2 minds, 2 times the ideas do you get me? Alone you can make great lessons, but together? Magic happens.

To be a good mentor to new teachers I think you need to be incredibly understanding that they won't know everything and have a lot to learn. So it is best to help them by first focusing on the core skills of a teacher e.g. teaching major curriculum areas, assessment etc before worrying about the details e.g. how they get their students to lay out their books.

A good mentor can help a new teacher with zero judgement. Ask a lot of questions to understand why a new teacher made a specific choice. Once you understand the teacher's thinking, then it will be easier to offer helpful advice. This will help the new teacher feel valued and make him or her more receptive to feedback.
Also, invite the new teacher to visit your classroom while you are teaching. We can all learn so much by watching someone else, but a new teacher may be too shy to ask. Invite them and then make it easy for them to come by scheduling a time that works for them or helping to get their class covered.

Go to them and explain things like bus dismissal, Halloween parties, etc. these are often things that are very stressful to new teachers and are different from building to building. I remember being in tears the first day of school over bus dismissal, my mentor teachers (who were AWESOME by the way) felt so bad! Long story, but don't assume they know! Make sure they do!

Be available without smothering the new teacher! It's important that the mentee is aware of the key points that they need to know. Since there is SO much information, I think it's a good idea for the mentor to just go over all the things that has to be done for the first week of school (getting classroom set up, show how to take attendance, setting classroom expectations/rules, establishing routines, etc). This way, they (hopefully) aren't too overwhelmed.

Two things: Listen, and help new teachers find answers themselves. Whether they are new to teaching or just new to a particular school district, new teachers have tons of questions and they are often nervous about asking them because they don't want to make a bad impression. By just calmly listening to their concerns and answering their questions as best they can, mentors (official or otherwise) can allay new teachers' uncertainty and help them focus on providing the best classroom instruction possible. I was a CIA coach (curriculum, instruction, and assessment coach) for new ESL teachers in my district for a couple years and the best thing I did, I think, was to have an open door policy: Whenever the new teachers came to my room to talk to me, they could do so right away. I didn't schedule an appointment for some future time--I stopped whatever I was doing and gave my full attention to them. I listened carefully to what they were saying and did my best to help them figure out solutions themselves to problems or issues. And if I didn't know the answer, I was honest and told them so, and said I'd try to find out and would get back to them.

I just finished my first year teaching and the best thing my mentor teachers did for me was stop by my classroom before (and sometimes after) school to see how I was doing or if I needed anything.  The constant support was AMAZING and I'm so thankful for their kindness.

Within the first 5 years of teaching, I had taught at 4 different schools in 3 different states (Explanation: Husband’s job). Each new school system required new teacher orientation. Mentors were often assigned. Advice on how to teach abounded. Frankly though, I struggled most with connecting to the pre-existing community of teachers. To many my name was simply “The New Teacher.” At the secondary level, often we teach in isolation. If you want to be a good mentor to a new teacher, find out where he or she eats lunch. Is it alone in the classroom under the pretense of so-much-work-to-get-done? I’ve been at my current school for 7 years (Hallelujah!). It wasn’t until the end of the 3rd year that I felt comfortable and welcomed in the teacher’s lounge at lunch. Fast forwarding to the present day, a new friend/new teacher often has said, “I feel like I’m bothering everyone with my questions.” For me, a sense of belonging made seeking out help for areas of most concern relatively painless.

I think the best thing veteran teachers can do for new teachers is to reach out to them and foster collaborative relationships. Teaching is such an isolated profession. Many new teachers are very overwhelmed (I'm not new to the field and all of the changes and ambiguity around Common Core have me overwhelmed). It is always nice to have someone lend a helping hand, a smiling face, or just an ear to bend during those first few trying years.
Kristie Martinez

For me I would have to say to take them under your wing, give them as much advice as you can to what worked for you and want didn't, and listen to them. Don't act like your their boss, be a friend!

New high school teachers can be a little nervous...so give them lots of love. Sandwich your constructive criticism between nuggets of praise. The most successful thing I've found is to role-play. Having trouble making that parent phone call Role-play...I'll be the parent. Having trouble making that student behave? Role-play...I'll be that student. And encourage new teachers to observe other teachers, so they can find their own personal style.

New teachers are often isolated because they are not part of the established group, they need to be consciously included. So it is important to be available to help and answer their questions. Each school site has its own rituals and routines. It really helps to point out where to get supplies, find the nearest bathroom, invite the new college to lunch or coffee (especially when everybody gathers in various rooms, because there is no faculty lunch room.), etc.…
One of the things I do is to give new teachers a heads-up on important events: Back to School Night, 5 and 10 week report cards, special bell schedules. Because I’ve been at the school several years, I know to plan these events into my teaching calendar, but for a new teacher they tend to be off their radars and come as a surprise. Then grading for tests, papers, and projects are crammed into marathon sessions to meet the report card deadlines. Not nice. Not fun. And way too much stress.

Do you have any other ways teachers can be a good mentor to new teachers?  Please share!