Have Courage & Be Kind

There are tons of things that are hard about being a teacher.   The hardest, in my opinion, is seeing our students hurt.  Sometimes we can help them feel better, and sometimes there are things happening in their lives that are out of our control.  And it breaks my heart into a million little pieces.  If my students learn but one thing from me in the 180 days I have to make a difference in their valuable lives, I hope they learn this: HAVE COURAGE AND BE KIND.  Yes, more than math, writing, science, art, history, P.E. and even more than passing the end of year test.  Students are people, and people are more important than any of those things.  
We could all use a little (or a lot) more of this in our world.  You are making a difference.  Every day.  Even if it feels hopeless, you are making a difference.  Your kind words travel an extended distance.  You are enough!  You are terrific!  You are valued!  You are important.  You are appreciated.  So hang in there!  You've got this!

Drawing Expressions

I seriously L.O.V.E. algebra.  Every little thing about it!  I love teaching it, I love solving it, I just love, love, love it.  *cue Beatles music....

As a teacher I have come to realize that not all students come through my door with the same sentiment towards algebra.  Thus, I have a personal mission to make sure they leave through my door with a love (or at least some mutual respect!  Ha!)

Algebra can get a little tricky when you start to mix variables in, so I created this to help my students visualize what is going on with the distributive property and the variables.  Sometimes when they distribute, they forget about the variable and they just add or multiply the coefficients.  Those variables feel sad! 

I laminate these for student use, but the document camera gets a nasty glare when I try to project laminated things, so this one is just written right on there as an example. 

Color coding! It's a life saver.  My visual students really latch on to this, and it also helps to get the idea of terms across.  Later, when we combine like-terms, we will bring the colors back!  I also like to keep all math symbols in one color.  This also helps break up the terms, and it seems to help the math symbols & operations stick around....they tend to get lost on some problems...

I hope this little idea helps!  You can find this in my TPT store!

Winter Blues Buster

I love winter.  LOVE it!  I do not, however, love indoor recess.  I think it's safe to say that every teacher loathes the intercom announcement that no one will step outside.  My second year of teaching, we had three weeks of indoor recess.  THREE WEEKS!  I'm surprised we all made it alive to February.  Growing up my teachers would just put a video in the VCR.  The first few days I thought, "Yeah, I'll do that, too."  But after about 2 days of that, I was pretty much over it.  I needed the kids to be doing SOMETHING.  Some teachers are golden and can get their kids to just play math games all recess, but my math block is the 90 minutes before recess, and it just didn't really fly with my "tween" crowd.  So, I've collected over the years, and with the snow coming down harder by the minute as I look outside, I am prepared for that intercom.  BRING IT!

Scattergories - Best game ever.  It's a quick set up/take down and can be played for as long or short as you like.  I like to play the game as a class first, and then set the kids free because the "challenge" process can get a little brutal without some guidance.  This game has been officially banned in my family because my siblings and I can't leave the game as friends.  Ha! 
Story Cubes - One of the teachers on my team gave me this the year I taught her son.  I love this game!  I use it in my writing centers, too, but the kids like to play it without actually having to write.  They just love the elaborate stories they can come up with!  Super easy to set up and clean up.  #win

 Set - This one definitely takes practice, but it is one of those fun card games that works the mind.  This is a great way for me to sneak in mathematical thinking and critical thinking without the protest.  In fact, my class thinks it's fun. 

Scrabble SLAM! - My first year of teaching the shyest, quietest girl in my class brought this game in during a cold week and asked if I would play it with her during an indoor recess.  She beat me by a landslide.  This game is great for young and old alike!

Dollar Tree Card Games - I picked both of these games up at Christmas from Dollar Tree.  I'm sure they have stuff like this for holidays all of the time, so stop by and see what they have!  For a buck, you can't lose.

Suspend - STEM practice in a cylinder.  Y'all, this game is a blast.  I play it with my husband and brother-in-law, and we all love it!  Be prepared for cheers and gasps throughout the game play, so if you're looking for silence, I wouldn't bring this guy out.  :)

Dominoes - These are "mini" dominoes that I bought at Dollar Tree a few years back.  I bought about 10 sets for math, but they are a popular choice during indoor recess. 

Appletters - From the company of Banana Grams (quick confession, every time I spell "banana" I have to sing Gwen Stefani....maybe she should make more spelling songs for easily misspelled words because I am yet to get that one wrong!) comes this game!  It's pretty much the same.  Only it's in the shape of an Apple.  Ha!  Scrabble works, too, but I like that these are the size of my hand vs. a whole box and Scrabble requires a longer time commitment. 
What do you do when you're trapped inside all day?