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Friday, October 18, 2013

Minion Bookmarks

What did we do before Pinterest?  I'm not sure, but I'm guessing we [teachers] re-invented the wheel more than once.  While perusing Pinterest one day, I happened upon monster bookmarks.  Being slightly obsessed with minions, I decided to turn those monsters into minions.

These bookmarks have a base square of 2" by 2".  I used yellow card stock for the base, then had the students glue a blue 2"x 2" square on top of the yellow to make the overalls.  White card stock was used for the teeth [glued between the two triangles that are folded over] and the goggle.  Black marker and colored pencils were used to polish off the details.

Coming Soon:  A step-by-step guide in pictures!

Minions by the Season

I may have a slightly unhealthy obsession with minions.  I can't help it.  They are just so darn cute!  In an earlier post, I had a picture displaying my classroom door converted into a minion for the year.  That has been just the start!  Each month, I have been plotting his accessories.  Here is the first round of updating his accessories:

To add to the fun, each of the students has a minion on their locker with their name.  I had an extra minion, and made one for outside my classroom door.  I didn't want to leave him out of the Halloween fun, so using an overhead marker (he's been laminated), I added a mustache, goatee  and the right side of the cape.  The larger part of the cape is black card stock.

Happy Halloween!!

Interactive Math Journals: Absolute Value

Absolute Value:  My Algebra students were getting ready to solve equations containing absolute value.  To make an interactive example, we came up with the sliding example.  We first defined 'absolute value' using the Frayer Model.  For the interactive notes, I had the students cut two identical strips for the absolute value portion and what it would equal.  We wrote in numerical, variable, and expression examples.  [8/-8, x/-x, 5-8/8-5] We used the opposite of each example to show that regardless of having a positive or negative solution within the absolute value bars, the solution would always be positive.

To further tie into the Algebraic application, I had the students write down an example of solving an equation using absolute value.  I emphasized having two possible scenarios for our solution and related it back to what absolute value meant.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Interactive Math Journals: Number Properties

Number Properties:  The four properties we focused on were Identity Property, Commutative Property, Associative Property, and Distributive Property.  Since we use both the addition and multiplication properties, we used a sticky note to label the property and then folded it up to write a numerical example, an algebraic example, and a definition for both addition and multiplication.  

To assist students in remember the difference, we talked about what each of the words mean.  I asked for examples of what an identity was.  We talked about being able to look in a mirror and see ourselves, exactly as we are.  We related this to adding with zero and multiplying with one - the number doesn't change who it is. 

For the Commutative Property, we discussed what the word 'commute' means.  We looked up the definition in the dictionary and discovered that it meant to travel regularly back and forth.  I gave the example of driving my car back and forth to work daily.  

For the Associative Property, we discussed the word 'associate'.  We again used the dictionary to find the definition of the word.  It means to group together.  I gave them examples of a team grouping together, or joining up with different groups of friends.

Finally, for the Distributive Property, we discussed the word 'distribute'.  We looked up the word in the dictionary and discovered that it means to hand something out.  I gave them examples of handing papers out, or 'distributing' papers.  

To tie these examples into our properties, students found pictures of a mirror, a car, a team, and a hand, handing something out, to add to our journals.
[Math Properties]
[Underneath the sticky notes]

Interactive Math Journals: Number Forms

Number Forms:  Nebraska standards stress standard, expanded, and word (written) form for numbers.  To help students differentiate these forms, we used sticky notes to write each form out.

To help understand expanded form, we cut 3 sticky notes into 1" vertical strips [make sure there's sticky on the ends].  Stick them down with the sticky on the right.  Write the value of each number on each strip, lining them up so the digit shows, but the zeros are hidden.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Interactive Math Journals: Introduction

I have thrown myself into several brand new projects this year in class.  One of them is my interactive math journals.  I have to give a huge shout-out to for all of the excellent ideas!  I purchased her guide from and am using it as a guide and inspiration as I dive head first into this project.  

Since I teach grades 3rd-7th Math and Algebra, I will post the journals by topic rather than grade.  

Following format for journals, I use the left side/right side method for the journals.  The left side is always student thinking and reflection.  The right side is completed in class and is always my words.

To start the journals, I had students create a table of contents.  This is where the title of each entry is listed, along with the page it appears on.  

Each entry is then given the same title on the top of the page that is found in the table of contents.  I then have students write down a learning goal.  On the right side, the learning goal is in my words (I tend to use the objective from their book or from their standards.)  On the left side, they have to put the learning goal in their own words.  After they have their learning goal written, they then have to write down what they already know about that topic.  

We then complete the concept on the right side of the page.  After we complete the concept and have worked with the concept in class, I direct them back to their journals to complete the left side of the page.  They then have to complete 'What I Learned,' 'Proof' [a problem and its solution w/ and explanation], and a 'Reflection' [which can be virtually anything as long as it reflects their learning].

To grade the journals, I am using a rubric written by from her Interactive Math Journals Guide that I purchased from

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Minion Madness Continues ...

As much as I am trying to desperately keep up with this thing called blogging, it appears that I am currently failing miserably.  We just started week three of the school year and I am still scrabbling to get things accomplished!  I wanted to post a few more pictures of the Minion Madness that is continuing in and around my classroom.  I Googled a few Minions, blew them up and printed them to make locker signs for my 4th graders.  I had them cut their minion of choice out & glue it on card-stock.  I then laminated the minions & wrote each students name on them.  For a couple of our bulletin boards, I cut out the phrase "CPS Patriots are One in a Minion" and "Minion Mischief."  On the first said bulletin board, we have first-day-of-school snapshots posted.  For the latter bulletin board, I am creating a school wide seek-and-find for a minion.  I'm planning on taking the minion's picture in various spots around the school & having students guess where he is.  More posts on that down the road.  

Locker Signs

"One in a Minion"

"Minion Mischief"

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Minion Madness has begun!

One week down! A lot more to go!  Each year I use different avatar's to create an interactive lunch count.  I have used Mii's, M&M's, & Clay figures.  This year, with 10 boys in the room, I decided to use the minions from Despicable Me.  The minions are a BIG hit and the ideas keep pouring in! [Thank YOU Pinterest!] I wanted to share our lunch count (created using & SmartBoard Notebook software) and my door that I used my artsy side to create! 

Mii's were created using:
M&M avatars are no longer available :(
Clay figures are also no longer available :(

Minion Lunch Count

Classroom Door

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

First post ... Oh, boy; here we go!

Starting my 5th year at CPS, I am excited to plunge into the year with brand new books!  Yay!  However, with new books, comes new learning.  Eek!  I'm am treading water pretty rapidly in order to stay afloat as we take off on this journey called the school year.  I'm not going to lie - I'm pretty overwhelmed with it all!

To accompany my learn-the-new-text-books-and-everything-that-goes-with-them anxiety; I'm also introducing and implementing for the first time, interactive math journals!  Started the Algebra and 7th grade journals this week - pictures to come!

So much to do and so little time!  I need two weeks of pre-service days rather than 3; to get me ready for the year!  Argh!  Let the roller coaster ride begin ...