Wednesday, May 28, 2014

That kid... all have that kid.  You know, the one who grates on every nerve in your body.  The one that somehow knows every button to press.  The one that seems to invent new ways to get in trouble and is always being clever at circumventing your attempts to get him to actually do his work.  Or is it just me?  :)

Today I was surprised by a visit from that kid from my first year of teaching.  I still remember writing a referral which included the term, "musical nose blowing."  Yes, indeed.  There were other antics, but that moment stood out in particular. 

This student is now in college.  He came in to visit today and told me he's had a successful year with good grades and is looking to transfer to a school closer to home.  He's studying a math and science heavy major and doing well.  Yay! 

Of all the kids to come back, visit unexpectedly, and give me a big hug, I couldn't have been more surprised that it was this student.  And a good surprise it was! 

Tomorrow, I get to go see a great group of students graduate from high school.  I haven't seen most of them since they left 8th grade, but I'm excited to get to watch them graduate to the next chapter!

Mathematically yours,
Miss B

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Interactive Notebook Supplies

Next month, I'll be presenting my use of interactive notebooks and Foldables to teachers in my district at our Technology conference.  (Admittedly, the "technology" is a stretch, but I'm presenting in four sessions, so I guess it was something they thought people would want to hear about anyway.)  I'll be presenting on implementing these notebooks and on making Foldables with MS Word.

@misscalcul8 asked, "Anyone have a list of supplies needed for interactive notebooks?" and I thought I'd respond.  It's a good time of year to reflect on what supplies I've used now that the year is wrapping up and it's time to write next year's supply list.  I'll break it into two categories based on what I provide versus what students provide; based on the availability of resources in your school and the socio-economic status of the families in your school, you may make other choices.  More than half of my students receive free or reduced meals, so I try to keep parents' out-of-pocket costs very low.  My students could get these supplies for $2 total at Walmart last summer. 

Students provided:
  • 1 composition book, cardboard (not plastic) cover strongly preferred. 
  • 2 rolls Scotch tape (label these with a me!)  We attached something to almost every page, so if you expect to write directly in the notebook for lots of pages, one roll might be sufficient. 
  • a few colored pencils or highlighters (They don't need an entire set; three colors will accomplish almost any color-coding you plan to do.  Encourage kids to bring left overs from previous grades if they have them at home.)

I provided:
  • Lots of glue sticks.  On the order of 100, I think.  Check Walmart a week or two after school is in session for mark downs.  You could have students provide these.  I chose to have glue sticks available so no one had an excuse to not attach a page, but I also NEVER gave out tape.  I wasn't willing to buy hundreds of rolls of tape, and the kids largely understood when I explained I was not going to buy hundreds of rolls of tape.  Most of my kids mooched off their neighbors if they really wanted tape for a particular page.  Some teachers use liquid glue and have success.  I wasn't willing to wait for it to dry or to police the potential misuse of liquid glue, but it's incredibly cheap, so it's worth considering. 
  • Ziploc bags (one gallon size).  Every student had a labeled bag in which to keep their composition book if desired, plus any tape or colored pencils they'd brought in. I learned that 8th grade kids aren't adept at regular Ziploc bags; the slider kind would be a smart purchase. 
  • Storage space.  I had sturdy bins on a shelf where kids could leave their notebooks if they didn't need them for homework on a given night.  We're 160 days into the year and not one of my 80 math students has lost a notebook permanently.  A few have gone on short vacations, but they've returned!   
  • A class set of scissors (and trash bowls to minimize trips to the trash can)
  • A set of highlighters and/or colored pencils per table/group. (My kids just weren't all going to have these on their own due to finances, so I had some available to borrow.)
  • One stapler per table/group.  If you're going to buy these, do yourself a favor and spend the extra money to get the full-strip staplers.  I had no idea how much I would loathe the half-strip ones when I have to refill a few of the staplers every time we staple anything!  
  • Colored paper to help Foldables stand out. 
  • Gigantic rubber file bands.  They're about 7" long.  Punch a hole in the back cover of the book near a corner.  Loop the rubber band through.  Kids can use it to hold the book shut.  These can also be used to rescue a book that detaches from its cover.  Two students have had this happen this year and I was able to secure the cover by doubling one of these rubber bands around the middle of the book when unfolded. 
  • 6x9 manila envelopes with clasps.  Glue on the inside of the back cover for works-in-progress that don't get glued down immediately.  
Before you start to implement interactive notebooks, consider the physical space in your classroom.  How will your students manage the supplies that they need?  What procedures and physical layout choices can you implement to maximize the time that students spend learning (as opposed to gathering supplies)?

What is the most important school supply for your students?

Mathematically yours,
Miss B

Thursday, May 15, 2014


I submitted my National Board portfolio today.  Yay!  I've been working on it for months and I'm so glad to be done.  Results won't come in until December, so I'm just thrilled to be finished for now!

My evening was capped off by two former students, a junior and a senior, stopping by to see me.  They work with my school's after school program.  The senior remembered that I'd had her class write letters to themselves after listening to President Obama's first inauguration speech.  I promised to return them at graduation.  So, she came to ask if I still had them; graduation is in two short weeks.  In some kind of amazing miracle, I actually knew exactly where they were and went right to the file in my cabinet.  I pulled out the letters, handed hers over, and she read it to herself.  She was laughing at first, "Look at my handwriting!"  Then she started reading and was proud of herself; she accomplished the goals she set out for herself in 8th grade: learning a language and taking Calculus.  "I got a 5 on the AP test last year," she told me.  Then she stopped reading and teared up.  She handed the letter to her friend, who read the last part aloud.  "Give [my little sister] and Grandpa a hug."  The senior said, "Grandpa died in 9th grade." 

When I asked her about post-graduation plans, she told me she's going to my alma mater.  :)

That, friends, is what this profession is all about. Whether I get NBPTS certified or not, I took this as a sign that I am doing something right. 

Mathematically yours,
Miss B.