Wednesday, May 24, 2017

My Fidget Rules

We were in the middle of class meeting when a student got out his Silly Putty and started pulling it into long strings.  I asked him to put it away and he responded, "But that's my fidget!"

I said, "Thank you.  You have pushed me to a place where I will now do something about fidgets."

Fidgets are not new in my classroom.  Some students use movement and sensory items to help them stay calm and focused.  The new fidgets are creating distraction and chaos--the opposite of calm and focus.  I didn't want to ban fidgets outright.  I just wanted to return them to their rightful place in my room--in the hands of students who truly need them.

I did some quick research that day and presented my class with the new fidget rules:

1. A fidget is a tool to help you focus during times when you are expected to listen quietly.  It is not a toy.

2. A fidget should be something that no one else notices.  This means it should be silent, small enough to fit in your pocket or in your desk, and not distracting.

3. While using your fidget, you should still be able to look at whomever is speaking.  Remember, a fidget is to help you focus on what is happening.

4.  When a fidget is not in your hand, it should be in your backpack, pocket, or desk.

Now when I see a fidget that doesn't meet these rules, I ask the child to put it away.  If I see it again, I put it away.  I have been fewer problems with fidgets.

To download a free set of fidget rules posters, click here.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Quote of the Week -- May 21, 2017


"If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything."

~Mark Twain

Have a good week,


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

A Song for Bijou by Josh Farrar

Alex Schrader meets Bijou Doucet who recently moved from Haiti after an earthquake.  Alex wants to date her, but Bijou's family doesn't want her to even befriend a boy.

I enjoyed learning about two cultures meeting and connecting.  What I didn't like was the lying the middle school students had to do to keep the adults from knowing what they were up to.  (I know.  I'm such a parent.)


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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Quote of the Week--May 14, 2017

"Trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit."

~Moliere

Have a good week,


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Testing 1, 2, 3



I'm a little late this morning with my post...life happens.

There are two versions of each unit test in our math curriculum.  I use one as a pretest and one as a post test.  My students didn't know very much about statistics at the beginning of this unit.  I received a lot of question marks, "I don't know", and "I don't know yet." (Thank you Growth Mindset.)

One student circled the words statistical question on the first page of the test and wrote, "Why is this a thing?"

And then there was the response shown above (edited so you can read it):

"Mountains have gaps and peaks.  More out = outlier.  A cluster of donuts. (Hey, I haven't the faintest idea. :)"

I hope he doesn't answer this way on the SBA this month.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Quote of the Week--May 7, 2017


"The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been."

~Henry Kissinger

Have a good week,


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Basic Operations of Fractions and Decimals Self-Assessment


 This year I am teaching sixth grade math to a group of fifth grade gifted students.  One of the units in our curriculum taught basic operations of fractions and decimals.  It was a cumbersome unit, so I took it apart by skill and made sure my students knew their strengths and weaknesses.

I created this document for students to keep track of their progress throughout the unit.  I would give a pretest, reteach small groups using whiteboards, and then retest to ensure mastery.

To download Basic Operations of Fractions and Decimals Self-Assessment, please click here.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Quote of the Week -- April 30, 2017



"Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future."

Paul Boese

Have a good week,




Wednesday, April 26, 2017

I'm on Kidblog: Three Types of Math Problems

I have been using the paid version of Kidblog this year to give my students another platform to publish their writing.  I started with book reviews so that students could share what they were reading with others and get suggestions for a new read.

My Kidblog post about book reviews is here. 

 To download the book review checklist I use with this assignment, click here.

After using them for a few months, Kidblog invited me to write a post about blogging in math.  I wrote three types of problems for my students to solve and discuss online.  You can read about my experiences with blogging in math here.


Overall, I have been pleased with the Kidblog experience.  I have been able to guide my students to better digital citizenship because of the teacher controls they offer.

I am happy to answer any questions you might have about blogging in the classroom.  Ask me anything.




Sunday, April 23, 2017

Quote of the Week -- April 23, 2017



"Reading -- the best state yet to keep absolute loneliness at bay."

William Stryon

Have a good week,



Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Prairie Thief by Melissa Wiley


Louisa Brody's Pa is arrested for stealing from the neighbors and Louisa is forced to stay with him until the sheriff can sort things out.  Louisa and her friend Jessamine discover the creature who has actually been taking things from both houses.  Can they convince the judge and sheriff that Pa is innocent?


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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Quote of the Week -- April 16, 2017


"To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you."

Louis Smedes

Happy Easter to my Christian readers.

Have a good week,



Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Equivalent Expressions Exit Tickets


Here is the third in a series of exit tickets I have created for my fifth graders.  We have been using the district adopted curriculum, but often I need a quick check on a concept to see if they understand it before we move on.

This set of six focuses on using distributive property to create equivalent expressions.  We have already spent time in class reading and drawing models of how distributive property works.  Now I want to know if they can use it.

To download my Equivalent Expressions Exit Tickets that focus on Distributive Property from my Google Drive, click here. All of my math activities come with an answer key.


Sunday, April 9, 2017

Quote of the Week -- April 9, 2017


"If you fell down yesterday, stand up today."

~H. G. Wells

Have a good week,


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Mountain Dog by Margarita Engle


When Tony's mother is sent to prison for dog-fighting, Tony is sent to live with an uncle he has never met.  He meets Gabe, a search and rescue dog, and he experiences the love of community and a new way of life. 

Mountain Dog by Margarita Engle is told in free verse from Tony's and Gabe's perpectives.


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Sunday, April 2, 2017

Quote of the Week -- April 2, 2017


"Every strike brings me closer to the next home run."

~Babe Ruth

Have a good week,


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Combine Like Terms Exit Tickets


Right now I am teaching a sixth grade algebra unit to my fifth grade gifted students.  I am creating several sets of exit tickets for quick formative assessment.  Today I want to share with you my set of exit tickets for combining like terms.

I call them exit tickets, but they could be used at the beginning of a lesson to assess what students already know or as small group work for struggling students.  

To download Combine Like Terms Exit Tickets with answer key from my Google Drive, click here.



Sunday, March 26, 2017

Quote of the Week--March 26, 2017


"Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat."

~F. Scott Fitzgerald

Have a good week,




Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Adventures of a South Pole Pig by Chris Kurtz


Flora's life begins, like most pigs, on a farm with her sisters and brothers, but she has an ambition to become a sled pig. When she finds herself on a ship headed to Antarctica, she thinks her dream is coming true.  How can Flora prove she is worth more than bacon?

Chris Kurtz's The Adventures of a South Pole Pig reminded me of Wilbur in Charlotte's Web.




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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Quote of the Week--March 19, 2017


"It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop."

~Confucius

Have a good week,



Sunday, March 12, 2017

Quote of the Week--March 12, 2017


"It always seems impossible until it's done."
~Nelson Mandela

Have a good week,



Wednesday, March 8, 2017

New Kid by Tim Green


My students are reading and recommending two books by Tim Green: New Kid and Kid Owner.  I haven't yet read Kid Owner, but as popular as it is with my sports fans, it is on my reading list.

New Kid is about a baseball player whose dad suddenly moves him from one town to another and changes his name.  A prank gone wrong gets the attention of the local baseball coach and soon Tommy AKA Brock is recruited to an elite team.  Will Tommy's father let him play?  Will he have to move to a new town because of his fame?







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Sunday, March 5, 2017

Quote of the Week--March 5, 2017



"The person who climbs the mountain is stronger than the person who rides a helicopter to the top."

~Unknown

Have a good week,




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