Tag Archives: classroom

Made 4 Math Monday #4 Hole-Punch Game


Has it seriously been a week since I was here? Yep.

Just one quick thought on #TMC12 for today… It was everything I expected and it was nothing like I expected.  Yes – these people are the rockstars they seem to be on twitter… they are genuine in their desire to become better teachers – willing to share – wanting to learn… and give their students the best learning opportunities possible!  But what I was most amazed with – I was there with people I had never met – I guess I was expecting it to be weird meeting everyone for the first time -but everyone was exactly as I expected them to be… oddly as it may be – I felt like I had known them for ages.  I walked in to MICDS in awe of the company – I left MICDS knowing I had lifelong friendships / colleagues from all across the country.  These folks are the.real.deal.

To end Saturday, we broke out into content areas.  I was part of the Algebra I group.  There were some great ideas shared – @cheesemonkeysf rational expressions scavenger hunt game;  I’m sorry I didn’t write the name down, was it @msimmons5 (sorry if not) – had this great SURVIVOR review game he uses – within a matter of minutes – there were suggestions shared on what to do with kicked-off / disbanded teams.  Hoping he will actually start a blog and well, blog about the idea in its entirety (sp?).

I shared a snippet of an activity called the Staple Game.  It was shared with me at a KLN meeting this spring.  Since I hate to waste office supplies (staples) – I updated it to the “Hole-Punch Game.”  Simple rearrange a worksheet / practice problems so they are placed around a sheet of paper…see this example:


  • Students work in teams.
  • Each student will complete his/her own work.
  • When everyone has completed 1 problem – they compare answers – to determine which is correct and will be used for the group answer.
  • All team members run over to teacher – teacher checks solution –
    • if correct, hole punch the outer edge of the problem, students return to work space and continue to next problem.
    •  if incorrect, they return to workspace and rework.
  • She also suggested staggering which # each team begins working on.

The teacher who shared said this accomplishes 3 things:

  1. Students must talk / agree on a solution.
  2. Students are physically up and moving.
  3. Sure you could put a check mark, stamp it, etc. but the sound / click of the hole – punch (or stapler) does something crazy and the students – especially for those who are struggling are motivated to keep on working.  Weird, huh?

So for #made4math I am sharing a radical equation hole-punch game.  It could be used as a review or simply as in-class skills practice.


I think you’ll agree this is not a difficult thing to create.  Often times for me, certain classes of students will work harder when a “worksheet” is transformed into a “game-like” activity.  I have also used Tales from the Spring’s Ghosts in the Graveyard activity a couple of times- tweaked for the appropriate season / holiday eggs in a basket, presents under the tree… great discussions occurred every time – students helping students and they completed WAY more practice problems during that short amount of time than I could have ever assigned for them to do otherwise.  The thing I LOVE about this activity – Its not necessarily the fastest, smartest, who completed the most problems that will actually win…

Made 4 Math Monday! Project #3


Map out your future – but do it in pencil. The road ahead is as long as you make it. Make it worth the trip. Jon Bon Jovi


Yep.  That’s my starting point today!  Growing up I collected pencils – I wish I had taken the time to run by my mom & dad’s and dig out my BOX of pencils.  I had chocolate flavored ones, shaped like hearts the length of the barrel.  From many places –  field trips, vacations, stores, events…they were cheap and small…perfect souvenirs (sp?).

On twitter last week was a discussion of how to identify your pencils – so students would return when they borrowed them.  One person suggested duct tape – great idea!  But I recalled seeing a friend at church with an ink pen and a bright yellow Flower attached to the top.  It looked like so much fun when she was writing!  I did a search to find some ideas – also ran across this post about artsy pencils and plumed pencils.  Check it out!

I know.  Some of you are against letting kids borrow supplies.  I’ve been there and done that.  I could send them to the locker,  send them to office after 3-strikes, you’re out, but the truth is – my time is limited and I need them in my room as much as possible.  Don’t tell me you’ve never shown up in a meeting without something to write with…  Besides, have you actually tried to figure out why they show up without a pencil?

1.  They simply may not have a pencil. (Slip them some plain pencils on the side if they can’t afford them, otherwise a call/email to mom & dad will ensure they start bringing them.)

2. They are lazy bums who can’t go to their locker and get one.  (When they borrow one, my rule says – they must sharpen the pencil before they return it and they must be the last person out of the room, those kids don’t like staying after class…it works, trust me.  Plus it gives you a chance for a quick brief conversation to let them know someone noticed them today!)

3.  They don’t bring a pencil because they want to get out of work (When they borrow yours, they can now work – no excuses).

Yes, I agree – if it becomes a habit, you may have an issue.  But take the time and talk with them – get to the root of the problem first.  In the meantime, enjoy the beauty of your new pencils!


Half-price bunch of flowers, package of floral tape, pencils.  I simply used a wire cutter to make the stems 2-3 inches long.  Wrap floral tape tightly around it.  When pencils become too short – remove flower and attach to another pencil.  I also purchased a pack of feathers and my 8yo really got into this (her and the cat!)  You can see she hot glued some bling & buttons, a few pipe cleaners too…just plain old fun!  Yes, someone wants to know how to you erase – my 8yo asked the same question.  I have several of the “FOR BIG MISTAKES” pink erasers on hand if needed.

            A heavy vase and a few marbles to hold my “pencil flowers” and I have an adorable arrangement for my desk.  I was leary of the marbles in the vase, that they would break the pencil tips – but just the opposite, it allows the tips to fall between the marbles.   I am actually considering (on one of those off – schedule days) – letting students craft up some pencils, storing them in a bucket in the cabinet and getting them out as needed.  This way students will always know they belong to Room 148 and can police pencil thieves for me!

Cornell Notes Bookmark

As I have been looking for better literacy strategies this summer, I ran across several mentions of C-Notes or Cornell Notes.  @druinok has a nice post here.   I was sharing the strategy with a science – who had used them in an English class before and had found them to be very successful, but mentioned you must be purposeful in requiring students to revisit, fill in left column and complete the summary, otherwise, its not useful. After a couple of days, she messaged me and had read about having students create questions from their notes.  I really. really. like this idea.  We discussed in the beginning to allow them to pull out the big idea, then next step create 3 questions.  Eventually, students would only be allowed to create one basic DOK1 question and the other 2 would require more in depth thinking to answer.  What an awesome idea!  I love having a colleague like this to bounce ideas back and forth!  Another idea someone mentioned – not sure if twitter or a comment in a post – but to only allow students a tweet for their summary – limiting the number of characters…really requires kids to develop a concise summary.

I really liked @druinok’s file for the bookmark – but I’ll be honest, I’m just feeling too lazy to cut out that many.  I’m not sure that my idea will work = it may have made my left column too wide(2 inches) – but I’m going to use it for now.  I purchased some packages of straight-edged border $ per pack.  39 inches / 4 = 9.75 inches – just long enough to 3-hole punch.  12 pieces x 4 strips each = 48 bookmarks!  My intention is to print off labels with my contact info and/or QR Code for class website for students to place on the bookmarks.  This project for all of my students cost me $3 plus labels, if you have to buy them.  It took under 10 minutes to cut and hole-punch 48 bookmarks.


Paperclip Holder

 I am forever spilling paperclips into the bottom of my bags.  Those little plastic containers never stay latched for me.  I was cleaning out my purse and just before I tossed the gum container into the trash – I thought…there’s got to be a use for this!  I flipped the top open and snapped it shut a couple of times before coming up with paper clips!  I put about 75 of the jumbo clips in here, you pop the top open, shake a few out, pop the top closed and drop it in the side pocket of your handy-dandy teacher utility tote.  (Post coming on that one next week AFTER a trip to the container store via TMC12!)


@druinok’s weekly planner

$1 frame from Mighty Dollar and a print off of @druinok ‘s file!  I think  Ican update this end of day Friday before I leave school, transferring Next Week to the to be done side…  giving me some focus for the upcoming week!  Love this idea!  Hoping it will cut down on amount of post-its I have plastered all over my desk.

Its been another great week.  Just over 3 weeks and my kiddos will be back in the classroom – so I will likely be getting some lessons/activities finalized after getting back from TMC12.  I’ve been putting several things off because of some of the great sessions planned!  Looking forward to all the Made4Math Monday Projects today!

Welcome to Room 148


Going along with @approx_normal ‘s #matheme I’ll show you mine… too funny.  Although some of the convo going on with twitter past couple of days – makes me a little skert about meeting some of these people at math camp in just a few weeks!

Welcome to Room 148…there’s always a Cloud of Kindness in here!  My roommate, when I lived in Bardstown, used the phrase in her biology/science classes, and well, like anything good – I use it for educational puposes.  I begin the year by asking the students to leave the issues with one another at the door – they are welcomed to pick them up as they leave – but while in class, well, Algebra can be tough enough on its own at times – we don’t need any extra troubles slowing us down.

So from the back of my room, you’ll see, well, the front of the room.  A few random quotes on the left side, one of those crazy read the color, not the word puzzles.  I was told I was getting “the board” one week and they installed the next week.  My training consisted of -here’s how to turn it on, here’s how to change inputs, the remote goes to this… and the rest was on my own.  And no, I am not that proficient with it.  But I can keep learning.  And finally you’ll see student calculators to the right.  My desk and a large cabinet sets off to the left – but there are boxes / books, etc stacked from the shelving – not much but a mess. 🙂

Looking toward the door – you can see the student table – where I leave desk supplies – stapler, tape, hole-punch, kleenex and baby wipes for the students to use – to keep them away from my stuff on my desk.  I have 2 sets of shelves – one is to turn work in, the other is for “while you were out” slips / daily handouts, etc for absent students.  You cannot see this – but the shelves have color coded stickers on them.  Each class has a different color – I place quizzes, writing samples, assessments etc. in the appropriate color folder to keep separated.  Students know which shelf is theirs based on which period they have me.  I have folders on my desk to file missed assessments.  I keep color magnets hanging behind my desk – to place important reminders.  Even my index cards I use to call on students – names are written in their class color.

 To the right of the door, you’ll see a long strip.  Several years ago, I read an article that stated students sometimes processed integers better on a vertical number line.  I got a pack of blank calendar cards – like primary teachers use – wrote out the integers from -15 to 15; taped them together, laminated and hot-glued them to the wall.  (If you haven’t figured out – hot glue peels right off block walls)  As we review integer rules – I refer to this a lot.  You can observe students looking that way to use it quite often.  Even in ESS, an upperclassman who struggles in math – said I wish I could take that thing with me – I explained, all you have to do is draw it on your paper.

We were chatting about error analysis the other night on twitter – using exit slips to begin the following day.  At the edge of the white board, you’ll see my stop light – self assessment folders.  Green – I’ve got it!  Yellow – Almost there!  Red – needs some help/have questions.  Students place their “target quizzes” in appropriate folder as they leave classroom.  I’ve also done this with post-it notes, they place their names on back of post-it note – tap it on the board as they leave…great visual for me to see if I need to address things again tomorrow.   One question the other night – do “red” students get embarrassed – not really.  Often they have been absent – or just need some extra one-on-one – this is a simple way they can communicate with me. I thought the same thing when I first did this years ago, I was actually surprised at how many are okay saying – I’m yellow and need a little more practice/help.

Hanging shoe-organizers house a classroom set of TI-84s and CPS (eInstruction) remotes.  TIs have #s engraved on the back, so I printed #’s and attached them with clear packing tape to the front of the compartments.  Yes, students still place them in the wrong slot occasionally.  Placed strategically so they can pick it up as they walk in and drop it off as they exit.

 I love my little cart on wheels – it stores several “lab” materials such as pennies, spaghetti, dry-erase markers, colored pencils, tangrams, algebra tiles, tape measures, 1″ squares, probability items.  If I need a flat surface to demonstrate a lab or something else, I wheel this over to front of room.









One thing I forgot to take a snapshot of were my clothespins on the wall.  Hot – glue closepins to wall, wherever you plan to hang a poster or place a word-wall.  Laminate vocabulary, posters, etc. and the papers are easily interchanged as needed.  If you’re really cool, find a cute idea on Pinterest and cover, paint your clothespins to coordinate with your room.

 I have never been afraid to move my desk arrangment around.  I have been known to change it at least once per month.  However, the past couple of years, I’ve found myself liking this layout.  Not drawn very well, desks are placed so I can walk easily between the “groups.”  I have students facing left, right and forward.  With this layout, I can easily pair students up person in front/behind.  They can quickly move together in groups of 4 – with back center 6 often splitting into groups of 3.  I have realized if I keep the same starting format, students are much quicker at rearranging desks correctly when we’ve completed our group activity.  I keep students in assigned spots throughout a unit of study – so they are aware of their work-groups to save time.  New unit = new seat & new group.  Yes, there are only 26 desks – so grateful to have “small” classes compared to some of you.

The last picture I wish to share is “the cabinet.”  You see, I teach in our 9th grade wing.  I have a huge foot on my door that states “The journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step.”  I used to offer the question to my students on day one “High School = 1000 miles”  True / False? Quite interesting the various strategies they would come up with to answer the question.  On average, a student would walk about 1000 miles, usually a little over during 4 years of high school.  Anyway, with our first group of Freshmen who came through “The DOCK” – we began making their little footprints with the sides of their hands and signed their names.  Often times they’ll visit the week of senior finals to find their foot, even taking a picture of it.  You can see, I’ve had to move on to a file cabinet.  I guess I’ll have to break down and use my desk some day…assuming I stay put.  I keep telling them I’m only doing it because someday, one of them will be famous – I’ll have their autograph and I’ll auction it off to make a little cash!  I still have a geometry project from a infamous beauty queen…but that’s another story.

I am always looking for ways to update and bring a little life to Room 148!  I look forward to touring some other classrooms via the blogosphere! Thanks for stopping by!