Middle Schoolers Make Me Laugh

Just when the job reaches peak stress, the children remind me of why this job is fun. Today, at lunch, I recieved a small box containing the last of the items from my last Donor’s Choose project. I knew it contained playground balls and we were headed outside after lunch. Three students volunteered to help me go to the gym to ask a PE teacher to help us inflate them.

IMG_20160930_110818466.jpgThree of the reasons I love coming to work each day.


Look what I found!

A couch.

In a teachers’ lounge.

At my school!

It’s so weird; I haven’t seen either since I was a high school student. And that was a loooong time ago.


I knew they were putting the copier machines in the same space along with other teacher workroom tools for this side of campus, but I hadn’t realized they’d put a couch in here too. A large, expansive, L-shaped couch. And while I’m not on this side of campus daily, I’ve never seen anyone in here. Probably because when I’m over on this side, it’s during my planning and all the teachers over here are teaching, and the 6th-grade teachers usually use the copier on our side of campus.

I sat down and took this selfie and then got up to run an afterschool club. I wonder who sits in here? Maybe we should have math meetings on this couch and crank up that popcorn machine.

It’s the nearly the end of September.

I feel at once like I’ve been working too much for how little of the year is gone and like I’ve got too much to do with how little of the quarter is left.

Too much, but how do I do less? I need to find a better line that says, this is enough for now. This is all I can give at this time. I can polish the stone a little more tomorrow, next week, next year. For today, this is all. And it is enough.

3 Act Task – Rope Jumper

I used another task, Rope Jumper, from Graham Fletcher. My students love this one each year. I like how the ratio stopped on is “not easy” 41:7, so the students can get close with some easy multiples, but they have to use another method to figure out those last 2 seconds. Some of them estimate, some figure out the rate of jumps per second. Some round the rate to an easier number.

I think it’s funny that every class wonders if she’s a robot. And then when we watch Act 3, they’re disappointed she doesn’t quite make it to their expected values. Because she is a human and slows down as she gets tired!

Here’s the board after I noted their wonderings and then later jotted down their strategies.

rope jumper.jpg

Mentor Teacher

Yesterday my room for tutoring at the after-school program was changed. I am now maxwell.jpgteaching in the same room I student taught in more than a decade ago. I thought of my mentor teacher and how much I learned in that very room.

Today, my mentor teacher, Mrs. Debra Maxwell, retired after teaching since 1977. I am so grateful to Mrs. Maxwell who helped me find my “teacher voice” and who gave me such confidence in my ability as a teacher.

Thank you, Mrs. Maxwell! I love you! Thank you for helping me when I was new. When I am discouraged, I remember your passion. Your commitment to the students, your willingness to try new things and to always do what’s best for students in inspiring and I’m so grateful I got to learn how to be a teacher by watching and learning from you!


I love DonorsChoose.org. I’ve had several projects funded through them, and I just had another project fully funded last night! I was excited to tell my students about it funding today and that we’ve got seven more active core chairs for our classroom on the way. The partner funding offered through DonorsChoose has been an amazing way for my classroom to be supplied with the things I need and most of the things I want!

File_000 (9).jpeg

Curriculm Night

We had a 300% increase in attendance this year. The teachers still outnumbered the parents, but it’s moving in the desired direction.

Four contents presented and all parent questions answered and the meeting ended 30 minutes after it started. I’ll count that as success at the end of a long day.

Things I’m excited about…

  1. The increased quality of thinking shown on the collaborative problems students turned in today. These are improving so much and I’m encouraged to keep working on things like this!
  2. Demos Activity Builder
  3. Genius Hour

Numberless Word Problems

I was inspired by this post I read the other day about numberless word problems. I want to try it out with my middle schoolers, but until I find the time to do that, I thought I’d jump in and try it out with my fifth-graders in after school. It was highly engaging for them. I split my 10 students into two groups (I was the last teacher in picking up tech, which meant I didn’t have enough for my whole group). With two groups, I could just switch them out so all the students could get some time in on the program they have to use each day. The other students and I talked about the word problems. I started off by asking them what they thought the question was and then asking them what the answers to those questions could be. This gave us some great opportunities to think about what the words “several”, “many”, “some”, “couple” and “few” meant and in one group we thought carefully about the working through a problem backwards given one piece of information and still making sure the other parts would be reasonable and realistic.

This gave me some great thoughts for when I do this with the sixth-graders.

Before and After Lunch

This year, lunch seems to be when we switch off learning. Before lunch, I’m on my game, things are working, students are working, progress is being made. After lunch, it can feel like we hit a brick wall and we start a slow slide in thinking and it’s a game of “how little can we do while we wait for the time to run out?” got-this

Maybe it was just a particularly rough day or a crazy fourth period. It felt tougher than normal.


Regroup, rest and revisit the content tomorrow.