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A Go Figure Debut for a "Retread" who is new!

Today’s Go Figure Debut is about Laura who didn’t become a teacher right away. She might be considered a "retread" since teaching is her second career.

Laura began working in the business world right out of high school and continued on that path for over eighteen years, getting married and raising a beautiful daughter along the way, while taking night classes as time allowed. She had an aptitude for numbers, and often found herself working in accounting positions. She stepped away from the corporate world to help a family member through a health crisis and began working on her bachelor’s degree while working part time. While on break from college, her daughter’s school experienced a flu outbreak among the staff, and they asked Laura to help out. She told them they were nuts; she was an accounting person, but, they were in a
bind so she agreed to help out.

Her first assignment was first grade. (I started there, too, and I can’t tell you why!) When her husband got home that night he asked her how it went. She revealed that she had the worst headache of her life, and she hurt in places she didn’t know existed. BUT it was the most awesome day of her life, and she couldn’t wait to go back the next day! Over the next three weeks, she filled in for almost every grade from kindergarten through 9th grade and even had a few days as the PE coach. A true passion for teaching was born. She has now been a teacher for over fourteen years, primarily in middle school mathematics.

Laura believes that students learn best when they are actively engaged with rigorous, high-quality, hands-on lessons that incorporate technology, group activities, offer differentiation, and reach across multiple subject areas to draw out students’ interests, passions and curiosity. She uses walk-abouts (see her paid resource), scavenger hunts, and learning stations to keep her kids moving and learning.

Laura has always shared her resources with colleagues and was surprised to hear over and over from them that she should open a store on Teachers Pay Teachers. She took that plunge three years ago. Laura is slowing growing her store as she continues working on improving herself and her classroom to provide her students with the best education possible. As most of us know, it is a never ending quest.

Laura currently has 119 products in her Teachers Pay Teachers store called Positively Pre- Algebra Plus. The vast majority are math related, with a few STEM and science resources. Laura’s featured paid resource is a Walk-About Bundle. This bundle includes twelve fun
Only $15.00
yet rigorous activities to help get your students out of their seats, walking around and engaged in math! They are excellent activities for students to work with a partner, in a small group, or individually to solve problems focused on similar skills.

Laura’s free resource is a cut-and-paste sampler activity.  This free sample pack includes cut and paste activities
Free Resource
for translating equations, one step inequalities, and percent of change. Cut and paste activities are a fantastic way to change up the routine for teens and tweens and to break free from worksheets. Laura’s cut and paste activities include multiple levels of difficulty to make differentiation easier for you while increasing student ownership in their learning. I was impressed with this resource as I could adapt the idea for the interactive journals my math college students do. She offers other cut and paste activities in her store that include: Scientific Notation, Distributive Property, One-Step Equations, Translating Equations, Percent of Change, Two-Step Equations, One-Step Inequalities, Simplifying Algebraic Expressions.

Take some time to visit Laura’s store and look at the unique resources she has created. I know you will find at least one that you love!

You Are An Important "Piece" of the Puzzle


I have quite a large family, 21 of us when we all get together. This past Christmas, my daughter insisted that I have name place cards so everyone would know where to sit. Since I thought this was a good idea, I went to the Dollar Tree and bought a 24 piece puzzle. I had my husband spray paint the pieces, and then, using a paint pen, I wrote each person's name on an individual piece. Since I had three pieces left over, I wrote "2017" on one, "Christmas" on another and drew a happy face on the third one. I then put a piece at each person's place at the table and explained that the theme for our dinner was "You are an important piece of our family."

When the 12 grandchildren finished eating Christmas dinner (they always finish first) they put the puzzle together. They were challenged but had fun doing it. They were also occupied while the adults finished eating.

This idea got me thinking about my college students. The first of the semester is always hard because they don't know me or one another, They are even unsure as where to sit. I got to thinking that this would be a great way to introduce my students to one another, and it would provide an interesting hands-on activity for the first day of class.

This might also be something that you could use at the beginning of the school year, but what happens if a student leaves or a new student is assigned to your room? If you paint both sides of the puzzle pieces, you can flip over the piece of the student who leaves and have a blank puzzle piece in its place. You can also leave blank ones to add new students. Don't forget, puzzles come in a variety of different sizes; so, if you have more than 24 students, it shouldn't be a problem. Just make sure the pieces themselves are large enough for the students to easily handle.


Heart Rebus Fun

Only $4.75
Many of my students love figuring out rebus puzzles. (a visual puzzle in which words are
represented by combinations of pictures and individual letters.)  In a nut shell, they are essentially little pictures which cryptically represent a word, phrase, or saying.  Since Valentine's Day is just around the corner, I decided to have some fun and create 24 rebus puzzles for the month of February.

Hearts and Valentines is resource that features familiar expressions that contain the word "heart". (e.g. "From the Bottom of My Heart" or "Cross My Heart") Each illustration in this 13 page resource uses a picture or symbol to represent a common word or phrase.  Students must use logic and reasoning skills to solve the 24 rebuses. So that you don't have to figure out each one, the answers are included.

Each day during the month of February, put up one "Heart" illustration as a student focus activity, OR, if you choose, place two or three up at one time or all of them up at the same time. Students are to figure out which Heart expression the picture represents. It can be fun, but also a very challenging Valentine's Day activity!  Look at the following images and try to work out what they mean.

The first one is "a heart full of love." Were you able to figure it out?

The second one is a bit more challenging. The answer is "a heavy heart." Did you solve it on your own?

Challenge your students to make some of their own "heart" rebus puzzles. A few in this handout were created by middle school students who prove they can be very creative!

A Go Figure Debut for Mr. D Who is new!

Adam became a teacher in 2014 after working for IT companies for a decade. He has taught social studies for grades 6-12 for core subjects and electives in urban, suburban and rural districts. He has also worked in inclusion, honors, AP, and co-taught classrooms. Although his undergraduate degree was in history and political science, he always planned on becoming a teacher; partly because this was also his father’s career before he retired, and since Adam's wife is an elementary school teacher he had support from her to make the transition.

The inspiration for Adam to make this change was something memorable. One day he received a letter in the mail that his old creative writing teacher sent. It turns out, during high school Adam had an assignment to write a letter to himself, one that he would like to receive in 10 years. When he received the letter, Adam wasn’t really sure what he was looking at since 10 years had passed, but once it clicked what he was reading, it was like being struck by lightning.

Presciently, the letter said that if he wasn’t happy with his career that he should find a way to make a change. And with that, Adam looked for teaching schools to enroll in, let the deans of his business school know he wouldn’t be completing their program, and made plans to leave his job. At the end of every year he still does a similar writing exercise with his students, and right now he has about 200 letters on a shelf that he will mail out in the 2020’s.

Since becoming a teacher, Adam hasn’t looked back. He loves teaching and finds it to be joyous, meaningful work. He loves sharing his passion for history while informing the next generation of leaders what being an American is all about, and what rights and responsibilities come with citizenship. It’s very rewarding to Adam when, in the course of a typical class, he can see students’ minds being expanded by an engaging discussion on some important issue.

He also loves placing his students in the middle of history. As often as possible, Adam uses simulations where students become historical characters, are presented with a problem, and have to decide what to do to resolve a situation. For example, in his product Vietnam War Debate Simulation students begin a simulation that takes place as the Nixon administration assumes the Presidency, and is deciding how to change American foreign policy after Lindon B. Johnson left the Oval Office. In another example, Inflation and Deflation Game Simulation, students have to respond to market forces and decide how they will allocate their resources.

Adam’s TPT store, The DeSimone Store, currently contains
eight products including one that is free. The content is basically split evenly between U.S. and World history, while one is an Economics lesson. His free resource is entitled, Islam Demographics. Introduction to Islam. Muslims in the World. This lesson serves as an introduction to Islam. It is designed to teach students where Muslims live in the world. The questions provided help clear up common misconceptions about Islam’s demographics. You can click on a link to see a YouTube tutorial describing this lesson.

His featured paid resource is the Inflation and Deflation Game. Simulation. Resource. Whether studying history or economics, it is critical to understand what inflation and deflation are, and how they impact consumer behavior. This lesson explains these phenomena, and lets students play a game that demonstrates how they change people’s actions. How does the game work? He talks about that here.

I recommend that you not only visit his store, but in addition, visit his YouTube channel to see video walk-throughs for his lessons. Being a math person who never liked history, I even learned a great deal! You can also go to his personal website to learn more about Adam.