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A Go Figure Debut for an Australian Who Is New

The Curious Fox
Today’s Go Figure Debut takes us to Melbourne, Australia, (a long, long way from where I live!) to a teacher who has a very interesting teaching background. Libby has taught skiing/snow play to some very young children in the U.S. For a brief time, she lived in the UK doing emergency teaching work. She now resides in Melbourne, Australia where she plans to stay.

Libby loves getting her students to use higher order thinking skills and to work on projects that are intrinsically motivating. In her classroom, you will see students talking about their learning as well as spending a lot of time working collaboratively (two heads are better than one). Libby’s students solve problems, have opportunities to be creative and make decisions about their learning.

She started creating resources for her Teachers Pay Teachers store (Curious Fox) when she began maternity leave. Since her son is now one, she presently works part-time again at her school in Melbourne. Away from the classroom, she loves to go for runs while pushing her son around in his pram (stroller) and enjoys finding bargains at op-shops (thrift shops).

Libby has 124 resources in her store, 16 of which are free! She creates resources for literacy and numeracy and for all primary grades that are specific to Australia, the UK and the U.S. Her store contains scaffolded maths (math) projects that use real world information (such as distances between planets in the solar system) and/or require students to do things like make popcorn or plan real parties for their class. In addition, her store contains nursery rhyme packs and beginning writing resources that have worked well in her classroom. She also offers sets of higher order thinking task cards for a range of maths (math) concepts.

Because Christmas is coming up, Libby thought she would
share her free Christmas Math Investigation
resource. It includes a fun differentiated math investigation for grades 4, 5 and 6. Students are required to work out how many gifts “my true love” sends, use measurement to get an idea of how much milk Santa drinks on Christmas Eve, work with Santa’s travelling speed which is faster than the speed of light as well as making use of other math skills.

Only $3.00
Her 42 page paid resource is a Christmas Plan a Party Project where students use math skills to actually plan a real class Christmas party.  Most of the preparation requires paper and cardboard with only a few extra resources required. It is generic enough to suit a range of different types of Christmas class parties. Certain black line masters can also be taken out if you wish to not include an element in your party.

Libby also writes a blog.  One of her latest posts is entitled: Ten Things I Hate About Homework. (This might be an article my college students would like to read since every hour of college class time typically equals two hours of homework! OR - maybe not!)  But since you are not in college, you might find some interesting and legitimate reasons for hating homework.

A Go Figure Debut for a Teacher Who is Anything but new!

Anne is an elementary teacher from Texas with over 32+ years
of experience. She believes in making lessons fun and engaging but at the same time keeping them tied to the curriculum. She differentiates by using task cards as this gives students a chance to get up and move about the room. She does many hands-on math and science activities with her students! 

Anne implemented, "Scientist of the Week" into her classroom with great success! She wrote more about this activity on her blog called Believe to Achieve  (September 30, 2016 post).  It is an easy and fun way to make sure there is science, using the Scientific Method, each week in your class! Check it out as this might be a fun activity you can add to your classroom!

For fun, Anne loves to travel! Any beach is her little slice of heaven! Growing up she lived in ten different states in the United States as well as Hong Kong, Taiwan and Germany; so, I guess the love of traveling is in her blood!

She also loves spending time with her husband and two grown children! Often times, she will grab a Starbucks and then shop the aisles of Target! On a hot day, she declares that there is nothing better than a 7-11 Slurpee! Of course she has the app so every 7th one is free!

Presently, Anne has 200 items in her Teachers Pay Teachers store (also called Believe to Achieve).  They focus primarily on math and science resources for the elementary grades. Of the 200 resources, 21 are free. Since I am always working on money with my grandchildren, I especially like the free one about counting money. It is a colorful set of 24 task cards that focuses on counting U.S. bills and coins up $10.00. Included are a recording sheet and an answer key!

If you really want to save time, Anne has a math bundle for third grade that is eight months of no prep, grade 3 math for September to April! That's a year's worth of math! Each month features 30 pages plus a bonus activity! It includes a table of contents and those ever important answer keys! All you have to do is print them out and then use them! It couldn't be any easier.  AND….you save 20% (that's $8.00) by buying the bundle instead of the individual products!! 

I believe students will enjoy Anne's fun filled activities because she takes the time to make them simple for you to use.  Take a few moments to check out her store and use the custom categories on the left of her store's home page to make your search easier.

Let's Pitch Paper!

My college students love, love games.  I found one on Pinterest which I adapted for the new class I am teaching called Conquering College.  In this class, the students have a reading quiz over an assigned article about every three weeks, and I am always trying to think of new ways to review. I tried the game, and it was a "hit".  It is called "Pitch" and here is how you play it.

1) Divide the class into two teams and assign them two pages of the article to review.

2) Each student is to write a question about their part of the article on half a sheet of paper.

3) Select two captains to come to the front of the room.

4) Have students crumble up the paper and throw it, trying to hit the captain of the opposite team. (I have team #1 throw; then team #2. I also have four questions that I throw into the mix.)

5) The captains mix up the questions and place them on a table. They then go to board to keep score.

6) Alternating between teams, one by one, the students go and pick a question, which they must read aloud and answer correctly for their team to get a point. If the student is unable to answer, the question goes to the other team for them to answer.

7) The captains are the last students to answer a question.

The first time we played, the two teams tied so both teams received a small candy bar. The students LOVED it!!!! They were not only engaged, but they were having fun. I was surprised when they said things like, "That isn't a good question because it can be answered with a yes or a no. Or that is a well written one." I think the next time we might make airplanes and call the game "Crash Landing."

I shared the game with other faculty members, and here is what a chemistry instructor wrote me...

"I have done 'muddiest point' with my chemistry students and had them ball up and throw their papers at me...even my double section which has 62 students. I got bombarded with blue paper as the students tried really hard to hit me. It was hysterical!!!"

So, now it is your turn. Maybe you will have a "pitch" battle or just maybe, the teams will "pitch" in and help each other.

A Go Figure Debut for a Texan Who Is New

Her Store - Math Imagination
Today my Go Figure Debut is for a Texas girl, Linda Bernal, who is in her 27th year of helping children’s minds to grow and to learn to love math. (Like me, she cures mathphobics!) She currently teaches seventh grade math although she has also taught 5th, 6th and 8th graders as well. (She must love that middle school aged student!)

Ever since she was a little girl, Linda has wanted to be a teacher. Her house was the “hangout” spot in the neighborhood, and she can still remember playing “school” with all of the kids on the block. Of course, Linda was the teacher! Her dad even bought her one of those play chalkboards that would flip vertically, and she swears it was her most favorite thing ever!

Believe it or not, Linda actually struggled with math in elementary and middle school. Her forte was reading. Not only was she in a book club, but she had shelves full of books at home; so, you would assume she would want to be a reading teacher, right? WRONG! The turning point was when she attended high school. She claims she had the most patient and amazing math teachers who made it so easy to understand the “numbers with the letters” (a.k.a., algebra) and “all the stuff around the shapes” (a.k.a., geometry). These two teachers inspired her to become a math teacher which still boggles her parents’ minds.

In her math classroom you will see students walking around during a loop game, having discussions on how to solve a problem or sometimes even debates. During practice time, students may be writing on their desks with dry erase markers or creating entries in their interactive journals using foldables. Linda thinks students retain more when they are actively involved and when they have to explain math to another person. (I agree!) She firmly believes students get more out of working on a game with a partner than completing a 30 problem worksheet alone. She still does the worksheet thing; she just doesn’t do it on a daily basis with as many problems.

Only $3.00
One of the games in her store is a 12 problem loop game, and best of all, it is free. In the game, students practice in determining the surface area of nets that create three-dimensional figures. Students find the surface area of each figure by using the formulas for finding the area of rectangles and triangles.

Free Item
Linda currently has sixty-nine items in her TPT store, six of which are free. Most are math activities, but she does have some posters that can be used in any classroom. One of her free resources is called the  Simplifying Fractions Spinner Game. This game has students simplifying fractions by spinning two spinners to create their own fraction so that every student will have a different fraction.

Other resources in her store include Loop Games, Matching Cards, Smack Down, and Fact or Fib. Some of the activities are interactive power points that create great discussions between students! She also has a blog called My Math Imagination. You should take time to go there and read her article called "Nail It."  Not only does she have a mathematical sense of humor but what she does with fingernails is amazing.  Check it out for yourself!

Mathematical Patterns

Since all math is based on patterns, this week, I want to target some mathematical problems in which we investigate developing patterns.

In the first example below, you will notice we begin by multiplying one by one; then 11 by 11, and so forth. Each time we multiply, the number of digits in the multiplier and the multiplicand increases. Do you see the pattern that progresses in the answer (product)? Notice how this multiplication pattern forms a triangle? Can you figure out what kind of triangle it is?

Here is another interesting pattern. In this one, instead of multiplying by 1, then 11, then 111, the answer (product) looks like the multiplier in the pattern above. Do you notice anything else significant?

Yes, we are multiplying by 9 each time. Now look at the number being added, and count the number of ones you see in each answer. Surprised? Isn’t it amazing how math is ordered, methodical and precise? Maybe that is one reason I love to teach it!

"Sum" Trick

In the book Ten Black Dots book, there are a total of 55 black dots. Normally, to find that answer, you would add the numbers together.

But did you know there is an easier way? Take 10 and divide it by 2. That equals 5. Multiply 10 x 5 and you get 50 then add in the 5 which equals 55. Too confusing? Well let's look at it in groups that equal 10.

As illustrated above, 10 is by itself so it is 10. Then if we group the numbers so that each group equals ten, we have four additional sets. All together, we have five groups of ten with five left over which equals 55.   5 x 10 = 50 + 5 = 55

This will work for every sequence of consecutive numbers which begins with one and contains an even set. In other words, sets that contain 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12... numbers. Merely divide the largest number by 2; multiply the largest number by the quotient, and then add the quotient.

Example:  14, 13, 12, 11, 10,  9,  8,  7,  6,  5,  4,  3,  2, 1

This will also work for an odd numbered sequence like 11 but the formula or quick trick for finding the sum is a little different. As seen below, we again divide 11 by 2, which 5.5 or rounded up equals 6. Again we group sets of two that equal 11. There are five groups plus 11 by itself so that makes a total of six groups.
Since there are no numbers left by themselves, simply multiply 11 by 6 (the rounded up quotient) to get the sum which is 66.

I love to write a series of consecutive numbers which begin with one on the board, and have the students find the answer using their calculators while I do the math in my head. Of course, they are amazed and swear that I have memorized the answer. I then ask me to give me a series (not off the wall or so large that it would take forever to use the calculator) and again I quickly give them the answer. I then teach them that math trick.

Students love "tricks" like this, but I always burst their bubble by telling them mathematicians are astute people. That's why they are always looking for faster, quicker, and smarter ways to do math!

A Go Figure Debut for A Poet Who Is New!

Theresa's TPT Store
Today’s post features a Board Certified Teacher from North Carolina. (As most of you know, Board Certification requires a great deal of work!) Theresa has taught Reading Recovery, been a third grade resource teacher, has taught first and second grade, as well as a first and second multi-age class. She has been teaching for 19 years and says she still loves what she does!!! Besides teaching, she enjoys spending time with her family and taking care of her two cats that are named Cindy Lou Who and Boots.

Her Teachers Pay Teachers store, Theresa’s Teaching Tidbits, is unique in that it contains several resources that showcase poems. Theresa even features a poem of the week and offers a bundle of these poem activities in the resource entitled: Poem of the Week Bundle. It includes all four of her Poem of the Week elementary products at a discounted price. They are:
Discounted Bundle
  • A Kind and Caring Classroom: Poems of the Week that Promote Good Character
  • Science Poems and Activities for Primary Grades
  • Patriotic Poems and Activities for Primary Grades
  • Fall Poems and Activities for Primary Grades
She suggests using these poems as a part of your weekly routine to teach comprehension, phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary and fluency.

Free Resource
Since her students love word searches, Theresa has created a ten page freebie called Word Searches: Fry Word Finds. She uses word searches to help early readers increase instant recognition of high-frequency words. Each word search in this free resource features ten of the 100 most used words in reading and writing and includes three different word searches with answer keys. These would be perfect for a center or for those who finish early!

Additionally, Theresa has a blog that bears the same name as her store. I loved reading her August 27th post about having a school garden. Since I teach at a college, we have gardens everywhere, but they aren’t created or maintained by the students which might be a good thing. If you take time to look at her blog, you will see pictures of her current classroom which might give you some ideas for arranging yours. In addition, she shares some books that made it to her front porch over the summer. I get the idea she loves reading books to her students!

In her August 20th post, Theresa gives you a step-by-step picture tutorial on how to make four-pocket folders that she uses in her writing workshop. (You’ll have a good laugh on why she didn’t make a video tutorial.) She even has free labels for these folders that you can download. You’ll just have to check out her blog to find out where and how…something I highly recommend that you do!

A Go Figure Debut for a Floridian Who Is New!

Her TPT Store
Today my blog highlights Kelly Ann who is an elementary teacher from Florida. She started out teaching first grade, but after four years, she “graduated” to fifth which is still her grade level.

Regardless of the present-day hardships most teachers face, Kelly Ann loves her job. Even at a high-socioeconomic school like hers, her fifth graders come to school with a lot of baggage. Not only is she teaching content that they need for real life, but she enjoys helping them learn how to be good human-beings. Because her students spend such a large part of their day with her, she desires to be a caring, loving, authentic role model for them. That is why she describes her classroom as a family environment. She wants her students to take care of each other while they learn as well as to use their strengths to support each other.

Kelly Ann married her high-school sweetheart. (How romantic!) They have two small children - a four year old and a four month old; so, she is quite a busy lady! Generally, her life with a new baby consists of trying to keep everything afloat and trying to do Teachers Pay Teachers whenever she can! In other words, her free time is null and void. Fortunately, she is able to take this next school year off to be with her kiddos thanks to TPT.

Her Teachers Pay Teachers store is called “Created by Kelly Ann.” Right now it contains 101 quality and reasonably priced resources that are generally focused on intermediate science and social studies, with some ELA and test prep items mixed in.

One of her bundles that my husband is interested in (he teaches 8th grade science) is her Variables in Experiments Bundle. (We all love bundles because they save us $$$.) This resource includes three activities to help students practice and review independent and dependent variables, a difficult concept to master. One of her buyers left the following comment about this resource:

“The scavenger hunt was a huge hit in my class. I was also easily able to see the students who needed some additional help.”

Free Item
Out of the five free resources in her store, I found this one to be well received. It is called Teaching Test-Taking Strategies Posters. These are test-taking strategies posters that her students practice all year long to help them prepare for the inescapable standardized testing. As I looked at the 91 ratings for this item, I discovered that buyers thought these posters were not only useful but just what they needed.

She just launched her new website that incorporates her blog within it. It is entitled Created by Kelly Ann as well. Recently, she has started to create "Quick Tips for Teacher-Authors" that can also be found on this site, Instagram, Facebook in addition to Pinterest.

In everything Kelly Ann does, her teaching, creating her resources, her blog, etc., she has set high expectations for herself!  Check out her store as I know you will love what she has to offer! My husband did, and he is now a Kelly Ann “fan!”

Aliens and Trapezoids

I am always looking for ways to help my students remember things.  For example, when we learn about the properties of one, I sing (yes I do, and a little off key) One is the Loneliest Number.  Since there are so many quadrilaterals to learn (*7 in all), I create quadrilateral stories.  Here is one of my students' favorites.  (Keep in mind, these are college students.)

Once upon a time, I planted a broccoli garden in my backyard.  Since I love geometry, I placed triangle statues all around my garden.  Every morning I would go out to my garden to weed, hoe, fertilize, and water my precious broccoli plants.  One morning, I noticed several of my plants had been eaten.  I was one upset lady; so, I decided to stay up all night and watch to see which critters had the nerve to venture into my garden for a broccoli feast.

That night, I sat at my bedroom window watching the garden.  All of a sudden, out of the sky, came a UFO which landed in my backyard.  As I watched, the door of the UFO opened (I use my arms to imitate the opening door while I say, S-q-e-a-k!) and out came some little aliens.  As they approached my broccoli, they repeated, "Zoid, zoid, zoid".  (I use a high alien like voice.) Sure enough, they ate several of my plants!  They then proceeded back to their spaceship and flew away. 

The same thing happened the following night and the night after that; so, I knew something had to be done.  I went to my garage, and got out my trusty chain saw to cut off the top of each of my triangles.  (I imitate the noise of a chain saw.)  Inside each cut off triangle I placed a bunch of broccoli to entice my visitors.  I knew if those aliens got inside, they would never get out because of the slanting sides.  I went back into my house to wait.

Sure enough, like clockwork, the UFO returned.  Again, the door of the UFO opened (s-q-e-a-k!) and out came the same little aliens. They proceeded to my cut off triangles, and perched on the edge peering down at the broccoli, all the while saying, "Zoid, zoid, zoid".  One by one they leaped inside to eat the broccoli, and guess what.  I trapped-a-zoid!  Okay, you may not be laughing, but I swear this story does help my students to remember what a trapezoid is. 

Let's discuss a couple of important math things about trapezoids that you may not be aware of.   In my story, the trapezoid is an isosceles trapezoid or as sometimes called, a regular trapezoid.  Not only does it have one set of opposite sides parallel, but it also has one set of opposite sides equal (marked with the black line segments).  It also has one line of symmetry which cuts the trapezoid in half (the blue dotted line).  This special trapezoid is usually the one taught by most teachers, but it is really a special kind of trapezoid. 

   trapezoid                                   isosceles trapezoid
For a quadrilateral to be classified as a trapezoid, the shape only needs to have one set of opposite sides parallel as seen in figure one.  The first trapezoid is the one that sometimes appears on tests to "trick" our students.

In the second figure (the isosceles or regular trapezoid), the sides that are not parallel are equal in length and both angles coming from a parallel side are equal (shown on the right).  Lucky for me that I used the second trapezoid for my trap or my zoids would have been long gone, and with my entire crop of broccoli, too!

*square, rectangle, rhombus, parallelogram, trapezoid, kite, trapezium

A Go Figure Debut for a New Yorker Who Is New!

Renee Dawn's Store
Renee has been a New York City public school teacher for over 20 years, mostly in kindergarten. She has a creative approach to teaching the whole child with the common core, music, art, dance and meditation. In her classroom you will see café-style conversations; dancing to pop, classical, world and educational music; and big dollops of laughs.

She enjoys writing and recording pop songs, sewing, long walks down city streets, the beach and forest parks....and organic dark chocolate.
Free Resource
I chose Renee's Teachers Pay Teachers store, called Renee Dawn because it incorporates many unique and engaging resources that are not readily available in other stores. Her store currently features 72 different resources (21 of them have songs), with three of the resources being free. 

The item that is closest to her heart is entitled: Free-Verse, Creative Poetry Writing for K – 5.  It includes 16 writer’s workshop lessons that are a recipe for beat-poet confections that any student can master - even an ELL kindergartner. Children will learn to think and talk through the fresh eyes of a poet. The kit includes a rubric and writing paper for display.

Only $3.00
One of her paid products that I find quite interesting is her My Counting Song MP3s. It features a soothing vocal over a relaxing instrumental with a soft beat. Besides teaching counting, skip counting, counting backwards and counting on, the songs are behavior management tools - hypnotic and calming. The songs help children to calm their minds and focus on the task at hand; whether for time out, clean up, transition, stretching or dance. All the songs count like a heartbeat, one beat per second. 

One buyer left this feedback: "I bought it for my elderly mom who has trouble sleeping, and it helps her fall asleep. If I weren't retired, I would use it in the classroom, too."

Children also love the songs for dance breaks. How about trying robotic dancing while counting backwards? Not sure this is something you could use? Then download The Counting Song 1 – 20 which is free.  

If you stop by her blog, called Teacher Ink, Renee says she will pour you a virtual cup of lemonade and then you can chat with her.  This sounds like an excellent plan to me, especially on a hot summer day! Why not join me?

A Go Figure Debut for a Reading Specialist Who Is New

Nicole has taught kindergarten and first grade, is a Certified Bilingual Teacher for Spanish in the state of Texas as well as a Master Reading Teacher. During her two years as a reading specialist, she met with reading groups ranging from kindergarten to fifth grades, in conjunction with mentoring and coaching teachers. Her favorite part of being a reading specialist was getting to know and working with so many unique teachers and students. Like most teachers, she loved witnessing the progress of young minds growing and learning so much in just one short school year.

Nicole describes her classroom as a hands-on, differentiated learning environment where children are encouraged to question as much as they are encouraged to learn. She likes planning engaging and differentiated lessons that reach and challenge all learners. Presently, Nicole is a stay-at-home mother of two small children.

Her hobbies are running, cooking, and baking. She especially likes finding yummy healthy recipes. (I could use a few of those!) She likes spending time with her family, taking her children to the park, and visiting her mom, sister, nieces and nephew. When her extended family gets together, she claims that they are all about cooking and eating!!

Nicole’s Teachers Pay Teachers store is called Teacher of 20. It contains a total of 81 resources with four of them being free. 

Her products are perfect for the PreK-2nd classroom, and are mainly for independent centers/work stations in literacy and math. One of those free items is Word Work for October. It features three different activities – a Zig Zag Puzzle, Roll an October Word and Spin and Jump.

Only $9.99

She also has a 330 page CVC Pack of Printables and Literacy Activities. By purchasing this bundle, you save $7.00. Here are just a few of the items included in this resource.
  • 6 student printable books of short vowel words
  • 68 "sound it out" 3 piece puzzles with 2 different accountability sheets
  • 68 zig zag puzzles with 2 accountability sheets
  • 12 color "Spin it!" games and 21 black and white "Spin It!" no-prep printables
  • 4 "Write It!" black and white no-prep printables
  • A word wall for each short vowel
…and much, much more. 

If you are a primary teacher, take some time and check out her store as I am sure Nicole’s quality and reasonably priced products will save you time!

Problem Solving Top Ten List #3

The first step in the problem solving process is to correctly identify the problem. The next is to explore, identify, and choose a problem solving strategy. The third step in the process is to correctly implement the strategy chosen. But what happens when a student swears his/her strategy isn’t working? Usually, they have a problem solving habit that I might categorize as “malfunctioning” (not effective). Let’s look at the worst problem solving habits that some of your students just might have.

  1. Trying to do it all in your head; not writing anything down.
  2. Arbitrarily choosing a strategy.
  3. Staying with a strategy when it is not working.
  4. Giving up on a strategy too early.
  5. Getting fixated on a single strategy and trying to use it for everything.
  6. Not asking yourself: “Does this make sense?”
  7. Being afraid to ask for help.
  8. Not checking your answer.
  9. Not noticing patterns.
  10. Going through the motions instead of thinking.
The student should be asking...
  1. Have I shown an adequate amount of work to demonstrate what strategy I have used?
  2. Is there more than one strategy which I could use to solve this problem?
  3. Does choosing one strategy over another make the implementation easier?
  4. Does the strategy I have chosen use any tables, charts, formulas or properties I need to review
  5. What technology or manipulatives could I use to help me solve the problem?
As mathematics teachers, what can we do in the
classroom to guide this kind of thinking?

A Go Figure Debut for a Clip Artist Who Is New!

Chermaine is the first Teachers Pay Teachers seller I have featured that lives outside of the United States. She is Malaysian; however, she resides in Singapore. For five years, she has taught science in secondary school, specializing in chemistry and physics. She currently has left school to start her own science and math learning center. She is also a local band vocalist, performing for charity shows regularly; so, singing is her forte!

In her store, The Cher Room, are 116 resources, five of which are free. Most of her items are clip art, with only about 5-6 items being learning aid materials. Presently, she is fully focusing on clip art (I love her work!) She already has quite a full assortment for biology and physics while chemistry, earth science and math sets are currently in the process of expansion and development.

To show her sincerity and determination in making Math Clip Art, her featured free item is a pizza fraction set that contains 12 graphics - six that are colored and six that are line art. Included in this set:
Free Item
  • Full Pizza
  • Half 
  • One-quarter
  • Three-quarters
  • One-eighth
  • Seven-eighths

Mega Bundle
One of her most popular sets is a non-science home set that Chermaine has chosen to be featured as her paid product. It is a mega bundle in which you get the ENTIRE HOME SERIES clip art for a total of 12 rooms/areas. Bundles are always great money savers on TPT!  She also sells this clip art in smaller bundles of four.

As a math instructor, I particularly love her perimeter and area clip art because she includes nine real life applications which are always hard to find. She also has 2-D and 3-D shape clip art, volume clip art and even clip art for the ever popular Pythagorean Theorem...something that is very difficult to obtain!

So if you are creating items for your science or math classroom or you just want quality clip art at a reasonable price, head on over to Chermaine's store where you will find a wealth of materials!

A Go Figure Debut for a Teacher from Nevada Who Is New!

Natalie Trouten
Natalie is an elementary teacher from Nevada. That's Nev-a-da, not Nev-ah-da!  (Did you know that “Nevada” is Spanish for snow covered? It is also known as the "Battle Born State" because it achieved statehood during the Civil War.) She has been teaching for 12 years, and currently teaches fifth grade. She describes her teaching style as flexible differentiation.

She is married with three incredible (that's the adjective she uses) children: two boys, ages 19 and 15, and her "baby" girl who she says is 10 but is going on 16. This is her third year as a TPT seller, and she loves the new friends she has made from the TPT site, blogs and Facebook pages! When she is not teaching (or grading papers), she is usually hiding in a corner with a good book.

Natalie has 78 different resources in her Teachers Pay Teachers store, 15 of which are free. One of those free items is a set of Reading Strategy Posters to be used before, during and after reading. It is a great elementary display to remind students of reading strategies such as words with literary and informational text. It is geared for grades 1-5. I have looked at it and feel it is a quality resource worth downloading.

One of Natalie’s paid resources is a 24 page Novel Study
that will work with any novel! (I like generic resources
Paid Resource
that can be used over and over again.) You can use these novel study pages for individual work, as part of literature circles, reader’s workshop or with whole class novels. You can utilize the entire set as a packet or pick and choose what will work best with the particular novel you are using in your classroom.
  • comprehension organizers
  • vocabulary activities
  • journal assignments
  • rubrics
  • reading goals and reflections
Natalie also has a blog called It’s Elementary. I personally checked it out and found some very interesting articles. Why not take a moment and do the same thing, and while you are there become a follower?

Top Ten Reasons for Getting Stuck when Problem Solving

A good process problem uses no set algorithm to find the solution. It requires a variety of processes (problem solving strategies) to find the solution. It is a problem that is easy to understand, is interesting, perhaps even whimsical, and has numbers sufficiently small enough so that lengthy computation is unnecessary.

Standard Word Problem: Jack's family plans to rent a camping trailer for vacation. The rent is $22.50 a day. What will it cost to rent the camping trailer for one week?

A Problem that Requires Problem Solving: Drew and Addie are playing a game. At the end of each game, the loser gives the winner a chip. When they are done playing several games, Drew has won three games, but Addie has three more chips than she had when the game began. How many games did Drew and Addie play?

So what happens when your students try to do the process problem above and they have no idea what to do? In my last posting, I listed ten reasons why students get stuck when problem solving. Now let's consider why students get stuck in the first place.

Top Ten Reasons for Getting Stuck in the First Place:
  1. You tried to rush through the problem without thinking.
  2. You did not read the problem carefully.
  3. You don't know what the problem is asking for.
  4. You don't have enough information.
  5. You are looking for an answer that the problem isn't asking for.
  6. The strategy you are using doesn't work for this particular problem.
  7. You are not applying or using your strategy correctly.
  8. You failed to combine your strategy with another strategy.
  9. The problem has more than one answer.
  10. The problem cannot be solved.

Since students today tend to be more visual than anything else, a graphic organizer becomes a valuable math tool. The Triangular Graphic Organizer is generic so that it can be used to solve all kinds of formula problems such as: d=rt, A=lw, or c= a2 + b2. 

This five page handout explains in detail how to use the graphic organizer. It also contains several examples as well as a page of blank triangular graphic organizers to copy and use in your classroom.

Want the answer to the process problem? 

Check out the page above entitled: Answers to Problems.

A Go Figure Debut for a Couple Who Are New!

Matt and Tara's Store
When I first saw the Teachers Pay Teachers logo for the store "Tied 2 Teaching", I thought, "How clever!" "Tie" is definitely meant to be interpreted in more than one way. This store belongs to a married couple, Matt and Tara, from Arkansas.

Matt has been teaching full time for seven years, and has taught grades ranging from 4th through 8th grade. He has served as the chair of the math department and is currently involved with math and science leadership on the campus where he teaches. This year, he teaches all subject areas in a 5th grade class, and he loves it! In addition, his wife, Tara, homeschools their children as well as runs the business/social media aspect of their store.

This teaching team believes learning should be fun! Matt claims his classroom is often filled with silliness and laughter. From wearing funny hats to different ties each day, to creating magical math experiences, his students never know what will be next to bring a smile to their faces. He believes students learn best in an environment they enjoy! (Don't we all?) His students are encouraged to explore, create and try new things. In addition, he is passionate about finding ways to integrate math, science and literacy instruction.

Free Resource
This team has been selling on TPT for 17 months. Their store contains a broad range of product levels and content although the biggest percentage is for 5th grade math. They have over 370 different resources in their store, with 21 being free. 

Lately, Matt has been putting in more time into new science products. One of his free items is entitled, "Science Starters". It gives the teacher five designed printables to help establish morning routines and provides a varied, rigorous way to spiral and review Space Science objectives and standards with elementary students. They now have a free google drive version of this product as well.

Only $10.00
Another resource Tied to Teaching offers is a Math Test Prep Bundle for Fourth Grade. (It is also available for 3rd and 5th.) This collection of four Mathematics Prep-Tests is part of the comprehensive Smarter Design Test Prep Series. It provides the teacher with four complete, common core aligned, math prep tests that have been carefully constructed with the rigors of today's standardized tests in mind. Each test is designed to look and "feel" like the real thing and presents students with a variety of question types that ask them to grapple with information in multiple ways. Matt encourages teachers to take their students to new academic heights and PREPARE SMARTER, NOT HARDER, with Smarter Design Test Prep! 

With high stake testing just around the corner, this would be the perfect time to check out Tied to Teaching and the 30 test prep resources they have available. While you are there, why not become a store follower? In addition, take a few minutes to check out their Facebook page.

Problem Solving - Getting Unstuck!

Math courses are not like other courses. To pass most other subjects, a student must read, understand, and recall the subject matter. However, to pass math, an extra step is required: a student must use the information they have learned to solve math problems correctly. Special math study skills are needed to help the student learn more and to get better grades.

The study of mathematics should emphasize problem solving so that students can use and apply a wide variety of strategies to investigate and understand mathematical content. In this way, they acquire confidence in using mathematics meaningfully and the assurance that they can be successful in math.

But what is a real problem that requires problem solving? A real problem solving problem presents a challenge that cannot be resolved by some routine procedure known to the student and where the student accepts the challenge! Now, there's the dilemma, students who actually accept the challenge and are persistent enough to solve the problem.

What can we, as math instructors, do when students become frustrated, exasperated and discouraged and say they are stuck? Let's look at ten ways to help them get "unstuck".

Top Ten Ways to Get Unstuck
    Free Resource
  1. Re-read the problem. 
  2. Modify your strategy. 
  3. Change your strategy. 
  4. Combine your strategy with another strategy. 
  5. Look at the problem from a new perspective. 
  6. Look at the answer. 
  7. Look at other similar problems. 
  8. Ask for help. 
  9. Wait awhile and then try again. 
  10. All of the above.
Would you like a free resource about study tips? Check out Study Tips You Won't Forget. This resource lists 20 math study tips or guidelines intended to help students succeed in math.

Another Go Figure Debut for a Math Teacher Who Is New!

Meghan is a math teacher from Dallas, Texas who has been teaching for 12 years. She taught for six years in Ohio), and for the last six years she’s been teaching in Dallas, Texas at a private Montessori/International baccalaureate school. Meghan teaches mostly middle schoolers 7th grade pre-algebra and 8th grade algebra. Recently, her school started an upper school, and they add a grade each year. Presently, they have toddlers through 10th graders on their campus!! Her store is called Dr Pepper Lover; so, apparently she loves Dr Pepper.

She shared with me that her math classroom is colorful and inviting. Geometry has always been her favorite of the maths (mine, too). She claims to be very artsy and loves to doodle and create new designs with her trusty compass and straightedge. Several years ago she decided to try interactive notebooks with her pre-algebra and algebra students and they loved them! You can find many interactive notebook ideas, projects and activities for Pi Day (March 14th) on her own blog called Middle School Math with Mrs. Fahey.

Currently, her Teachers Pay Teachers store contains 98 resources. Although most of them are math related, she does have a few that are questions to be used after watching a movie such as The Beautiful Mind. The 24 questions are good for keeping students on task during the movie. She also has 13 resources that are guided notes to teach various math concepts such as ratios and proportions or absolute value.

She features 24 Color-by-Number resources. She insists, “Don’t be fooled. Middle schoolers are NOT too cool to color!” What fun your students might have with those! All of her resources are reasonably priced, and many are under $5.00. Six of her products are free!
Free Resource

Only Costs $6.00
One of her free resources is Matchy Math, and it plays like the old game show Concentration. You select doors and make matches in order to reveal pieces of a rebus puzzle. Think: a picture of a key + P represents the word “keep”. This game matches inequalities with their graphs.

Meghan has bundled five of her Color-by-Number activities into a resource called, Zombie Bundle: Absolute Value Equations/Inequalities and More. She says that the activities will really test your students’ BRAIN power and that your students will thank you for this homework! (That’s a novel idea!)

I hope you will take a moment to check out all of Meghan’s top quality products as well as her blog. Download one of her free items, and then take some time to leave her feedback.