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Snowflake Facts and Snowy Words - Get a FREE Crossword About Snow

I love winter. Yes, it's true. I love sweaters, a fire in the fireplace, throwing snowballs, eating snow ice cream and even the cold! As you can see from the photo, my grandchildren and I think snow is glorious.

Speaking of snow, have you ever wondered about snowflakes, how they are formed, how many different kinds there are? Here are a few fun facts about snowflakes that you might not have known.

  1.  The size of a snowflake depends on how many ice crystals connect together.
  2. Snowflakes form in a variety of different shapes.
  3. One of the determining factors in the shape of individual snowflakes is the air temperature around it.
  4. Snowflakes always have six sides.
  5. A single ice crystal is known as a snowflake.
  6. In total, 80 different shapes of snowflakes have been identified so far.
  7. Did you know that the saying that no two snowflakes are alike is actually a myth? It was true until in1988 when a scientist in Wisconsin managed to find two identical snowflakes.
I could go on and on, but since seven is the number of completion, I'll stop. 

While researching snowflakes, I started wondering how many words I could find that began with the word "snow" as I  wanted to make a winter crossword puzzle. I found 25 although there were plenty more; I just didn't want to make the clues to my puzzle overwhelming. 

The title of this new FREE resource is Snowy Words. It includes two winter crossword puzzles; each with 25 words that all begin with “snow.” One crossword includes a word bank which makes it easier to solve while the more challenging one does not. Even though the same vocabulary is used for each crossword, each grid is laid out differently. Answers keys for both puzzles are included. AND don't forget, you can download it for free!

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Free Winter Ebook for Grades PreK through High School - Filled With Ideas and Lessons for the Winter Holidays

It’s Christmas, a time for gift giving; so, the members of The Best of Teacher Entrepreneurs Marketing Cooperative (TBOTEMC) have put together an eBook of free holiday lessons as a gift for you. The free diverse lessons include a variety of activities for Prekindergarten through 12th grade. All you have to do is download the resource! (Below are samples of the lessons in the eBook. Click on the title to download.)
Now go back and download additional free lessons from our 34 holiday and Teacher Talk eBooks and receive hundreds of free lessons that you may use throughout the school year! 

From all the members of TBOTEMC, warm and joyous wishes to each of you this Christmas.

Using Crossword Puzzles to Study The Christmas Story as Recorded in the Bible

We may consider the Christmas tradition of reading the Nativity story a given, but after hearing others talk, it often gets overlooked in the hustle and bustle of opening gifts and preparing a big meal. The Christmas Story helps children discover one of the most important stories of all time. Through this story,  children come to understand the events leading up to Jesus' birth and this special miracle. It introduces children to the reason why we celebrate this special day, and shares with them the wonderful gift from God. 

I am aware there are numerous Christmas activities to choose from and many times, it is difficult to separate the "secular" Christmas activities from the Biblical ones. Maybe you are wondering, "What activity can I use to tell the Christmas Story in a different way?" Try using a crossword puzzle! 

I have created two Bible crossword puzzles for Christmas that are specifically designed to review and study the birth of Christ as recorded in the Bible. Both are free form crossword puzzles that feature 25 words with Scripture references. If an answer is unknown, the Bible reference provides a way to find the answer while encouraging the use of the Bible. The words included in both puzzles are Bethlehem, Caesar Augustus, December, east, Egypt, Elizabeth, frankincense, Gabriel, glory, gold, Jesus, Joseph, King Herod, magi, manger, Mary, Merry Christmas, Messiah, myrrh, Nazareth, Quirinius, save, shepherds, star, and terrified.

One crossword includes a word bank which makes it easier to solve while the more challenging one does not. Even though the same words are used for each crossword, each grid is laid out in a different way; so, you have two distinct puzzles. Here are some ways you might use these crosswords.
  1. Pass them out while the children are waiting to open presents. It might change their focus!
  2. Include the adults in the puzzle solving by giving them the crossword without the word bank.
  3. Work with a sibling or cousin or friend to learn the characters of the Christmas story.
  4. Use the crossword with the word bank as a review; then hand out the second puzzle to solve as a way to reflect on what facts about Christmas have been learned.
  5. Offer a small prize to the teams or individuals that get all off the answers correct.
Answers keys for both puzzles are included; so, you don't have to search them out yourself.

The Left Angle Mystery - Does Such an Angle Exist?

Geometry is probably my favorite part of math to teach because it is so visual; plus the subject lends itself to doing many hands-on activities, even with my college students.  When our unit on points, lines and angles is finished, it is time for the unit test.  Almost every year I ask the following question:  What is a left angle?   Much to my chagrin, here are some of the responses I have received over the years NONE of which are true!

1)   A left angle is the opposite of a right angle.

2)  On a clock, 3:00 o'clock is a right angle, but 9:00 o'clock is a left angle.

3)  A left angle is when the base ray is pointing left instead of right.

    4)      A left angle is 1/2 of a straight angle, like when it is cut into two pieces, only it is the part on the left, not the part on the right.
5)      A left angle is 1/4 of a circle, but just certain parts. Here is what I mean.

Now you know why math teachers, at times, want to pull their hair out!  Just to set the record straight, in case any of my students are reading this, there is no such thing as a left angle!  No matter which way the base ray is pointing, any angle that contains 90is called a right angle.

If you would like some different hands-on ways to teach angles, you might look at the resource entitled, Angles: Hands-on Activities.  This resource explains how to construct different kinds of angles (acute, obtuse, right, straight) using items such as coffee filters, plastic plates, and your fingers. Each item or manipulative is inexpensive, easy to make, and simple for students to use. All of the activities are hands-on and work well for kinesthetic, logical, spatial, and/or visual learners.


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Using Glyphs to Gather Information, Interpret Data and Follow Directions

What is a Glyph?
A glyph is a non-standard way of graphing a variety of information to tell a story. It is a flexible data representation tool that uses symbols to represent different data. Glyphs are an innovative instrument that shows several pieces of data at once and necessitates a legend/key to understand the glyph and require problem solving, communication, and data organization.

Remember coloring pages where you had to color in each of the numbers or letters using a key to color certain areas? Or how about coloring books that were filled with color-by-numbers? These color-by-number pages are a type of glyph. Some other activities we can call glyphs would be the paint-by-number kits, the water paints by color coded paint books, and in some cases, even model cars. Some of the model cars had numbers or letters attached to each piece that had to be glued together. These days, this could be considered a type of glyph.

What is the Purpose of a Glyph?

A glyph is a symbol that conveys information nonverbally. Glyphs may be used in many ways to get to know more about students and are extremely useful for students who do not possess the skill to write long, complex explanations. Reading a glyph and interpreting the information represented is a skill that requires deeper thinking. Students must be able to analyze the information presented in visual form. In other words, a glyph is a way to collect, display and analyze data. They are very appropriate to use in the CCSS data management strand (see standards below) of math.  Glyphs actually a type of graph as well as a getting-to- know-you type of activity.

CCSS.Math.Content.1.MD.C.4  Organize, represent, and interpret data with up to three categories;
ask and answer questions about the total number of data points, how many in each category, and how many more or less are in one category than in another. 

CCSS.Math.Content.2.MD.D.10  Draw a picture graph and a bar graph (with single-unit scale) to represent a data set with up to four categories. Solve simple put-together, take-apart, and compare problems using information presented in a bar graph. 

For example, if the number of buttons on a gingerbread man tells how many people are in a family, the student might be asked to “Count how many people are in your family. Draw that many buttons on the gingerbread man." Since each child is different, the glyphs won't all look the same which causes the students to really look at the data contained in them and decide what the glyphs are showing.

Holiday glyphs can be a fun way to gather information about your students. You can find several in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  My newest one is for Thanksgiving and involves reading and following directions while at the same time requiring problem solving, communication and data organization. The students color or put different items on a turkey based on information about themselves. Students finish the turkey glyph using the seven categories listed below. 

1) Draw a hat on the turkey (girl or a boy?)
2) Creating a color pattern for pets or no pets.
3) Coloring the wings based on whether or not they wear glasses.
4) Writing a Thanksgiving greeting based on how many live in their house.
5) Do you like reading or watching TV the best?
6) How do they get to school. (ride or walk?)
7) Pumpkins (number of letters in first name)

THE O-H-I-O State and the Math Polygon - Octagon

An octagon is any eight sided polygon.  We often use a stop sign as an example of an octagon in real life.  But in a actuality, a stop sign is a regular octagon meaning that all of the angles are equal in measure (equiangular) and all of the sides have the same length (equilateral).  For an eight sided shape to be classified as an octagon, it needs to have only eight sides.

I got to thinking about this since fall is just around the corner, and our family are BIG Ohio State football fans.  Being raised in Ohio and having relatives who taught at Ohio State have fueled this obsession, but so has doing graduate work there.  If you aren't familiar with the Ohio State Buckeyes, here is your opportunity to learn something new.

On the right you will see one of the many symbols for THE Ohio State University.  The red "O" is geometric because it is an octagon (just count the sides). Even the beginning of the word Ohio is an octagon. (I just adore mathematics in real life!)

The Ohio Stadium, a unique double-deck horseshoe design, is one of the most recognizable landmarks in all of college athletics. It has a seating capacity of 102,780 and is the third largest on-campus facility in the nation. Attending football games in the Ohio Stadium or watching the game on television is a Saturday afternoon ritual for most Ohio State fans.  The stadium is even listed in the National Registry of Historic Places. Anyone (and we have) who has been to a game in the giant horseshoe understands why. There are few experiences more fun or exciting!  In the middle of the football field is the octagonal O as seen in the picture below. (Another example of math in real life!)

Before I continue this posting, I must answer the age old question, "What is a buckeye?"  Since I grew up in Ohio, this question is easy for me to answer, but for everyone else, a buckeye is a nut. (I bet many of you thought it was candy.) Buckeye trees grow in many places in Ohio. The trees drop a "fruit" that comes in a spiked ball with a seam that runs around it. If you crack the seeds open, you can remove the "buckeye." When the nut dries, it is mostly brown in color but it has a light color similar to an over-sized black-eyed pea on one end. This coloration bears a vague resemblance to an eye hence the name, buckeye. 

Then there is Brutus Buckeye, (a student dressed in a costume) the official mascot of THE Ohio State University; so, you might say, since I was born and raised in Ohio, I am a nut!  Brutus (as seen on the left) wears a headpiece resembling a buckeye nut, a block O hat, (another octagon), a scarlet and gray shirt inscribed with the word "Brutus" on the front and the numbers "00" on the back.  Brutus also wears red pants with an Ohio State towel hanging over the front, and high white socks with black shoes. Both male and female students may carry out the duties of Brutus Buckeye as long as they are a committed Ohio State fan.

Finally, if you ever are lucky enough to see four people with their hands in the air, forming letters of the alphabet, it is most likely four Ohio state fans spelling out O-H-I-O!  That's how our grandchildren learned how to spell it! (The picture on the right is of our youngest son with his four groomsmen on the day of his wedding.)

And it is so-o-o easy to remember.  Just use this riddle:  What is round on the ends and high in the middle?  You guessed it - OHIO!

Happy Pumpkin Day!

I just love math cartoons, and Fox Trot seems to use math in quite a few. (Maybe the author is actually a mathematician!) Here is one of my favorites and just in time for Halloween.

Hey! A little math humor, even on Halloween,
can be "ghoul"!

A 2022 Go Figure Debut for a Full Time TPT Seller Who is New

Anne has devoted 20+ years to elementary education, mostly in 2nd and 3rd grades. She currently is not in the classroom but spends her time as a teacher-author on Teachers Pay Teachers full-time. Her favorite part of teaching was seeing a child's eyes light up when she told them they were going to do a science experiment or play a math game Anne says her classroom was always organized and exciting! Students couldn't wait to get to school! Many parents commented that their child talked about her and school non-stop at dinner each night (something, as teachers, we all hope for).

Anne loves to spend time with her family, especially her adorable grandchildren! In addition, she loves to travel! Recently she and her husband took a cruise to Alaska. It really was a trip of a lifetime and certainly much cooler in July than in Texas, her home state. They also like to travel to Cabo, Oregon, California and South Carolina. They even took a trip to the beautiful country of Barbados a couple of years ago for her nephew's wedding.

Anne has 842 resources in her TPT store Believe to Achieve by Anne Rozelle, and 22 of those resources are free. The free items are primarily for grades 2-3 in the area of math. Anne’s featured free item is called 3rd Grade Math Spiral Review Worksheets Free Sample Digital and Printable. It is an easy-to-use resource to help students practice math skills all year long. It includes three printable worksheets, three digital worksheets and three answer keys that are perfect for practicing math skills with nine math problems per day to spiral through math. Answer keys are provided for easy grading.

Anne’s paid resource is a bundle entitled Halloween Multiplication Facts 1’s to 12’s Bundle/Jokes/Digital Print. This resource helps students practice the multiplication facts from 1 to 12 and contains fun Halloween jokes to engage the students! Included are 12 different worksheets for practicing these multiplication facts with the same 12 different worksheets as digital. Included in the bundle are answer keys for easy grading.

In addition to being a full time TPT seller, Anne writes a blog called Believe to Achieve, the same name as her store. You might want to check it out.

Anne believes that if a student thinks learning is fun, then he/she will learn more; therefore, using materials that are engaging and curriculum related is essential! Those are the type of materials that Anne creates; so, I strongly suggest you take time to visit her store. While there, download a couple of her free items to get a good idea of the type of materials she creates.

This year, I've been featuring TPT sellers that are members of The Best of Teacher Entrepreneurs Marketing Cooperative (TBOTEMC). Both Anne and I are members. TBOTEMC has been in existence since 2014 and is made up of teachers who work together. Whether you are a beginner seller  or a veteran seller on TPT, let the power of the group’s cross-promotions help you market your TpT products and take your TpT store to the next level. Click the red acronym for more information on how you can join TBOTEMC.  

"BOO" to Fractions? Recognizing Equivalent Fractions

Here is a Halloween riddle: Which building does Dracula like to visit in New York City? Give up? It's the Vampire State Building!! (Ha! Ha!) Here is another riddle. What do ghosts eat for breakfast?  Scream of Wheat and Ghost Toasties!

Okay, so what do these riddles have to do with teaching math? I have been attempting to come up with ways for my students to recognize fractional parts in lowest terms. As you know from this blog, I have used Pattern Sticks, the Divisibility Rules, and finding Digital Root. These are all strategies my students like and use, but to be a good mathematician requires practice - something most of my students dread doing. I can find many "drill and kill" activities, but they tend to do just that, drill those who don't need it and kill those who already know how to do it. So to drill and "thrill", I created fractional word puzzles for specific times of the year.

The one for October is Halloween Fraction Riddles. It contains eight riddles that the students must discover by correctly identifying fractional parts of words. For instance, my first clue might be:

The first 2/3's of WILLOW. The word WILLOW contains six letters. It takes two letters to make 1/3; therefore, the first 2/3's would be the word WILL. This causes the students to group the letters (in this case 4/6), and then to reduce the fraction to lowest terms. The letters are a visual aid for those students who are still having difficulty, and I observe many actually drawing lines between the letters to create groups of two. 

At first, I thought my students would breeze through the activities, but to my surprise, they proved to be challenging as well as somewhat tricky - just perfect for a Trick or Treat holiday. Maybe this is an activity you would like to try with your intermediate or middle school students. Just click on this link: Halloween Fraction Riddles.

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Making Parent Teacher Conferences Meaningful

Are You….....
  • Tired of always talking about grades at parent/teacher conferences? 
  • Tired of feeling like nothing is ever accomplished during the allotted time? 
  • Are you having problems with a student, but don’t know how to tell the parents? 
  • Do you want to be specific and to-the-point? 
When I taught middle school and/or high school, these were the items that really discouraged me. I knew I had to come up with a better plan if I wanted parent/teacher conferences to be worthwhile and effective for both the student and the parents. I created a a checklist that I could follow, use during conferences, and then give a copy to the parents at the end of the conference.  It contained nine, brief, succinct checklists which were written as a guide so that during conferences I could have specific items to talk about besides grades. I found it easy to complete and straight forward plus it provided me with a simple outline to use as I talked and shared with parents.

Since other teachers were able to use it successfully, I took that checklist and turned it into a resource called Parent/Teacher Conference Checklist, Based on Student Characteristics and Not Grades. Nine different categories are listed for discussion.  They include:
  1. Study Skills and Organization 
  2. Response to Assignments 
  3. In Class Discussion 
  4. Class Attitude 
  5. Reaction to Setbacks 
  6. Accountability 
  7. Written Work 
  8. Inquiry Skills 
  9. Evidence of Intellectual Ability 
To get ready for conferences, all you have to do is place a check mark by each item within the category that applies to the student. Then circle the word that best describes the student in that category such as "always, usually, seldom". (See example above.)

Finally, make a copy of the checklist so that the parent(s) or the guardian(s) will have something to review with their student when they return home.

Now you are ready for a meaningful and significant conference.

You're Teaching Fractions All Wrong! Don't Flip!

My college students in remedial math just finished the chapter on fractions. Talk about mathphobia. Dividing fractions was the most confusing for them because it requires finding the reciprocal of the second fraction, changing the division sign to a multiplication sign, and then multiplying the numerator times the numerator and the denominator times the denominator.

Let me introduce a new method entitled "Just Cross".

First and foremost, you must understand what division is. The statement 8 ÷ 4 means 8 divided into 4 equal sets, OR how many fours are in eight, OR how many times can we subtract 4 from 8? (Yes, division is repeated subtraction.)

Let me explain this using a hands-on visual. Let’s assume the fraction problem is:
The question being asked is, “How many ¼’s are in ½?” 
First, fold a piece of paper in half. The figure on the left represents ½. Next, fold the same sheet of paper in half again to make fourths as seen in the illustration on the right. When you unfold the paper, you will notice a total of four sections. So answering the original question: “How many ¼’s are in ½”, you can see that the half sheet of paper contains two parts; therefore:
Using the same example, to work the problem, the fraction 1/4 would have to be flipped to 4/1 nd then 1/2 would have to multiplied by 4/1 to get the correct answer of 2. That is why the division of fractions requires that the second fraction be inverted and the division sign be changed to a multiplication sign.

Let’s use the same fraction problem, but let’s utilize a different method entitled Just Cross. 
  • Cross your arms as a hands-on way of remembering the process.
  • Now multiply the denominator of 4 by 1 the denominator of 2 by1 as seen below. (We do nothing with the denominators.) Notice we always start on the right side and then we go to the left side. If it is done the opposite way, the answer will be incorrect. The answer of our first "cross" is the numerator (4 x 1); the answer to our second "cross" (2x1) is the denominator.
  • Now simply divide 4 by 2 to get the answer of 2.
No flipping; no reciprocal, no changing the division sign to a multiplication sign. Just Cross and divide. Amazingly, it works every time. 

Although fractions are something every student should learn, often times numerous students are left behind in the mathematical dust when a math textbook is followed page by page. I have a resource that features different ways to teach fractions using hands-on strategies similar to the one above. The unconventional techniques described in this math resource will always work.  Just go to Unlocking Fractions for the Confused and Bewildered.

A 2022 Go Figure Debut for a Reading Specialist Teacher Who is New!

Gini was a teacher for 31 years, 29 as a reading specialist. She has also taught ALL grades, K-12, in many formats - large class, small group, co-teaching, push-in, pull-out. You name it; she did it. She has always tried to meet her students where they are, learn about them individually, and group them accordingly for maximum progress. Retired now, she is still tutoring struggling readers, although she has been doing it only virtually since the pandemic started. Amazingly, remote learning has been going very well.

Surprise! Her favorite pastime is, reading. She loves non-fiction, mostly biographies, history, poetry, and educational research. Nerd that she is, Gini still looks for new and effective teaching ideas. Once in a while, she even reads a fiction book if it comes highly recommended.

Gini is also an avid gardener (So am I!). You can see photos of her Pittsburgh garden on Pinterest @ Loving Her Garden. On the left is just one of the many beautiful photos.

Believe it or not, Gini has no grass in her yard. She claims she was well ahead of climate change concerns when she developed it almost 40 years ago. She rarely has to water her garden, but oh, the weeds! She used to do all of the weeding and pruning herself until about 10 years ago when she started needing joint replacements. She now has a total of five (two knees, two hips, one shoulder). One more, and she will be totally bionic.

She is also an avid golfer. She used to play golf with her husband for 40 years about 3-4 times a week, mostly after school and in the summer. They often played moonlit golf as they usually were the last ones on the course. All that practice helped her win eight Women’s Championships and eight Husband and Wife Championships, though not in the same years. Her hubby still plays golf and often shoots his age or under, but she rarely plays anymore.

Gini joined TPT (Teachers Pay Teachers) in the first or second year of its development. (Me, too! We're oldies but goodies!) Currently, she has 122 resources in her store called Reading Spotlight with 20 of them being free. She joined because she wanted to share her best resources for effective and enjoyable practice for beginning and struggling readers. Having been an English teacher, her store also contains many fun grammar practice activities.

Her first free item ever posted on TPT was Johnny Appleseed: A Tall Tale Grammar Story, and it is still a popular download.  It is a Tall Tale Grammar story to practice grammar and spelling skills with intermediate and middle school students. The tale focuses on the most common errors in homophones, subject (verb agreement, apostrophe, capitalization, punctuation, irregular verbs and irregular plurals).

Gini's featured paid resource is a bundle entitled Learn To Read Bingo: Vowels.  Effective, enjoyable, and easy-to-use, this bargain bundle is a terrific way to practice the basic fundamentals of decoding. It is so-o-o much better than passing out another boring phonics worksheet.

The latest brain research indicates that humans remember in patterns. These games reinforce the most common short and long vowel phonograms in English. This word family approach improves reading, writing, and spelling, and the games are especially effective with students who do not hear phonics sounds well.

Gini developed many more Bingos and Word Searches for word analysis practice because she found that many struggling readers simply had gaps in their skills due to a lack of mastery for various reasons. She discovered all that many of them needed was extra practice in that skill.

Having taught several thousand struggling readers to read is the most rewarding experience of her life. Gini thanks all of them for their trust in her. Continuing to help them makes her feel useful and makes her happy every day.

Gini has other places where you can view her resources, read her blog posts or just get teaching ideas and strategies.


Again, I am featuring a TPT seller who is also a member of The Best of Teacher Entrepreneurs Marketing Cooperative (TBOTEMC) of which Gini and I are members. TBOTEMC is made up of teachers who work together to take their Teachers Pay Teachers stores to the next level. We use the power of cross-promotion to collaborate with our Pinterest, Facebook, and Teacher Talk blog marketing teams. For more information on how you can join this group, go to The Best of Teacher Entrepreneurs Marketing Cooperative

Using Two-Sided Colored Beans to Add and Subtract Positive and Negative Numbers

When it comes to adding and subtracting positive and negative numbers, many students have great difficulty. In reality, it is a very confusing and abstract idea; so, it is important to give the students a concrete visual to assist them in seeing the solution. This idea is based on the Conceptual Development Model which is important to use when introducing new math concepts. (See the August 14, 2019 post for more details about this learning model.) As a result, when teaching the concept of adding and subtracting positive and negative numbers, what would fall into each category?

When using the two-sided colored beans, the concrete stage of the Model would be where two-sided colored beans are used as an actual manipulative that can be moved around or manipulated by the students. There are a few rules to remember when using the beans.
  1. The RED beans represent negative numbers.
  2. The WHITE beans represent positive numbers. 
  3. One RED bean can eliminate one WHITE bean, and one WHITE bean can cancel out one RED bean. 
  4. All problems must be rewritten so that there is only one sign (+ or -) in front of each number.
Sample Problem

1) The student is given the problem - 5 + 2.

2) Since -5 is negative, the student gets out five red beans, and then two white beans because the 2 is positive.

3) Since some of the beans are red and two are white, the student must match one red bean with one white bean. (I tell my students that this is barbaric because the red beans eat the white beans. They love it!)

4) Because three red beans have no partner (they're left over) the answer to – 5 + 2 = - 3. (See example above.)

After mastering the concrete stage of the Conceptual Development Model, the students would move on to the pictorial stage. Sketching a picture of the beans would be considered pictorial. Have students draw circles to represent the beans, leaving the circles that denote positive numbers white and coloring the circles that represent negative numbers red.

As an example, let’s do the problem 3 - +5. First, rewrite the problem as 3 - 5. Now draw three white beans. Draw five more beans and color them red to represent -5. Match one white bean to one red bean. Two red beans are left over; therefore, the answer to 3 - +5 is -2.

3 - +5 = 3 – 5 = -2 

When students understand the pictorial stage, then abstract problems such as the ones in textbooks can be presented. (Notice, the textbook is the last place we go for an introduction.) I have found that most of my remedial college students move straight from the concrete stage (beans) to the abstract stage without any problem. Many put away the beans after two or three lessons. What works best for your students as they master this algebraic concept is something you will have to determine.

If you would like a resource that gradually goes through these lessons, you can purchase it on Teachers Pay Teachers. It introduces the algebraic concept of adding and subtracting positive and negative numbers and contains several integrated hands-on activities. They include short math lessons with step-by-step instructions on how to use the beans, visual aids and illustrations, four separate and different practice student worksheets with complete answers in addition to detailed explanations for the instructor.

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Be-Leaf Me! Fall is Great! Using Leaves in Science Investigations

When my husband's Aunt Sue moved to Florida, she would send home some strange requests.  One year, she wanted us to send her a box of fall leaves.  Since Florida lacks deciduous trees, her students were unaware of the gorgeous colors produced by the trees up north.  The only problem with her request was that the leaves we sent would be dry and crumbling by the time she received them. What to do?

I solved the problem by ironing the leaves between two sheets of wax paper.  It was something I had learned in elementary school many, many years ago (back when the earth was cooling).  My granddaughters still collect leaves so we can do the activity together.  Here is how you do it.
  1. Find different sizes and colors of leaves.
  2. Tear off two sheets of waxed paper - about the same size.
  3. Set the iron on "dry".  No water or steam here!
  4. The heat level of the iron should be medium.
  5. Place leaves on one piece of the waxed paper.
  6. Lay the other piece on top.
  7. Iron away!
On the right, you will see what ours looked like when we were finished.

Only $5.25
You can also use this activity to identify leaves.  According to my husband who knows trees, leaves and birds from his college studies, we "waxed" a maple leaf, sweet gum leaf, elm leaf, cottonwood leaf (the state tree of Kansas), and two he doesn't recognize because they are some kind of ornamentals. So my suggestion is to get out there and start gathering leaves because your students, children and grandchildren will love me!

Do you want your students to have fun with leaves? Check out  a six lesson science performance demonstration for the primary grades which utilizes leaves. This inquiry guides the primary student through the scientific method of 1) exploration time, 2) writing a good investigative question, 3) making a prediction, 4) designing a plan, 5) gathering the data, and 6) writing a conclusion based on the data. A preview of the investigation is available. Just click on the title. After all you might have an unbe-leaf-able time!

Sock It Away! What To Do With Those Annoying Cell Phones in the Classroom

Most of us can't live without our cell phones.  Unfortunately, neither can our students.  I teach on the college level, and my syllabus states that all cell phones are to be put on "silent", "vibrate", or turned off when class is in session.  Sounds good, doesn't it?  Yet, one of the most common sounds in today's classrooms is the ringing of a cell phone, often accompanied by some ridiculous tune or sound effect that broadcasts to everyone a call is coming in.  It’s like “technological terror" has entered the classroom uninvited.  Inevitably, this happens during an important part of a lesson or discussion, just when a significant point is being made, and suddenly that "teachable moment" is gone forever.

What are teachers to do?  Some instructors stare at the offender while others try to use humor to diffuse the tension. Some collect the phone, returning it to the student later.  A few have gone so far as to ask the student to leave class.

In my opinion the use of cell phones during class time is rude and a serious interruption to the learning environment. What is worse is the use of the cell phone as a cheating device.  The college where I teach has seen students take a picture of the test to send to their friends, use the Internet on the phone to look up answers, or have answers on the phone just-in-case.  At our college, this is cause for immediate expulsion without a second chance.  To avoid this problem, I used to have my students turn their cell phones off and place them in a specific spot in the classroom before the test was passed out.  Unfortunately, the students’ major concern during the test was that someone would walk off with their phone.  Not exactly what I had planned!

It's a CUTE sock and
perfect for a cell phone!
A couple of years ago, a few of us in our department tried something new.  Each of us has purchased those long, brightly colored socks that seem to be the current fashion statement.  (I purchased mine at the Dollar Tree for $1.00 a pair.)  Before the test, each student had to turn off their cell phone, place it in the sock, tie the sock into a knot and place the sock in front of them. This way, the student still had control over their cell phone and could concentrate on doing well on the test, and I did not have to constantly monitor for cheating.

At the end of the semester, we compared notes.  Overall, we found that the students LOVED this idea.  Many said their students were laughing and comparing their stylish sock with their neighbor's.  I was surprised that a few of the students even wanted to take their sock home with the matching one – of course.  So here is a possible side benefit....maybe socking that cell phone away caused my students to TOE the line and study!


Need more ideas for helping with those annoying classroom irritations? Here is  resource that offers a number of practical and realistic ideas about classroom management and how to eliminate those day-after-day aggravating and annoying student problems that keep resurfacing in your classroom. It is perfect for novice teachers, beginning teachers or for student teachers. It is also a good review for those who have been teaching for a number of years.

A 2022 Go Figure Debut for a Teacher, Author, and TPT Seller

Jen's Store
Meet Jen from Tennessee, an author, TPT seller and teacher. For 13 years, she homeschooled and now she is teaching at the community college level in person, online, and dual enrollment at a private high school. What she likes best about teaching is getting to know her students as individuals, going beyond their names and finding out who they really are. She prefers that her students have multiple ways of learning, so they can actually learn the material. What's more, Jen teaches Oral Communication/Public Speaking. Many of her students have anxiety about speaking in public, nevertheless she delights in seeing them conquer their fears!

Jen just finished her first novel called Finding Ginny (It’s not published YET) and is currently working on her second! She loves writing and has blogged and guest blogged for years. (Check out her blog.) Finally finishing her first book was super exciting, and Jen is so proud of herself for pushing through. Of course, she loves to read, and she reads fast.

On a personal note, dark roast, hot and plain coffee is her go-to. Jen has been married for 36 years. She and her husband have five grown kids, and they have two amazing granddaughters! In addition, they have two dogs and three cats. Her favorites (don't tell the others) are her old black cat, Tom, and her old brown dog, Jerry.

Currently, Jen has over 130 resources in her TpT store, History at Home, and ten of those are free. Some are for early elementary, while others are for high school. She started out with an American History curriculum she wrote for K-3. Her featured FREE item is part of this curriculum and is called The Mystery of Roanoke Island. It’s about John White and the colonists who travelled to Virginia! See if your students can solve the mystery of the Lost Colony of Roanoke. Students will learn through text, vocabulary words, pictures and more in this supplemental lesson that goes with her 34 week early American history curriculum that Jen sells on TPT.

In addition, Jen has written a number of resources for high school including this Communication Skills & Speech Analysis Bundle. It includes resources she uses when she teaches dual enrollment classes for Oral Communication! The two effective communication skills resources cover body language, nonverbal communication, listening skills, and perception skills. Then there are four speeches to analyze which use the skills learned in the two communication skills products - Martin Luther King Jr., Maya Angelou, Admiral McRaven, and Malala.

Her writing blog, Jen Dodrill Writes, offers encouragement and how-tos for writers, as well as following her writing journey. I discovered her articles are worthwhile as they give practical ideas any high school teacher can use in the classroom. The titles of a few of her posts are:
Take time to read one or two of them. (Just click on the article’s title.) You will get some very clear direction and useful suggestions in improving your or your students’ writing.


In 2022, I am showcasing Teachers Pay Teachers sellers who are also TBOTEMC members. Both Jen and I are members. "The Best of Teacher Entrepreneur's Marketing Cooperative" (TBOTEMC) is made up of teachers who promote their resources as a group. Why not consider becoming a member to take your TPT store to the next level?