8 Ideas to Deal with Absent Students

    Absent students create additional thought and organization in every classroom. Each school and district have district policies on dealing with missing work due to absences. In my district the students are allowed number of absences plus one to make up missing work, however, this is not a hard rule.  If a parent requests missing work, the teacher is expected to provide it even if this consists of the entire semester. Students with accommodations are allowed to turn in work “late” and last year I was required to provide 18 weeks of missing work. It was never completed and turned it. […]

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    Why I Refuse to Assign Homework This Year

    As a math teacher, I am expected to assign homework.  After all, math requires practice.    I can liken that practice (in my mind)  to a Olympic champion practicing the balance beam hours daily to perfect that one skill.  The problem is—my students are not Olympic champions or even Olympic hopefuls.  They have no interest in the balance beam or balancing equations. None. This year I am teaching what is commonly referred to as Repeat Algebra. I have 10thand 11th graders who have not passes Algebra and therefore are not on track for graduation. Let’s be honest, they have seen this same material […]

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    5 Tips for Successful Parent Conferences

    I remember as a new teacher looking forward to parent conferences, and parent calls home, and parent visits, etc.  Yes, I was a typical, over the top, optimistic new teacher.  That did not last long. That first year taught me several things about parents, students and my role in the classroom in dealing with both.  And like all things, parents and students have changed. 1)  It Isn’t a Popularity Contest.  And if it was—you lose.  Parents, guardians, family always chose the child.  It doesn’t matter what the child is doing in your classroom, the child is right.  Even if  the […]

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    11 Online Tools for Secondary Students

    With a new school year, it is time to try something new.  In no particular order, some of my favorite online programs for the classroom: 1)  Quizlet.  I attended the Quizlet Unconference before school began to trim my learning curve.  I cannot believe how easy it is to use.  The basics are study cards, definition (graph, picture, diagram, etc) on one side and definition or explanation on the other.  But you can use this set in a variety of ways.  I used a statistics set that was done in Spanish for my ELL students.  You can study the cards, or […]

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    7 Ideas to Increase Student Motivation

    This year I am teaching Algebra I to students who have already failed (some more than 3 or 4 times).  I teach it differently to these students because they have already seen it before.   They think there is nothing new in math.  They are wrong.  Here are some ways I get these bored students interested in math again. 1) Tell a good story. I can get really worked up about girls having the right to study math and be really good at it.   Did you know that Pythagoreas (father of the Pythagorean Theorem) had a secret society and allowed both […]

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    Unsolicited Advice for New Teachers (or how not to make the same mistakes I did)

    All of us began as new teachers so every teacher has stories that will curl the hair of even the baldest person. And despite all the advice new teachers are given—most of it unsolicited-New teachers will have their own stories by their fifth year.  I have been a coach/support provider for the last 10 years, helping teachers who are in their first two years of teaching avoid some of the obvious pitfalls that all of us have experienced.  1) Ask More Questions You are not going to know everything, so you need to ask questions.  Asking questions does not imply […]

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    6 Musts to Starting a New School Year

    Starting the school year is exciting.  It is also stressful.  I understand the student anxiety really well because I have the same fears: “What if no one likes me”, “What happens if I am bullied”, “What if I don’t know anyone”.  Yes, I have those same thoughts and I have been in school—for one reason or another- for over half my life. So if I am still stressed and worried at my age, imagine how young students feel—whether you have elementary students or high school. Here are 6 ways to get the year started successfully and if you are struggling  […]

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    Ways to Use Digital Task Cards

    I have been using a variety of digital resources for the last 5 years.  Mostly online resources, which do a good job to reinforce teaching, provide independent practice that students need and give me some formative assessment on student learning.  Yes, there are a lot of resources out there.  But last summer, I found a new one and fell in love. I am obsessed with Boom CardsTM.  If you are not familiar with these cards, settle back and I will give you the scoop.  Boom Cards are digital task cards to be “played” on a device—think chrome book, iPad, phone, […]

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    I Love Polynomials

    This year I have tried to incorporate more vocabulary activities in the classroom. There have been studies that vocabulary in a typical math course is like studying a foreign language, even without all the math confusion.   I have 3-4 students in each of my classes who do not speak English at all.  Using a lot of pictures, diagrams and activities that can connect math vocabulary to something concrete has both been helpful and fun.  Fun for all the students. Recently we started out Polynomials unit in Algebra class.  I spend the first day with notes on vocabulary, talking about exponents, […]

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    3 Quick Technology Ideas—even if you are a non-tech person

     Recently, a friend asked me to give her some ideas to spice up the classroom with a little technology—one of my favorite subjects.  I took a deep breath and was about to start a long monologue when she held up a hand and said “Just give me 3 quick ideas”.  Hmmm.  I know this is changing slowly but not all teachers have chrome carts in the classrooms so students are not able to be 1:1.  But there are some things you can do to spice up your lessons and use a little bit of technology and have fun. Ready? 1.  […]

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