Preparing Your Students for Interactive Notebook Success

As we start back to school and are getting our ducks in a row, it is important to prepare our students for success when they are using their Interactive Notebooks. Last year I created an editable Expectation Guide for you to use in your classroom to help get things started. You can grab it for FREE to use in your classroom!

Expectation Guide

I’ve had several teacher email me recently asking on what I put under each section so I thought I should probably blog about it to share that information with you. Remember that YOUR NOTEBOOK MAY VARY and therefore your expectations in your classroom may vary so please don’t take my word as the be-all-end-all as we all have our own ways of doing things.

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As you can see this puts the basic expectations out there for students (and parents) and keeps them abreast of what to expect throughout the school year. When it is already presented to them in this format they know what to expect and what will be expected.

Enjoy your school year and happy notebooking!

Free Math Activity for Minion Fans

Free Minion Math Centers

What makes you happy? Minions? Freebies? Well, how about Minion Freebies? I absolutely LOVED the Minion movie this last weekend, and I know our students did too!

Free Minion Math Centers

These free math activities on Educents offers 22 printable pages of math activities for Minion fans. It covers addition, subtraction, measurement, money, and more!

Minion Math Centers Freebie

  • Minion Addition (to 12)
  • Minion Subtraction (to 12)
  • Minions Making Ten
  • Minion Measurement
  • Minion Money Match
  • Missing Minion Numbers
  • Minion Number Cards

Minion Freebie - Educents 2

If you’re looking for more ways to make math learning fun, check this out:

Early Math Musical DVDs

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This DVD set from Rock ‘N’ Learn is a fun way to boost math skills for the early grades. Like the Minions, these DVDs have fun characters your little ones will love to get to know! Math facts are easy to learn with fun music and exciting animation. Learn all about counting coins and bills and practice making change. Kids will learn to tell time to the hour, half hour, and minute using traditional analog clocks. Includes Addition & Subtraction Rap DVD, Money & Making Change DVD, and the Telling Time DVD.

I hope this math freebie made by Amy of Teaching in Blue Jeans makes you happy. Download the Free Minion Math Centers, then go ahead and do a little dance! :) It expires 08/02!

How to Connect with Your Students {The First Year Teacher Book Tour}

It's easy to get overwhelmed when a new school year starts. Don't let that overwhelm cause you to miss making a solid connection with your students! Here's some invaluable tips on how to connect with your students.

Every year as we start back to school I begin to take time to reflect on some of the lessons that I have learned over the years. This year will mark my twelvth year in education and no matter what I still continue to learn new things about my own teaching style as well as the students, and teachers, that I work with.

These days, new teachers are leaving the field at a rate of 50% – decreasing the teacher population while the student population increases. Brian and Eric of Wise Guys have used their combined experience of 40 years in the classroom to help tackle the problem, by writing an e-book to motivate new teachers along wiht creating a large resource guide to equip new teachers with the tools they need for success. They also create a FREE e-book for more established teachers to start this new school year off strong.

I remember what it was like to be a new teacher back in 2004, I thought I was so ready for day one in my very own classroom with 22 fifth graders. I had all the training in college, done my student teaching and even had been substitute teaching or 4 years… what else did I need to know? I had the first day planned out to thee minute to cover every single rule, policy and procedure that I wanted to put in place. I moved around my classroom with ease as I was going over things. My students sat there with blank looks on their faces and I just knew they were soaking it all in. UMM, WRONG! I was giving them WAY TOO MUCH info at one time. They needed time to acclimate back to being in school and learn all about their new teacher and new classmates.

When lunch time came around I was ready for a nap! I had talked pretty much non-stop for about 3 hours and didn’t know if I could do this everyday. I sat down with my team at lunch and listened to the veterans on my team of 9 fifth grade teachers and learned that many of them had barely even covered the “rules” as they wanted to observe their students interactions. Why didn’t I think of this? I love to people watch and this is a great way to do just that. After we arrived back into the classroom from lunch and recess I allowed my students time to mingle with each other first within their own groups and then doing an icebreaker as a whole class. Now this was the right way to build a family in our classroom.

We as teachers have to remember that we are all new each year and even if they have been in classes with some of the students before the dynamic is always changing. From that year on I took time on the first day to build that family aspect in my classroom. Each year I did different icebreakers to vary things up but we were all getting to know each other on our own levels.

The First Year Teacher Book Tour

If you’re finding yourself overwhelmed in anticipation of this upcoming school year, you definitely need to check out Brian and Eric’s new resources. The First Year Teacher is a great book to gift to new teachers, to equip them to excel in their new profession. They also have a companion resource guide, with resources for just about every situation that will arise in the school year. They also have a free ebook called 10 Things to Accomplish Before Back to School – filled with great reminders for even veteran teachers!

But here’s the best part – as part of this book tour, you can enter to win their First Year Teacher resources AND spending money at Teachers Pay Teachers using the giveaway widget below! Be sure to click over to their blog to check out the other stops on the book tour.

Join us for The First Year Teacher Book Tour to get all kinds of encouragement and great advice from veteran teachers, plus enter to win lots of prizes!

Photo credit here.

Spiral Bound Interactive Notebooks – Pre-Sale Extended!

Hey all! It’s been pretty silent around here – life got crazy, PLUS I was working on these new spiral bound interactive notebooks for teachers and a new format for the digital copy! Watch the video below to see both the new format to my interactive notebooks and the spiral bound copies in action! You can pre-order the spiral bound copies for 6th-8th grades at a discount through Wednesday morning, the digital copies will be updated for previous purchasers and new purchasers later this month! Along with the pre-sale, my digital copies for 6th, 7th and 8th  grades are on sale for $52! Other grade levels will be updated soon.

Edited to Add: The pre-sale is now over!

Only owners of the digital versions of the interactive notebooks can buy the spiral bound copy – the hard copies are a supplement to the digital copy, not an actual license. Follow the directions in the spiral bound copy listing before ordering, read the page in full!

Summer Lovin’ around here…

Wow, it has been some time since I have blogged and I truly hate that. I have been busy with work, doing some workshops and then just had some personal stuff going on as well. That personal stuff has made it where I am lacking my normal creativity and motivation to work. I hate that I am not working like I should but taking time for the personal life is just as important, if not most important for the well being of myself and others.

Starting next week I am on a roll for my summer workshops and conference presenting/exhibiting and it doesn’t stop until November! I have plans of so many things that I am working on (as well as finishing up some previously started items) and can’t wait to have them out to you. I’m not promising any dates right now because my schedule is crazy and won’t allow for that.

9 Great Resources for Project Based Learning in the Math Classroom

Throughout the school year teachers all over (just like you) are looking for ways to incorporate multiple skills into a lesson while actively engaging their students. With Project Based Learning in the math classroom you can do just that. Not sure what PBL is or how to implement it? Read this to learn all about it, plus where to find nine great resources to implement it in your own classroom!

Throughout the school year teachers all over (just like you) are looking for ways to incorporate multiple skills into a lesson while actively engaging their students. With Project Based Learning you can do just that. What is Project Based Learning? Project Based Learning is a multi-disciplinary approach to learning where students gain knowledge by working for an extended perior of time (more than one class period) to investigate, research and respond to a given problem, challenge or question.

Bringing Problem Based Learning into your classroom can be extremely easy and the resources below will help you do just that.

Here in Texas our math standards have been modified to include Financial Literacy for every grade level. Not only has this thrown many teachers for a loop as the materials are hard to come by but it is also a new area to teach for all. In my classroom I LOVED using the "If I Had a Million Dollars" Project to help students realize some real-life situations where they would need to not only budget their money appropriately but also appropriately use a checkbook, ledger and more.

Here in Texas our math standards have been modified to include Financial Literacy for every grade level. Not only has this thrown many teachers for a loop as the materials are hard to come by but it is also a new area to teach for all. In my classroom I LOVED using the “If I Had a Million Dollars” Project to help students realize some real-life situations where they would need to not only budget their money appropriately but also appropriately use a checkbook, ledger and more.

Problem Based Learning to enhance Financial Literacy and Budgeting Skills for students with a real life situation

Teaching with A Mountain View has created a new project, The City of Shapes, that allows students to become a master in perimeter and area by building and designing many buildings and aspects in their city.

Teaching with A Mountain View has created a new project, The City of Shapes, that allows students to become a master in perimeter and area by building and designing many buildings and aspects in their city.

Are you ready to have your students become entrepreneurs? Sweet Integrations has created From Lemonade to Espresso to help students understand the ins and outs of becoming a business owner and how to look at all aspects to determine if you have a profitable business or one that will fail.

Are you ready to have your students become entrepreneurs? Sweet Integrations has created From Lemonade to Espresso to help students understand the ins and outs of becoming a business owner and how to look at all aspects to determine if you have a profitable business or one that will fail.

Another real-life project based learning activity is Party Planner, also by Sweet Integrations. Every year students attend or participate in many different parties so why not allow them to help plan one and determine all of the budgeting, planning and preparing that is a part of making something go off without a hitch.

Another real-life project based learning activity is Party Planner, also by Sweet Integrations. Every year students attend or participate in many different parties so why not allow them to help plan one and determine all of the budgeting, planning and preparing that is a part of making something go off without a hitch.

Who doesn't love cupcakes? Lindsey Perro's The Cupcake Shop allows students to apply fraction, decimal and percent skills with real-life situation of beginning their own cupcake shop. Students must work together to not only name their store but then choose the cupcakes they plan to offer, purchase the ingredients in the right amounts for the amount they plan to bake each day, and so much more. Now I'm definitely craving a cupcake!

Who doesn’t love cupcakes? Lindsey Perro’s The Cupcake Shop allows students to apply fraction, decimal and percent skills with real-life situation of beginning their own cupcake shop. Students must work together to not only name their store but then choose the cupcakes they plan to offer, purchase the ingredients in the right amounts for the amount they plan to bake each day, and so much more. Now I’m definitely craving a cupcake!

And for those of you who are looking for more information from books on Project Based Learning, here are some resources that will definitely help you get started in the right direction.

If you are just starting with Project Based Learning, or need a reference guide, then this book is PERFECT for you! Not only does it contain classroom tested advice, sample projects and step-by-step guidance but the PBL Starter Kit also includes planning tools, rubrics and other online resources just for you!

If you are just starting with Project Based Learning, or need a reference guide, then this book is PERFECT for you! Not only does it contain classroom tested advice, sample projects and step-by-step guidance but the PBL Starter Kit also includes planning tools, rubrics and other online resources just for you!

Project-Based Homeschooling gives some great tips for parents who are looking to integrate Project Based Learning into their homeschool program. Just because you don't homeschool your children doesn't mean this can't be a great book for you. Think about how the summer is coming up and your kiddos will soon be saying "I'm Bored!" How about playing into their interests and developing some week long (or even longer) projects that you can do together to develop their learning with real life situation?

Project-Based Homeschooling gives some great tips for parents who are looking to integrate Project Based Learning into their homeschool program. Just because you don’t homeschool your children doesn’t mean this can’t be a great book for you. Think about how the summer is coming up and your kiddos will soon be saying “I’m Bored!” How about playing into their interests and developing some week long (or even longer) projects that you can do together to develop their learning with real life situation?

If you are looking for specific Project Based Learning Tasks, then this is the book for you. Not only does it include specific projects that you can use right away but also includes grading matrices, detailed information on how to implement the projects and more.

If you are looking for specific Project Based Learning Tasks, then this is the book for you. Not only does it include specific projects that you can use right away but also includes grading matrices, detailed information on how to implement the projects and more.

And if you are like me and want to get all nerdy into reading more about what the ins and out of Project Based Learning are, then Project Based Learning- Differentiating Instruction for the 21st Century is just right for you! Not only do you learn how project based learning started but also the ins and outs of how teachers have seamlessly implemented it into their classrooms to help relieve your anxiety of trying something new. If you are looking for a book to read this summer, this is definitely one to put on your list!

And if you are like me and want to get all nerdy into reading more about what the ins and out of Project Based Learning are, then Project Based Learning- Differentiating Instruction for the 21st Century is just right for you! Not only do you learn how project based learning started but also the ins and outs of how teachers have seamlessly implemented it into their classrooms to help relieve your anxiety of trying something new. If you are looking for a book to read this summer, this is definitely one to put on your list!

Have you implemented project based learning in your classroom? What are some of your favorite resources?

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Throughout the school year teachers all over (just like you) are looking for ways to incorporate multiple skills into a lesson while actively engaging their students. With Project Based Learning in the math classroom you can do just that. Not sure what PBL is or how to implement it? Read this to learn all about it, plus where to find nine great resources to implement it in your own classroom!

Top photo credit here, last photo credit here.

Using Interactive Notebooks in Multiple Subjects

Are you interested in using Interactive Notebooks in multiple subjects but concerned with the transitions that your students will lose them or they will fall apart? Check out these tips gathered from teachers who are proving they can work in their classroom.

Recently Emily sent me a message with a great question. I put that out to the fabulous teachers on my Facebook Page last week and we got some great responses. Emily asked, “Next year I will be working with a partner teacher to teach 4 subjects. Our kids are only allowed to carry binders and we want to use Interactive Notebooks for all four subjects. How do we encourage kids to carry them because 4 composition books is too much and spirals might fall apart?” Over the course of about 24 hours we had some great conversations and I know that Emily appreciated what other teachers shared with her.

Through the teachers responses it was determined that an overwhelming majority use spirals of some sort with multiple subjects. Mead Five Star (WOOT!) was recommended as well as using 3-subject or 5-subject notebooks to be able to keep things concise. That being said there were still a couple of teachers who use composition notebooks for the various subjects. But more than using multiple composition books there were a few teachers who suggested using a larger binder (or even a Trapper Keeper) to contain all of the information for various classes. There are benefits and issues with each of these types of organization and you really have to choose what is not only best for you as the teacher but also for your students. Cost might be a deterrent as well but you can always create a Donor’s Choose project to help with that!

Using Pronged Folders for Interactive NotebooksAnother suggestion that I would like to add is that you could easily use pronged folders for each subject. They are fairly cheap and once you finish a unit you can take out that unit information, place it into a binder and then start your next unit. Carrying 4 folders around would be easy for students and then having the other information in their binders (or a portfolio in the classroom) would allow them to reference the materials as needed.

I have used pronged folders for students as an accommodation before when spiral notebooks were too overwhelming. They are able to keep just what they need together in one folder. Definitely a great way to help out some of your learners who get easily overwhelmed.

So, what have you done to aid in using multiple Interactive Notebooks in your classroom or across multiple classrooms?