Interactive Notebooks: What About an Absent Student?

A question that I get asked regularly via email or workshops and session is, “What do you do about students who are absent? How do they follow along with their Interactive Notebooks?”

Interactive Notebook Absent Student

In my classroom I had a create with hanging file folders labeled 1-31. In each of these folders were the extra handout from each day in class. A student knew that when they came in after an absence they were to pull the items for the day they missed, sign up for a tutoring time so they could get their mini lesson and make up their Interactive Notebook pages.

Extras and Graded Papers

I always took snapshots of my pages in my Interactive Notebook and posted them on my classroom blog. This blog was able to be subscribed to by parents and students and receive daily updates so they would stay on top of everything that happened in the classroom.

Recently it was asked, “What about students who don’t have internet access?” and through collaboration with the awesome Mrs. Dubrava I’ve created a FREEBIE just for you as a blog reader!

So You Were Absent Example


This is a completely EDITABLE file that you can create text boxes to add in information as well as drag and drop a picture (or pictures) for students to see exactly what they have missed. This is perfect to insert into the crate option that I used above.

There is room for the students name, date, objective in an I Can format and room for the assignment for students to complete which makes this so easy for you to keep up with daily absences in a quick and easy format.

Absent Freebie

So for those of you who are using Interactive Notebooks in your classroom and want to make sure that your students are staying on track, grab this freebie by clicking on the picture above or jump over to this link!

I hope you enjoy this to make your classroom management of absences a bit easier!

Modeling Equality for Algebraic Reasoning

Modeling Equality Activity

While working on the final Sixth Grade Interactive Notebook Unit on Equation and Inequalities I started thinking about the algebraic reasoning skills that I would, in an ideal world, LOVE for my students to know coming to me. Modeling equality is the first thing that came to me as in my experience students have a difficulty showing that two sides of an equal sign must balance when you start throwing in variables.

Modeling equations starts as early as first and second grade when students are learning fact families and showing that despite numbers being in different places in the equation they are still equal.

Modeling Equality Activity 1

To help students understand the Addition or Subtraction Property of Equality, work in a small group of students (or even as an entire class under the document camera) and display one of the cards.

Modeling Equality Activity 2

Using a scale level students should model each side of the equation with similar objects. This can also be done on white boards or with an actual balance and unifix cubes.

Modeling Equality Activity 3

One way that many students will show that sides are equal is building a group of ten on each side (if possible) and then counting the extra objects to determine that each have the same.

Modeling Equality Activity 4

Another method that students might take is to add the same amount to each side to make them equal. You can see that with this one the blocks were added to make the pictures similar.

Modeling Equality Activiy 5

Subtracting on a balance is a little bit different. Students should model the subtrahend on both sides of the balance.

Modeling Equality Activity 6


Then by subtracting the minuend from each side students can easily see the amount left they can see that both sides of the equation are equal.

These cards (and 22 others) are in the Modeling Equality FREEBIE in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store. Click on the picture below and grab it today to use in your classroom.


Linky Party: May Success in Secondary

Success in Secondary Linky Party

I love being able to share resources with other Secondary teachers when I am out doing workshops and online. I don’t have time to go and research all of those on my own so this is your time to shine!

Rules are pretty simple… You MAY link up an unlimited number of blog posts and freebies (current and meaningful). You MAY link up one product for every blog post or FREEBIE. Yep, I’m changing the game a bit and making it One for One!

Now, on top of that please take time to leave a comment on other blog posts so that we can share the love on each others blogs.

If you are here to find new resources, leave a comment and let me know what resources you are looking for and I can nag ask some friends to come on over and link them up for you!

Math in Real Life: Preparing for a Conference

It’s the first Wednesday of May which means it’s time for our monthly linky – Math IS Real Life!!  If you want to see how the linky works, or just want other real world math ideas, check out our Pinterest Board of all the posts so that you can look back and find some great ideas and REAL pictures to use in your classroom!  
If you are linking up, please include the below picture AND a link back to all four of our blogs – feel free to use the 2nd image and the links listed below!
A monthly REAL WORLD math blog link-up hosted by
   ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ What a crazy month it has been for me and LOTS of math has been involved for sure! Last night I got home from Arkansas Association of Middle Level Educators Conference in Hot Springs, Arkansas where I met a couple of hundred wonderful teachers from all over Arkansas!
To get ready for the conference where I would be presenting and exhibiting there were a few different things that had to get done.
Preparing to Bag
My dining room started to look quite crazy as we were nearing the week before the conference. Each of the boxes contained goodies from the teachers being represented at the table and they each had their special space.
Stamping Bags
Stamping bags was a labor of love for about two weeks. Hubby and I worked each night and got all 300 bags done! Broke it down into groups of 25 so we could see progress.
Boxing Bags
Finding a way to transport the bags that was economical as well as was able to fit as many as possible without being too heavy was a chore. Hubby and I grabbed boxes from Home Depot and I was able to fit in 84 bags, or 4 layers of 21, in each box. Since I needed to take 300 bags with me I had quite a few boxes to fill and then fit in my car. Quite a bit of playing Tetris.
Booth Set Up
Every conference is different and the booth size at this conference was 8′ by 8′. I was provided with a 6′ table  and knew that I needed more room than that to display all the great stuff from the teachers participating. I added in two 5′ tables and it turned out great. I might have mapped it out on some graph paper before I went.
Chatting with Teachers
And last, but certainly NOT LEAST, making connections with other teachers added great people to my network of teachers. The three educators above were talking about Unthinkable by Live.Love.Math where students work on their vocabulary in a game format.
I had a great time at the conference and look forward to the next one that I have coming up in Tulsa, Oklahoma followed by New Orleans, Louisiana.

5 Reasons Why I Haven’t Been Around to Blog

I know it’s been awhile since I have blogged and I promise I’ve some great excuses reasons. Just a little catch up as the crazy busy week continues.

Meet Buddy

Meet Buddy the newest member of our family. He is 3 months old today and so much fun. We rescued him from a local rescue organization where he was with his 4 litter mates. Buddy is a Basset/Beagle mix otherwise known as a Bagle. The last 10 days have been full of crate training, puppy pads, chewing on things appropriate (and inappropriate), daily nap time and so much more.

The girls are getting used to him and they see him as their brother. They are at the tolerating point right now and still jealous over affection.

photo 2

So the same day that we adopted Buddy we also bought new mountain bikes to start getting some exercise. Well of course you get to test your bike before you buy it. I didn’t know the bike store was in the plans or I would have planned a better outfit for sure. Needless to say when I was taking my test ride I was trying to turn at the end of the driveway and my sandal slipped a bit so while trying to get it back on I ran into a concrete ramp, the bike fell over and of course I tried to catch myself. All I thought was that it was some scrapes on my arm and leg but the next day we decided that a splint was in order because of the lack of motion in my wrist.

Now that it has been 10 days I’m trying to have more time without the splint but I still have to take it easy. Hubby keeps teasing me that my middle name should have been Grace.

Notebook Workshop

I’ve been also doing a lot of work to get ready for Arkansas Association of Middle Level Educators (#AAMLE14) where I will not only be presenting next week but ALSO exhibiting! I am so excited and can’t wait to present this new session.

Booth Banner

Lots of work has been happening to get my booth stuff ready and one of those things is the banner above. I cut out the burlap using a stencil I created with KG Flavor and Frames Four. Someone should have told me the tricks of burlap before cutting because I had to go back and spray starch and iron every piece before painting the letters on. Hot Glue was my friend to get the pennants on the jute rope before I tied on the fabric in between each letter. I’m so happy with how it turned out.

Conference Chaos

Yep, more conference prep. The table is where I am working on prepping goody bags before my back gives out for good, boxes of goodies from fellow teachers I am marketing for at #AAMLE. Tubs full of marketing books, task card samples, session supplies and so much more. I tell you it is organized and I understand the chaos that it entails.

So now you can see I’ve been a bit busy and away from the computer. My goals for when I return from Arkansas next week are to get back to finishing the last of the two units (one for 6th grade and one for 8th grade) to complete the Interactive Notebook Bundles. Once those are complete samples will be started and added.

And a TEASE for my Texas Peeps! I just finished getting the alignment done for the Common Core to NEW MATH TEKS for 6th-8th grade and I will be creating a completely TEKS aligned Interactive Notebook just for you! Goal is to have it up and running before CAMT in July so that I can have it there for you to purchase!

Bundles of Savings through April 29th

The end of the school year is starting to arrive for many of us as every time I open Instagram or Facebook I see teachers who are counting down in some way (mostly counting the Mondays remaining).

During this time of the year students are antsy and they want to be interacting with anything that they do. Worksheets are the LAST thing that they want to do especially when it’s nice outside.

I have teamed up with EduCents to create two different bundles of my best selling Solve and Snips that you can grab for 60% off the regular price!

Save 60  on Solve   Snip Curriculum   Activities for Grades 3-5 from 4Mula Fun! (1)

The 3rd-5th grade bundle includes:  Comparing Numbers Word Problems Solve and Snip, Elapsed Time Word Problems Solve and Snip, Estimating and Rounding Word Problems Solve and Snip, Factor Pairs Word Problems Solve and Snip, Metric Measurement Word Problems Solve and Snip, Multi-Step Word Problems Solve and Snip, Multiplying Equations Word Problems Solve and Snip, Spring Word Problems Solve and Snip- Perimeter and Area, Standard Form Solve and Snip, and Whole Number Multiplication and Division Solve and Snip.

If each of these purchased separately in my Teachers Pay Teachers store would total $15.

6th-8th Grade Solve and Snips

The 6th-8th Grade Bundle includes: Adding and Subtracting Fractions and Mixed Numbers Word Problems Solve and Snip, Fraction Operations Word Problems Solve and Snip, Integer Operations Word Problems Solve and Snip, Multi-Step Equations Word Problems Solve and Snip, One Step Equations Word Problems Solve and Snip, Percent Increase and Decrease Problems Solve and Snip, Pythagorean Theorem Word Problems Solve and Snip, Scale Factor Word Problems Solve and Snip, Surface Area Word Problems Solve and Snip, and Unit Rates Word Problems Solve and Snip.

And just as the 3rd-5th bundle, if each of these were to be purchased separately in my Teachers Pay Teachers store they would total $15.

Don’t delay as this offer ends on April 29th! Simply click the link or one of the photos above and download immediately with your purchase!

Warm Ups or Exit Tickets in the Classroom?

warmups question

Recently I posed the above question on my Facebook Fan Page to spark a conversation on not only which of the two, or both, that teachers used but also why they chose that. After the first day it was very obvious that most teachers were using only warm-ups in their classrooms while very few, if any, were using exit tickets. Those that gave reasons were mainly that of maintaining a spiral review throughout the school year and assessing on material learned prior.

When it all comes down to it both warm-ups and exit tickets have their benefits and just like many others I have used both in my classroom until about two years ago when I converted to only using Exit Tickets.

Why only Exit Tickets?

As a middle school teacher I noticed that my students would get hung up on warm-ups way beyond the time that we had to spend on them. Seriously, I would give them two grade-level appropriate (and sometimes below grade level) word problems and they would want to spend 20+ minutes solving them. They knew their strategies, they knew what the problem was asking but they always got stuck on the computation. Their weak foundation in basic operations continued to kick their tails.

When blessed with a class period that was only 42-48 minutes long I could not give up more than about 5-7 minutes for this each day nevermind counting in time to actually check the warm-ups and go over them together.

OpenEnded Exit Ticket

In the middle of a school year I started implementing exit tickets after a concept had been covered at least two days. So if I started converting rational numbers on Monday and we created our Interactive Notebook Flippable to demonstrate the steps in converting fractions, decimals and percents and did an output activity and then on Tuesday I tied that concept into Comparing and Ordering Rational Numbers, it was time for an Exit Ticket on Converting Rational Numbers.

When I create Exit Tickets I like them to be an open-ended response so students can truly show me what they know. Open-Ended also allows the students to explain themselves in words when many of them trip over how to accurately compute answers. Being able to describe what they would do builds that confidence in actually applying it towards further computation skills.

Post It Prove It

One type of Exit Ticket that my students LOVE is Post It, Prove Its. One, they are using Post Its and who doesn’t love using Post Its? Two, they have a small limited space and don’t have to worry about writing a novel of a response. Three, it’s semi-anonymous since their name goes on the back under the sticky part. You can read more about Post It, Prove It in this prior post.

How do you Assess Exit Tickets?

Assessing Exit Tickets was something that I had to learn over time. Originally I was not grading them in any way. That proved to be the wrong thing to do once my middle schoolers found that out because they started to get lazy.

Exit Ticket Rubric

Soon I began to implement a grading policy where I created a checklist for each class. Over a two-three week period I would give 4 to 5 exit tickets. Base on the level of completion of each students would receive a participation grade. I always told my students ahead of time if it was going to be 4 or 5 exit tickets during the span of time and they would be graded on a 20 or 25 point scale each which were posted in my classroom for all to see. Based on the compilation of those exit tickets the students would receive one grade.

Grab my Exit Ticket Rubric Freebie here!

Overtime with all of my students I began to see growth in confidence toward these quick assessments in our classroom. Students understood the role they played in our classroom and how the feedback that I gave them from their answers could assist them in their learning. Feedback on exit tickets is crucial as it is what guides students continued learning of the concept and also allows you to pull small groups or suggest tutoring for students.

Taking time each day to read and respond to the exit tickets even if a simple GREAT JOB or a more detailed message about the process that they took to answer their question and/or explain their process. I know that means spending a few minutes to read through for each student but it is definitely worth it for student’s growth in all subjects.


Looking for a quick and easy Editable Exit Ticket to implement into your classroom? Feel free to grab my Editable Exit Tickets for only $1.50! There are three different versions including 4 per page, 2 per page vertical and 2 per page horizontal. All have at stoplight for self-assessment by students before they submit their exit ticket.

So, will you try Exit Tickets more now?

It’s never too late to implement something new especially to keep students on their toes as the end of the year draws near. Allows time for practice before the next school year!