Early mornings, late nights, parent emails, clipboards and suits, coffee, felt pens, the exclamations of "oh, I get it now!" It's all coming! From 0 to 100 overnight! Are you ready?? Eeeep! This post is especially for Math teachers in the first days of school. There will be tips, resources, classroom photos and decorations because you know we all love to decorate!
In either the days, weeks or months leading up to the first day, we hit up every dollar bin in a 50 mile radius. Just yesterday I got 10 packs of pencils for $1 each at the Target dollar spot. Score! I did go on to spend a small fortune at Target but you know that story.
In her post about keeping Back to School costs in check, Mrs. E Teaches Math highlights some classroom dollar finds. Scissors, dice, cards, plastic storage bags, stickers! These microfiber cloths are especially important for the back to school list. They work WAY better on white boards than felt erasers. If you can find black ones, you're good for years!
Before we know it, it'll be Thanksgiving. Then Valentine's Day, then summer. It's amazing how fast the time goes. Lessons with Coffee has some awesome advice on getting through Meet the Teacher Night, setting up your classroom, managing paperwork and staying sane! It'll be a whirlwind but the kids need you. In the end, this is all that matters.
You will do great! My friend from Lessons with Coffee is moving to elementary school in the fall and is in overdrive making the cutest things ever for her little ones. Of course Math is involved because it's the best, er, I mean, because she is a Math teacher:) Check out this super cute shiplap-themed calendar she will be using this coming year.
I remember getting the [bad, horrible, terrible!] advice "Don't smile before Christmas." I can't help it, I smile! Kids need to feel welcome! I especially liked reading this post from Secondary Math Shop on how crucially important it is to make connections with our students. She gives great advice on how to make that happen: 1) Be tuned in, 2) Create a safe environment, 3) Partner with parents, 4) Make a personal connection, 5) Nurture skills that will help them to be part of a bigger community. It's so easy to get sucked into standards, data and scores. When our kids are older and look back, they won't remember all that. They will remember the people you helped them become.
I LOVE classroom decorations for so many reasons, the most important being how they lessen student anxiety. This amazing "Math is Everywhere" bulletin board is in Middle School Math Man's classroom and I can't stop looking at it. First of all, it's gorgeous! Second of all, students made it! Alex blogs about the activity he does in the first weeks of school. Each tile is made by one of his students to show that Math is everywhere. What an amazing way to start the year!
I love posters too! Anchor charts, equation references, problem examples, motivational quotes... the more the better. Some call it distracting, I call it... AWESOME. A fun, colorful room is more inviting. These "How to Be a Good Mathematician" posters from Miss Math Dork are colorful, motivational and remind students of what it means to be a good mathematician. I especially love one that reads "A good Mathematician knows that QUICKER doesn't mean BETTER".
There are 14 posters in 2 versions (1 set of super-colorful ones and another set of more printer-friendly ones). Best yet, the preview gives you 4 for free! I'm constantly reminding my students that the first one done doesn't automatically get an A! I mean, it seems like some of my students really think this! I wonder where this thinking comes from...
And then there are these great Growth Mindset posters from Mrs. E! As a Special Ed teacher, this quote holds a special place in my heart because fish can outswim cheetahs. So what if they can't climb trees? Mrs. E started yer year with the Marshmallow Challenge this year and said it was a big success.
I love displaying student work. It motivates my students and makes them feel good about themselves, especially on days when they don't think they can do it. We can all look over, see the work hanging there and know it's possible. For Back to School I wanted to make a Math pennant that shows how super cool Math is! Kids can color and add personal information to this Back to School Golden Spiral Pennant that you can hang in your classroom as decoration.
I LOVE this cute back to school activity from Free to Discover that combines getting to know students with Math. The center of the flower is a pie chart of 5-8 activities that students completed on a typical summer day. Students represent the amount of time they spent on each activity as a fraction and then convert between fractions, decimals, percents and central angles. I love this activity because it's one that combines creativity with Math. I love it when kids are so busy having fun that they don't realize they are working!
And to encourage kids to get up, move around and talk to each other in real-life, this Bingo activity from Learning Made Radical is perfect. first of all, it's free! But even more importantly than that, it lets kids break the ice of seeing each other face-to-face after a long summer or maybe even for the first time ever. There was one year we got all the way to May before I realized that some of my students had never interacted with each other - or were even sure of each other's names! That same year a student in another class told me that she had never spoken to her boyfriend in person, they just talked online. I realized how important breaking the ice was.
My friend at Math Dyal likes to get right into Math on the first day with puzzles. She has a whole bunch to choose from! With her 9th graders, she gives a quick review of the order of operations then gives this 30-piece puzzle for students to complete together in groups. I like that this activity combines Math with collaboration so that shy kids are given a reason to talk to each other.
Speaking of Math Dyal, have you read her post about pencil management that was featured on the Teachers pay Teachers blog? If you always have one or two kids who ask for pencils every single day and you wonder where they go, this post is especially for you (and me!).
No seriously, where do they go? My bet is they end up in the bottoms of student bags. Now there's an end of year Math project - bar graphing the number of pencils in each student's bag! :)