Saturday, September 28, 2013

I've been a slacker

So you know the school year is in full swing when....

  • You wish there were more than 24 hours in a day, just so you can keep those "home", "work", "personal" plates spinning in balance
  • They know you by name at Starbucks
  • Your hands are chapped from all the papers you are grading, and passing back
  • You've been called "mom" or "dad" by someone other than your child(ren)
  • You know when there's a full moon outside, or a front blowing through without having to consult weather bug.

And my favorite....

  • You love the smell of freshly sharpened #2 pencils....

I hope you all have been having a great start to your year so far! I have been super busy with a couple new classes I am teaching this year, but I am in love with my school and my students, so I feel super blessed.

This past Friday we had a test review in my class, and since my classroom is "flipped", the students came in with the test review knowledge and we are then able to play a fun game or something. Since I also teach speech, I thought it would be the PERFECT opportunity to incorporate some aspects of public speaking into the lesson! :D

I divided the 20 question review among my students (since my 1st period has only 10 kids - yes, I know it's small.... I teach at a private Christian school....) and I gave each group of 2 four questions to master and then after 10 minutes, I had each group go up and teach the rest of the class how to do them.

It was great, not only for them to build confidence in what they are learning, and to take ownership, but also so that they can build math fluency. I always tell my students that math is like a foreign language, and we need to learn how to correctly speak it. To be able to explain your process to another shows mastery of the content. And they did SO good! I am so proud of them!!!

What sorts of things do you do to build math fluency??

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

2 Year Blog-aversary! {Mega Giveaway}

It's FINALLY here!!!!

I can't believe that two years ago I started writing this blog. I actually thought no one would read it because I didn't think the way I taught was anything special and that my posts would sit alone, and unread out in cyberspace.

Boy, was I wrong! amazing and faithful readers have made this blog happen and have inspired me to create more for the classroom. I love seeing things I've created on pinterest, not because I think "it's all that", but because there's teachers out there like me...

Who teach to inspire.

Who want their students to become more than they thought they could.

Who love what they do.

I'm in awe at the fact that this blog has been read on four different continents and dozens more countries. It's an honor to be a part of the educational technology realm and be with such amazing people out there.

But enough about me... As a token of my appreciation, and some help from a fellow awesome teacher... I'm doing a MEGA giveaway!!

1 person will win an item OF THEIR CHOICE from
Janet Rainey's TpT store!!!!
She has some awesome stuff from K - 6th grade (all subjects).... If you are a winner and teach grades above 6th grade, then fear not..... you will win a item of your choice from my store.....
Here's how to enter to win...
Entries will be taken from 8/22 (midnight EST) through 8/31 (11:59 EST) and winner will be randomly chosen. You can earn more entries my sharing, commenting, and inviting friends!!!

Monday, August 19, 2013

QR Code Scavenger Hunt {Algebra 2}

Need a fun way to review those concepts in Algebra 2?? I actually created this fun review for my Precalculus students for their first chapter, but it reviews Algebra 2 concepts like slope, equations of lines, scatter plots, and compositions of functions.
Here's a preview of one of the cards.... and so you know it works, each of these QR codes will scan from this blog onto your phone! How cool is that?!
If you'd like to sample this awesome little review, simply CLICK HERE to download your FREE set of 20 cards (complete with instructions AND answer sequence!)
Happy Back To School!!!!


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

"Real World Math" {A Year of AWESOMENESS}

I used to get tired of hearing "When are we ever going to use this?" when I was teaching middle school.

I hear it even more teaching Geometry....

I am so fortunate to teach at a school where we can meet the needs of our students, and I've long felt like students are inadequately prepared for the REAL WORLD. We teach them all these algebraic formulas, how to graph cubic functions, and how to locate their GPS coordinates if they ever are lost out at sea without their cell phone (but happen to have their graphing calculator), but we don't teach in depth things like how to get credit, maintain your credit, credit cards and student loans.

Growing up as a part of the millennial generation myself, it's easy to get caught up in the digital age we live in and become dependent on the technology that is barking at my door..... but that creates a handicap when I step into the real world and have to take ownership of these things I don't really know how they work....and I can get taken advantage of - big time.

I am teaching a new class this year for our high school students in which we are looking at math in a practical way. I want my students to graduate having the confidence that they will not just survive out in the real world, but that they will thrive and be successful. I decided to really research and write my book, "Real World Math" from a high school student's perspective.

What are they going to have to face as they enter adulthood? What did I wish I had known when I turned 18? What challenges are they going to have?

If you'd like to download a sample of the interactive student edition, click here

Students will cover topics like budgeting, credit, compound interest, car, house, and student loans. Included are 8 units, test reviews and tests for each unit as well as a fall and spring semester exam.

This book has in it interactive notes for students, class work, homework, test reviews, tests, and even two semester exams!!

"Real World Math" is on sale right now through the month of August in celebration of Math-N-Spire's two year anniversary!

I do ask that if you use this for your classroom, please purchase additional licenses for your students rather than copying. Additional licenses are available for $10 each below. 1 license is intended for each class you teach. If you teach multiple class sessions, please purchase accordingly. Thanks!

  - Student Edition - $20
- Additional Licenses (Student) - $10
- Teacher's Edition - $35

Friday, August 2, 2013

FREEBIE FRIDAY {1st Day of School Goodies}

Later this month, Mathnspire turns two years old. This blog has definitely gone BEYOND my expectations and has become such a fun thing to do! I am so thankful to all the faithful followers and people who find it via pinterest, facebook, or the net. In celebration of my Blogaversary, I am have a FREEBIE FRIDAY every Friday during August and the LAST WEEK, I'll be hosting a VERY COOL, special giveaway, so STAY TUNED!!!

Today's giveaway is in honor of my followers. I'm blessed to have over 100 Bloglovin' followers and almost 200 on Google Connect. THANK YOU!!!!

If you are like me, you are amazed at how fast your own kids grow and go through school. I have three in school next year - a PreK, K and a 1st grader....

Weren't they just babies the other day?!

I like to take their picture in the same spot each year, but since I've got 5 kids, I want to be able to look back and KNOW exactly what grade they were entering. So, I whipped up some cute little cards for each one to hold.

I've created cards for PreK through 12th grade in "school colors" Click below for your FREE download!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Geometry {Chapter 1 Review Game}

School is rapidly approaching. Every time I think I've got everything planned, printed and done, I think of something else I want to add! Such is the life of a teacher, I suppose.

This will be the third year I've taught high school Geometry. I am really starting to own this class and pour my personality into it.

In addition to my "Snapshot" that I've created for the beginning of my class, I've also created a BINGO game for the end of Chapter 1. We use Glencoe Geometry (2010 ed.), but I know that correlates to many other textbook publishers.

 This review game is always so much fun. You can play in partners, or individually. There's 24 questions that cover a variety of topics: points, lines & planes; distance formula; midpoint formula; angles; basic surface area and basic volume.

I've created 15 unique cards that will keep your students entertained and provide for a fun way to review concepts. The set also includes 2 question cards that have a total of 24 various questions on it.

Since there are a few drawings, I usually draw those a head of time on my white board and then reference the specific drawing when needed to save on time.

I hope you have fun in your classroom!

"Tools of Geometry" Review BINGO game - $5  
"Snapshot" {Integrated Algebra & Geometry Warmups} - $8 


Monday, July 22, 2013

"Snapshot" {Integrated Geometry & Algebra 1}

Do you ever struggle to make sure your students are getting it? I know I do. I also struggle to integrate MORE Algebra 1 concepts into my teaching during the entire year so that all those concepts wont be lost during the year and students will have an even better foundation of Algebra 1 for Algebra 2.


 I’ve created this to correlate with Glencoe’s 2010 edition Geometry textbook, however most Geometry texts follow the same sequencing and content. In this bundle you will find daily “snapshots” to have your students work on to review the previous day’s content. Each day also is integrated with an “algebra snip-it” so that students won’t forget all that algebra they learned the year prior and will have an even more solid foundation for Algebra II.,
Here's a few pictures of what I've created:
Cover of first unit (out of 13 total)


If you'd like to download a FREE preview, simply CLICK HERE

If you are looking for more Geometry resources for your classroom, be sure to check out:
my TpT store:
my facebook page:
or my blog:

This product is intended for individual use with in the classroom setting. Copies may be made for the teacher that purchased the product. If you intend on sharing this with other teachers, please purchase additional licenses upon checking out.

Other units available soon!
- Reasoning & Proof         - Parallel & Perpendicular Lines
- Congruent Triangles      - Relationships in Triangles
- Quads                                 - Proportions & Similarity
- Right Triangles & Trig   - Transformations & Symmetry
- Circles                                  - Areas of Polygons & Circles
- Surface Area & Volume - Probability & Measurement

Ready to add this gem to your teaching collection?
  - $8

Saturday, July 20, 2013


As the new year approaches, I always feel like the last part of July is a time of reflection... A time for me to look back on the past year and see what little "tweaks" I can make for next year to be better.

For those of you who are new to my blog, this next year will be my 10th year teaching. Of those 10 years, I've spent 1 year teaching in CA, 9 in TX; 8 teaching 5th - 8th grade math, 2 1/2 teaching Geometry and Pre-Cal; and 7 wonderful years at my home, Legacy.  Ya know the school that becomes a part of your family? That's how I feel at my school. I think that's also why it's so easy to create fun projects and new resources for my students. I want to see them learn, and love learning as much as I do.

With inservice just a few short weeks away, my mind is flooded, I mean FLOODED with things I want to do this next school year.... but of course there's never enough time, and let's be realistic here - who wants to be working on schoolwork all day?! Not me! I've got five little munchkins at home that also need my attention. So, I've picked a couple things I am going to incorporate into my classroom next year.

One cool thing, I found via Pinterest (super addicting!) and will post a pic when I create my own.
instead of handing back papers all the time. Love this idea!

Isn't it cool?? I'm going to make one to cut down on time passing back papers :)

The other thing I am working on is my morning routine. I currently "flip" my classroom (I'll post more about this later), so I wanted to also make these custom "Snapshot" for each day that will spiral review the previous days lesson and incorporate Algebra concepts as well... Here's the first day.
I'm going to bundle these by chapter and at the end of the year I'm going to have one. BIG. bundle! Be on the lookout! :)

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Operations with Fractions {Scavenger Hunt}

One of the fun things I like to do in my math camp course is Scavenger Hunts. Since I want to make sure my middle schoolers, incoming kiddos, and soon-to-be kiddos are SOLID on their fraction facts, we spend an ENTIRE day doing fractions and refreshing our brains as to how to add, subtract, multiply and divide them. The last 20-30 minutes, we have a scavenger hunt around my room.
I tape up cards all over my room and depending on the size of my camp, I group my students in pairs.

Here's a few samples of the cards in this particular set:

As you can see, the answer to each card is NOT on the SAME CARD. It's on a different one. Here's the "rules of play"

**How to play**
- Tape cards all over your room
- Split students up into equal ability groups (as much as possible)
- Have students start at any one of the numbered cards. They make a loop around themselves, so it doesn't matter where students start
- Students note the CARD NUMBER they are at, solve the problem and find the answer on a DIFFERENT CARD. Then they repeat the process
- Students will know they are "done" when they arrive back at the card they started at,.
- You then check their CARD NUMBER SEQUENCE and can redirect as needed.
This set includes 20 cards and the answer sequence. Cards review addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Subtraction with regrouping is also revisited.

- $5


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Math Camp {Summer F-U-N}

It is said that during the 2-3 months we have off for "summer", students lose 20% of the learning its finished hey acquired during the school year...

I don't know about you, but I work hard to make sure my students "get it" and will take it "beyond the test".

So, what's a teacher to do? This is a large reason ive created things like my "Summer Sizzler" and also do a 2-week Math Camp.

What's Math Camp, you ask? Well, it's a M/W camp that I've set up for my students to focus on the four biggest concepts they should have mastered for the next school year. 

For example, I dedicate June to grades 4-6 (completed) and July to geades 7-9 (completed). Each day, we spend 90 minutes on a focused concept like multiplication favts, fractions, or equations. We reinforce through games, drills and exercising our problem solving skills. 

Heres a few snapshots from this past camp:

Two students playing "Fraction War"
Two students using spatial reasoning and problem solving to "pack their suitcase"
I am putting my math lab activities together for a convienent, easy download and will post when its finished :)  Have a great rest of your summer and comment as to what you've done that's successful!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Getting to know you {Scavenger Hunt}

I love the first day of school. The freshly sharpened pencil smell; the newness of a fresh start; and of course students who are often scared to get to know their classmates.

I do a lot of partner and group work, so I like to start my year off with my students building relationships with everyone else in the class. We definitely talk about how everyone has different strengths and throughout the year each one will get used.

So what better way to get students talking that helping them get to know one another by conducting a scavenger hunt!?

I've created ten different unique cards that can be printed and passed out to your class. I know class size is larger than 10 people, but it's fun to have a few "winners"
The rules are simple:
1. Pass out one paper per person
2. Have students write their name in the center square
3. Students then have to find other students to fill in the squares to complete the entire page.
4. Once a student finds a person that meets the square's requirements, the student that meets the requirement signs his/her name in the box.
**Prompts are math focused, and help also build math fluency while students also build personal relationships with each other. 

** Depending on class size, you may or may not want to limit the number of signatures per paper. I usually allow students to sign no more than two times on one paper.

- $3
Hope you're as excited as I am about the upcoming school year!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Educreations {Technology in the Classroom}

If you are like me, you either like technology or have to use it in your classroom. Don't get me wrong, I think technology is great - in fact I use it almost every day - but sometimes I think we tend to "over stimulate" our students with all these neat gadgets that are quite frankly a big pain in the butt... Yes, I said it.

I used to teach in a district in which I was forced to use smart boards, eInstruction, etc. I actually got in trouble if I used my white board rather than the technology! I thought all the gadgets in my room were great, but I was frustrated at how the kids really were focused more on the gadgetry rather than what they were learning.

There is ONE piece of technology that I feel has greatly improved my teaching and allowed my students and I more time to dive deeper into the concepts that I teach. Especially since our time is so short, I want to maximize it and make the most out of it.

Enter Educreations. It's an app currently available only for apple products, however it will soon be on the android market as well. This is an interactive whiteboard that also allows you to record your voice as you teach!

It. is. awesome.

It has transformed my teaching to be able to really focus on student needs rather than trying to produce worksheet after worksheet.... It also has brought so many more students into the understanding level, rather than the exposure level of teaching because I can then truly meet my students needs inside the classroom rather than hope they are learning how to meet their needs outside the classroom.

I never understood why we focus on the independent work outside the classroom. Yes, I believe it's important, but I really can't tell where my students are at conceptually until tests. So here's what my classroom looks like now:

I create my lessons on Educreations and record myself teaching them. Here's a few screen shots of my first lesson my students will watch this coming school year:

title screen

Example #3

End slide
 The neat thing is you can upload it to the educreation site and set it so that only your class views it. I can see how many views it gets and my students can ask questions if they want/need online and I will receive it like instant messaging.

Here is a link to the first video my students watch at the beginning of the school year. It's the one with the above screen shots :)

This is what my students watch on the day before I would normally teach it. I send home with them blank notes that we used to do in class. This now is their only homework. When they come through my classroom, I expect them to have watched and taken notes. Now, instead of starting from scratch, I have a little bit of a foundation to go a little deeper with them on. I can see what areas we need to work on as a whole class, and which areas I need to focus on with individual student needs.

Last year, my overall class percentage when from an average of 83% (whole class) to 92%!! Not only were my tests better, but their comprehension was better. I found they weren't "regurgitating" facts and information, but had a chance to digest it and allow it to take root in their learning.

Image how great that would be for a key class like Algebra?!

Have you tried Educreations in your classroom yet? If so, leave me a comment with your thoughts.... or just leave a comment b/c I love reading them :)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Summer Sizzler - 6th Grade

I love summer. But with the long days, warm nights and endless days in the pool, there also comes the natural desire to do anything BUT school.

I don't know about you, but I can always tell which of my students has done some math over the summer. It doesn't need to be every day, all day, but something to work out that brain muscle!

Usually, I teach Math Camps at school to keep my students brains fresh. I realize though, that not everyone has the luxury of creating such a class over the summer.

And that's why I've started a new little series of blog posts called "Summer Sizzlers".

What IS a "Summer Sizzler" you ask? Its a 30-day math book that will give students that little spark at the beginning of the school year. There is a different concept revisited each day with most having critical thinking woven in. There is also an answer key included for you to check each students work.

This is a great way for students to sharpen their skills over the long, beautiful summer break.

Here's a preview of what's inside the 6th grade Summer Sizzler:

Concepts Covered:
 comparing fractions
operations with decimals
order of operations
problem solving
mental math
critical thinking
operations with whole numbers
customary & metric systems
area and perimeter

To download YOUR digital copy, simply click below:
Note: Any purchase made AFTER 8pm CST may not be emailed until 6am the next morning. If you cannot wait that long, visit my TpT store.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Follow Me {on facebook, that is}

I have absolutely NO idea why I haven't thought of this sooner.... But I've created a facebook page for Math-N-Spire! This way everyone can stay in tune with new products, posts, and ask questions if need be. Feel free to "share" the page with your friends and if you "like" Math-N-Spire, you'll be eligible for top-secret, super-special giveaways!!!  Just click the "like" and be transported to my facebook fan page :)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Real World Math {aka Consumer Math}

Well, I have to say  I've been bitten by the "digitally creating" bug. One of the courses I am teaching next year is Consumer Math, which I of course refer to as "Real World Math". It's designed for Seniors through Sophomores who do not need Calculus or higher level math for their intended career or college. I also think its a great idea b/c there are people out there (like me) who are really good at Math, but not so great at Applicable least I used to be. I guess that's why I wanted to teach this course.

So that when my students graduate, they will have a real understanding of things like student loans, car loans, paychecks, interest rates, and just how money works. It's the real world they are stepping into.

I may not be able to change the entire world, but I CAN change one student at a time to leave my room feeling READY to take on that great big world out there.

It's really neat because while browsing through the curriculum choices, I really didn't see one that grabbed my attention. There were a lot of books that had good "info", but were rather dry and boring in my opinion.

And you know me.

I like to have FUN in my classroom. So that my students ENJOY being in my class while learning.

So, I've decided to create my own curriculum. It's in the baby stages right now. I've got it all in my head, and am just starting to put it on the computer. I can tell you this - You. Won't. Be. Disappointed.

Here's the cover design:

This is my new summer project and I am hoping to get it finished before the start of school, but I also know I tend to be too much of an optimist sometimes. Stay tuned for updates and the launch of a new resource!