The Old Gum Tree

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First days thoughts and ramblings. August 7, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — superkookaburra @ 5:57 pm
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Warning!  Lots of rambling thoughts below. I’m trying to figure out what I’m doing by writing it out.

A couple days ago I made an INB Info Sheet for students, and I just posted it.. what an hour or two ago?  But I mentioned I wasn’t sure about it.  And I have now found something that aligns more with how I like first week to go by cheesemonkeysf.  I love that they are already taking notes and making a foldable about important information.  However, I’m not sure this will be a first day thing in my class.  I’ve been struggling with trying to decide upon and plan the first day(s) of school.  I think part of it is because I’d like to have the same structure for all of my classes even though they are different. My day will look like this (if the schedule doesn’t change, which it might):

  1. 8th grade basic math – not from this team last year, so probably need some getting to know each other activity.  Also homeroom and I imagine there will be a lot of first-day paperwork/scheduling problems to deal with.
  2. 8th grade Algebra I Honors- have been together on a team since 6th grade.  Will be upset that ALL of their old teachers on this team have left the school.
  3. 6th grade gifted/advanced math – Awwww, 6th graders <3!  Will be coming from many different elementary schools.
  4. Plan
  5. 8th grade basic math – like first period, will have not been on this team last year
  6. 7th grade gifted/advanced math – Were together on this team last year, will be upset that ALL of their old teachers on this team have left the school.

So, some classes will need a get to know each other activity, some will just need to get to know me.  Since we are teamed, the kids will be together for the 4 core classes, so I don’t want to do redundant activities.   Also, I’m not sure when to expect my students to have obtained their composition notebooks.  We do have an orientation day next week, and hand out supplies lists, but is it reasonable to expect students to have their supplies first day?  Next week is the teacher prep week, where I’ll be able to meet with my team, so I guess I’ll have to wait to finalize my plans until then.

I wish I could remember what I did last year.  I just looked at my “lesson plans” from last year and for the first day it says “Intro and Expectations.”  Wow, thanks, me.  That’s so helpful.  Oh well, that’s why I’m writing this now.

So, what do I remember?  

I know we did a “Getting to Know You Bingo” thing, which I can’t find the file for.  It was nice because the students were moving around and had to interact with many other students.  I also used it to intro the idea that when you, individually are done, it doesn’t mean your responsibility ends.  Those that were done were required to help other students find someone who could fill a bingo square.

I know we did Broken Circles to teach group norms. Broken Circles doc (This is not mine, I got this when I was in school.) And power point Broken Circles PPT. (I made this from the doc.  I like the exit slip slide… exit slips lasted about 2 weeks last year *sigh*)

I know I explicitly taught classroom procedures, such as entering the room.

What I know I will do to start the year:

  1. Greet students at the door (so they know I’m approachable)
  2. Have assigned seats they can easily find (so they aren’t wandering around the class, so I can quickly tell if my roster is accurate)
  3. Have an activity to get started on immediately (because that’s the way we roll in my class… you enter, you get to work right away, whether the bell has rung or not)


  1. Really want to incorporate a “numbers about me” activity.  Probably intro with numbers about myself.  Then have them come up with some numbers about themselves.  Then go the tothesquareinch direction and have them create math problems to get to that answer.  That could be an interesting look at their effort and abilities.  Are all of their problems number + 0? Do they incorporate multiple steps and operations?  Also, good time to reinforce order of operations.  Then can use to get to know group members. Or maybe a number about me “I can relate!”  That might be neat.  Student A: “I have 3 siblings.”   Student B: “I can relate, I have 3 pets.  or I have 2 siblings”   Later (second day?) these number can help them decorate their INBs.  Maybe this could be first day.
  2. So then second day could be about INBs (if they have them!).  Powerpoint intro with all the what is it and how it works jazz.  Set up TOC.  Most important rules foldable.
  3. What about syllabus?  First day?  Or second day b/c it will be glued into notebook?  Maybe hand out first day and homework is to read it and come to class prepared with any questions.  (I really don’t want to read a syllabus aloud in class.)  Then as part of INB second day, they do this cute left hand side activity from Everybody is a Genius. Maybe as their warm up?  No, I need to answer any questions they have first.
  4. What about broken circles?  Neat, and the kids liked it, but I certainly didn’t refer back to it later on in the year.  Maybe need a group norms poster to refer to.  Oh man, group setup and dynamics… that’s a whole ‘nother rambly post.

Late #made4math Integer Counters and Interactive Notebook Info Sheet

Filed under: Uncategorized — superkookaburra @ 3:27 pm
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It’s Made4Math Tuesday!  To hell with alliteration (I don’t mean it; I love you alliteration)!  Yesterday and today’s plans were switcherooed, so I’m posting today.  Today was to be spent in my classroom with my mom (best new teacher resource ever: retired-teacher mom), but we ended up going yesterday.  Soon there will be pictures, but it’s not ready yet and right now THERE ARE GIANT ROACHES ALL OVER.  I’m telling myself it’s because they just sprayed, but I have a feeling I will be handing out lots of extra credit to students for roach removal from the classroom.

On to things I’ve made!  The first one is actually from a year ago.  Behold!  Lima bean integer counters!


Lima beans + spray paint on one side.  They won’t last you forever, as many of them break or chip, but they are super cheap to make  in mass quantities (especially when you already have bright orange spray paint for an unknown reason).  After a year of use I’ve only had to throw away a handful.    Also,  the students seemed to like them.  A number of beans ended up with smiley faces drawn on, but none of them ended up with frowny faces, so I think that is positive feedback!


I’m trying interactive notebooks for the first time, and while there are many fabulous pre-made and generously shared info sheets, I needed to tweak them a bit for my particular classes.  I drew heavily from Everybody is a Genius and Ms. Dyer’s Class.  I’m not sure if I’m even going to end up going with this or not.  I might change up the left-side questions to activities.  And I wonder if less would be more (as in less rules listed). I also haven’t  proofread it since I made it.  It’s made to print double-sided and fold in half to be glued into a composition notebook.  Anyway, here it is in .doc format so you can have a starting place and change it up as it fits you.  (Still new at wordpress, so I hope this works.) SK’s Interactive Notebook Info Sheet



#MyFavFriday – Favorite Freebie August 3, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — superkookaburra @ 3:40 pm
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1. For my first My Favorite Friday, I’m posting an awesome teacher freebie.  I have to confess, though, I have not taken advantage of this.  So how can it still be my favorite?  Because it’s hard to beat a free annual pass to Sea World!  Teachers in Texas and Florida can get a free pass (supposedly SoCA, too, but that link is dead and I can’t find current info on it).  Apparently they have been doing this for years, but I just heard about it a couple months ago.  Go here for info.  I hear they are strict about the credential and paystub, so make sure you go prepared.  I’m actually suppose to be there today with a group of teacher buddies (and meeting another math teacher for the first time), but I woke up sick.  😦  Booooo.  We were even going to EAT UNDERWATER!  I guess I’ll just tell myself it’s better to get sick now than once school starts.  But I still reserve the right to pout.

I am not here today, but I could be for FREE.

2. It looks like people are posting recipes, too.  Er, I don’t cook much, so it’s hard to have a favorite.  However, I’ve actually cooked a new recipe twice in the past two weeks, once even for guests (ok, my parents who live two blocks away, but it’s the first time we’ve had people to our house for dinner, so for now they count as guests).  Zucchini Burgers!  Inspired by a trip to Ruby Tuesday, I found this recipe on Pinterest. I changed it by removing the carrots (because I forgot to buy them) and adding roasted red peppers (from a jar).  The patties themselves are still pretty good when reheated, and the mix can be made ahead and cooked the next day. I still think it needs a little something, but everyone else thought they were great as is (and none of us are vegetarians).


Teacher Lesson #1 – It’s worth the money. August 2, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — superkookaburra @ 2:02 pm
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I’ve been seeing some pretty labels, forms, posters, lessons, etc on sites such as TPT, but I’ve balked at paying for downloadable items that are sold more on their appearance than their content.  I’m mean, really?  You want me to pay for a label border?  Please, I can do that myself. Image

An hour or two later, I realize two things: 1) this takes more skill than it seems  2) this takes a lot of time. I don’t have the time, creative eye, or even the desire to develop this skill.  Of course, I won’t give up making a lot of things on my own, but for fancy-looking computer-generate goodies…



Introduction July 28, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — superkookaburra @ 2:53 pm
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I’ve been lurking math blogs this summer, and yesterday I saw I Speak Math’s post about samjshaw‘s new site   I guess it worked.

As I am once again starting fresh at a new school, this time I’m going to try to keep track of what works and what doesn’t work, so next year maybe I won’t feel like a newbie again.  For example, last year I was known for having well-behaved classes who were usually on task.  In fact, I’ve been late to class (because I lost my copies and had to make more… working on organization this year!) and walked in to find the class had settled themselves in and was hard at work.  Sweet!  Unfortunately, I’m not really sure how I got them to that point.  And that is stressing me out, especially as I am moving from a private school with smaller class sizes to a public school.

Also, I want to join the #made4math fun!