More “One Good Things”

Today was another day where the “One Good Things” just kept piling on.

Don’t get me wrong.  There were plenty of things that would not classify as “Good Things” that happened today.  Plenty of them.  However as I drove home today, the Good Things are what stood out to me.

You can read the blog of other people’s One Good Things here and here is my “One Good Thing” post from last week.

I had to leave my classroom for a short time between homeroom and first hour.  When I returned to my classroom my 6th graders were quietly at their desks working on their Which One Doesn’t Belong? warm-up.


One of my students was called down to the office at the end of the hour.  I actually heard this student groan at having to leave class.  This is a student who I have a feeling has not felt very successful in math in the past, but today that student was working hard and was feeling success in math and because of that didn’t want to stop working!


I’ve been encouraging my next hour’s class to participate more.  I had students who are rarely willing to participate and raise their hand, participate today!


I had a 6th grader raise his hand to ask a question during work time, but then he said, “Wait, I should look it up first.”  And he used his Chromebook to look up what he needed.

I realize that these are small things, but to me these are things that will have such a big impact moving forward, especially since I am seeing these things in my students so early on in the year.  My students are starting to get used to routines I have in place in my classroom.  My students are willing to be brave and participate, even if they may not be super confident in what they are doing.  My students are starting to see that if they engage in what we are working on and try, they can be successful.  My students are starting to become more independent and figure out how to find the answers to their questions without needing me all the time.

A Day Full of “One Good Things”

I love reading the One Good Thing blog.  It always encourages me to find the positive in my day, regardless of what kind of a day/week I’m having.

Yesterday was one of those days that was full of One Good Things.


I started with the following Which One Doesn’t Belong in my first 6th grade class.  The conversation was SO good, and I loved hearing all the vocabulary my students remembered.  The conversation went equally well in my other two sections.

Screen Shot 2017-09-13 at 7.16.51 PM


Then we used this Desmos activity.  It was the first time this group of students used Desmos.  It was love at first Class Code.  The groans when I paused the activity were music to my ears -I even gave them a 5 second warning.



In my 8th grade classes I used Vertical Non-Permanent Surfaces (#VNPS) for the first time this year.  Whenever I do this, I ask myself why I don’t do this more often.  I’m always amazed at how much more engaged students are and how much more they participate when we do this compared to seat work.

After grouping students randomly for this, I saw that two students who I struggle to get to do anything on a lot of days ended up partners.  I had my doubts about how their group would function, but the 20 minutes those students worked together was by far the best either of them had worked all year!



When it came time for my 5th hour class, I logged in to Desmos to find that none of my custom activities or history showed up in my account.  What could have been a disaster (my 30+ minute lesson plan with 6th graders, gone), ended up going just fine.

For whatever reason, my students were crazy patient and quiet while I tried to log in to Desmos and figure out what was going in.  Then I finally realized what happened.  My school email changed over the summer, and I had been trying to change my Desmos account to my new address.  I had contacted Desmos earlier in the week to help with this and saw in an email that they were able to make the change for me just before 5th hour.  The change didn’t quite go as expected, and I needed to change my password and wasn’t able to do this.

We had just set up something else on my students’ Chromebooks, so I had them work in that while I emailed Desmos to try to figure out the issue.  I spent the next 10 minutes or so emailing Denis from Desmos -we may as well have been live chatting for as quick as Denis was to respond to my emails.  (Have I mentioned that Desmos is awesome!  After my initial split second of panic when everything in my account was gone, there was never a doubt in my mind that Desmos would be able to fix the issue.)

The hour ended, and I still wasn’t able to get my stuff back in my account.  However, I tried the same thing I had been trying during class one more time, and it worked!  I was ready to go for 6th and 7th hours.


After school I was able to go and support a colleague whose family is going through a difficult time.  While the situation isn’t a good thing, I was glad I could be there for her during this difficult time.

Year 5. Day 1.

Oh my goodness.  It is SO. GOOD. to be back in my classroom teaching.

The first couple days have been great.  I love that half of my classes are students I have had before and already have rapport with.  And then there’s my 6th graders.  Every year I tell myself I’m ready for 6th graders on the first day.  Every year I’m wrong.  But oh how I love them.

My first day this year was pretty similar to what I did last year.  I, like many others in the MTBoS, am using so many ideas from Sara Van Der Werf.  We started with the 100 Numbers Task in all of my classes and ended with name tents.  Depending on the class and how much time we had, in some classes I got to the math talk I had planned and the notice/wonder activity for the set game (6th grade) or Fawn’s Noah’s Ark problem (7/8 grades).

I was so excited, yet nervous, to finally use the version of Sara’s 100 number task that I created just before school started.  You can find that version here.

I used this with my 7th grade class.  This is my second year in a row having these students, and it feel like we picked up right where we left off at the end of last year.  I’ve already found myself smiling numerous times as they’re working so proud of how far they’ve come since last year.

I started by showing them Sara’s version.  We talked about how we used it last year -how group work was important and that there was a pattern.  I told them we were doing a new version this time and there would be expressions instead of numbers.  I gave them an example of the number 8 and asked them to tell me what expressions they might see on the sheet for 8.  They came up with 2 x 4, 4 + 4, etc.  I also briefly reviewed exponents with them before they started.  I told them there was still going to be a pattern, but that it was different than the one last year -they all remembered the pattern from last year.

Screen Shot 2017-08-20 at 11.22.08 AM

We also talked before they started about whether or not this was about being fast.  One student loudly proclaimed, “No!  It’s about teamwork!”  Whether or not he was trying to be a smart aleck, I don’t know, but I went with it and reminded them that math isn’t about being fast.  I was interested to see how well they worked together on this.

Right before I had them start was the most nervous I had been all day.  I so badly wanted this to go well and was worried they would see the page full of expressions and panic.

Again, I shouldn’t doubt this group of students.  They never cease to amaze me.  They dove right in and got to work.


I gave them 5 minutes to work on the task.  It was nowhere near enough time for them to find all of the numbers, but I thought it was a good amount of time for them to find enough to start to see a pattern.


A couple groups noticed the pattern after one round.

I also noticed one group write numbers next to some of the expressions they didn’t yet need as they were looking for other numbers.  I thought this was a great strategy!



Ready to Go!

Up until a week ago or so my classroom looked pretty much the same as it did last year, which was fine.  I loved my room last year.  However, now that I’ve spent some time in there this weekend and added a few new things, I feel ready to go for the year.

The only thing that’s missing is my play table.  I haven’t quite figured out the perfect spot for it (or what I’ll use for the table).  I’m hoping once the year starts, and I see kids in the space, I’ll have a better idea of where would be a good place for it.

Here’s some of the changes in my room since last year.  (The link to download the files for the stuff used in my room last year is in this post.

Within the first few minutes of class, there are often students asking for a pencil, students needing a calculator, and students needing to get what they missed from being absent.  I decided to put all of these things in one space.  Last year, the folders for missing work were in the back of the room, sort of behind my desk, and I hope that this will be a better spot for them.  I’m also trying something new with pencils this year.  We’ll see how it goes.  Pencils became a daily frustration of mine.  I don’t mind giving a student a pencil who needs one, but I didn’t like the system I had last year.


The True Delight poster is from Meg.  Here is the link to her post with it.  I love the quote.  I love that seeing the poster reminds me of Meg, and I love that the quote is from Isaac Asimov.  Growing up, every morning while eating breakfast my dad and I would do the Isaac Asimov’s Super Quiz that was in the paper daily.  I usually wasn’t very good at them, but I looked forward to doing it with my dad everyday.

To make the magnet board to hold the pencils, I got a 12×12 magnetic sheet like this one at a craft store.  I already had the frame at school that I had used for something else in my old classroom, and it was perfect for this.  I added a piece of scrapbook paper, and attached it to the wall with command velcro strips.


This is the quote I put up above the calculators.  I saw it recently on Twitter and decided I wanted it up in my room.  You can download it here.

This summer I made an electronic version of a poster I had up in my room last year.  I decided I should make it using Publisher before our school switched over to Macs.  You can download it here.  It’s designed to be printed as a 22×28.


If your school has laptops and you don’t have a laptop stand, you need one.  I’m serious!  I got this stand for my laptop at some point last year mainly because my cousins are chiropractors and didn’t give me much choice.  BUT I absolutely love it and can’t imagine going without it.


I didn’t think my classroom could become any more “Sarafied” than it already was, but then Sara posted this.  I was wrong.  It could, and it did.

The bins below are one of the things I took from Sara’s post.  Sara puts all of the handouts, worksheets, etc. into a bin, and if a student needs another copy of something, they dig through the bin.  No more filing extra papers.  No more digging through said files when a student comes in asking for another copy of a worksheet from a month ago.  I’m already looking forward to this!


I have been in Sara’s classroom a couple times and have always loved the group number signs she has hanging from her ceiling.  Megan recreated them.  You can download them here.  I ended up deciding to add groups 7-10.  Here is the link to the ones I made.  It’s a pdf since I used a bit different font for the front side.  If you want and editable version, go to Sara’s blog and check out what Megan made.  They’re great!!

I attached it to the ceiling using a magnet like Sara suggested in her post.  I used a hot glue gun to attach the yarn to the magnet.  I think I ended up having the signs hang down a little bit over a foot.




Another thing I took from Sara’s post was to make these binder clips.  When I printed off what Sara shared on her blog, I discovered that her binder clips were bigger than mine.  I made a smaller version of what she shared.  You can find it here.


Then there’s this.  Casey started this in her classroom years ago.  Hers is amazing!   She sent me the pdf of the poster, and I decided to make one of my own.  I love it!