I am going to make this this week and start using them and all the different ideas given. Great idea!!!

I Speak Math

I loved new blogger Bruce’s post “My Name is 6 x 7” where each student wears a multiplication fact (say 12 x 6) on a name tag.  Then, everyone calls that person 72 for the whole time they are wearing their multiplication name tag.  As soon as I read this, I knew I had to try it with my 6th graders!   Most of them are still having trouble with 9’s and 12’s facts.  My problem is they are only in math for 1 hour a day, so for this to be effective, they would need to wear their facts for a few days in a row in my class.  Since I didn’t want to use up 32 name tags a day (labels can get expensive), I came up with a dry-erase nametag solution.

Nora gave me the great idea in a comment on my Math Stations post about…

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Math Centers – this is all new to me

So this year has begun and we just finished week 2.  This is going to be a great year!

The new thing I am doing this year is “CENTERS”.  I have never done anything like this before.  I have always had a more traditional classroom.

This last week we were working on Place Value.  In 5th grade it is our beginning topic, but it is mainly review for the students and it is a supporting standard in our TEKS.  We add on to their knowledge by bringing in the Billions and going down to the thousandths.  So instead of direct teaching, I put the students into four different groups and gave each group a different task on the topic and let them go.  I was amazed!  All of the students were engaged in mathematical talk and work almost the entire time.  No one was falling asleep from boredom 🙂 and I mainly facilitated the room.

From what the kids were telling me, they enjoyed it and at times were getting so into their activities that I had to ask them to quiet down so other groups could concentrate.  We still had whole group discussion and a little note taking to make sure everyone was on the same page and understood how to do it all correctly.  But that only took about 10 or 15 minutes of the 90 minute class.

I still have some bugs to work out of the system, and I will be learning all year myself on the best practices for centers, but this is a winner.  If you have any great activities for 5th grade math lessons, I would greatly appreciate the ideas.

Why I Teach Math . . .

I think everyone at one point or another think about their career choice and what they are doing with their lives.  As the new year starts up, it is something that I like to remind myself about as I begin with a new set of students.  I know there will be times during this year that will test me and this helps me to stay focused on the reason I get up every morning and go into my classroom.

When I was in junior high I knew I wanted to be a math teacher.  I had the best math teacher who made fractions fun (who would of thought) and I wanted to be like her.  So, I entered the education department in college to become a teacher.  However, I was swayed by some teachers who did not like their job.  So I switched to Computer Science.  I thought I would go for the money.

That was the hardest and best decision I think I have ever made.  I was a natural in my education courses.  However, I struggled in the computer classes.  I worked harder than ever to pass those classes.  But I was determined to never give up.  I finally graduated with a BS in Computer Science and had a job.  I hated it.  I realized, sitting there in my little cubicle, that I was designed to be with other human beings.  But not just with them, but teaching them.  However, I know that it has made me a better teacher.

After graduation I went through an alternative program to get my teaching certification.  I have been teaching ever since and now I am starting my 11th year as a math teacher.

I enjoy working with students and helping them learn new things.  When they get that look on their face that says “Oh!  I get it!” it sends me through the roof with excitement for them.  This past week I was listening to students conversations about how to solve for n (5th grade students) and it was the first week of school!  I was smiling from ear to ear.

But that time I spent in those computer science classes helped me the most.  You know those students that have the look on their faces as you explain a new concept that says you are speaking a foreign language to them?  That was me in those computer classes.  I understand what they are feeling.

This is another year that we have begun.  My goal is to make it the best year of their (my students)  lives.  I want them to love school and teach them as much as I can so that they can be successful!!!  And if some of them tell me that I am their favorite teacher, it helps, even if they might just say it so I don’t work them too hard.  🙂

Homework Policies

The first week of school with students in their seats is behind me now.  I have gotten behind in my posting – I’ve just been so tired and swamped with “school” stuff, that I actually have not even been on my computer at home this last week.  Hopefully I will be able to get back into a regular routine soon.


This week’s Sunday Funday post is about homework policies.  My homework policies have to change from year to year depending on the grade level and school that I am in.

There are so many issues around math and homework.  As a teacher I want my students to practice the concepts that we are working on in class.  I want them to be successful, but I also know that some of them do not do it.  Some of the parents help too much, etc.  And I do not like zeros because students don’t do their assignment.

Last year I started two things that really seemed to work for me.  First of all, their homework was a Weekly Homework.  It consisted of around 20 word problems over the current concepts and review concepts.  They would have one week to work on it, I give it out on a Friday and it is due the next Friday.  I give a little bit of time each day in class to work on it (we are double blocked and have about 90 minutes in class).

The other thing I do is I use a H.O.T. sheet.  H.O.T stands for Homework On Time.  Each students gets a H.O.T. sheet to keep in their binder.  When we have a homework due, we stamp the H.O.T. sheets.  There are 14 places for a stamp.  Once students have their H.O.T. sheet completely full, they can turn it in to replace a low daily grade with a 100.  This has encouraged students to bring their homework in on time.

The one thing I am going to incorporate this year, is they are going to have to write their answers in complete sentences.  This is one way I am trying to use writing in the math classroom.

Math Coach's Corner

Heather Simmons


Searching for the answers to education excellence

Megan Hayes-Golding

Still learning.

I Speak Math

Integrating Technology and Mathematics