Sub Plans

Wow!  It has been a while since I have had time to sit down and blog about anything.  This school year started out with a bang and I have been going non stop ever since.  I have already had to use sub plans for a few meetings that I have had to miss class for and one more next week is coming up. 

This summer I was reading on Twitter and saw a post about having the students teach the sub (or something like that).  So I thought I would try it. 

Now I teach 5th grade math and had to really think this through.  So here is what I did. 

I wrote 10 questions that had multiple parts to each problem and assigned each student a problem (one problem per page).  Depending on the size of the class, two to three students had the same problem.  This was toward the end of the first six weeks, so the questions were also a review of the topics we have covered so far. 

The directions to the sub were to give the students their problem (I had written each students name of a problem that I wanted them to work) and let them work individually for 5 to 6 minutes. 
The next step was to let them get in their groups to work together on their problem and discuss how they would present the problem to the class.  They had directions that stated they were to explain HOW to solve the problems, but not to give any answers.  They had to about 15 minutes to prepare their presentation.

Next the sub had a packet with all 10 problems on it and instructed everyone to go back to their seats.  Each student got a packet and were told to work all the problems after they heard from the presenters on how to solve the problem.  Of course they did not finish in the one day I was out.  But I am actually glad.  When I returned, they continued their presentations and I was able to hear some of them and it really was interesting to hear their explanations on how to solve some of the problems.

Next week I am going to be out again for another meeting.  So I took those same problems and tweaked them a little and the students will have them to work on that day.  I am using this as one last evaluation of their knowledge of the concepts that I have taught so far this year. 

My main goal any time I am out of the classroom is that I do not want them to just sit there and do busy work.  I want them to be working on math and it is not always easy to find a good sub that feels comfortable teaching that subject.  So I have to find things that they can do that keeps them occupied on the current topics.

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.

MS Sunday Funday – Goals for the new year…

This will be the third year that I am in my classroom and I am lucky to have a campus that did not require me to take all my posters down, so that is still the same.  I am adding a few things to the walls.  The main thing I am changing is the desk arrangements.  I have been so crowded in my classroom depending on how I arrange my student’s desks, so I had to make some sacrifices and get rid of a table and an old student computer (that didn’t really work anyway.)  I am trying to make more room so the students and I can move around more.  This will help me be in the Power Zone and more accessible to the students as we are learning.  I haven’t taken pictures yet as I am still trying to decide on how to arrange it all.  Do I put the desks in groups (really takes up a lot of room, but good for group work) or have them in rows.  I like this the best, but need to see what my new principal expects.

My Goals for this year?  My main goal to increase student retention.  I have felt in the past that I do well teaching the concepts to them, and they do well when I quiz them over the material but later in the year they don’t remember well enough to master the state assessment.  A book that my campus read over the summer has inspired me about this and I will be writing a separate blog about that in the next day or two.  Some other goals I have is to keep up with absent student work and to just be more organized, period.  I am a hoarder and stacker.  I usually have so many stacks of paper in my room that you cannot even see my desk.  My goal here is to trash (recycle) when I no longer need it.

Finally, this will be my first year to have a student teacher.  I hope that I can help him in any way that I can, but also be willing to relinquish control of my classroom and students when the time comes (I take their learning very personally.)  If you have had a student teacher before and can give me advice, I would greatly appreciate it.

Interactive Notebook for Math Class


This week’s post is about the Interactive Notebook.  I have been doing some form of an interactive notebook for 4 years now.  I started it when I was teaching 7th grade math and now that I teach 5th grade math, I brought the idea with me.  My whole reason for having my students keep a notebook is so they can refer back to it later in their school career to help them.  I have had many students come back to tell me that they have used their notebook that we made in my class to help them remember lessons so they can be successful in their new class.I am realistic and know that not all of my students will keep up with them, but if a few do and it helps them, then that is all I can hope for.

I use the spiral, mainly because that is what my school has listed on the school supply list.  It specifically says they need a 3-5 subject spiral for “Math”.  So we will use it.  In the past we have taken notes in it, put in foldables,  and kept a TOC.  It was a very basic notebook. 

This summer I have been looking into how to make it better.  I have spoken with other math teachers in my district and now I have found so many online and have gotten a ton of ideas.

Here is what I am going to try to implement this year…

1) Since we use the spirals, and the covers do like to fall off after so much use, I am going to have the students decorate their cover with pictures or drawings or whatever they want.  The thought here is that they make it special to them so they take better care of it.  Then we will use clear packing tape and tape it all up to make it a little more sturdy.  We’ll see if this works or not, but I have seen other teachers use this and it was still in tack at the end of the year.

2) We also use the front and back of the covers to put the STAAR Reference Material.

3) The very first page of the notebook is used as an Author’s Page.  Another place for them to make it their own and tell a little more about themselves. 

4) Next will be the Table of Contents.  I am not great about remembering to update this, so I usually find a student who is and give them the task of reminding me to update the TOC.  They love to tell the teacher what to do. 

5) When we take notes, I use the two-column Cornell note style.  At the top of the page we give it a title and then write the student expectation out  as an “I will” statement.  I use most of the words from the TEKS and tell them upfront that this is what is expected of them to be successful in math class.  This cuts out the “why do we have to learn this.”  We then do vocabulary and example problems in our notes.  This year we plan to also put a sample test problem (word problem) at the end of our notes so that when it is time for them to study they will have a test question that is in the correct format.

6) On the LHP we will have them work more problems, write questions, ect.  This page is not one I have done well with in the past and I am glad to see so many suggestions out there. 

7) I plan on grading the INB this year.  I want to hold them more accountable that I have in the past.  I have gotten a few grading rubrics that other teachers use.  If I can figure out how to put those documents on here, I will.

8) Finally, I have got some new ideas that I plan on using from the Video Conference on Tuesday.  I really liked the pocket and using tabs.

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