Sunday, September 30, 2012

Barbara's Back With a GREAT Character Role-Play!

The last Sunday of the month is here again {'s going by quickly} which means that....

Barbara's Back!

I LOVE this idea!  Simple, quick, and easy to set up, but what a powerful tool!!!

Stereotyping Roles by Barbara Gruener

If you want to elevate empathy in your students for those who get stuck in a stereotype, why not try this role-play game. 
You will need six student volunteers and a role card 
(like those pictured below) for each one. 

Photo of Stereotype Role Play cards

Glue your role cards with instructions to a plastic visor so that students can't see what role they're playing but the other participants in the semi-circle can. Use roles like: 
The ESL Student (speak loudly and slowly to me) 
The Popular Student (agree with me and follow my lead)
The Nerd (put down everything I say)
The Class Clown (laugh at everything I say & do)
The New Student (ignore me)
The Troublemaker (shush me or tell me to be quiet). 

Tell students that they're going to have a discussion with one another to plan their group's next service project. Whom do they want to help and why? During the activity, they are to treat one another according to the directions that they see on each other's visors as they talk and plan. Randomly call on one of your group members to start the discussion. Expect some laughter, some confusion, and possibly some hurt feelings. Stop the conversation after a few minutes, then see if participants can guess who they are by how others reacted to them. Let them process how it felt to be treated like that. 

When I first participated in this one, I was assigned the ESL student and it was really frustrating when the other group members acted like I couldn't comprehend anything they were saying as they repeated things slowly and loudly.

Once students run through this exercise and thoroughly reflect about it, find out what other stereotype cards they might add. Then change discussion topics and try it again. Or take it on the road and lead it with a buddy class or for the faculty at your next faculty meeting.

For more character-infusion ideas, visit me at 

Head on over and check out Barbara's blog!  You'll be so glad you did!

Enjoy :)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thrifty Thursday ~ Saving Paper

Does your school have rules, procedures, and/or limitations on your classroom copies?

Over the last few years, in an effort to save on paper costs, we've gone from being able to run whatever we wanted without keeping any real count going to having to have our copies approved by an Instructional Coach and using an ID number if we need to run our own copies to being limited on the number of copies per day to having our copies approved by the principal...and in some cases justifying why we need that specific sheet copied...and in some cases being turned down.

It's a necessary sign of the times.  I know that.

It's also much better for our planet. I know that.

Is it an inconvenience?  I'd be lying if I said no.

Does it sometimes feel like we're begin treated like children?  Again, the answer has to be yes.

It's one of those deals where a few who try to get away with too much and work around the system keep getting the system tightened and tightened for the rest of us.

If it means less furlough days and fewer lost jobs for my teaching pals, then I'm all for it!

However, I think these procedures have made me and my curriculum partners really think about what we are choosing to give our students.

Is if really something they need a copy of?  OR can they create a Thinking Map on their own to serve the same, or maybe even better, purpose?

Do they need everything on the copy we've given them in the past?  OR can we edit or recreate something more concise?

For example, in the past we ran off writing prompts with lines for students to use for their paragraphs.

Why?  They have their own paper {or at least they are supposed to}.

I've edited the prompts to fit two per page and then only printed six or eight copies.  Once cut in half, this has been plenty for writing prompts that students typically do after quizzes or tests, or as a station.  They're not all needing the prompts at the same time.  My paper use was cut from 125 copies to eight.  Then add in the cost of toner, etc., and it does add it rather quickly!

We've also done a few things in class sets where the copies are placed in sheet protectors for practice problems.  At the end of class, the sheet protector is wiped clean and ready for use in the next class period.

In the end, we have been able to drastically cut down on the amount of paper we are using for copies this year.

What's the copy procedure like at your school?  What are some creative ways you've found to cut down on the number of copies you need?

I'd LOVE to hear your ideas!

Enjoy :)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tech Tip Tuesday ~ All Things Google!

Hey guys!  Really quick post today!

I came across this poster about all the things that are possible with Google.

I use quite a few of these options, both in and out of the classroom.  If you haven't spent some time getting to know what you can do with Google, I would encourage you to do so!  You might be surprised at what you find.

{This poster was found at GCF Learn Free.}

Enjoy :)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Math Game Monday ~ Am I Equivalent to 1/2? {Common Core Aligned}

I LOVE Math Game Monday!!!  In fact, I just love math matter what day of the week.

I'm actually having my Gifted/Honors ELT {Extended Learning Time} students create math games for integers.  They have done a fabulous job.  So much so that I'm laminating them so they can go to another class to 'teach' some of our struggling math students how to play their game and get in some extra integer practice that soooo many students need! 

I hope to share some of those with you soon!

For today, I picked a math game I created that could really serve a pretty wide range of grades and ability levels.  

Am I Equivalent to 1/2? can be used in lower grades with advanced students or upper grades with struggling, below-grade-level students.

I created it to fit into one of those cheap $1 plastic photo albums because that just sounded like a fun thing to do!  

Two complete sets are included -- one in color and one in black-and-white if you need to save on ink costs or want to print more that one set!  I chose to print in black-and-white, but used color card stock for a little pop of color.

This math station/center is designed to be cut and placed into a mini photo album like the $1 versions from The Dollar Tree or Wal-Mart.

Outside Book Cover
Instructions for Students
22 Cards
Student Answer Sheet
Answer Key

I've included pictures of my completed book so you can see an example. I removed the album covers that were included and added plain white card stock cut to the same size in their place. Then just add the cards from my set and you have a neat little math station mini-book!!

The 22 Cards contain fractions, decimals, fraction circles, base 10 blocks, word problems, graphs, adding decimals, multiplying and dividing fractions, etc.

All of these ask "Am I Equivalent to 1/2?"

Some cards are easy while some while require more critical thinking.

Extra blanks are included in case you need to change out some cards or add more.

I've included an entire set in color to print on white card stock and an entire set in blank line to print on white or colored card stock.

My example in done on colored card stock to add interest while saving on ink costs.

Making this into a mini-book provides a different, unique way for students to complete a math station. 

This can be done individually or with a partner.

Common Core Standards addressed include:

Common Core Alignment ~ 

This is also an excellent option for Remediation in Grades 6 - 8 as many students continue to struggle with fractions and decimals as well as estimating benchmark values such as 1/2.

I hope you find this product very useful in your classroom!

Click on the images above or HERE to check out this $2 product in my TPT Store.  You can download a preview before you decide whether or not to make a purchase!

The first 3 people to comment and leave an e-mail get a FREE copy!!
The only catch...tell me another concept you think would work well with this same set-up.  
Who knows...if I use your idea, I might send you a free copy of that product, too!!!

Enjoy :)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sunday Samplings ~ No Opt Out, Pinterest Link Up, & Birchbox

I hope your Sunday has been a fabulous one so far!  Mine is winding down quickly on the East Coast...too quickly.

We must create a plan to add an extra day to the weekend - you know, like Saturday, Catchupday, Sunday.


Lots of things have been going on lately, so I wanted to share a few of them with you.

I'm taking part in a book study on Teach Like a Champion hosted by Life in Middle School.

The first technique in the book is called No Opt Out and I put that into place in my classroom this past week.  This technique doesn't allow students to answer a question with a shrug of the shoulders or an "I don't know."  If they try this, another student in called on to answer the question...THEN you go back to the first student and have them answer the question.  In just a few days, I can see this making a difference already! 

The always-inspiring Debbie Clement from Rainbows Within Reach is a Pinterest Queen!  She is geared toward the younger crowd, but this week she is hosting a Directory for UpperElem Pinners {which technically picks up the lower end of my readers with 4th - 6th grades}.

Click on over to her blog to look for some great pinners to follow.

I have a new love in my life...Birchbox!  I think this is my 3rd month receiving that precious little box in the mail and it makes me oh so happy to see what's inside.

September's Birchbox actually came last week, but I'm just getting around to posting about it here.  {I swear I still feel like it's the first week of school or something!}

Each box is filled with lots of little goodies to sample or a full-sized product!  You never know what you'll get, but I've enjoyed everything I got so far.  It gives me a great chance to try some new things I might not typically try...for free....without committing to a full purchase.  The cost is $10 a month.  If you're interested in signing up, click on the pic above or HERE to use my referral code! ;-)

Enjoy :)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Math Game Monday ~ Math Marvel {Boggle-Style Math Game}

Welcome to Math Game Monday from my brand-spanking, newly-redesigned, beautiful blog!!

Can you tell I love it?

Like really LOVE it!

I want to take a second to give one more shout out to my designers.

Dina from peachi designs on Etsy created that adorable little 'mini-me' up there!  She was so fast and friendly to work with and I highly recommend looking her up if you need custom graphics, or just to check out the great products already posted in her store!

The actual blog redesign was handled by the ladies at Honey Bunch Blog Design!  Somehow they took my ramblings from my crazy head and turned them into exactly what I was looking for!!  They were so easy to work with and always there to answer my questions.  Such a sweet group of gals!  If you're in the market for a new blog design, you can't go wrong with HBBD!!!

NOW...on to Math Game Monday!

This week I'm sharing a Boggle-style game I created this summer, Math Marvel.

This 24-page Boogle-inspired packet comes with full-sized as well as student game boards.

Basic rules are like Boggle's rules. No number used twice. Can move horizontally, vertically, and diagonally, but all game pieces must be touching in order to make a move. No jumping around the game board or doubling back allowed.

Some student game boards can be cut in half-sheet size, while one style is meant to be left together and both sides used by the same student/pair. 

There are options for black-and-white printing as well as 3 different color options. 

There are 2 complete game variations included.

Print only what you need and keep the rest saved in case you need a different version later.

One would be for younger students where they are asked to create their own problems using certain symbols allowing for differentiation.

The other would be more appropriate for older students where they are given and answer and must create as many problems as possible to reach the given answer.

Positive and negative integers and positive and negative squared integers are provided as game pieces. 

I included the basic math operation symbols, including the equal sign for students to be able to manipulate on their work area if they are having difficulty seeing the solutions on the full-sized game board. 

I also included more advanced symbols such as the square root symbol, absolute value bars, parentheses, and 2 variables to again differentiate for higher-ability students. They can manipulate the pieces to help them check the problem before recording it.

There are also blank game pieces included. 

For the game pieces, you can choose to print black numbers and symbols on white or color paper, or you can print in reverse with the main area being black and the numbers and symbols showing through as the color of paper you chose to print on. 

**I would highly recommend a 1-1/2" Round Paper Punch for cutting out the round game pieces. 

For best results, print on cardstock and laminate before cutting out and allowing students to play.

This could be used with whole-group, small-group, as review, practice, for center time or early finishers.

Hits on much-needed critical thinking skills!

With all the options, blank game pieces, and differentiation built in, the sky is the limit for Math Marvel. 

This will work from the youngest to the oldest student!

Click on either of the images above or HERE to go to my TPT Store.  You can download a FREE preview before you make up your mind to purchase!

I'll give away the entire product to the first TWO readers to comment and leave an email address!!

Enjoy :)

Sunday, September 16, 2012


The final tweaks are underway, but I couldn't wait any longer to share my brand-new look with you!

The gals from Honey Bunch Blog Design are absolutely awesome to work with!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thrifty Thursday ~ An Egg Carton Challenge???

Egg carton?  Yes, you read that correctly!

While blog stalking surfing a few days ago, I came across a challenge on the SchoolBox Treasures blog.

School Box Treasures!

Craftastic Challenge #1 is all about the glorious egg carton!  

Well that set my mind in motion at about a million miles an hour.  

This sounded like a great thing to share with all of you for my Thrifty Thursday post this week.

Head over to SchoolBox Treasures and check out all the details for this challenge.  Make something phenomenal and then link up on her blog for all the world to see your crafting greatness!

I'll be sure to share my creation(s) later as well.

Enjoy :)

Making It {and smiling},

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Around the World Wednesday ~ Are You On My List?

If you've been holding out on joining the Middle Grades Postcard Exchange for this school year, time is quickly running out!

We gained 6 or 7 new teachers and classrooms this week, including one from Japan!

This is going to be a wonderful and fun learning experience for students {as well as teachers} and I want to have as many states and countries accounted for as possible.  However, I will have to cut off sign-ups at the end of September so that we may begin the process of sending our first round of postcards to all of our new buddies across the US and Canada...and around the world!

The Exchange is open to grades 4 - 8.  

These are the states/countries currently available!

If this sounds fun and engaging for your students, contact me today so that I may forward to spreadsheet to you to fill out.

Enjoy :)

Making It {and smiling},

Monday, September 10, 2012

Math Game Monday ~ Four-in-a-Row Mental Math Game

Merry Monday to each of you!

It's time for another middle school math game here on the blog.

This is a product I created called Four-in-a-Row Mental Math.  It can be used as a game for whole-group time or as a center....or even in small-group tutoring sessions.

This game is played like Bingo, only with 4 in a row instead of 5.

As clues are called out, the students perform all math calculations in their heads {if at all possible}. This process exercises students' abilities to perform mental math calculations and recall more than one number at a time. 

It's a quick and easy math game that hits on many basic skills from all strands. 

I've created 30 completely different boards to accommodate an entire class playing at the same time. It would also be perfect as a math station/center with a few students playing a 1 student calling out the clues.

There are 32 clue cards included.

While more 4th and 5th Grade CCSS are addressed in this math game/center, the amount and quality of review and remediation available for Grades 6 - 8 is tremendous.

Keep those basic skills and mental math skills sharp!! 

Common Core Alignment:
4.G.2, 4.NBT.1,3-5;
5.G.3, 5.NBT.2,4;

All game boards and clue cards are in black to save on ink costs. However, this would look great on colored card stock.

Here's a sample of the game boards and 1 page of clue cards.

Click on any of the product images in this post to go to my TPT Store.  You can also download a free preview of my product before you decide whether or not to make a purchase.

Thanks so much and I hope you find this a fun and valuable tool for your students!  Mine love it!

Enjoy :)

Making It {and smiling},