Secondary Math Dollar Deals Summer 2018

HAPPY SUMMER Teacher Friends!
I hope you have been enjoying some time off and relaxing. I only have 18 days until we go back for pre-planning. 

Some math friends and I are going to be starting the fun tomorrow 7/3/18 with some awesome savings on some of our favorite resources for only $1!! Each Tuesday in July you can find resources from each of these sellers that will be on sale for $1 for that day only. The resources will change each week!

→3 ways to find the $1 Resources
1. Mrs E Teaches Math's Blog Post each Tuesday in July(3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th, and 31st) 

Be sure to leave me a comment if there is a certain resources you would like to see included! 
Happy Shopping!

Six Tips for First Year Teachers

This post contains affiliate links.

That first year of teaching. The joys of getting your first "real job" offer! I can remember that phone call-my stomach twisted into knots! I got my first teaching job 5 days before school started. I was fresh out of college and desperate for a job. I had no clue what to expect as I had gotten my Bachelors degree in Early Childhood Education and my first teaching job would be teaching remedial math to sixth, seventh, and eighth graders.

I truly believe that with each passing year you get better if you continue to stay current with new teaching methods and adapt to your current classroom's needs. I am no superstar teacher that knows it all but I DO know what has worked for me. My hope is maybe some of these tips will help you be successful with your first year changing lives! 

1. Do NOT take work home.
I had a veteran teacher give me this advice my first year with a stern voice. She said, "It will all be there when you get here in the morning". I could count the number of times I have taken papers home to grade on both hands. I have coworkers that love taking home papers and grading in front of their favorite Netflix series, but that doesn't bring me joy. I truly believe that you cannot pour from an empty cup. I have watched teachers get so tired because they never "leave work at work". They are constantly stressed feeling as though they are never caught up. This can lead to teacher burn out and this is NOT what you or your students need. Sometimes it is necessary to bring home something and I get this. I'm only suggesting you do not make this a habit and do it every single night. Please don't think I'm bashing anyone who does take work home each night-remember this is what worked for me!

Stay organized with your time management. Utilize your planning periods to the full extent! Do not go to your team teachers and gossip and waste precious minutes you could be using to grade that giant stack of papers. For me, I had to be honest with my coworkers that come planning time I meant business and to not bother me unless it was an emergency. You can always email me and I'll respond! Even five minutes here and there means another 10 papers graded. Remember that stack will be in the exact same spot when you open your classroom door. You could even stay after school and work for a little bit to get caught up. I find I am exhausted by the end of the day and I'm not as efficient. I would rather get to school early and hit the ground running because I've had a large cup or two of coffee! Try this instead of taking it home!

2. Use a Planner.
Your life is going to get busy really quick with so many deadlines and dates to remember! I love a paper planner! Have you seen "The Happy Planner"? Amazon has Box Kits that includes the 12 month planner and coordinating stickers, sticky notes, pen, and a pocket folder!  There are some really good ones at your big box retailers as well. First thing I do is sit down with our district calendar and write every single date for the entire year. Every time you get an email with a deadline write it immediately in your planner. Open your planner first thing in the morning while waiting for the computer to start. Refer to it throughout the day and always look ahead to the next day before leaving school.

I have recently been moving towards strictly using Google Calendar. I'll admit I'm becoming slightly obsessed. My district uses Google as their email platform so I can sync multiple calendars. I can easily color-code my events. I can set reminders to repeat as needed. I never miss a deadline. I can access this calendar from anywhere without having to carry a paper planner around. Whatever method you use just remember to actually use it. In order for it to work you must use it!

Plum Paper Planner

3. Don't worry if your classroom isn't "Pinterest-worthy".
This should not be your main concern your first year(or ever!). You need to be sure you have some type of decorations that make you happy to be there as well as your students but you don't have to have it all your first year. Work on having designated areas for multiple trash cans, pencil sharpeners, and where students will turn in their work. Your classroom will evolve over time as will your style. I'll share this picture from my first classroom. I took anything I could that other teachers were getting rid of. I was so proud of that room and each year something changes with my decor that I thought I loved the previous year but am passing it on for next year.

4. Establish your Rules and Procedures on Day One.
Ever heard of "Fake It 'till You Make It"? Try not to let your students see that you are nervous and/or have no clue what to expect your first year teaching. Students will feel it the moment you let that show. I never liked being told "don't smile until Christmas". I don't agree with this but I do feel that you must let students know how you will run your classroom with high expectations each day. You absolutely MUST have a classroom management strategy in place before school starts. You are going to have a classroom full of multiple children with all various parenting styles at home. How you set the tone with your expectations for your classroom each day is so important. This is important for your own sanity. You can walk up and down the hallways and see the teachers that do not have control over their classroom. It is pure chaos day in and out. This also can lead to teacher burn out. Remember we do not want to get burned out on what we love to do!

My biggest tip for the new teachers at our school is to go through your Rules and Procedures on Day One. I have used this PowerPoint presentation since my first year. I do not read every single thing on each slide. This is to help guide me in what I show the students. I quickly scan through this presentation and remind students we will work on these as the specific situations arise.
Remember to be consistent and follow through with your expectations and consequences.

5. Build Relationships.
You are going to feel like you are alone in that everyone else knows what they are doing. They don't. Do not be afraid to ask questions! You have to reach out to those teachers around you. Get their cell phone number and add them on Facebook. If you are feeling lost or confused about something-ASK! Teachers are busy and you may have to be the one to go to them. Make friends with your coworkers! They are one of your greatest resources!

You also need to work on building relationships with students(appropriately). This was one of my professional goals for the previous couple of years. I will be the first to admit I was terrible at this. I felt that I showed my students that I cared, but I wasn't doing my best. I vowed to stand at my door every single morning the entire time during homeroom, as well as every single class change and greet every single student by their name. My first couple of years I was nervous to hug my students. I was so young(22 years old when I started teaching) and it felt weird. I wanted my students to take me seriously as a teacher(some of my students were 16 years old), so I didn't want to get too personal. I think this changed after having two kids of my own. Remember, even your worst student is someone's baby. Stand at your door and say "Good Morning!" with a smile on your face. Do this even if you are having a stressful day. You are modeling so many things to your students and I want to model positivity!

6. Call Parents.
Calling parents can be a frightening thing! Parents will be concerned that you are a new teacher and are not going to teach their child what they need to know. You have no credibility. Yet! Get on the phone and call parents. You will probably meet a lot at Open House which a great time to introduce yourself. The older the students get, the less phone calls that happen. You will recognize the students on day one that might be the unruly ones. Call those parents first. Get them on your team. Explain to them that you are so excited about the opportunity to teach their child and that you can't wait to see what the year holds. This initial contact is SO important! It needs to be very positive! Parents talk to other parents. You want a positive message to be attached with your name. Talking on the phone is the way to go! Be sure that parents know you are there for them and can be reached when needed. This will be a game-changer for your classroom management. If you wait until that unruly student has driven you off the edge to make the first contact you will have more difficulty with getting their parents to be on your side. Trust me-you want parents on your side.

What is your best tip? Leave a comment below with your favorite tip for First Year Teachers!

I hope you have a FABULOUS first year! I promise you will survive and you will get better every year! I cannot wait to hear all about it and remember that you are changing the world one student at a time! If you have any questions or need help with something please don't hesitate to ask!

DIY Classroom Labels


I love having my classroom organized and being able to quickly know where something is located which also helps my students stay organized. I am lucky to have a science classroom with drawers around the perimeter instead of bookshelves for storage. 
I saw a short video of this method on Facebook labeling jars in the pantry. I thought there is NO way that works. Well, first day of pre-planning while staring at a sea of drawers with no labels got me thinking. These labels have held up for two solid years already and aren’t going anywhere. These labels work on any smooth surface! This could be done on plastic tubs, windows, dry erase boards, desk tops, etc. 

Printer, Clear packing tape, Scissors, Craft Stick, Water, Bucket or Sink
Step 1:
Create your design in Word or PowerPoint. You can insert clip art and use any style of font you want. I kept the same style of font and set up for each label. Print out your document on regular white copy paper. *Tip: Create a table in PowerPoint or Word to keep your designs around the same size and layout. Eliminate the table borders before you print.

Step 2:
Get your clear packing tape and carefully tape over the words on the paper. If your design is larger than one width of the packing tape you can overlap the tape just a little. Be careful not to have any bubbles or creases in the tape.

Step 3:
Use a craft stick or the handles of scissors to rub over the words. This is super important! You will see the ink “sink” into the tape’s adhesive. The ink goes from cloudy to super black.

Step 4:
Cut out your label. I like the label to be rectangular.

Step 5:
Put all your labels in a bucket, sink, or cup of water. They will curl up all together. Let the labels sit in the water for about 3 minutes. This step is important because the longer you let the label sit the easier it is to get the paper off.

Step 6:
Start rubbing the back side of the label (the side with paper) with your thumbs. The paper will start peeling off. Keep rubbing at the paper until it is all off and in the water and you are left with a clear label with all your design transferred! The label will not feel sticky from the tape while wet, but it will after it dries. 


Step 7:
I go ahead and place the label on the drawer and smooth out any bubbles or creases before it dries. I like to wipe off the label with a paper towel.

-->Here are some awesome things about these DIY labels:

  • They look like vinyl labels but without having to use vinyl.
  • They are able to be moved. Easily pull them off without leaving any gross residue on your cabinets, walls, desks.
  • I can use any font and clip art I want in any size I want!
  • It looks professional on your things instead of handwritten labels.
  • Students know exactly which drawer something is located in.
  • Kids do not mess with them. (Maybe I should knock on wood…!)
  • You only have to buy clear packing tape which you probably have sitting in a drawer somewhere so they are super cheap.
Here is another quote sign I made using A Perfect Blend's Font for the corner of my dry erase board!

I hope you have fun creating and labeling all the things this super easy DIY way! I’d love to see any labels you make for your classroom. Tag me on Instagram @activityaftermath
Let me know if you have any questions! Happy Teaching!

Celebrating Pi Day in Secondary Math

Taking an entire class period away just to celebrate Pi Day? That sounds crazy right? You don't have to take an entire class period if you honestly cannot make up that time but here are a few ways you can easily incorporate Pi Day celebrations into your routine that can be as simple as a warm-up or as an early finisher activity.
Here is how it went down in my classes this year:

I displayed this quote from Albert Einstein in my lightbox. Click here to get these for your lightbox!

1. A Read-Aloud
The first thing I did was get out this awesome book from my elementary teaching days. You may think it is silly to read a picture book to older students but you would be surprised at how attentive they are! I walk around my classroom and hold the book up high so all can see. I get really expressive when reading the book which seems to keep them engaged. It only takes a few minutes to read this book and you can have this as your warm-up for the day if you are crunched for time.

2. Discovery of Pi (How is it derived?)
My Aunt has been a math teacher forever! She even taught me in middle school! She handed down this giant box of wooden circles to me 10 years ago! Can you find the carving of 1985 with 2nd period in the picture? I have students work with a partner to derive pi using these circles and yarn. You simply give each group some yarn, a wooden block, and a pair of scissors. Students will wrap the yarn around the circumference of the circle. They will then see how many diameters of their circle they can cut from their circumference. The students will find that they can only get 3 full diameters and will have a small piece of yarn leftover. This represents the 3.14159...Each group will get the same thing no matter how big or small their circle. They will discover that the formula for pi is circumference divided by the diameter. You can use any circular object you can find in your room (Pringles lids, coffee lids, cup bottoms, cans, etc.) or have students bring in something round! I unwrap some yarn and roll it around my fingers so it is quicker for students to grab.

Watch this quick video of how to complete this activity!

3. Investigate Pi 
I created some quick anchor charts for each class period and drew a big pi symbol in the corners (a different color for each class). I displayed this awesome Pi Day Investigation FREEBIE from To The Square Inch on my board so I didn't have to make copies. Students were given time to use tablets, computers, or their phones to find answers to the questions. Each group had to choose 3-5 questions to answer from the list and then write their answers on the chart paper. I hung the charts in the hallway so other students could read about Pi Day! Click here to get this free activity!

4. Pi Day Coordinate Graphing
If there is time left I have students work on the Pi Day Coordinate Graphing Mystery Picture. These make great classroom or hallway decorations and give students the chance to work on their graphing skills. Click here to get this for your students!

See time lapse below of the Pi Day Mystery Picture!

Here are a few more ideas from my math teacher friends to get you going on celebrating pi day in your secondary math classroom! I hope you and your students have fun celebrating the most popular irrational number!!

Adorably Math-y Pi Earrings (perfect for pi day!)
Pi Earrings
(Pi day)  Creating a Chain of Pi
Chain of Pi
Pi Day Challenge - Math in the Upper Grades
Free Pi Challenge
Pi Day Activities Bundle
Pi Activities Bundle
Pi Day Activity - Task Cards
Pi Task Cards