20 Things to Do Before the New School Year: BTS Checklist

It’s that time of year again…you’ve had a bit of a break and now your mind is going wild with ideas for the new school year.   To keep your time and efforts focused (and your stress levels down), I’ve created a list of 20 things to do to prepare for the new school year.

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6 Things You Can Do to Stop Wasting Your Own Time in the Classroom

If you’re looking to regain some of your essential time, this is a post for you!  Many of the daily systems teachers have setup for themselves and students can quickly turn into time-sucks.  Now, I’m not talking about the ever-important relationship building part of teaching, but the nitty-gritty paper passing out, finding absent work, and making seating charts side of things.   I’ve found a few ways to streamline my routines and classroom practices so that I can stop wasting my own time by being inefficient.  Here’s my tips for you:

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Inequality vs. Interval Notation Poster {FREE Download} #MTBoSBlaugust #Made4Math

My school doesn’t cover interval notation in its curriculum.  We focus primarily on inequality notation, although I tend to use the more specific set-builder notation.  Each representation has its merits, so I wanted to include interval notation more this year, as an occasional aside.  I’ve made a poster (8.5×14) that I’m going to hang up in my room to help students see the connections between the inequality symbols, the choice of open/closed points on a number-line, and the choice of soft/hard brackets in the interval notation. I’ve also made a color-coded version where students can ask themselves, “Can I include this point?” Green=”yes, include”, and red=”no, exclude.” Half of my classes this year are geared toward students who had received <40% in their last math class, so I’m hoping that the stop-light colors can make this yes/no, include/exclude concept easier to grasp. [NOTE: Thanks to lovely conversations on Twitter, it’s been noted that the green/red combination could potentially be dangerous if you have any colorblind students! I’m working on another, more color-friendly version that you can use, as well. I will update this post when it’s been made!]

Inequality vs interval notation poster COLOR-page-001Inequality vs interval notation poster-page-001

Before I hang the laminated poster up (I add posters throughout the year as topics arise), I’m going to print another one and cut up the grid into the 36 individual rectangles and hand one piece to each student in my class (if there are fewer students, ask your class “who wants another piece?”–I always seem to have a bunch of volunteers because this means they’ll get to talk to more people!).  Students will then find the two other classmates who have representations equivalent to their own card. Once a triple has been found, students will check their cards with the teacher.  If they are correct, they will move around the class helping the remaining students.  If they are incorrect, they will review which card(s) in their triple didn’t belong as a group of three, and then go back to finding the equivalent representations.

Would you like a copy of the reference poster? Get the color and the black and white versions here! (It’s free!)

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Special Right Triangles Display {FREE Download} #MTBoSBlaugust #Made4Math

A while back I made a display for special right triangles, and realized I never shared the files! You can download the PDF and the editable Publisher files here!  You’ll need to download the free font HVD Comic Serif Pro if you choose to edit the Publisher file yourself.

Here’s a picture of the pre-laminated pieces.  I took a few pieces of the finished product on my walls in the classroom, but each one had a nasty glare from the laminated finish.

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Justify It! Geometry Posters {Free Download} #MTBoSBlaugust #Made4Math

Throughout the year, I will be adding more justifications as they come along.  The next batch that we will come across will be about segments.  From there, we’ll talk about angles, congruence, similarity, and more!

Here’s what I’ve got so far!  What justifications you most want to include in an edited list? I plan on using these primarily for two-column proofs in geometry.

PDFs: Justify It! Posters (Color) and Justify It! Posters (Black)

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Reference Angles Poster {FREE Download} #MTBoSBlaugust #Made4Math

The last few weeks of this summer have been filled with poster-making to spruce up my classroom and to make the walls more of a resource to my students.  To determine what would be the most useful posters to make, I’ve been doing a lot of reflection about last year.  One topic that I wish I had a public record/anchor chart style poster for was reference angles, which is covered in our Trigonometry unit in Algebra 2. I’ve been contemplating a lot about how I’d want it to look and had considered making an entire unit circle poster, but decided against it since I felt as if that promoted students to memorize all of the values.

I really want to get my students to the idea that they can derive as much or as little of the values as they desire.  If they want, they can derive them all from scratch, and we discuss how to do this in class.  We then talk about how if they feel more comfortable with memorizing them all so they can work quicker on a test/quiz, then they are free to do so as well.  We then have the conversation about my own personal preferences:  I memorize the sine and cosine values for the first quadrant.  From there we can easily get tangent by dividing the sine value by the cosine value, and we can think about the properties on the coordinate plane to get the appropriate signs for any other angles.  Most students choose to take my approach as well since it is a nice middle ground.

reference angles posterHere’s the PDF File – Reference Angles Poster.  I sent mine over to my school’s print shop to be printed on 24″x36″ paper. You can print it on standard 8.5×11 paper if you select “Fit” or “Shrink Oversized Pages” on your prniter’s menu.

My last project for the summer will be making labels for 0, 90, 180, and 270 degrees with their corresponding sine and cosine values to be put around the wall clock in my classroom.

Happy Sunday!  This marks 3 more weeks until I go back to school.  How much time do you have?

Trig Ratio Posters for Geometry and Algebra 2

This summer I’ve been busy making posters to spice up my very blandly decorated classroom. This is what my room looked like for my first year of teaching:

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Front Wall

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Back Wall

I don’t have a lot of wall space (the other two “walls” of my classroom are just windows), but I think I could definitely better utilize the space and make it much more of a usable resource for my students.  In the back (L-R, top to bottom) I had a poster on adding polynomials, the 8 mathematical practices, naming polynomials by degree, our bell schedules, naming polynomials by number of terms, adding polynomials, factoring trinomials, and the mathematical practices of habit and mind.  Some of it was very useful for a while, but didn’t need to stay up the whole time. Definitely more of a unit-specific anchor chart, than anything. Buuuuut, my walls were really blank, so I left them up for the rest of the year.

This summer, however, I’ve been making tons of posters to put up on my wall.  Well, tons of Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 posters, that is.  Geometry somehow hadn’t gotten any love, so I decided to remedy that by making a trig ratio poster.

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I originally was just going to do the “big three” trig ratios since those apply for the geometry class, but I thought I’d add their reciprocals as well, seeing as they get used in Algebra 2.  I hope having them up at the beginning of the year will somehow help this information sink into their minds before we ever get to the actual trig units during second semester.

If you want to use this in your own classroom, you can download a PDF version here.

Q: What do you put up on your walls for students to use as resources throughout the year?