Question Stack Templates (10, 12, and 16 problems)

Question stacks have become quite popular on math teacher Twitter due to the blog posts from Math Equals Love.

Making them can sometimes be challenging, so here’s an editable question stack template you can use to save time (it’s a PowerPoint file).

As a pro tip: To make a really quick answer stack, I use Kuta worksheets and add screenshots (using the built-in snip program on my computer) in each box of the original problem and then the answer in the answer box. I’ve uploaded the file in PowerPoint format because it’s much easier to move around screenshot pictures in PowerPoint than it is in Word. If you’d rather hand type things, then please do! The file is 100% editable.



Goals for the 2018-2019 School Year

As the summer starts to wind down, I wanted to think about what my goals for the next school year would be (both professional and personal).

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I’m not sure how your school does goals (you know, the ones that partially decide whether or not you get to stay next year) but mine requires that we set up two SLO goals (Student Learning Objective) and one PGP Goal (Personal Growth Plan). In the past for my personal goal I have done creating a daily spiral review, maintaining a daily classroom website post for each class, among other things. I have typically done my goals with my Algebra 1 Support class, because I spend two hours with them every day and I find I need to be much more intentional with them than my other classes.

This year, I plan to focus my student learning objective goals on areas of Algebra 1 that I believe to be foundational to success later on in high school math.  In the past, I’ve done factoring, solving quadratics, and getting students to pass a worksample (they need two to graduate so having one their freshmen year is BIG!).

I haven’t quite decided what those areas should be.  We’re not allowed to repeat goals, so I need to pick two new areas to really focus on.  Here’s some ideas I’m toying around with (please give me feedback in the comments):

  • Solving equations for a given variable
  • Domain and range
  • Systems
  • Translating verbal to algebraic expressions
  • Simplifying exponents
  • Transformations of quadratic graphs

As far as my personal goal, I think I want to challenge myself to make one quality activity per unit of Algebra 1.  I recognize that it’s difficult to make every single unit AMAZING, especially when you’re still newer to teaching, so I want to work on slowly creating more and more quality activities to use that way I have a great bank of resources that keep growing each year.

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Now, as far as personal goals for me, not the school, I want to work on taking less work home. I hope this isn’t too controversial of a statement, but I really need to work on keeping school at school.  I feel like the last few years I’ve allowed schoolwork and student needs to take over every minute of my life, and I don’t feel like that’s the healthiest approach to having a sustainable teaching career.  All of my teaching career, I have PRIDED myself on responding to all student emails in 10 minutes or less–I’ve even responded to students at 3am on multiple occasions because I was suffering from sleeping issues (I’ve realized  that it was hard for me to wind down and go to sleep when I was consistently staying up late and working on school-related things and it affected my sleep).  Halfway during last year I switched it to, “if you email before 9pm, then I’ll get back in 10 minutes or less.  If not, I’ll get back in the morning,” but that still wasn’t good for me.  I felt like I was always on edge and checking my phone to make sure I didn’t miss a student email, and if I did I had to immediately drop what I was doing to respond (I’m a slow writer and I take a long time to think out my responses so if I wanted to get back ASAP I had to respond immediately).

The reason that I started all of this is because I like to instill a “no excuses” mentality in my students.  There’s always something they can do to get help.  There’s no reason to come to school empty-handed.  If you’re truly stuck, email me and I’ll get back to you immediately.  Unfortunately, though, that wasn’t my only problem.  Not only have I made myself overly available for students, I take too much work home.

I’ve always worked best at home.  All through college, I went to the library once…and that was to meet a friend.  I’m not someone who’ll plop down at Starbucks and work away.  This is all to say, I don’t really like doing school work at work.  My favorite way to work is sitting on my couch, or on the floor behind my couch with my papers spread in a semi-circle around me (we have an L-shaped couch that is in the middle of the livingroom).  I’ve been very partial to the spread-out-on-my- floor-behind-the-couch approach to doing my school work, but I find that I let my school work keep bleeding into my personal time.  There’s only so many hours in the day.  The amount that I have worked on school in the past has meant there was no time left for cooking, there was no time left to clean my house, and there was no time to go to the gym (hello extra 40 pounds from when I first started teaching).

Things I want to do differently for next year:

  • Instead of coming home earlier and then working on school work for hours on end, I plan to stay until 4pm every day (1hr and 15 minutes after students leave).  Even if I don’t have things that need done for the next day or that week, I will use that time to plan ahead.  The time at school is the time I’m working at school. I have enough resources already that what I can do in that time will be good enough.  Side note: The concept of “good enough” is really hard for my perfectionist self to square with.  “If it’s not perfect, then what’s the point of even doing it?” is a common thought process I have to frequently push back down.
  • I will pick a time every evening to respond to all emails (say 7pm?).  If students miss emailing by that time then I’ll get back in the morning.  We’ll see how this goes (I can feel my insides churning over the idea of not getting back right away).
  • On Sundays I can spend up to 2 hours working on school stuff, but no more. Anything else can wait.

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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    1. Create a rough pacing guide for the year.
      Without an idea of where you need to be by the end of the year, you will have a tough time adequately spacing out the remainder of the year.  Maybe you have a unit that you LOVE to teach and want to spend more time on it this year–plan for it by figuring out where you can save time elsewhere.  If you’re teaching the same class this year that you taught in the past, reflect about what went well, what didn’t.  Did you feel like your students needed more time on any units in particular?  Also! Don’t forget to add a few buffer days in at the end of the year!  I can’t tell you what they will be, but unexpected things will happen and you need room left in your pacing guide to absorb the unexpected.  Maybe there’s a surprise assembly that gets thrown in at the last minute or someone in the staff lounge burns their popcorn (…for the 3rd time…) and sets the fire alarm off.  Maybe you have a particularly bad weather year and lose time to snow days.  You’ll be happy to know that you have room to push things back a day or two with no stress about having to cut something else at its expense.  When you’re making this rough pacing guide, you don’t need to list out what activities or notes you’ll be giving–just think about what topics you’ll be covering in the unit and how many days you expect to need.  This is what mine looked like for Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 last year.

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  1. Review and reflect upon your classroom procedures and policies.   Were you happy with your classroom management from last year?  If not, this is the time to figure out what you’d like to do differently in the upcoming year.  I also like to remind myself of my behavior management philosophy and protocols that way I’m mentally sharp when a situation might arise.  It is of the utmost importance that you are consistent from day 1.  You also want to consider the day to day procedures you’d like your students to learn and how you’d like to manage the general flow of paper throughout your classroom.   Do you have a plan for what a student should do if they were absent?  What if someone needs to make up a test?  Where will they turn in work? These are just a few questions to consider.  Really think about how you want your classroom to operate.  Out of everything on this list, this “to-do” is the most important because it sets the tone for your year.  Whether you’re a new teacher or a veteran, I would suggest reading my blog post that covers 6 things you can do to stop wasting your own time in the classroom. You can read it here.
  2. Decide on your desk arrangement. 
    At first this may seem like a superficial “to-do,” but hear me out.  The way you arrange your desks has a lot to do with the type of classroom you want to run.  For example, if you plan on doing a bunch of group work, then having your desks arranged in rows is probably not going to allow the type of discourse you’re looking for. On the other hand, if you run a study hall class, then rows could be perfect!  I really like arranging my desks in pairs so students always have someone to bounce ideas off of or in U-shapes so I can easily crouch down in the middle and talk to the group or an individual student.  That being said, I have a colleague who loves arranging her desks in horizontal rows of three.  She loves it and it works great for her.  I tired it and hated it because it was difficult to get in and out to talk to individual students.  There’s no specific arrangement that’s guaranteed to be your classroom bliss, so don’t be afraid to switch it up if you don’t like it after the first few days.
  3. Make a seating chart and label your desks. 
    Whether or not you assign seats or let students pick their own, it’s essential to make a seating chart because it will help you learn those 100+ names SO much faster.  I like to label each desk with a number (bonus: it makes forming groups for activities really easy!) and I have a set of popsicle sticks that have the same numbers that students draw from on the first day to find their new seats.  Once they draw a number, I record their name on the seating chart and refer to it often in the first weeks of school.  Learn more about how I save time creating seating charts here.
  4. Let go of old things.
    Something about teaching seems to really bring out the inner pack-rat in us all.  Go through old papers and RECYCLE things that you haven’t used in years.  If it’s really something you think you might want to use in the future, scan it and then file it in an appropriate folder in your computer (I always have a folder for each class, then semester, then unit so things are easy to find).  At the very least, put all of the paper and old student projects in boxes labeled by semester (or quarter/trimester) and store the boxes away.  If you haven’t gone to the box by the end of that semester, it’s time to LET IT GO! There’s probably a reason you haven’t used the stuff anyway.
  5. Paint/mark calculators and other school supplies.
    Are you a fan of getting your stuff stolen? No? Didn’t think so.  Buy a can of yellow spray paint and spray the back cases of your calculators.  Or, do what I did last year and use metallic sharpie on the tops of each calculator.  I like to do this every year because the paint or sharpie rubs off over the course of a year from frequent (and not always so gentle) student usage.  Also, spend 5-10 minutes sharpie-ing in your school initials on any other supplies you expect students to use frequently and actually want to get back.  Bonus points if you add annoying stickers, tape, flags, etc. that ensure no student would want to keep it unless they really needed it! Last note, this is also helpful for when another teacher needs to borrow some of your supplies because it makes it a lot easier to make sure they return everything to your classroom.
  6. Create weekly agenda region in your classroom.  
    This is a bit of a 2 birds/1 stone item.  Not only does having a weekly agenda displayed in your classroom help you stay focused during the week, but it helps your students stay organized, too.  I like to teach my students to self-advocate if they will be gone in advance or if they were absent, so having a weekly agenda posted is huge for that.
    Classroom Weekly Agenda
  7. Organize your teacher space.
    Maybe it’s just me, but something happens to my desk drawer in the last two weeks of school.  It’s like all of my pens conspire to run out of ink at the same time.  My whiteout has turned into a goopy mess and I have 6 rulers.  SIX!  Spend a few minutes sorting through your supplies and making sure that you actually have supplies that work.  You don’t want to find out that all of your pens have dried out or you don’t have what you need.  It’s one of those small things that allows your day to day to run a bit more smoothly.  Having to track down a pad of sticky notes is the last thing you need to worry about when you have 5 students trying to get your attention.  Also, if it needs tweaking, make sure that your teacher-space (desk, podium) is set up how you like it. Think of all of the things you’ll need and that will come across your desk during the year.  Will those things have a space?  If they don’t, it’ll just end up in a pile, or worse…lost! I have a spot to keep my copies of the notes I give (sorted by period) and a pre-worked key of the examples I plan to give that way I don’t have to go searching for it as a new class is coming in.
  8. Plan out your first day(s) of school. 
    Now that you have the basics out of the way, it’s time to think about how you’re going to set the tone for the year.  The first days of school are so important.  I would suggest telling them a bit about yourself letting them know what to expect during the year (your classroom structure, etc.), and show them that your subject can be FUN! Don’t forget to be incredibly consistent with all of the rules and routines you’ve decided upon for your classroom.  During the first few days, students will notice everything.
  9. Update your syllabus and review your grading scheme. 
    My first year teaching, I had a pair of twins in my Algebra 2 class.  The class was given an assignment to write about the similarities and differences in the process of graphing each of the three main trig functions and, when I went to grade them, the two twins’ essays looked remarkably similar–almost as if they filled out a Mad Lib and just picked different adjectives.  Turns out, one twin snuck into the other’s room and copied her work.  I took this to the administration but since I didn’t have a plagiarism policy in my syllabus, not much happened.  Lesson learned.  Long story short, think about the last school year.  Was there anything that happened that you wish you would’ve had a specific policy stated in your syllabus?  I find it can be incredibly helpful when dealing with parents to be able to say that the policy was fully detailed in the syllabus…which you signed and were aware of.  I, for example, need to be much more specific about the late work and test retake policies for my college credit classes and how those policies differ for students who take the class for college credit or not.  Also, this is a great time to reflect upon your grading scheme.  Is there anyway you can spend less time grading, but still give impactful feedback? If you only give one quiz per unit, did you find that was enough feedback for students along the way?  Maybe you give 2 quizzes per week–were students exhausted or did it motivate them to stay on top of things?  Reflect.  Change what didn’t work and keep what did.
  10. Set up your class website/Google Classroom site. 
    For years I had a regular classroom website (I used Weebly), but this last year I had a Google Classroom site for my Statistics classes, and I must say that I’m a convert because it took much less time to update.  Whatever platform you plan to use, make sure it’s set up and ready to go that way you can explain it to parents at open house night and show it to students at the beginning of the school year.  I use my classroom site to share review keys with students, a PDF of our textbook, the syllabus, and other useful links.
  11. Create an Open House flyer or presentation. 
    I love to use Open House as a way to share the spirit of the class with parents, but also let them know all of the basic information that will help their student be successful in my class.  I include things like supplies they’ll need, how and when to get help, what to do if you’re absent, etc.  Here’s the flyer that I use each year (you can download it for free!).
    open house flyer template
  12. Prepare emergency sub plans (x3).
    If you have kids or elderly parents, this “to-do” goes double for you.  Most of the time when we need to get a sub, we can adequately prepare sub plans and (most of) our students will be able to engage in some sort of lesson or activity that will move them along in their learning. Unfortunately, to make sub plans like this for all of the different classes I teach in a day normally takes a good hour or two, for me.  If you are ever in a true emergency situation, then you will not have 10 minutes, let alone an hour to work on sub plans.  I have a binder I keep on a bookshelf in my classroom labeled “Emergency Sub Plans” and inside of it I have general classroom policies and expectations and I have three sub plans along with a key for each one.  Next to that binder, I have 200 photocopies for each of those three sub plans put into large, labeled expanding file folders (they expand to 6 inches wide!). Luckily, I have never had to use my emergency sub plans, but I feel better knowing that I have them if I need them.  Here’s what I have for emergency sub plans:

    • Emergency Sub Plan 1: Logic Puzzles
      I have a packet of logic puzzles from Weatherly and emoji logic puzzles from Mrs. E Teaches Math.  I love including logic puzzles because it reinforces group-work norms, paying attention to detail, and the emoji puzzle is really solving equations in disguise.
    • Emergency Sub Plan 2:  Person Puzzles
      I have a ton of “Person Puzzles” that I got from Clark Creative Math that are perfect for an emergency sub plan.  I typically Person Puzzles for a few different topics that I know will always be good to review and revisit.  Students enjoy doing these because they get to learn something new about someone famous, or they get to prove that they were right about them all along.
    • Emergency Sub Plan 3: Pattern Sheets
      I have a bunch of Algebra coloring sheets from Aric Thomas that cover every Algebra topic you can imagine.   These are great because they end up being fairly self-checking.  The way it works is depending on what answer you got, you shade a box with a particular pattern.  If you’re doing it right, the overall image ends up having a cool pattern to it.  Students can easily compare with others to see if their patterns are coming out the same and then can fix any mistakes.  Just like the last emergency sub plan, I pick a few of these that I know my students will always need review on, and use this as an opportunity to keep their skills fresh.
  13. Make a teacher binder.
    A teacher binder should be an extension of you.  What do you need on a daily basis?  How will you keep everything together?  My teacher binder includes a section for my rough year-long pacing guide, weekly plans, PDU log, parent contact log, meeting notes, meeting handouts, CCSS power standards, a mapping that shows how much each standard gets tested on SBAC, and our school schedule (we have three different schedules each week, so I like to have it handy).  It doesn’t need to be fancy, just functional!

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  14. Plan out your first two weeks of content instruction.
    This is a big time investment (unless you have already taught the class for a few years), but it is so worth it and you’ll thank yourself later.  If you can stay a bit ahead from the beginning, your year will run much more smoothly and you won’t find yourself scrambling when something pops up that eats up all of your after school time.  The first weeks of school are exhausting enough, so having a solid plan all worked out will lessen the stress and make the transition into the school year much easier.
  15. Run copies for the first week. 
    Spend a quality hour with the copy machine and print everything you will need for the first week of school.  Aside from having a game-plan for the first week, nothing reduces my stress levels like having all of my papers printed and ready to go.  Have you ever had that gut-sinking experience where you NEED those copies for your first period class only to find out that the copier is broken, out of ink, or out of staples and there’s only 45 minutes before school begins? Just thinking about it induce a feeling of anxiety.  To sleep easier at night and not have to worry about whether or not I’ll be able to make my copies before school starts, I like to get the first weeks worth of copying done well before any of my students ever show up on the first day.
  16. Revise materials from last year.
    If you still have energy at this point, try and review the materials you used last year and see if anything needs revised.  Personally, I’m just way too busy during the school year to fix things as I go so this gets left as a summer task, but I do leave notes to myself or I highlight things I need to change in orange as a note to my future self that something wasn’t right.  You don’t need to fix everything at once, but look through the first few units and see if there’s anything glaring that needs to be changed (like when I wrote “assment” instead of “assignment,” or when I gave my students about 1 vertical inch of space to write something when they really needed 5).
    Revise old notes
  17. Find ways to use your walls as a resource for students. If you’re not utilizing your walls as a resource in your classroom, then you’re missing out!  Think about what your students need frequent reminders of or common themes that continue throughout your course and think of ways you could create a reference section on your wall.  My favorite sections on my wall are the perfect squares/perfect cubes area, my special right triangle area, and then the parent functions area.  I use these three sections in Algebra 1 through Pre-Calculus nearly every single day.  My wall almost becomes a public record of our learning and the common themes of math.  Whatever it is that you teach (from English, History, Science, Math, Art, etc.), think about what’s essential to your subject.  If you teach math, here’s a few free wall displays to get you started!  One last thing on this topic: don’t worry about making it super pretty.  Your first priority should be function.  If you have the time to make your classroom walls #pinterestgoals worthy and doing so would make you happy, then go for it! Otherwise, make it functional and your students will get the exact same use out of it either way.
    Use your walls as a resource!
  18. Prepare a few freezer meals!
    Okay, so my last two “to-do’s” aren’t about school, but they are important.  I like to prepare a few freezer meals (meals that you pre-prepare and store in the freezer until you’re ready to just pop them in the oven or crockpot) before the school year starts.  Teaching can take a LOT of our energy and time, and taking care of ourselves can easily fall to the wayside.  I don’t know about you, but some nights I come home and am just not up to cooking.  Luckily, I know I have a few back-ups in the freezer that I can just transfer straight into the oven for an hour and then we’ll have a nutritious dinner ready with about 1 minute of work (take out of freezer, put into oven, done!). If you search Pinterest for freezer meals, you’ll come up with more recipes than you could ever possibly make.
  19. Relax, seriously!
    Like I touched on in the last point, teachers have a tendency to overwork themselves and not take enough time to fully recuperate from the previous school year.  You can’t be your best teacher if you’re not feeling your best, so take care of yourself.  Enjoy your summer vacation! Do something you love, spend time with your family, have a few lazy days (or a lot, you’ve earned them!). Don’t feel like you have to do everything on this list.  Feel free and take my permission to treat it as food for thought and pick and choose what works for you.

If there’s anything else that you make sure to do each year, let me know in the comments! Also, if you’d like to know more about any of these “to-do’s,” let me know and I’ll gladly make a separate post!

[GIVEAWAY CLOSED] Lastly, since back to school season is such an exciting time, I wanted to give you an opportunity to win some amazing resources for your classroom to celebrate the start of a new year! Read below to find out how to enter!


How to Enter and What You Can Win!

Step 1 – Click this link to enter the giveaway for a chance to win a $50 Teachers Pay Teachers gift-card.

Step 2 – Comment below for a chance to win a product of your choice from my TPT store ($10 or less). A winner will be chosen from my comment section. In your comment, let me know: (1) what product you’d like to win from my store, and (2) what your #1 back-to-school tip is!

Entries will be accepted from 7/22 until 7/28! [GIVEAWAY CLOSED]

This post is part of a back-to-school tip series designed to help get secondary STEM classrooms set up for success!  To read more amazing BTS tips and for more opportunities to WIN in our giveaway, check out these links:

Blog Hop

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:


1.  Post your “Office Hours” for the Week

I have posted “office hours” each week right next to my desk.  This makes it really easy for students to plan ahead and know when they are going to be able to get help or make up a missing assessment.  It cuts down on any, “well, I stopped by but you weren’t here” conversations, and, despite telling them EVERY DAY when I’m available for help (insert eye-roll), I was always asked, “are you free after school for _______?” about 50 million times a day.  Since I started using this poster, those conversations have gone down to almost zero! I’ve gotten really positive feedback for my students who work and do sports because it makes their planning for the week that much easier.  Download the poster here!IMG_1983_LI (2)

2.  Streamline the Seating Chart Process

Over the summer I got the idea to put numbers on my desks.  I didn’t really know what I was going to do with it at first, but it has become one of my best ways for saving time making seating charts!

IMG_1984 (2)

IMG_1987I have a template of my desk arrangement saved on my computer and I hand-numbered it the way the desks are numbered in my classroom and have a pile of photocopies ready to go whenever I want to mix up the desk assignments.

To make things quick and easy (and obviously fair), I’ve come up with a popsicle stick system.  The desks up front are reserved for students with poor vision and IEPs/504s.  The rest of the desks are for anyone else.


On a new seating chart day I’ll stand outside my classroom door and catch students as they walk into class.  They’ll draw a stick out of the appropriate container, and I can write down their names on the seating chart.  For my biggest classes (~35-37), this is completely done within 1 minute of the bell ringing.


On the majority of days that I’m not making a new seating chart, I just stack them and keep it in a cabinet. IMG_1989

3.  Don’t Waste Class Time Passing out Papers

Have a dedicated paper pick-up area in your room–preferably, near the door.  My students are trained to pick up whatever is on the counter on their way in.  I leave papers for the day and any supplies they might need (scissors, glue sticks, highlighters) here.


4.  Let Class Start Itself

As students walk in, they are trained to pick up whatever is on the cabinet by the door and then read the instructions that are projected on the SmartBoard.  I have a PowerPoint file on my computer that I never close and have a color-coded slide for each period (Algebra 1 is green, Statistics is yellow, and Algebra 2 is purple).  This frees me up to do whatever I need to be doing as class is starting.  It also gives us a few more precious minutes each period. Here’s a few of our most recent slides (there’s a large date gap because of snow days).


5.  Let Students Take Care of Their Absent/Missing Work

At the end of each class, I put any extra papers in the corresponding class-bin.  Each bin has tabs labeled 1-31, for each day of the month.  If an Algebra 2 student was gone on the 23rd of the month, when they get back they know to look in tab 23 of the Algebra 2 box to find any papers they need to make up.  Students are trained to ask a classmate for a picture of the notes they missed, and if they need extra help getting caught up they can stop by during my office hours for the week. This system practically runs itself.


6.  Immediately File Missing Assessments

This has been a HUGE game-changer that I’ve added this year.  In the past I have just piled up extra assessment papers and I was often left scrambling to sort through my disorganized pile of tests and quizzes to find an assessment a student wanted to make up from when they were absent two months ago.  Most of the time I was able to find the assessment, but sometimes that led to the pile of tests and quizzes falling all over the floor.  Sometimes I’d have to print a new one. It wasn’t efficient and I didn’t feel good about that system (it could be embarrassing at times when a student was waiting and I was empty-handed).

I also have a standing policy that any student can drop by during any period of the day to make up missing assessments.  I have many seniors that that have early release and are only at school for 4 or 5 periods of the day.  Instead of coming before or after school, it works best for them to just stay an extra period and take their quiz/test in the back of my class or in the ELA (my school is made up of pods of 4 classes and there’s a common area in between them called the Extended Learning Area.  All of the walls that back up to the ELA are made of floor-ceiling glass, so I often let students take assessments out there, so long as I have their phone and backpack behind my desk).  When students pop by to make up an assessment during another class, I needed a way to be able to find their test/quiz ASAP, and my old system was failing horribly in that regard.

This is the ELA.  There’s 2 more classrooms to the right of this photo. My classroom is the one with the door open.

My solution?  I found this paper organizer in the staff room of my building being given away for free (seriously, staff rooms have the BEST stuff!) and have a folder for each class that I teach, as well as for no-names.  When I’m giving a test or quiz and the students are quietly working, I will write the names of any absent students on a quiz and put it in the proper class period folder.IMG_2041

For my statistics classes which are college credit, I have to be very strict with the makeup policy (students are required to make up their assessment within one day of their return, or it’s a permanent zero in the grade book) and remembering the dates for 2 classes of students was too much to keep track of.  Now, I just write the date that the assessment must be made up right on the paper when I’m filing one away for an absent student.  When they show up to makeup their assessment, it allows me to remember if they can or can’t at that point. IMG_2044

These systems and practices take very little time of your own to set up, but yield great time-savings throughout the year.  I hope this gives you a few ideas to use in your own classroom!


Algebra 1 Interactive Notebook Pages | Unit 4 – Linear Functions

If you follow me on Twitter, you might have seen the following tweet about a month ago.

gluing shame

You could say I got a bit behind on my semester 1 INB gluing and, as a result, my INB posts have fallen by the wayside.  Semester 1 ended the first week of February and I’m just now getting around to catching up on getting it organized, since I’ve had a few snow days in a row (I really thought this would be a snow-day free year, but nope!).

Without any further ado, here are my INB pages for Unit 4 of Algebra 1: Linear Functions. Note:  There were activity/quiz/review days built into this unit–the days listed out are for days that note-taking occurred.


Day 1

We started the unit off with what it means to be linear in form:838839

From there, we moved onto a foldable that covered finding intercepts of linear functions using various representations:840841

Then, we used our skills of finding intercepts to graph linear functions in standard form:842843

We finished up our class with a foldable, focusing deeper on horizontal and vertical lines and continuing to build off the last two examples in the chunk of notes before.  844845

Day 2:

We continued to expand our abilities with finding and now interpreting intercepts. 846847

We finished off the class by solving linear functions by graphing and introducing the idea of a “zero” and how it relates to an intercept. My students found it REALLY hard to not just algebraically solve these equations.  We talked a lot about why we are practicing solving by graphing for linear functions when the algebraic method is quicker.  We discussed that, because later on in the year, the algebraic method may become much more time consuming, and graphing can be a quicker method for many functions. We also mentioned that the graph allows us to see more of the story. 848849

Day 3:

We started off with a recap warm up from the previous two days.  The boys in my class really loved problem 4. 850

We then talked about slope and connected it back to the graphs we’ve made in the previous two days and how they either had a constant incline or constant decline…slope!851

We looked closer at the different types of slope using this foldable from Lisa Davenport. 852853

Now that we had a bit of practice with calculating slope, we moved onto interpreting it and finding it from different representations. 854855

Day 4:

We started off with a recap warm-up of slope, and then learned about what proportionality means.


We extended our ability to determine whether or not a relationship is proportion to create equations. 859860

Day 5:

We started with a recap warm-up on writing equations for proportional & non-proportional linear relationships. 861

We then did graphing absolute value equations by making tables.  This was mean to motivate students to use transformations instead of tables (we introduced transformations the next day), as well as help students remember the properties of absolute values and domain & range. 862

I started drawing the absolute values in with marker because |3-4| started looking like 13-41 for many students.  863

Lastly, we glued in a tips for success reference sheet that students can use if they ever get stuck. 864

Day 6:

We started class with a recap warm-up on graphing absolute value equations by tables.  To further motivate transformations (we started to learn about them RIGHT after doing this warm-up), I made sure to make the second example REALLY annoying. Either you’d have to go up by 3’s or deal with the decimals.  At this point, I think we established that making the tables takes SOOOOOOO much work, but it does get the job done. 865

Next, we were on the hunt for patterns.  What the heck do these a, h, and k things do, anyway?866

Now that students had some observations, we applied it to make graphing SO much quicker!  It only takes 3 points, you know! Once you have the vertex and the slope, you’re golden!867

Day 7:

We did a recap warm-up over graphing absolute value equations by transformations. 868

Lastly, we glued in a flowchart reference page, just in case students ever needed an easy refresher of how to graph absolute value functions by the quicker transformation method. 869

Meal Prep, vol. 6


Teachers are some of the busiest people I know and frequently sacrifice doing things for their own well-being (like making home-cooked meals) in order to make the best lessons and classroom environment for their students.  In an attempt to manage my work-life balance, force myself to get better at cooking and also eat a proper meal each night, I’ve decided I’m committing myself to cook 3 meals each Saturday morning to last me through the week.  Each evening, I’ll quickly make a side to go with it (steamer veggies, minute rice, fruit, etc.).  I hope that posting these compilations of recipes will help other busy people of the world.

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The Recipes:
Total Active Time = 30 hrs

This week is mostly a leftover week.  I have frozen about half of what I’ve cooked for the last few weeks, so now it’s time to eat it up.

I have leftover:

Recipe #4: Spicy Thai Noodles
Difficulty Level: 1/5
Time: 30 min (5 min prep, 25 min cook).

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I made a lot of tweaks to this recipe (Mr. T doesn’t have the spice tolerance that I do), but it really was a winner and it was SO easy! I’m bringing this for lunch this week!

Since I made so many tweaks, I’m including my copy of the recipe that has been all marked up.  I also added some chicken to “beef up” the meal. 😉 I forgot to mark it on the recipe, but I didn’t strain the pepper flakes out of the oil.  I’m not fancy enough to have a strainer small enough to catch the pepper flakes.  I figured I’d just use less, since I wouldn’t be straining it out.  I will definitely be making this recipe again!  Easy and tasty! I think it’ll taste great cold, too!