Thursday, June 26, 2014

Color Counter Organizing Tidbit

My math class usually ends up in partners or groups before the period is over.  I absolutely believe in kids learning by "doing."  

Since I teach 4 classes of math each day, the "doing" part can become a headache on some days, as far as getting the manipulatives put up for the next class. (We also spend every free second to the end of class working.)  This means that if I am not organized, picking up materials can mean a loss of several nerves each class period, not to mention team teachers who do not want to wait on my class to change! :)  I've gotten my act together over the years and one little tidbit that I have come to love is magnetic color counters! 

Anyone who has used color counters know that they are flat little suckers and hard to pick up. is a great product that makes it quick and easy to get those darn color counters up and in a container in no time flat!  This product consists of a magnetic wand and color counters edged with a magnet.  Pretty neat!  Very simple!

The wand is magnetic and the color counters have a small magnetic strip around them.  The wand just swoops down and picks the counters up!  

I like the colors of the counters too!

The wand is magnetic on both sides, which means it is able to pick up many counters at one time. 
 Your kids will be begging to use it!

Here is the information, if you are interested in ordering the magnetic color counters.  EAI Education sells them, at this time, for $19.49.  This price includes 4 wands and 300 counters.  You can also purchase individual packs of color counters or a larger set with 10 wands.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Angle Measurement Ideas

I have been teaching math for the last 21 years, and I realize how important it is for students not only to see something, but, to actually try it.  I can spend 2 weeks standing in front of my classroom teaching how angle measurements are the same no matter the size of the arrays or the area but, until these youngins' try it for themselves, I simply sound like Charlie Brown's teacher...blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.  :)  
I have included a couple of pictures in this post to show how easy it is for kids to practice measuring  angles by turns and also that the size of the rays of the angles are not important.  These examples are some of those, "Ah, the light bulb just went off" moments that teachers live for...that make us want to come back in the next day and do it again!  

The first hands-on picture helps my students see the 4 main rotations or turns of angles on a circle and what these turns look like.  (90, 180, 270, and 360 degrees)  This inexpensive manipulative consists of 2 styrofoam plates.  I used a red marker on one plate.  Students simply make a mid-point on both plates and cut one slit from the edge of the plate to the center.  The plates can then be attached and rotated to make any degree of angles.

Styrofoam Plates and a Marker

The next two pictures are real eye-opening experiences.  Besides the styrofoam plates, I make copies of smaller circles.  I make white and yellow circles but the color doesn't matter at all.  The procedures for prepping the  paper circles are the same as for the styrofoam plates.  When the kids measure angles with both set of circles they sometimes have a hard time believing that the angles measure the same even though the circles are such different sizes.  My kids measure other items such as pattern blocks to reinforce the fact that, for example, a 90 degree angle is a 90 degree no matter how large or small the object.

Once the manipulatives are made, why not store them for future years?  Saving the circles for future years saves precious time, copy paper, and $ for the plates.
As you can probably tell, my red styrofoam plates have been around for several years!

Now add a Smaller Set of Circles:  Copy Paper

Paper Strips
Another great way to reinforce this lesson is to take two strips of paper and fasten these with a brad.  Let your students measure angles such as the corners of the walls and a pattern block square.  It is exciting to watch as the kids realize that the size of the items doesn't make a difference in the angles!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Organization - File Cabinets

Some people call me OCD...for a very good reason.  I like everything to be in a place and I want it to be there when I need it.  My husband has never fully understood that.  He doesn't seem to get that if you borrow my scissors, you must return them to their rightful place.  My children don't understand me either.  They don't see why I get so bent out of shape when I get to the store and someone has borrowed my debit card and "forgotten" to return it.
I try to operate my classroom in an organized manner  too. Everything has a place.  My last post was about my lesson plan notebooks.  Everything is laid out day by day with no surprises.  My copies are always in the front of the notebook and all materials I will need for the day are listed in my lesson plan.  With my lesson plan notebooks, I know I'm not going to forget anything or not be able to find what I need.

I feel the same way about my file cabinets.  What can't fit into my lesson plan notebooks either goes in a plastic container if it is large or bulky, or it goes into my file cabinet.  

I have my math file drawer organized by the standards that I teach, starting with the beginning of the school year until the last unit at the end of the school year. 

This was the first full year of Common Core Performance Standards in my county.  By the end of next year I will have to add at least one more math drawer.  I am quickly running out of room as I prepare new material.

Laminated papers that I use for each  
standard are stored in the file cabinet.

Work Mats

I never have to worry about finding my standards.  There are nicely tucked away in my file cabinet.

Any activities with small pieces go in the file cabinet.  

Another example of work mats.  I label the folder with the standard and day that coordinates with my lesson plan.  It makes it easier to quickly find something and easier to put it back in order.

The file cabinet is a great place to keep up with my "homemade" boardgames. As I mentioned before, I keep the larger materials in another section of my room.  I will be posting about that section on another day. 

The only problem you could possibly have setting up your file cabinets like this is forgetting to put the items back in the file cabinet.  I have been guilty of that too. However, it is still a breeze getting the materials back to their place. 

I hope everyone has a great summer.  Last Friday was my last day.  I am truly looking forward to relaxing and working on TPT items!