Decorating the Secondary Math Classroom

I won’t actually be able to get into my classroom for a few more weeks but I figured I’d share my plans for classroom decorations now…

math-in-the-middle.com decorating the math classroom

Every year I do the same “theme” if you can even call it that – black bulletin boards with bright pops of color.  I’m a creature of habit so this year’s “theme” will be no different :-).  I do, however, have some new decorations to add to my room this year that I’m pretty excited about…and I have spent only around $15 on it all!

  •  I made a “Mathematicians” acrostic poster that lists some of the mathematical process standards as well as other traits/skills students use in math.  I didn’t want to spend alot on printing, so I looked around and found shortrunposters.com.  I got it printed in 18×24 with 1.5 MIL Glossy Lamination for just $6 plus around $4 for shipping!  It took about a week to get the poster after ordering and it came out awesome – I couldn’t be happier with the quality (or price)!!  If you are interested in purchasing the poster to print yourself or have printed professionally you can buy it from my TpT store for $1.25.  (The download includes the black background version I printed and a white background version of the poster).  Click the picture below to buy the poster.
  • img_20160719_131802.jpg Comics: Most years I hang up some corny math “funnies” in my room.  They are a great source of FREE decorations for the classroom.  This year I am tying them in with my black & brights by printing them out in black & white, mounting them on different brightly colored papers, and putting black construction paper “shadows” behind each one.  I think that will really help tie them into the room decor better this year.  (If you need a good source of math jokes, comics, and puns, you may want to check out my Math/School Humor Pinterest Board – I have well over 100 pins to choose from!)

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  • Target Dollar Spot finds:  I LOVE the dollar spot in Target!!  This year I found some fun bright colorful decorations that will go perfectly in my room!  I got a pack of punch out signs/pictures for $1 that included a welcome sign and some motivational quotes that I will put up.  I also found cute packs of colorful pennants.  (24 per pack, $1 each – I bought 2 so that I’d definitely have enough).  I am writing the names of all of my homeroom students on them and will then punch holes in them, string them, and hang around the room.  The best part is they are dry erase so I can use them year after year! (Not bad for $2!)

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  • I also found cute bulletin borders at the target dollar spot that match the little pennants.  They were packs of 15 for $1, which is great…but I made it an even better deal by cutting them in half lengthwise to make 30 skinny border strips per pack!
  • img_20160719_131420.jpg I wrote about my ABCs of Algebra Math Alphabet last year… It was a big hit so I made a couple of new versions of the math alphabet this year – the ABCs of Middle School Math and the ABCs of Geometry.  Each one has the same fun, bright design and features a vocabulary word for each letter of the alphabet.  I am planning to hang the middle school version this year in my room.  I will be hanging it above my chalkboard on black paper.  I am using the skinny borders I made as the border around the alphabet.

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You can buy my math alphabet sets in my TpT store for $4 each and print them at home for free – I kept the backgrounds white to make them printer friendly.  Click the pictures below to purchase!

abcs alg    abcs geom    abcs mid

I will have a better idea of what, if anything, else I need for my classroom once I get in to look at what I have.  I hope this gave you some budget-friendly ideas for your room! 🙂

 

Thanks for reading,

Christina

 

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Planning Ahead for Next Year (and a Free Poster!)

I’m trying something new this year…I’m planning ahead! 🙂  I typically don’t even start thinking about the next school year until August (school starts for me in September), but my goal this year is to have my year pretty much figured out BEFORE August so that I can relax and enjoy my last month of Summer.  I know I will still have things to do in August like setting up my classroom, but I am hoping to have as much done by then as possible.

So far I have brainstormed some classroom policy ideas that I want to change next year, which I will write about in future blog posts, and I have started writing out my curriculum maps/scope and sequences for each of my classes.  To keep me motivated I am breaking up the more “serious” planning with some fun projects for my classroom that I enjoy doing, like making posters & decorations.

Here is the first poster I made for my classroom that you can download FREE from my TpT store!  I made it because I am tired of having students show me “completed” homework that is NOT up to my standards and having them look at me blankly when I tell them it needs to be redone….so I thought it would be helpful to post the components of an acceptable homework assignment.

hw poster

In my next blog post I’ll start sharing my curriculum maps and other plans for the year!

Thanks for reading,

Christina

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Top 10 Things Every Middle School Math Teacher Should Have For Their Classroom

As it is almost time to start preparing classrooms for the coming school year, I thought I would share my top 10 list of things I couldn’t live without as a middle school math teacher.

Math in the Middle Blog| Top 10 Things Every Middle School Math Teacher Should Have for Their Classroom

10.  Class sets of rulers, protractors, and compasses

We don’t use these all that often but they definitely come in handy when we get to geometry, graphing, and pie charts.  I don’t ask students to supply their own because by the time we get to the units that require these tools, many of the kids have lost theirs.

 

9.  LARGE supply of pre-sharpened pencils

I either get packs of pre-sharpened pencils or regular packs of pencils that I sharpen over the summer.  Regardless of whatever system you have for pencils, students are going to show up for class without a pencil or with a pencil that needs to be sharpened at some point throughout the year.  It makes my life easier if I can just give them a pencil that’s ready to go that they can use for class instead of waiting for them to sharpen one.

 

8.  Pencil-top Erasers

Math in the Middle Blog| Smiley Eraser Tops

Kids make mistakes all the time.  It makes sense to have erasers on hand to give them when they no longer have one on their pencil.  I LOVE these ones from oriental trading – they’re cute and there are enough to last at least a year.  (The kids love the smiley faces on them, too)!

 

7.  Expanding File Folder

Math in the Middle Blog| Expanding File Folder

(This is one of those things that I never knew I needed but now that I have one I don’t know how I survived without it).  You are going to have a lot of papers to grade.  My old system was to just throw all the papers I had to grade into my bag to take home.  Now I have sections in my 13 pocket file folder from Staples for all the different papers I need to grade, and I have sections for each class where I put the graded papers to give back.   I am SOOO much more organized with it.

 

6.  Manipulatives

My favorite go-to manipulatives are two-color counters and algebra tiles.  The two-color counters are awesome for teaching integer operations and the algebra tiles are great for simplifying algebraic expressions, adding/subtracting/multiplying/factoring polynomials.  I also LOVE my 3-d figure manipulatives.  I have foam ones (that are fun to throw at the students) and ones with removable nets that are great for teaching surface area.  I also have lots of dice, coins, and spinners for my probability units.

 

5.  Looseleaf and/or Scrap Paper

You can never have too much paper!  My students are always required to show all work so I go through paper like crazy.

 

4.  Good Grading Pens

I LOOOOVE my papermate flair grading pens.  I love all the colors, they don’t bleed through papers, and they just write nice.  I get a new pack each school year and it is always my favorite summer purchase!

 

3.  Fun, Nerdy, Math Decorations

Math in the Middle| ABCs of Algebra: Math Alphabet Set for Secondary Classroom

I like my room to set the tone as a fun place to learn math.  I have math comic strips up around the room (Frank and Ernest have a bunch of good ones), cheesy math posters (such as “Life without geometry is pointless”), and my new addition that I am VERY excited about is an algebra alphabet set that I made to hang around my room.  It’s colorful, fun, and educational!

If you are interested, you can get a set of my Algebra Alphabet Cards at my TpT store.

Math in the Middle| Algebra Alphabet Set to Decorate Middle School or High School Math Classroom

Here’s a close-up of some of the cards.

2.  Graph Paper

Math in the Middle Blog| Stick-on Graph Paper If you are teaching pre-algebra or algebra your students will be graphing lines so you will need graph paper.  Depending on whether you use binders or notebooks, you may want different types of graph paper.  If your students use binders for their notes, you can just use regular 3-hole punch graph paper.  If you are using notebooks, then I highly recommend these awesome stick-on graphs that I discovered a couple of years ago!  Just stick them into your students’ notebooks and they have a nice, neat place to take notes on graphing!  (I don’t remember where I got these ones, but Amazon has a similar set for sale).

 

1.  Mini Whiteboards, Expo Markers, and “Erasers”

Math in the Middle Blog| Mini Whiteboards

Every math teacher needs a good set of mini whiteboards.  Have students work out problems on them, showing their work, and then have them hold them up to show you.  Such an easy formative assessment!  They are great for review games, too.  I definitely recommend getting a set that includes a coordinate plane side, as well, so that students can use them for graphing.  I have been using these ones from EAI Education for a few years now and love them!  They are thin and lightweight and barely take up any room.  If you don’t want to invest in a good set of mini whiteboards you can always make your own.  My first year of teaching I took a piece of cardstock and a printed out coordinate plane and put them in page protectors.  I taped them shut, and had my own little makeshift whiteboards.  The nice thing about the homemade ones is that since they are in 3 hole punched page protectors, students can each keep one in their binders (if they are using binders) and always have them on hand.  I use old rags as erasers for the whiteboards, but paper towels or actual whiteboard erasers work, too.

 

I hope you found this list helpful.   Do you have any must-haves for your middle school math classroom that weren’t on my list?  Please share!  I will send a FREE set of my Algebra alphabet set to the first 2 people to comment (be sure to leave an email address for me to send it to).

 

Thanks for reading,

Christina

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