FREE Interactive Review Game for any Grade or Subject

Wow – this year has been crazy!  I have been incredibly busy both in school and out, which is why I haven’t written in sooo long, but since my blog posts about the “Attack” review game I play with my classes continue to be some of my most viewed posts, I thought I’d write a quick post about the new, FREE Interactive version of the game!

For those of you who haven’t read my posts about the old-school version of the game, the premise is simple.  Each team has a castle.  Ask a review question and pick a group to answer.  If they get the question right, they get to attack a couple of the other teams’ castles.  If they get it wrong, I attack their castle.  After 5 attacks, a castle is eliminated, but that team is still in the game – (They can still attack other castles to get revenge!)  The last castle standing is the winner.

The game is a HUGE hit in every class I have ever played in and I have heard from over 100 other teachers that the same is true for their classes….and now it’s even better with the brand new interactive version!

For the interactive version, each team has a sand castle.  You can attack a castle by clicking on the screen when a plane holding a bucket of water is flying above the sand castle you want to attack.  (If you have an interactive whiteboard that supports touch you could even have students throw a koosh ball at the board instead of clicking to carry out the attacks!)  Teams also have the option of rebuilding their castle instead of attacking another sand castle when they get a question right.

The FREE version of the game has all of the features of the full game, but allows only 2 teams.  The full game offers the option to play with up to 5 teams.

If you try out the game with your students, please let me know what you think of it!  I hope your students enjoy it as much as mine do!!

(I am really hoping that I can find the time to blog more regularly this Spring, too, so I hope to be back soon with another post!)

Thanks for reading,





Share Button

Free Banner of the Standards of Mathematical Practice

After I shared a bunch of classroom décor ideas in this post, I ended up making another decoration for my classroom: a banner of the standards of mathematical practice.

math practice standards pennant

It’s a simple black & white design that I printed on colored paper to make it pop and match the other bright colors in my room.  However, I was also thinking it could be cool to print it on white paper and have students work in groups to color the banners & add pictures to them to illustrate the meaning of each standard.  (I might do that next year – this year I’m just going to hang up the colorful version, after I reprint it – my printer is having issues right now causing everything to have streaks 🙁 )

You can download the banner FREE from my Teachers pay Teachers store!  While you’re there be sure to look around at some of the great deals today and tomorrow (August 1st & 2nd) during the big annual Back to School sale!  Everything in my store is 28% off with code BestYear.

Click the picture below to download the banner:

math practice banner cover

Some of the resources from my store that I would recommend checking out this back to school season include:





Happy shopping!

Thanks for reading,


Share Button

Organizing Student Notebooks with Dividers

Today I’m sharing my newest step towards improved organization in the classroom: notebook divider tabs.  (I got the idea from a blog post by Sarah Carter and knew that I wanted to modify them to work for me in the upcoming year).

Notebook Divider Tabs:

I decided that this year I am going to make notes worth 2 points per day.  Students need to include a summary/explanation and completed worked-out examples for each lesson (which is where the 2 points are coming from).  In the past I made notes worth 20 points per unit, but in reflecting on it, it doesn’t really make sense because some units are 10 lessons long while others are only 6.  I collect and grade notebooks on days that students are taking the unit test.

So, here’s where the divider tabs come in…before each unit I will give students a divider to glue in their notebooks.  A little tab sticks out the side with the name of the unit on it.  On the divider I listed all of the lessons that are included in the unit.  I figure that will be an easy way for students to make sure that they aren’t missing the notes to any lessons (which will be especially useful for students who were absent).  It will also serve as a checklist for me while I’m grading.  Next to each lesson I can write 0, 1, or 2 for however many points students earned for that day’s notes and record their final grade for the unit on the bottom where I left a space for it.

Notebook Divider

The beauty of the tabs is that I can flip right to the correct unit without wasting time trying to find their notes.  I also think they will be useful to students, as if I ask them to refer back to an earlier topic, they should be able to find the lesson pretty quickly.

I made the dividers small enough that they won’t waste a page of the students’ notebooks.  I think I will have students write the vocabulary for the chapter on the first page (next to the divider) and then start with the first lesson’s notes on the back of that page.  The divider doesn’t cut into any of the useable space on the back of the page at all, which I am really happy about since I hate wasting paper!

imag0610_1.jpg  imag0615.jpg

I made my dividers print 3 per page, so I just print them, cut on the two dotted lines, and hand them out to the students.  They fold on the solid line and then put glue on each side and make sure to leave the tab sticking out the side of the notebook when they glue it in, and that’s it!

If you’d like to try out similar dividers for your class, I set up a 3 per page divider template in PowerPoint that you can use.  Just click the image below to download the editable pptx file.


Other school-related things I have been thinking about/working on recently:

Have you used dividers before with your class?  Are you thinking about trying them out this year?  Please share in the comments below – especially if you have any tips for using them since this will be my first attempt!

Thanks for reading,


Share Button

Improving Number Sense with the Divisibility Rules

I decided to make divisibility my first lesson of the year for 7th grade next year for a couple of different reasons: it is a skill used in many different concepts throughout the year and it really helps promote overall number sense in students.

The divisibility rules (hopefully) help students be less dependent on their calculators, which is an area I am hoping to improve on this year.  So even though it isn’t the most exciting lesson of the year, it is an important one, and I think it’s a good way to begin the year.

I go over the rules for 1 – 10 with my students.  (I used to skip over 7 but every year students ask me if there is a rule for 7….so now I give them the rule along with an example for which the rule could be useful (i.e. 231) but then explain that 9 times out of 10 it is easier to just do the division than it is to use the rule).

In addition to the rules I give students tips, like if a number isn’t divisible by 2 then it isn’t divisible by any other even number.  Tips like that help with divisibility by 8, since that isn’t the most useful rule.  I tell students to only check for divisibility by 8 if (1) the number is divisible by 2 and then (2) if it is divisible by 4.

I made half-sheets the students can stick in their notebook with the divisibility rules.  You can download it free by clicking the picture below.

divisibility rules half sheets

To make the lesson more exciting I enlisted the help of my programmer husband.  He was able to build an interactive divisibility rules game that my students can play on their chromebooks, which I am super excited about!  In the “Divisibility Challenge” game, you can choose which rules you want to practice and then either play for mastery, speed, or just for practice.  I think I am going to originally have students play for mastery, where they need to play until they get 10 questions correct.  I plan to begin class the next day with a speed competition to see who can get the most questions correct in 3 minutes.  Competition always seems to get middle school students involved and engaged!  Click below to try a round free.  (It should open right in your browser).

divisibility demo

If you are interested in getting the full game for your class it can be purchased in my tpt store for $6.

divisibility pic1


Thanks for reading,


Share Button

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,


Share Button

Fun (Free) Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day in the Middle School Math Classroom

With my school going from pre-k – 8th grade, I have always felt kind of bad for the “big kids” on Valentine’s Day because it is business for them as usual while the lower grades are having parties.  That’s why I always try to do something a little different than a normal math class, but still academic.  I thought I’d share a couple of the things I have done with my students on Valentine’s Day for other teachers who are looking for easy, free, no-prep ways to bring some holiday fun into their math classes.

valentines day math in the middle

I have shared before that I LOVE problem-solving and give my students word problems daily.  (You can read about my daily problem solving here).  On Valentine’s Day I use a set of Valentine’s word problems on fractions that I made a few years ago instead of the normal problem of the day.  (Download them free from my TpT store by clicking on the picture below).  The word problems are a great challenge because they combine two areas students typically struggle with – fractions and word problems.

valentine freebie pic2

I break the class into groups of 4 and have them work together on the problems.  I make it a contest – either the first group to get all the problems correct wins, or any group that gets at least 5 problems right within a set time limit wins, etc.  Students don’t necessarily love working on word problems (the understatement of the century), but working as a group and making it a contest definitely ups the fun-factor!

After the word problems, play a game of “Attack”, reviewing whatever concept you are currently studying.  On Valentine’s Day I have them draw hearts as the thing they are attacking and have them attack by drawing arrows on the hearts.  (If you missed my post explaining how to play, you can read it here – trust me, it’s worth the read because students absolutely LOVE this game!)

Finally, show your students some love by giving them a homework pass.  You can download mine free by clicking on the picture below.  (Write the student’s name on the 1st line and sign the 2nd line.)  Either give one to every student as a Valentine or use them as a prize for the groups that won the word problem race and “Attack” game.  (I use the point system of grading, and homework counts as 2 points a day in my class, so I personally allow my students to either use the homework pass to get credit on a night where they didn’t do their homework or they can turn it in at the end of the marking period for 2 extra credit points.)

hw pass pic

I hope you are able to use some of these ideas in your class.  Please feel free to share what you do to have fun with your students on Valentine’s Day in the comments below!

Happy Valentine’s Day!


Thanks for reading,


Share Button

Coordinate Planes Freebie

Just a quick post today (to make up for my last 3 being sooo long)!

Does anyone else have students who can’t seem to draw a decent coordinate plane on a piece of graph paper?  I never would have thought that tracing a horizontal and vertical line on a piece of graph paper would be difficult for anyone to do, but I have some students who can’t seem to draw a straight line (even with a ruler)…

Obviously if the coordinate plane isn’t drawn correctly, it is impossible to graph correctly so I went online in search of a page of coordinate planes that I could print out.  I found a bunch that had 4 or 6 coordinate planes on a page but they seemed to waste alot of space to me, so I made my own sheet with 12 coordinate planes on it that I will be printing double-sided so students can use it to complete 24 graphing problems (and I can avoid the headache of having to look at problems being completed on imperfect coordinate planes.

If you have students who suffer from the same inability to draw straight lines as mine, click the image below to download and print the pdf of 12 coordinate planes.

coordinate planes


Thanks for reading,


Share Button

Understanding Grades

What’s my average?

I can’t even tell you how many times I get asked that question by my students.  In one sense, it’s great that the students care about their grades.  On the other hand, this question drives me crazy…and it’s my own fault.

My first 2 years teaching, I had each of my students keep personal grade sheets.  My students knew that every time they got an assignment back they had to record it on their grade sheet and recalculate their average.  It took a couple of weeks of me helping the students, but after the first few weeks of school, it became second nature for my students and they all knew their averages in my class all of the time.  I did not ever have students asking me what their grade was…and it was great!  The most wonderful thing about this system, I found, however, was that the kids really understood their grades in my class.  They “got it” that a daily warmup worth 2 points would barely affect their grade, but that a test would heavily influence their grade.  They understood exactly how they got the grade that they did on their report cards.  My absolute favorite was when some of my better students would actually calculate exactly what grade they needed to get on their next test or quiz to maintain a certain average.  To me that showed true understanding of the point system and averages.

gradesheet example

Soo…you might be wondering why I stopped having my students keep grade sheets….

My 3rd year teaching, my school adopted a new online grade book where the students and parents were able to see their grades on all assignments, as well as their average in the class, at any given time.  I figured that since the online gradebook showed everything I had the students record on their grade sheets, there was no purpose in having them continue to keep track of their grades on their own.

I realize now (in my 6th year of teaching), that it was a mistake on my part to drop the gradesheets.  Yes, my students can login and see their grades online but (a) many don’t check, and (b) the ones who do check don’t have the same understanding of their grades that my former students did.  Not since my 2nd year teaching have I had a student understand their grade well enough to tell me that they need to get a 92 on their next test to end up with an “A” average, and I miss those conversations.

My school year is broken up into trimesters and the 2nd trimester is ending next week.  I will be bringing back the grade sheets 3rd trimester and can’t wait to (hopefully) see an improvement of understanding of grades in my students!

student grade sheet

Click the image above to download this free student grade sheet!

Thanks for reading,


Share Button

Personal Percent Problems

Next week is Catholic Schools Week.  I love Catholic Schools Week and all the fun and events that go along with it!  What I don’t love, though, is putting together bulletin boards to display student work for our Open House on Sunday.

I know many teachers really get into decorating their classrooms and putting up fun bulletin boards.  I am not one of those teachers.  I love to teach and plan meaningful lessons, but coming up with bulletin board ideas is soo not my cup of tea!  I don’t do a lot of artsy projects in my math classes so I find it challenging to come up with student work samples to display.

I have been working on percents with my 7th graders for the past couple of weeks, so I decided to turn my absolute favorite aspect of math (problem solving) into a bulletin board idea.  I had the students write their own, original percent word problems that related to something in their lives in class on Friday.  They had to type the problems for homework, title them, and add pictures that related to the problems.  I had them solve the problems, as well, showing all of their work.

I got a great variety of problems from the students and they were very creative with them!  A couple of examples of the types of word problems I got were:

  • From a girl who just got a new dog –  Which is the better buy: a puppy that costs $399, but is on sale for 15% off or a puppy that costs $335 plus 7% sales tax?
  • From a boy who plays baseball – If I get a hit 24% of the time I go up to bat, how many hits would you expect me to get if I went up to bat 80 times?

They came out really cute with the pictures, too.  I haven’t gotten around to hanging them up yet, but it’s on my to-do list for tomorrow.

If you are interested in the project, click on the image below to download the assignment.

percent project pic

Anything that gets the students to make real-world connections to the math they are learning in school is good in my book!  I’m thinking about putting some of the students’ word problems on their percent test next week, too.


Thanks for reading,


Share Button