3 things I am excited about

1. Teachers start school on Tuesday and I am looking forward to seeing my colleagues again.math book

2. Trying a math workshop model.  I read Minds on Mathematics by Wendy Ward Hoffer and have been reading Sherri’s blog from last summer to get ideas

3.  Having dinner tonight with my mom and grandma.  My mom lives about 3 hours away I don’t get to see her as often as I would like.


2 things I am stressing about

1. Getting it all done – my room is looking pretty good, thanks to my husband John.  But the lesson planning and having rich tasks ready to go needs some work.

2. Being a positive, effective teacher leader in my building.  We have 8 new teachers in our building including 2 new math teachers on our 4 person math team.


1 thing I hope to change

1. Students’ mindsets.  I want my kids to believe they can learn math at high levels.  I will be using Jo Boaler’s class and youcubed.org to help kids believe.


Songs in Math Class

I love music, and I can often recall lyrics to songs that I haven’t heard in years.  So I often play math songs for my students, some of my favorites are by Al G. Bra and can be found here.  I also like the song y=mx + b.

This year I decided to push myself and create a song myself.  No I have not made a video because even my kids don’t like to hear me sing.  (There was a reason I was in band for 7 years).  However, many of students know understand the process for multiplying mixed numbers because of my little song.

I was able to write the song in about 10 – 15 minutes. I thought about the process of multiplying mixed numbers and brainstormed the words I would need to use.  Next, I chose the tune “Are you Sleeping” or “Frere Jacques.”  I liked this tune because it repeats it self so I didn’t have to come up with as many lyrics.  Other good tunes include: Happy Birthday, Twinkle Twinkle or Jingle Bells.  You want to use something familiar that students have probably heard before.    My first version went like this:

“Change to improper, Change to improper; Cross cancel next, cross cancel next;  Multiply the numerators, Multiply the denominators;  Simplify your answer.”

I wouldn’t go so far as to say kids love it, but all I have to do is start singing the first line and they remember what to do.  Earlier tonight as I was correcting their tests I was pleased to see that very few students got the multiplying mixed number questions wrong.  Most were also able to explain, using complete sentences and transition words, the process for multiplying mixed numbers.

What is your favorite math song?  If you have a video send me the link, I would love to show it in class.

My Favorite No adapted

The other day I had students complete an exit ticket before they left class.  I give each student a post-it note and then display a problem or two on the screen for them to do before they leave.  I will also do this as an entrance ticket.   This day there were two problems

exit ticket

Once students leave the room I pull the post-its and check for accuracy.  I had several students that were still making errors, such as not finding common denominators.  So I knew that we needed more time with this concept, but I dreaded another boring worksheet where the kids who know it already know it and those that don’t continue to make the same errors.  Then I remembered two things I learned this summer: One was from a video I saw this summer about using kids work to help break down misconceptions also titled My Favorite No and the second was a smarter balanced question about explaining the error and My Favorite No was born.

I took the incorrect post it notes and wrote the problems and the student work onto a clean sheet of paper, this was to prevent identifying the student who did it wrong and so it was readable for all kids.  The next day in class I asked my students to help me be a math detective.  I told them that the sheet contained problems that students did wrong from yesterday, but I needed their help in figuring out what the student had done wrong so I could help them to fix it.  I allowed them to discuss their ideas with the people at their table and they could even “steal” an idea from a friend if it made sense to them and it worked.  Students had to both solve the problem correctly and write an explanation of what the original student did wrong.

This activity was great in helping the students deepen their understanding of adding & subtracting fractions without a boring ol’ worksheet.


  • HELLO MathTwitterBlogosphere! I am Jennifer and I have been teaching for 15 years.  4 years at 4th grade, 6 years at 6th grade and the last 5 I have been teaching 7th & 8th grade math!  I love it!  I teach in Hermiston, Oregon and have spent my entire career in Oregon although I grew up in Wenatchee Washington.   I have always wanted to be a teacher, I have 6 younger brothers and we often played school and of course I was the teacher.
  • I absolutely love spending my day with teenagers and helping them learn not only math, but how to negotiate the teen years.  Middle school was a really hard time for me, however several amazing teachers made it great.  I hope every year to do the same for my students.  I am very passionate about math and learning and I try to convey that to my students in many ways.  I have math TOMS, several funny math T-shirts, we decorated pi shaped cookies on pi day and this year I am using songs to teach math concepts.  I will do almost anything to help these kids learn math .
  • I have been following several inspiring math blogs for the last year or so and this summer I joined twitter.  I am hoping to be less of a stalker and more of a contributor is the reason I joined the MathTwitterBlogosphere.Image