Thursday, October 30, 2014

6 Team Building Activities You Could Do Tomorrow!

One of the best things you can do for your collaborative classroom is occasionally host team building activities.

Team building activities are activities done for fun - no content required. Team building activities strengthen the relationship between a group of students (a class!) and help students communicate more effectively with one another. Activities can be quick - 10min activities, or long whole class period activities. I always make sure students understand that comments made throughout the activity must be positive. Students who berate each other, or act negatively sit out.  

Here are some of my favorite team building activities:

1) Hula Hoop Hop
This is one of my favorites! Students hold hands to form a circle. Place a hula hoop between one set of students. Students then work together to get the hoop all the way around the circle, holding hands the entire time. Occasionally I’ve timed students and the next day students compared their classes time to that of other classes mathematically.

2) Tic Tac Toe
Human tic tac toe is super easy, and super fast. Use tape (or paper) to lay out a tic tac toe board on the ground. Divide students into 2 groups – X’s and O’s. Groups switch off sending a student to the board. Once a team has won the game, or once the game is tied, the game begins again. To show which team they are on, students make an “X” or “O” with their arms.

3) Rope Shapes
Bring a long rope to class. Have each student grab a section of the rope. Then, instruct students to create various shapes with the rope. Squares, rectangles, triangles, pentagons, etc. This activity in a great way to give students practice being group leaders. For each shape you can assign 2 (or 3) students to be the group leaders, while the other students must quietly follow directions. Group leaders instruct students on where they should move to help form the shape. This activity can also be done with 2 groups of students and 2 pieces of rope.

4) Plastic Cup Tower
Divide students into groups of 5 or 6. Give each group a stack of plastic cups. See which group can build the tallest tower in a certain amount of time (2-3min is really fun!). This activity can be done in less than 10min, or you can play once, then have students switch groups and do it multiple times.

5) No Talking Line
Divide students into 2 groups. Then have each group form a line without talking. The easiest lines to form is one where students sort themselves by birthday. Another way is to have them sort themselves alphabetically. Alphabetically is fun at the beginning of the year when students are still learning each others names. They can use hand signs to show letters or numbers, but no words. First group to form a line, wins!

5) Balloon Pass
Divide students into 2 groups. Each group should form a circle. Have each student bring two pencils (or pens) to the activity. Give each group a balloon. Have each group blow up the balloon. Then, have students pass the balloon around their group using only the pencils.

For more ideas, check out these Pinterest links:

Do you have a favorite team building activity? How do you incorporate team building within your classroom?

Leave a comment and let me know!

Clip Art from: Illumismart@ Teachers Pay Teachers, Ashley Hughes, Krista Wallden
Clip Art from: KG Fonts 
Pictures from Kevin Lawver, Matthew Faltz

Monday, October 20, 2014

Secondary Math Halloween Resource Round Up!

Halloween Resource Round Up:

I feel like holidays should be taken advantage of in the classroom. It doesn’t matter how old your students are – they are bound to be (at least a little!) excited about upcoming holidays.

One way to capitalize on that excitement is to incorporate those holidays into the classroom using fun activities. Below is a round up of some secondary math Halloween themed activities I found on Teachers pay Teachers. They all look like a lot of fun!


(shameless promotion – I created this PowerPoint game!)
There are 8 pumpkin in the PowerPoint. When a pumpkin is touched, it’ll show an order of operations question for students to solve.

Scaffolded Math and Science created a super neat way for students to review identifying points on a coordinate plane. The task cards have a fun, spider web border, and the graph is full of fun Halloween clip art.

Found at Activities By Jill is a fun riddle sheet. It has students find the answer to a riddle by performing basic fraction operations. Even if you aren’t working on fraction operations this month – this may be a sheet you can use. Fraction operations have never been a topic I was supposed to cover, but one I’ve found necessary to review every year with students. 

Juice up your normal warm up/exit tickets with fun Halloween themed clip art by one of my favorite clip artists – Krista Walden.

Priced Resources ( below $5.00)

This resource from Secondary Math Shop has 15 problems students must complete to solve a Halloween Riddle!

These 10 Halloween Themed task cards created by Teaching High School Math have QR codes that will help incorporate technology into your classroom! These cards are super cute!

By Lisa Blagus, students will solve 10 two step equation problems which will help them determine what colors they should use to color the Halloween pictures. Color by number pictures are so fun to hang around the classroom for decoration after students complete them!

Created by 4mulaFun, this activity set is PERFECT for working on proportions. The thumbnail picture shows an adorable, fun candy corn foldable!

If your students are working on point slope form this month, check out Lindsay Perro’s Halloween themed coloring activity! There are 10 problems students solve to determine which colors they need to color sections of the totally adorable coloring page.

Christi Squires has created a PowerPoint game template that looks spooktacular! This would work great if you are teaching multiple subjects. You can purchase the template, then add your own questions to fit the needs of each of your classes!

Mathtechy has a super cute, Halloween themed QR code scavenger hunt on evaluating expressions for a given value. There are 9 stations. Each station has a question card which has a ghost on it. Students scan the QR code inside the ghost. This scavenger hunt would be a fun way to help students use up some of their energy!  

Clip art for this post is from:

Font from:

If you download or purchase any of these, make sure to leave feedback! Those of us who create and post to teachers pay teachers LOVE feedback! Good feedback can brighten someones day!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Surviving The Day Before a Break!

 When I think about fall I think about leaves changing, cooler weather, and LOTS of break time. Here in Alabama fall break is coming up next week. After fall break is Thanksgiving break, then Christmas break. I love breaks, but keeping things in order the few days before a break can be rough!! 

Students show up to class excited, jittery, and chatty which makes it really difficult to keep things running smoothly. 

I don't have all of the answers to how to keep things going, but here are some ideas that have worked for me!


 Plan a super fun activity for that last day of school before a break! 
This could be a math lab that has students running around the school football field taking measurements, an interactive PowerPoint race, or just a plain old team building activity. 
(Here are links to some fun team building ideas: Team Building, Games) Make that day before break so much fun that when students come back to school they' forget that they've never liked math. (Wouldn't that be great?!?!)


Be Flexible! 
Where I live, it is not uncommon for parents to check students out early the last day of school before break, or to keep them home that last day so that they can leave early for their break destination. Planning for this ahead of time, I make sure not to plan anything too important for that day. What's the use of planning a fantastic lesson on solving multi-step equations with variables on both sides, if only 60% of the class is there to hear the lesson? Save yourself time & energy by adjusting your schedule to ensure that students who attend class will benefit from it, but at the same time that students who are absent are not in too much trouble for being gone. The last thing you want to do on your break is worry about how to reteach the 30% of students who missed your fantastic lesson.


Use breaks from school as a way to build stronger relationships with your students. Take the time to find out what your students will be doing over the break. When school picks up again ask them about break. For example, ask Johnny what he has planned for fall break. He may say he plans to visit his older brother in another state, or will be spending time at a skate park. When you see him again after break asking how his trip went will earn you major brownie points!! (This works especially well with students who seem distant and out of touch in class!) 


Breathe (and eat lots of chocolate - seriously!!!) 
Don't let that day before break stress you out too much. Remember you'll have all break to relax and hangout with your family! A trainer in one of my favorite workout videos (from the 21 day fix) reminds viewers constantly that they can do anything for a minute. Remembering that makes all the difference when I feel like I am about to die during a work out. That idea can also be applied to time in the classroom. You can do anything for a minute! Dealing with excited teens can be rough, but it is not going to least forever! 

If you have fall break coming up I hope it's a great one! For those of you who have to wait for Thanksgiving for a break..............I'm sorry!!! :)

Do you have any other tips for surviving pre-break class? Let me know in the comments below!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Meet 25+ Teachers Pay Teacher Sellers & Print Free Resources!

Something I really believe in is the Teachers pay Teachers site. Resources from the site made my life so much easier as a teacher. Before I discovered the site I would spend literally all of my time creating resources to use in the classroom. I would wake up at 5, make it to my classroom around 5:30. Work on making plans until school started at 7:30. Work all day, only to go home and work on classroom materials until midnight every night taking a short break to eat dinner. I had no time to spend with my family and was miserable. Finding teachers pay teachers made life as a teacher a whole lot easier. I was able to use the search feature to find fantastic resources that were easy to prepare and easy to implement.

The resources on Teachers pay Teachers are different from those you can find in brick & mortar teacher supply stores. These resources are created by actual teachers. The main goal of the majority of sellers (myself included) is to help teachers. We work really hard to include clear instructions on how to use each item, and strive to provide superior customer service. We KNOW that teachers are underpaid and under a lot of pressure. Teaching is not easy! Lesson planning on your own is not easy!
Those of you who do not sell items on Teachers pay Teachers may not realize this, but behind the scenes there is a lot of collaboration. We are working really hard to introduce the site to more secondary teachers. If you have ever used an item from the site you know how great the site is. There are thousands of free items that can be downloaded and used right away, along with high quality, affordable resources for nearly every subject!

A few of the sellers on Teachers pay Teachers came up with an awesome idea of creating eBooks that introduce those who shop on the site, to some of us who sell on the site. These eBooks are for secondary teachers only! (Yay!!!) Each seller introduced in the pages creates at least some resources specifically for 6-12th grades.  Along with introduction pages, each of us who participated included a printable NO PREP resource!  These e-books are filled with awesome teachers, little insights into each sellers' life, and resources that are easy to implement in your classroom.  They're pretty amazing. The 3 books include things for: Science & Math, Humanities, & ELA.  I was included in the book for Science & Math and have really enjoyed learning more about my fellow secondary teachers.

I included a page from one of my geometry interactive notebooks:
You can download my page here:
Downloading my page here (rather than just printing it from the other eBook links) helps a little bit because this link has a few extra directions which make the page even easier to use!

And all of the eBooks by following the links below!

 If you download the books make sure to leave feedback! Those who have the books listed in their stores worked really hard to put these together!

Have a great weekend (and if you have fall break this week – enjoy it!!)