Math = Love

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


Yesterday, I printed off a heap of posters and started laminating them.  

Earlier this summer, I had no idea how I wanted to decorate my new classroom.  I looked on pinterest for ideas, but it seemed like I just kept seeing the same things over and over, and I wanted something new.

A couple of weeks ago, I found out that I am for sure teaching trig again this year.  We offer one class above Algebra 2, and this will make the 4th year that we've alternated between Stats and Trig.  I'm super excited about getting to teach trig again, so that has been influencing a lot of my poster making.


I designed two large posters of the three basic trig function formulas and the three reciprocal trig function formulas, but I haven't been able to print them because the copy machine at school is not playing nice.  :(  (This is just a sneak peek of these posters.  I'll blog about them and post the files when I can show you what they look like on the wall of my classroom!)  I still wanted to create a SOHCAHTOA poster to jog students' memories.

I chose to print SOHCAHTOA over three pages so it will be able to be seen all the way across the classroom.  

Here's a close up of SOH:

And CAH:

And, finally - TOA!

If you download the editable Publisher file, you'll need to download the free Font Agency FB or substitute your own favorite font.  I chose this font because it's tall, skinny letters let me take up the majority of the page with my text.  If you download the PDF file, there's no need to worry about the font because it will be embedded.  You can download the files for these posters here.

Now I just have to figure out where I want to hang them in my classroom.  Decisions, decisions, decisions...

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

New Left and Right Posters for my Classroom

So, I feel like I need to apologize in advanced because this blog is getting ready to be taken over by posters.  I've got a new classroom to decorate, and I'm taking full advantage of that fact.

(There's also the fact that my husband has a new classroom to decorate as well, so our house has turned into a full time poster making factory.  Shaun's Geometry Symbols Posters almost make me wish I was the one teaching geometry next year!)  

The left versus right struggle pops up in my classroom on a regular basis.  I'll find myself saying "What's left on the left side of the equation?"  And, I'll have students giving me the correct answer to the question "What's left on the right side of the equation?"  And, I can totally relate.  I remember being terrified throughout my driving test for fear I would turn the wrong way when the person giving the driving test would say "Turn right at the next intersection."  I was sure I would instantly fail the test for turning the wrong way.  

A couple of years ago, I printed off a pair of left/right signs to hang in my classroom that seemed to work well for jogging students' memory.  

They worked great with the tan walls in my old classroom.  But, when I hung them up in my new classroom the white on white just left me feel like I needed to make something new.  Something bright and colorful to match the rest of my classroom.  

So, I did.

Here's a comparison of the old left and right signs and my new left and right signs.  

And, here's what they look like hanging in my classroom now.  Bright and happy!  :D  

And, here's an even bigger peek at my slowly coming together classroom!

In case you also have students who need a reminder of which way left and right is, I've uploaded the file for you here.  If you want to edit the posters, you'll need Publisher and the free font Wellfleet.  You could also substitute your own favorite font.  I've also included a non-editable PDF version. 

Also pictured is my Keep Calm and Combine Like Terms Poster, my Pi Clock Sign , and my Horizontal/Vertical Lettering.  If you're interested in even more classroom decoration ideas, check out my collection of free posters and my collection of free bulletin board ideas.     

Sunday, July 17, 2016

New Name Poster

I've had the same sign outside of my classroom for four years now.  In fact, it was one of my first classroom creations as a first-year-teacher.  

The problem is 1) I am no longer Ms. Hagan and 2) I no longer teach in Room 17.

A new classroom and new school building means it's time for a new name sign outside my classroom!

Here's the picture I took pre-lamination.  It's already hanging outside my classroom door next to my new math-y welcome posters, but I forgot to take a picture before leaving school.

I know it's a simple sign to make yourself, but I'll attach the file in case you want to steal it and modify it with your own information.  You'll need to download the free fonts Wellfleet and Aaargh or substitute your own favorite fonts.  Here's the link to the Publisher file.

Oh, and by the way, this makes me realize that I haven't announced on my blog what I'll be teaching next year yet.  I have 3 sections of Algebra 1, 1 section of Trigonometry, and 2 sections of Math Concepts.  Math Concepts is a class we're creating for our 9th graders who have not demonstrated that they are ready for Algebra 1 yet.  I'm super excited to teach this new-to-me class because it means we can really sloooooooooooow down and focus on the basics of algebra without the stress of "covering" all of the standards.  

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Free Printable Math-y Welcome Banner

So, I'm not at #TMC16, but I've been following along with the adventures on Twitter as best as I can.  I've seen a ton of tweets about Sara VanDerWerf's math-y badges.

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If you haven't seen her blog post about them, you definitely need to check it out here!  

Working at a tiny, rural school means that everybody in the school knows everybody, and there is no need for a name badge.  I loved the idea behind the badge, so I decided to incorporate it in a different way.  

I have a new classroom this year because our school is consolidating 7th - 12th grade into a single building.  A previous teacher left a "Welcome" banner poster behind the door, but Shaun and I decided it just didn't match my style of decorating.  I've been pondering how to decorate outside my classroom when it dawned on me that I could make my "Welcome" sign math-y!  

I started playing around in Publisher to create math-y letters.  

Here's what I came up with:

I printed each letter on a different colored sheet of paper.  I made sure to take a picture of them BEFORE I laminated them since laminated posters are soooooooooo hard to photograph!  

I was pretty pleased with how the letters look horizontally, but I had vertical plans.

Here are my math-y welcome posters outside the door to my classroom:

I took pictures of each letter, but the laminated posters were just as hard to photograph as I expected.

Want to create your own math-y welcome banner?  I've uploaded the files here as a non-editable PDF and an editable PUB file.  No special fonts needed this time!

Friday, July 15, 2016

#ReadThree - Crime Scenes, Cubic Meters, and Trigonometry

Earlier this summer, I read Pam Wilson's Read Three posts.  Her goal was to find three new math teacher blogs to read and pick a favorite post from each to blog about.  I enjoyed reading her posts and thought to myself that I should try this myself.  Then, I kinda forgot about it.

Yesterday, I clicked on a name in tweetdeck that I didn't recognize and quickly saw that this person had a blog I also didn't recognize.  Soon, I was reading and ran across an awesome post.  This reminded me of Pam's posts.  (Okay - in all honesty, I had to go back to her blog and figure out what she had called her posts!)

So, here's my first #ReadThree adventure.  To find new math blogs to read, I'm scrolling through the twitter profiles of people I follow to look for new-to-me blogs.


Clara Maxcy blogs at The 30th Voice.  She's been blogging since 2013, but I only somehow just happened on her blog.  The post that stuck out to me the most (probably because I'm teaching trig again next year!) is titled Murder Mystery Solved with Trig!  

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I love that this activity gets kids up and moving and talking about trig.  The pieces you see amidst the caution tape are given to students before the murder mystery begins and they are asked to reconstruct the triangle.  How brilliant is that?!?  Then, the students are asked questions like "Who is opposite of Angle A?"  I also love how this activity emphasizes that a single leg can be both the opposite leg and the adjacent leg under different circumstances.  I definitely want to incorporate an activity like this in my trig class this year.  Now, off to see if Amazon sells caution tape...


Mardalee Burwitz blogs at Math-n-Science=WAHOO!  As I was scrolling through her blog posts, a picture of some students with a bunch of meter sticks caught my eye. 

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Mardalee's students were solving a textbook problem where the answer was a cubic meter.  Her students were wondering just how big a cubic meter was.  Her students built a model of a cubic meter to help their fellow students picture it.  

My students have always struggled with square and cubic units of measurement.  This has always frustrated me.  But, now I'm realizing that I've never used that as an opportunity to show my students the difference between an inch, a square inch, and a cubic inch.  I definitely want to do something like this next year!  Here's the link to Mardalee's full explanation


My last new blog for the day is John Rowe's How I teach maths.  Guess what post stood out to me first?  Yup.  Another trigonometry post.  I guess it was the title of his post that first caught my eye: The Best Worksheet I have ever Rewritten.  In this post, John takes a few basic trigonometry problems and completely turns them on their head.  Instead of asking a question, John gives his students four answers and asks them to come up with the questions that could be answered that way.

This type of problem  

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So much more thinking going on here.  And, I can't wait to try this out in my own classroom!  


I have to say that this turned out just as fun as I thought it would be!  So, be on the lookout for more #ReadThree blog posts in the future!  

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Grouping Symbols Poster

The other day I set out to re-create my order of operations posters because I just feel like they are lacking something.  Plus, the fact that the M is not the same size as the other letters has been bugging me for years.  When I made them, I told myself it wouldn't matter.  But, it's all I can think about when I look at these posters.

Instead, I got side tracked and ended up creating a poster about grouping symbols.  My students almost always see the "P" in "PEMDAS" and think that they have to do parentheses and only parentheses first.  This includes doing parentheses that actually mean multiplication.  I've been emphasizing that "P" actually stands for "Grouping Symbols" the past couple of years and it seems to be helping.  Of course, I have to tell them that their third grade teacher did have the best of intentions.  The only grouping symbol that would be showing up in their third grade math problems were parentheses.

Instead of just telling students about grouping symbols, I've decided I need to give students a resource to look at to check and see if there are any grouping symbols in their problem.  Over the years, my classroom decor has slowly been shifting from an emphasis on cute and motivational to an emphasis on math.  At least, that's my goal.  I still want my room to be "cute," but I also want my students to see a plethora of resources when they walk in my room.

That's why they'll find a horizontal number line, a vertical number line (coming soon), the prime numbers under 100, the order of operations, a set of math symbols, the greek alphabet, the meaning of zero inside a fraction, place value, perfect squares (coming soon), and perfect cubes (coming soon).

Back to grouping symbols.  Here's what I came up with:

I always tell my students that there are invisible parentheses inside a radical sign and around the numerator and denominator in a fraction.  To show that these are usually invisible, I used just the outline of the parentheses around them.  

I also couldn't miss the opportunity to share the fact that the line between a fraction is called a "vinculum" with my students.  I probably share this fun fact with each class at least ten times a year.  

As for {braces}, I actually call them squiggly brackets in my classroom.  But, Wikipedia says they are also known as braces, and that definitely fits on the poster better.  If you call them something different, I've uploaded an editable version of the poster for you.  :)  

I've designed this poster to print on 11 x 17 paper because I have a humongous package of 11 x 17 card stock in my classroom.  (FYI: Amazon currently has 11 x 17 card stock on sale for $9.99 for 250 sheets at the moment.  This is an affiliate link.  Proceeds help to purchase school supplies for my classroom and pay to host the free downloads on this blog.)   

Sadly, I haven't printed it or laminated it yet because the printer at my new school is not playing nice with card stock.  I tried to print my Greek Alphabet posters yesterday, and I ended up with a pile of posters that looked like this:

This printer is identical to the printer at my old school, so I'm not sure what the issue is.  So, until I figure this little issue out, no printing posters for me.  :(

If you want to download the file for yourself, click here!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Designing My Own Teacher Planner Part 2

My planner for the new school year has done for a while.  Now, it's time to finally share it with you.  (Thanks Shelli for the push to get around to blogging about this!)

For my planner this year, I'm using the Arc System by Staples.  In the past, I've purchased a planner, but I hated that I couldn't customize it.  This discbound system lets me change things to my heart's content.  Shaun is also using the arc system for his planner, so we felt like we could justify buying the fancy punch.

Note: I've already blogged about most of the pages below and included links to download them. You can find that post here.  The calendar pages (which I haven't blogged about before) can be downloaded here.  If you download the editable version, you'll need to also download the free fonts Ostrich Sans Heavy and HVD Comic Serif Pro or substitute your own favorite fonts.    

Since I was planning on designing my own inside pages, I just bought a pretty cover and a set of pink discs to get my planner started.    

Inside, I have a clear zippered poly pocket that holds post-it notes, stickers, etc.

I also invested in a set of 8 dividers for my notebook to keep things more organized.  I bought these from the Martha Stewart line at Staples because they were cheaper than the Arc brand.  Plus, I got a set of 8 dividers instead of 5.

I still haven't decided if I'm perfectly happy with the way I have stuff ordered in my notebook yet.  But, that's okay since I can easily reorder the pages.

My plan at the moment is to have the first tab contain my to-do list and info on current projects.

The next section contains my calendar pages.  My husband made this version of our school calendar for us both to include in our planners.  Have I mentioned that I'm super excited about getting to work in the same building as my husband next year?!?

For my planner pages, my goal was to have a way to keep track of several things:

School Stuff - Faculty meetings, meetings with parents, deadlines for submitting things, student council meetings, days when various student organizations will be absent, school sporting events, etc.  Having this all written on my calendar helps me figure out what days to not schedule a test or what days are open to schedule a student council event.

Personal Stuff - Doctor and dentist appointments, birthdays, reminders to do things like pay the rent, etc.

Good Things - I love reading the One Good Thing blog.  The teachers who participate in this blog commit to blog each day about something good that happened during their day.  Sometimes it's something big.  Other times, it's a small thing that would often go unnoticed.  But, it's always good.  If you haven't subscribed to this blog, you are definitely missing out!  The posts there never fail to put a smile on my face.  While I don't have the commitment necessary to write a daily blog post, I do want to build a habit of recognizing the good in every day.  I started doing this at the end of last school year in my planner, and it was definitely my favorite thing to look back at every day.  So, I want to include a space to record something good about each day.

Meal Planning - Being married means I have to do a lot more thinking about meal planning than I ever did when I was single.  I'm not a serious meal planner.  This will probably be used more in retrospect to record what we eat to help us come up with ideas later on.  Or, if I really get on top of things, maybe I will start planning ahead.

What you WON'T find in this planner is my plans on what to teach on what day.  I plan to keep these in a google document.  I've never been required to turn in my lesson plans, so I've never been good at writing down and recording my plans to look back at later.  I've tried to do so many, many, many times, but I always get frustrated when plans change.  It seems like I never get everything done in a class period that I thought I could get done.  I'm thinking that having them in a google document will let me copy and paste them to the appropriate day which should lessen the sting a bit...  When I get a lesson planning document I'm happy with, I'll be sure sure to blog about that, too!

Okay.  Enough talking about what I want it to contain.  Let's look at pictures.  :)  

(Notice how June 10th is filled in below?  That was the day I actually took the pictures for this blog post...)

For these calendar pages, I created a basic weekly template.  Then, I typed in all of the dates in an excel file and used mail merge to put together my planner pages.  This was so much faster than trying to type directly on the pages.  I've included the mail merge file with the dates in case you want to edit my template to fit your needs.  (Remember: files can be downloaded here!)

I only made my planner pages go through June 2017 because I figure by next summer I'll be itching to try out a new planner page design.  To keep track of dates that don't fall in my planner's range, I included a section for future dates.

And, I also made a section to record birthdays.  Now, I need to actually get busy and record some birthdays...

I like that my dividers are slightly see-through because I can see the header page for the next section through it.

This next section is to record notes from meetings at school.  My new principal says he rarely calls a faculty meeting.  My previous principal believed in weekly faculty meetings.  We'll see how much use this section gets.  If I don't end up using it, I can always just pull these pages out.

A big goal of mine this year is to do a better job of keeping in contact with parents AND recording that contact.  I'm hoping these planner pages help with that.

My next divider contains information for my role as student council adviser.  Right now, it just has templates I made to record notes from our student council meetings.

Since I'm terrible at remembering passwords, I created a passwords section for my planner.  Now, this isn't the place for super sensitive passwords like my online banking or credit card.  This is more for things like "What's the password to see my evaluation online?" or "What's the password to update my page on the school website?"

My school pays me to do after school tutoring IF I keep a detailed log.  I've never been good at this, so I usually end up doing lots of tutoring without any compensation from the school.  I know, not smart.  This year, I have a log to keep me organized and compensated.  :D

The next pages are for me to record things I have loaned to others and things I have borrowed from others.  This will hopefully deter students from borrowing things and never bringing them back.  It will also help me to track down those that forget since I'm the one that forgets who I loaned stuff to all the time.

My school provides all students with calculators while they are at school.  When students take the ACT, they need to borrow a school calculator to do so.  This sheet is to help me keep track of these loaned calculators.

This next section has nothing to do with school.  I just want to keep a log of my recently read books.

The last section of my planner is my address book.  This is where I go when I need to send a thank you note to my great-aunt or send a birthday card to my sister (why can't I ever remember her zip code???).

Having these all in one place means I can finally throw away all those corners of envelopes I've torn off over the years with people's addresses on them.  Yay for decluttering!