Math = Love: Summer List - June Progress Update

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Summer List - June Progress Update

Can you believe it's already July?!?  I'm not entirely sure where this summer is going.  Shaun and I just got back from our vacation earlier this week, so I thought it was time to post an update regarding my progress on my Summer To-Do List.  

Table Rock Lake - Branson, MO
As for our vacation, we decided to head to Branson, MO for four nights followed by four nights in Little Rock, AR.  It was nice to get away and play tourist for a little over a week.  Plus, Shaun got to double the number of US states he has visited.  We also thoroughly enjoyed not having to worry about dishes, laundry, or other household chores.  I'd also say we didn't think any about school, but that would be a blatant lie.  

I took my recently purchased copy of Designing Group Work: Strategies for the Heterogeneous Classroom by Elizabeth Cohen (affiliate links contained in this post) with us along with two highlighters, and I completely devoured the book on vacation.  After I blogged about creating some groupwork posters, Erin Flotte left a comment suggesting this book as a great resource.  Within a day or two, I had ordered it from Amazon.  I chose to order the 1994 2nd Edition because it was significantly cheaper on Amazon.  But, I ended up loving the book so much that I kinda wish I'd bought the 2014 3rd Edition.         

A couple of years ago, I had decided to implement groupwork in my class.  I made posters for group norms and group roles, but I never actually ended up following through on it.  Sure, my students sat in groups, but they weren't doing real group work.  

I had thought that I wanted to do groupwork because it would be beneficial for my students.  Reading Designing Groupwork showed me why groupwork is actually effective.  And, it showed me how tricky it is to pull off effective groupwork.  

The best thing about this book is that it doesn't just stop there.  It gives specific things you can do with your students to teach them how to work effectively in groups.  I've already decided one of these activities is going to be my first day of school activity.  But, more on that in another blog post!  

Let's get back to the point of this post: updating how my summer is going.  As I mentioned earlier, Shaun and I enjoyed a lovely vacation.  Shaun has been recapping our vacation on his Dropping the S blog.  So, if you'd like to see pictures and here about some of our adventures, check them out here.  
How's the rest of my Summer List going? 

SBG Skill List and Quizzes for Each Subject

Algebra 1 skill list is done, but I'm currently in the process of revamping it based on a presentation I attended at the Oklahoma Council of Teachers of Mathematics Summer Workshop.  I still don't know what other classes I'm teaching...  

No progress whatsoever on the quiz front.  

I am happy to (finally) announce though, that my husband will be joining me as a math teacher at Drumright next year!  This has been such a hard secret to keep!    

Make a Planner for Next Year

DONE!  I still need to blog about my planner, but here's a sneak peek: 

Read More

In June, I read one novel and listened to three audiobooks.  (I'm keeping track of my recent reads on this pinterest board if you want to follow along.)  This isn't a lot compared to how much I used to read, but it's a definite improvement over how much I had become used to reading because of grad school.  My favorite read (or listen) of the month was Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath (affiliate link).  Don't confuse this book with the much-loved by the MTBoS, Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning by Peter C. Brown (affiliate link).    

The focus of this book was to determine what makes some ideas catch on and be remembered when plenty of others die.  The book discussed the stickiness of ideas in the classroom which I found very interesting.  After I finished listening to the book, I kept finding myself thinking things like "That's definitely adding to the stickiness of this idea."  Then, I felt guilty about getting sidetracked from the point the pastor was trying to make on Sunday...

Here's a PDF overview of the 6 traits of sticky ideas.  If you want a sneak peek, the Heath Brothers have posted Chapter 1 for free on their website.  They have also posted a 13 page PDF extension of the book on their website titled, Teaching that Sticks.  This shows how each of the principles shared in the book can be applied to the classroom.  

If you're a fan of Malcolm Gladwell's books, I think you'll really enjoy this read!  

Decorate my new classroom

My first task I attempted toward this was buying curtains for my new classroom.  There is a huge window right behind my desk that I would like to cover up.  Upon measuring the window, I found that it was approximately 90" high.  The typical curtains that you buy at the store are 84-85" high.  Looking at the curtains hung by other teachers, most of them have a 5-ish inch gap at the top or bottom of the window which I am trying to avoid.  I found some 90" curtains on Amazon and ordered them.  It was sold as a "pair" of curtain panels.  A bunch of the reviews said that even though it was sold as a "pair" they only received a single curtain panel.  However, plenty more reviews claimed to have received a "pair."  I took a gamble and ordered them.  What did I receive?  A single curtain panel.  I contacted Amazon, and they refunded my money with the instruction that I could keep the curtain panel I had received.  Of course, I could order another one and have a "pair," but another review said they had done that and the dye lots had not matched.  So now, I possess one curtain panel.  That is the sum total of my progress on decorating.  So much still to be done!  

Compile a list of practice structures

Thank you all for helping me with this project!  I have received some awesome submissions, but I am struggling to find a way to organize them that really makes me happy.  I've tried several different formats and given up on all of them.  Hmm...

Finish Changing My Name

I still need to work on this...

Keep Blogging Regularly

I feel like I was doing a good job of this BEFORE we went on vacation.  Now that we're back, I need to work on this some more. 

Exercise More

Shaun and I hiked a lot while we were on vacation.  Now that we're back home, I need to find a way to find a way to fit fitness into our regular routine.  Yesterday afternoon the weather was nice, so I convinced Shaun to join me for a short walk around our neighborhood.  We made a loop that RunKeeper tells me is 0.51 miles.  Part of my problem is it gets soooooo hot and muggy that I don't want to be outside at all.  

Declutter the House

On Father's Day, we had lunch with my parents and grandparents.  I was able to take the bags of clothes I had decluttered from my closet to my sister to see if there was anything she would like.  Other than this, I haven't made much progress. 

Try New Recipes

I haven't cooked much of late because of our vacation.  But, I did make One Pot Roasted Red Pepper Pasta last month that turned out really well.  On our last Aldi trip, I picked up a jar of pesto that I didn't really have any specific plans for.  I used that to make some pesto pizza rolls with onions, mushrooms, black olives, and leftover roasted red peppers from the pasta experiment.  Other than the fact that the wax paper wanted to stay stuck to the dough, they were so yummy!  

Also of note, I made my first loaf of bread in the bread maker.  Since the bread maker was Shaun's birthday present from his family, he read the manual and has been the bread machine expert.  After we got back from vacation, I decided to bake a loaf of bread by myself while he was mowing the lawn.  I'm happy to report that it was a success!  

I also made a new-to-me dish (as in I knew it existed as a dish but I'd never made it before) without a recipe the other day.  I made vegetarian chili in my cast-iron skillet and topped it with cheesy-corn-and-jalapeno cornbread.  Shaun declared it a very American dish!    

Come Up with a Housework System

I downloaded a "Habits" App to my phone that I've been using to try and build habits.  I've been tracking things like making the bed, doing a daily load of laundry, washing the dishes, flossing, taking my multi-vitamin and pro-biotic, sweeping the kitchen, swishing and swiping the bathroom, and reading my Bible.  I wasn't sure how motivated I would be by the check mark system, but I think it's definitely working!  

I've gone from being a person who regularly thought "I should floss.  Oh, I'll do it tomorrow." to a person who has flossed 22 days in a row.  Of course, it's not magical.  My "best streak" for doing the dishes is 2 days in a row.  And, my daily goal of sweeping the kitchen has occurred a grand total of 4 times.  But, progress is being made!  


Oh, and one other exciting thing happened in June:

My diploma for my master's degree showed up in the mail! 


  1. Not sure if you are looking for more practice structures...I blogged about a few that I do in my math classroom. I teach in an Expeditionary Learning School, so we use a lot of protocols that I modified to fit a math classroom, I wrote about them here:
    Can't wait to see your compiled list!!!

  2. Two quick thoughts for you:
    1) exercise - It's really hard when it's hot and muggy. I run first thing in the morning during the summer, but it's good to have another option. Is there a Y or other gym in your areas? I like group classes like Step or Strength Core (Zumba requires too much coordination for me) when the weather is bad. During school, once it cools down, I've found that changing into exercise clothes as soon as I get home from school significantly increases the chances that I will exercise.
    2) Housework - have you heard of I don't do her whole system, but she has some good ideas.

    1. I've ready Flylady's book. I just need to apply her principles.

  3. Could you give more information about the Habits app you've used?

    1. I just found it by searching "Habits" in the Google Play Store. It has a blue logo with an arrow. You make habits and then check them off each day that you do them. It keeps track of all kinds of awesome statistics for you.

  4. Have you considered using flat sheets as your curtain panels? They generally run a bit longer than "curtains" and you can quickly machine stitch a line across the "top" fold of the sheet to make a nice rod pocket with header or just use one end of the sheet or the other for your rod pocket if you don't care about having a header above the rod. You can hang the "pretty" side towards your classroom. Depending on how wide your window is, two flat sheets or two full/queen sheets will most likely produce the desired affect. You can sometimes find pretty printed single flat sheets on sale inexpensively at stores like Dollar General or Family Dollar.

    1. Good idea. I have curtains now, but I'll keep this in mind for the future!

  5. Congrats on obtaining your Masters!! It is a wonderful feeling!