August 11, 2013

Updated Parent Handout

After seeing this awesome pin on pinterest, I decided that my old boring parent letter must be redone!

The old one was two pages long and full of syllabus stuff. Now, I work very hard on my syllabus and it's full of good stuff, but let's be honest, when a parent gets TONS of "sign here, and here, and here..." during the first week of school all that good stuff doesn't get read. So I boiled it down into an easy-to-read format that hopefully will get read!

YAY! No more boring!!!!

And no, those colorful boxes are not actually on it. Those are just to protect all my personal info from internet crazies :)

I hope you're having a fun time preparing for the upcoming school year.
Let's make it a great year together!!

August 4, 2013

Planning Interactive Notebooks

Here how I plan for my interactive notebooks...

Feel free to steal, tweak, or laugh; you gotta do whatever WORKS FOR YOU!!!

Things that I need:
(1) My teacher notebook. This has my unit outlines and usually copies of my tests. It also has my year-long planning pages.
(2) Notebook from last year, if you have one available for ideas. If you don't, Pinterest will be awesome! Heck, pinterest in awesome for ideas even if you do have a previous notebook.
(3) Pencil and pen
(4) blank white copy paper's how I begin.

I first get out my unit outlines and copies of each test for the year. Yes, we make these items ourselves as a district math team. In order to create notes and activities I have to know where my students are going, right?
Here's a little bit of our Unit 1 outline so you know what I'm working with.

The items that I care most about at this point are overall objectives, the bullets about what those objectives mean, and the standards.

I also look at the unit test at this point and see exactly what my students are going to be required to do. I always make it a point to teach beyond the test, but I have to make sure I at least include the minimum!

Once I have my head wrapped around the general ideas, I go to my Interactive Notebook Planning Pages.
These are very simple pages where I  map out the bare bones of a notebook. I love doing this before the year ever begins because I want to make sure there is room for every glorious topic in my students' notebooks.
Now, did I follow this exactly last year? NOPE! Not even close by the end of the year! But it did act a guide for the entire year. I was able to see "okay, I need an extra page here, so I'll have to give up a page back there somewhere." It was really helpful to me. Your free copy is here if you want it.

As you can see in the picture above, these get hole punched and added to my teacher notebook. They stay with me all year long.

Once I have the year mapped out, I start creating the individual pages. I generally start on page 1 of the notebook or day 1 on my calendar. What will I need first? Alright...let's make it! I scour the internet and often steal great ideas from others. If I don't find something I want to use, I create my own. More often than not, I combine multiple ideas I like and create my own stuff.

When I'm creating foldables it's not a very glamorous process :)
I usually cut pieces of copy paper in half because a half-sheet is usually about right for a notebook page. I sketch out my ideas on that piece of paper and then stick in inside the notebook until I actually create those pages on the computer. Here, I've used half sheets but then folded them in half again to represent a double-page spread. Yeah, whatever works. It looks different from day to day. I'll think about what the most important pieces of information are for the topic and design around them. After the foldables and notes are created I make activities, games, homework assignments, quizzes, whatever else I need.

There you have it, the bare bones of my notebook planning process. I hope this helps you get started!! Best of luck in the year ahead - YOU CAN DO IT!!!!
If you fall of the wagon from time to time, it's okay! Don't beat yourself up. We've all been there! Just wake up the next day and try it again. Please let me know if I can help with anything!