Saturday, August 2, 2014

5 TES Resources to use this year

My principal asked me to read and summarize 5 TES Resources about math and classroom management over the summer as part of my professional growth plan (Yes, I have an awesome principal). I figured I might as well put it in a blog post.

Behavior Management Strategies


Just what it says on the tin: this resource gives  practical tips/reminders for managing the classroom. Key ideas: Establish procedures and stick to them. Don’t talk until students are listening. Know when students are most likely to be chatty, etc. and plan for that. Keep the lessons engaging and catch them being good.


Last year I had a lot of trouble with students talking while I was teaching. It’s not that they were trying to be difficult---a lot of times one student would still be explaining to another how to do an assigned problem. I’m glad they do this, but not when it means they both miss the next bit of instruction. This year, I will not teach or give directions until the students are quiet. Also, I need to plan better for the beginning of class and transitions, particularly on days when I plan to do a PowerPoint---it takes time to set up the projector, and sometimes it goes off in the middle of class if we have a power outage. (This is Africa, after all). I need to have a long-ish warm-up on those days, and I will tell the students to bring their text books every day---because even if I’m not planning to teach out of it, I may need them to do problems out of it while I wait for the projector to come back on!

Classroom Behavior Management Toolkit


This is another set of behavior management tips, and it overlaps a lot with the resource above. The article emphasizes positive expectations, consistency, and respect for the students. Positive behavior should be encouraged, while negative behavior should be dealt with in as non-confrontational manner as possible (and if there is a confrontation, it should be in private). It also reminds teachers to think ahead of time about lesson beginnings, endings, transitions, etc.

One of my biggest struggles last year was letting students talk me into things. I need to always remember that I am the teacher and what I say goes. I plan to have seating charts from the very beginning of the year, and I will discuss expectations with students on the first day. Also, I will try to deal with behavior problems right away, rather than letting them build up.

Understanding Vectors

This powerpoint  thoroughly explains what vectors are, how to represent them graphically and in column form, and how to add, subtract, and multiply by a scalar quantity. It is quite long and gives lots of examples and definitions.

Vectors was one of my least favorite topics to teach last year, partly because I had never been thoroughly taught about them myself. We did a little with them in physics when I was in college, but even then it wasn’t like the vector geometry problems. This year should be better, since I have a better idea of what I’m doing, but I think this PowerPoint will help, too. I may have to modify it a bit---there are a lot of words per slide, and my students try to write down every single word and freak out if you change the slide before they’re done.  This lesson will take 3-4 days, with practice problems after each chunk of the presentation.

Vector Geometry

This is a straight-forward vector geometry worksheet.  All of the problems are 2-d, which saves some confusion. The vectors are already drawn, so the students just need to interpret them, which should save time. Answers are included.

This might be a good worksheet to use after (or perhaps ¾ of the way through) the PowerPoint above. Answers are included, so it would be easy to grade, and it would give the students plenty of practice. Also, they mark on it as much as they want without annoying the librarians (or me) by drawing in their textbooks.

Substitution Game: Algebra


This is a set of illustrated top trumps cards for substituting into algebraic expressions. Students split into small groups, divide up the cards, and play top trumps: They pick an ability, each of them draws a card, they draw a number card (to tell what to substitute in for a, b, and c) and the person with the highest value gets to keep  the cards.


I think this would be a fun way to reinforce this topic when I do the “Introduction to Algebra” topic with the seventh grade class. It would be easy to differentiate, as the resource author said, by having the higher-level students substitute in fractions, values, negatives, etc.

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