The Tuesday 12: 12 Essential Components of a Math Focus Wall

Welcome to another edition of The Tuesday 12! I recently had a SMART Board installed in my classroom and I’d like to incorporate it in my math lessons.  Then I began to think of creating a math focus wall on the bulletin boards that surround my SMART Board.  I looked through Pinterest and couldn’t really find the perfect plan (which is odd because Pinterest has everything!), but I did find one picture to use as inspiration:

Lots of great ideas for an interactive math bulletin board

(Aside: I tried linking the picture to the original source, but I can never get that page to load properly)

Based on previous experiences teaching grade 7 and 8 math, some research, and some creative thinking, I’ve come up with 12 items I’d like to include on my math focus wall.  Some things will be static, while other things will be dynamic.  This list isn’t carved in stone…until I get into my classroom at the end of August and begin to put everything together, it will be hard to imagine.

I’ve decided to turn this into a series of posts from the initial ideas to the final creation!  So join me in creating a math focus wall for my classroom and then adapt the ideas for your own grade levels!For my next post, I’ll draw some pictures to help me visualize my ideas.

math focus wall thumb

12 essential (for now…lol) components of a math focus wall:

1. A number line…really a no-brainer for a math focus wall, but it will probably be from around –45 to + 45, since integers are used throughout the grade 7 and 8 math program

2. A spot for our learning goal and success criteria which we will be co-creating with each new lesson.

3. A section with math accountable talk sentence starters (I’m working on a set now!)

4. Challenge question of the week

5. Steps to problem solving…like our lovely GRASS posters!

6. Help in decoding math word problems (e.g. multiplication-of, product, twice, times, multiple)

7. Key terms and definitions for the unit we’re working on

8. Our posters—what does a good mathematician do?

9. Different problem solving strategies (e.g. work backwards, draw a diagram)

10. Examples of math in everyday life

11. Bright and colourful parts—I’m thinking a blue or green background, a patterned border, and something really cool for the title (maybe just the word MATH done in an interesting way)

12. The SMART Board…I just need to start incorporating it into lessons regularly!

Do you have any suggestions?  Let me know! As I said before, until I can go into my classroom and begin arranging all the different sections, this list can—and most likely—will change!

Tune in next week for another edition of The Tuesday 12 and more on my math focus wall!

The Tuesday 12: 12 Essential Resources for Math Teachers to Read

Welcome to another addition of The Tuesday 12! Since Lisa, Elita, and I will be working on a TLLP math project this year, we will be using our blog to review useful resources, the progression of our project, challenges to overcome, and successes we achieve.

The following list of resources is on my summer reading list (haha…it seems to be quite an endeavour, but I hope to check off as many as possible).  If you’ve read any of these resources or if there are others you can recommend, please leave your comments below!

1. Good Questions: Great Ways to Differentiate Mathematics Instruction (K – 8) by Marian Small

2. Turn and Talk: One Powerful Practice, So Many Uses (2011) by Lucy West and Antonia Cameron

3. Communication in the Mathematics Classroom (September 2010) by the Ontario Ministry of Education-Capacity Building Series

4. Writing in Math Class: A Resource for Grades 2-8 (1995) Marilyn Burns

Writing in Math Class: A Resource for Grades 2–8

5. Big Ideas and Understandings as the Foundation for Elementary and Middle School Mathematics (NCTM Journal, Spring-Summer 2005) by Charles Randall

6. Teaching Student-Centred Mathematics (2013) by John A. Van de Walle, Jennifer M. Bay-Williams, LouAnn H. Lovin, and Karen S. Karp.

7. What Great Teachers Do Differently: 17 Things That Matter Most (2011) by Todd Whitaker

8. Math Sense: The Look, Sound, and Feel of Effective Instruction (2012) by Christine Moynihan

9. Small Steps, Big Changes: Eight Essential Practices for Transforming Schools Through Mathematics (2012) by Chris Confer and Marco Ramirez

10. What’s Your Math Problem? Getting to the Heart of Teaching Problem Solving (2011) by Linda Gojak and Laney Sammons

11. Supporting Numeracy (Special Edition #28) by the Ontario Ministry of Education—Capacity Building Series

12. Asking Effective Questions (Special Edition #21) by the Ontario Ministry of Education—Capacity Building Series



Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links

The Tuesday 12: 12 Exciting and Educational Resources for Earth Day!

12 earth day resources

Over the next few weeks, The Tuesday 12 will be taking on an environmental twist as we look at various activities focused on the environment. Just click on each link below!

1. Earth Day Canada: A great website that has tons of resources to get you focused on celebrating Earth Day! There are activities for kids, classes, and families, so you can find everything you are looking for in one place.

2. Earth Day Network: An international environmental movement group that provides tons of articles, activities, resources, action plans, and initiatives for everyone worldwide.

3. Think Green: Tons of Earth Day resources for teachers organized by grade level and are cross-curricular.

4. Environmental Protection Agency—“Pick five for the environment”: The EPA has a section of their website devoted to taking environmental initiatives in your life when you “pick five” and become committed to protecting the environment.  The resources are divided up into home, work, school, shopping, the community, and on the road.  Each category then has tons of resources to help you become more green and committed to making a change.   

5. Saskatoon Public Schools: A huge list of teacher resources for Earth Day, including literature, lesson plans, and printouts.

6. TeacherVision: A great collection of lessons, printables, and resources covering every curriculum area. You are able to view seven resources at no cost, but then you must subscribe for full access.

7. TeachersFirst: A very comprehensive collection of classroom resources from a variety of websites like The Nature Conservancy, Disney, WWF, National Film Board of Canada, etc.

8. EducationWorld: I love so many of the ideas on this list! So many resources that would be great in the classroom, like planting seeds/growing plants, various garden activities, math projects, upcycling art, and social justice projects!

9. Kaboose: This website can help you complement your classroom, home, and family initiatives with its range of resources.

10. DLTK’s Crafts for Kids: Not only does this site provide a great breakdown of the history and purpose of Earth Day, but it has links to tons of resources that would be great in the classroom.

11.TES (Climate Change Resources): If you are teaching high school students, tes connect has tons of primary and secondary resources that can be used to learn about climate change.

12. Earth Day Worship Resources: For those who want to look at the religious aspects of Earth Day and being stewards of creations.

Don’t forget to check back next week for another edition of The Tuesday 12!

The Tuesday 12: 12 Easter Resources!

In this week’s edition of The Tuesday 12, we’ll be providing you with a variety of resources you can use to help prepare your students for Easter. Just click on the links below!

1. A fun and colourful {free} Easter Subway Art printable! This printable focuses more on the fun aspects of Easter, including egg hunts, jelly beans, and the Easter Bunny.

2. {Free} Easter Subway Art in a choice of four colour schemes! This printable has a religious focus on Jesus’ resurrection.

3. Tons of ways to decorate Easter eggs! From sequins, to shaving cream, to pastels, this site has you covered!

4. Free Easter digital paper and clip art to help decorate your classroom worksheets!

5. A beautiful Easter egg garland that can be made with string, balloons, and a starchy liquid!

6. Planning on giving your students an Easter treat? How about using the Jelly Bean Prayer? Follow this link to get a free printable to provide your students with a meaningful Easter treat!

7. Free Easter Worksheets to coordinate the Easter season with your math classes!

8. Older students can learn or review the Stations of the Cross by taking on a individual or group projects. 

9. A wonderful and reflective resource on forgiveness that includes reflection questions, stories, quotations, art, music, and prayers.

10. For art, stained glass crosses look beautiful against your windows.  I’ll be sharing this activity on Friday!

11. Catholic Teacher Resources has many free resources, but if you purchase a membership, you have access to so many more resources that you may find useful in your classroom.  I purchased a membership and have been using the Easter resources with my students and I am happy with the quality and variety of resources.

12. And, finally, there are so many free printables on this site! From Easter, to Lent, to the sacraments, to various saints, there are so many resources to explore!

The Tuesday 12: 12 Resources All About Descriptive Feedback!

In this week’s edition of The Tuesday 12, we’ll be looking at resources to help teachers understand and incorporate descriptive feedback on a regular basis.  Just click on the links below to be taken to the resource.

1. “Descriptive Feedback” (video)

If you haven’t yet had the opportunity to view the abundance of resources on the EduGAINS website, then I highly suggest you check it out right away! If you are struggling with assessment for and as learning, then this site has so many resources for your teaching and learning.

2. “Descriptive Feedback Fosters Improved Student Learning” (article)

This short two page article illustrates the importance of feedback by telling the story of one school’s journey to apply meaningful feedback (aside: this school is part of our board!).  Tips are given at the end to help teachers incorporate descriptive feedback in their classes.

3. “Descriptive Feedback at Winona” (blog post)

In this blog post, three different tools are used to provide descriptive feedback: Livescribe Pen, Google Docs, and Snowball Mic.  I like how technology is being used as the vehicle for providing descriptive feedback.

4. “A Focus on Informed Assessment Practices Webcast #3” (slideshow)

If you’re still unsure about assessment for learning, this slideshow takes you through the six areas of assessment for learning and provides examples of effective descriptive feedback.

5. “Feed Back…Feed Forward: Using Assessment to Boost Literacy Learning” (article)

I found this article by Anne Davies effective because it uses an example of a teacher going through the process of providing descriptive feedback with her students and how they together develop a list of “what good readers do” and then they created a recording sheet together.  What a meaningful and engaging way to make students active leaners and contributors!

6. “Descriptive Feedback Examples” (chart)

This chart provides three sample teacher comments for three different Social Studies assignments.  You’ll notice that for each teacher comment, it is directly tied to the specific curriculum expectation.  The comments provide positive aspects of the students work, as well as points of reflection, next steps, and areas to consider.

7. “Teachers Demonstrate Effective Descriptive Feedback” (video)

A great video to display descriptive feedback in action!

8. “Types of Feedback and Their Purposes” (Chapter 2 in the book “How to Give Effective Feedback to Your Students”)

Susan M. Brookhart provides detailed information regarding various dimensions of feedback, including timing, amount, mode, and audience. For each dimension, she provides examples of good and bad feedback with a discussion explaining each set.

9. “Do You Coach or Do You Judge?” (blog post)

A great article about the key differences between assessment for learning (similar to the role of a coach) and assessment of learning (similar to the role of a judge).

10. “Lucy West: Why Feedback?” (video)

You all know by now how much I love Lucy West! The first video on the page is about feedback, but I’d watch all of them if I were you…Lucy West is that great!

11. “Let’s Talk Assessment…” (newsletter)

This is absolutely fantastic! It summarizes everything you need to know about effective feedback!

12. “Teaching and Learning; What works best” (research article)

A very thorough research article that looks at the impact various teaching innovations and methods have on student learning.  It references John Hattie’s research in 1992, which shows that the “most powerful single moderator that enhances achievement is feedback. The most simple prescription for improving education must be ‘dollops of feedback’” (p.4).

Atherton J S (2011) Teaching and Learning; What works best [On-line: UK] retrieved 4 March 2013 from
Read more: What works best
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives

The Tuesday 12: 12 Inspirational Dr. Seuss Quotes!

In this week’s edition of the Tuesday 12, we’ll look at 12 inspirational Dr. Seuss quotes.  For each one, I have linked you to a graphic that displays the quote.  Just click each quote to see the graphic! 1. “Today … Continue reading →