Connecting the New Kid on the Block

A big THANKS to Theresa over at True Life: I'm a Teacher! for nominating me for a Liebster Award.

This is like a giant icebreaker in blogland! But before I get to the Q&A session, let's chat icebreakers. How do you get to know your students at the beginning of the year? How do you help your students get to know each other? And is that something you only do at the beginning of the year or does it continue throughout the year? What happens when you get a transfer student? Does the new student get the same opportunities that the rest of the class had at the beginning of the year? It is difficult to be the new kid in a classroom where everybody knows your name while you are overwhelmed by the social side of learning with strangers. I try to ease the transition by creating an environment that is filled with ongoing icebreakers. My classroom routine includes teambuilding activities twice a week throughout the entire year. These activities are fun and non-content related. But students also engage in classbuilding activities that include current content during all stages of our lessons. My secret weapon for teambuilding is Find the Fiction. Students are asked to write three statements about themselves...two facts and one fiction. Then students take turns sharing their statements and guessing the fiction statement shared by each teammate. This activity requires no advanced preparation and can be repeated as students create new statements to share tidbits of themselves that others may not know.
Back to the Q&A.
Here are the questions from Theresa and my responses:
1. What grade do you teach? What grades have you taught? How long have you been teaching?
I taught high school math for 10 years and junior high math for 4 years. I started teaching 21 years ago and have been a stay-at-home mom for 7 years on three different occasions. What does that mean for me?!? I will be ancient when I have accumulated enough years to retire. Haha!

2. What book do you read to your class each year without fail?
Ummmm...this secondary girly usually doesn't read to my math classes. ;)

3. If you weren't a teacher, what would you be doing?
During my time away from the classroom I have been a full-time mom, math tutor, scrapbook business owner, and professional development facilitator. I would love to be a national Kagan trainer when I grow up!

4. What's one thing you're just dying to buy for your classroom?
Technology. I had a 1:1 laptop classroom last year. And I am not sure I can go back to the classroom without the integration of 1:1 devices...only time will tell.

5. What's your non-teaching guilty pleasure?
My favorite pleasure of all time is a Sunday afternoon nap.

6. Favorite book (non-teaching related)?
I love all books written by Karen Kingsbury, but it will be a while before her next new release. 

7. What's one thing on your bucket list?
Hawaii. My husband and I are thinking that just may be the perfect spot for our 20th anniversary. 

8. Favorite restaurant?
We generally eat every meal at home except Saturday night. And I honestly am thrilled with any restaurant because it means no prep work to be done or dirty dishes to be cleaned. 

9. Who would play you in a movie about your life?
Oh goodness...I have no idea! It would have to be someone who is short, can speak with a Southern accent, and portrays passion about most things especially cute hair and jewelry!

10. What's one thing you could eat everyday?
I basically eat the same lunch everyday. So I would have to say carrot sticks, snow peas, and pretzel chips with spinach & artichoke hummus. Yum!

11. What inspired you to begin blogging?
I originally started blogging about my scrapbooking hobby. But when I returned to the classroom and was hard-pressed to find a middle school math blog, I decided to contribute my thoughts to blogland. Teacher blogs have since exploded!

11 Random Facts about ME...
  • I'm the baby of four girls.
  • I would be a nervous wreck if I was a momma of boys!
  • I'm not a fan of naked toes...toes were created to be painted...the brighter the better!
  • I'm the worst at remembering titles and names of movies/actors or songs/artists.
  • I love California sunshine!
  • Yet I'm super sad to have missed lots of snow and ice this winter.
  • It's official. I'm totally addicted to iced tea. 
  • Flowers always make me smile. 
  • Cleaning and cooking are my least favorite household chores. ;) 
  • I could spend hours in the organizational supplies section of any store. 
  • Did I mention that I {heart} all things math?!?

And I would love for my nominees to answer the same questions that Theresa asked me and share 11 random facts! Drum roll please...


Smack Dab in the Middle

Teaching Math By Hart

Meatballs in the Middle
Dog Days of Math

Here are your rules of engagement:
1) Link back to my blog as the one who nominated you.
2) Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers.
3) Answer the questions posted.
4) Share 11 random facts about yourself.
5) Contact your nominees to let them know they have been nominated.

So do tell. What is the most used icebreaker in your classroom? Name a random fact about you that most people don't know. Share your thoughts (or better yet...share a link to a blog post!) in the comments below.

Happy Friday Eve to YOU...make it count!


Swirling Moment by Moment

This school year has been a speedy one in the Tilmon house!

I know.
I have been a terrible blogger.
Let me be completely honest...this not being in the classroom thing can really mess with the blogger mindset. But I have so many things I want to document from my teaching experience last year and my staff development adventure this year. So this blog is about to become my outlet for organizing all of the math stuff that swirls around in my head moment by moment. Consider that your fair warning. ;) For now it is time to link up with Farley's "Currently" Party over at Oh Boy Fourth Grade. Come join the fun!

I do have the background noise of the dishwasher in the kitchen and the dryer in the laundry room. But Iris overpowers both of those soft noises. :) Our neighbor's dog only barks twice a day. Seriously. She loves to welcome each morning with a barking affair. And luckily she is not an early riser!

California has introduced our family to "late start" Wednesdays. And we are huge fans! The teachers have faculty meetings, professional development, and tutoring on a rotating basis during those non-student hours each week. Creative scheduling is much easier with neighborhood schools and public transportation.

Thinking and Wanting...
Spring Break is next week! And that means only two more days of school until the festivities begin. Well...festivities may be a bit of an exaggeration...but we are definitely looking forward to a little Disneyland and a lazy day at the beach. However I still find myself dreaming of a surprise vacation...to somewhere...anywhere...that is an all-inclusive event that doesn't require me to do anything. Haha! A girl can dream, right?!?

But reality is that I really need to tackle the bathrooms today. I would much rather dive into my "to do" list of math goodness. That's my joy! Bathrooms. Not so much!

Hours and Last Day...
My hours revolve around the moments in between taking the girls to school each day. Emma starts later and finishes earlier than Taylor...so her schedule creates my window of opportunity. Although I'm not in a classroom this year, I have been facilitating math professional development twice a week via Skype. For more details, check out my previous Genius Hour for Teachers post. Our last scheduled Skype session is May 7. But the Tilmon house will be in the school swing until June 6...that three-week break at Christmas makes for a late dismissal.

So what are you up to these days?!? Will you be chatting with me about math and curriculum as we march into summer?!? Whatever today brings...make it count!