Ending The Year On A Strong Note

As the end of the school year approaches, students — and teachers — usually feel a range of emotions: feeling sad about saying goodbye to the excitement about the transition to a new grade. Teachers, don’t let your hard work fade as the school year closes and summer begins. Take and use these tips to help you reflect and plan for the new school year.


  • Organize and laminate all resources, handouts, etc. by subject area or topic into large 3 ring binders with tab dividers by concepts and/or skills taught. That way, you can reuse materials and forgo those manila folders in your filing cabinet. If you’re a teacher that uses some of the same units and lesson plans each year, file those into your binder as well.


Focus on your strengths

  • We all want to make up for our weaknesses, but there’s little point in trying to go completely against your grain. The best way to learn about yourself is to focus on your strengths. Your teaching is shaped by your strengths. No matter how strong or struggling a teacher might be, the best way to set the tone for next year is to identify key areas of their teaching. This might include activities that you’ve done in your class that’s got your class excited. If you have observations from other teachers on how you teach, ask for those and find out. Once recognized, they can improve and build on the areas that need work.


Identify focus areas 

  • The summer is a great time for professional development and planning to either utilize it for the coming school year or not. If you know where you want to be as a teacher start planning on your focus areas and take ownership of them. Locate professional development for your school or focus on a topic/lesson plan you want to improve on. Whatever it may be, by identifying the area of focus, you are starting to better yourself as an educator.


Prepare for the Fall

  • Once you’ve organized your materials, focused on your strengths, and identified your focus areas, it’s time to start planning for the new school year. It’s amazing how doing just a few preparation tasks for the school year can save time and stress. For example, cut out and laminate nametags, desk tags, come up with a seating chart, buy cheap pens/pencils and maybe come up with some ideas for classroom decorations. That way it will save you time, and you have a game plan of what you’re doing in the new school year. Most importantly, make sure that you enjoy your summer vacation too – you’ve earned it!


How do you best prepare for the new school year? Let us know in the comment section!

In The News: Flappy Math Saga

We’ve all heard of Flappy Bird, the annoyingly fun and addicting game where you try and get a bird in between pipes. Well, someone made a spinoff on the game called ‘Flappy Math Saga’ in which you are given a multiplication from which you must then direct the bird through the right answer of the multiplication (see image below).

Although ‘Flappy Math Saga’ has no true ending, it’s a fun and addicting way to have your son/daughter practice their math skills in a unique way. Let us know your high score in the comments below!
Looking to play ‘Flappy Math Saga’, click here

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Guest Blog: Russ Webber ‘Math Geek, Part II’

Meet one of Big Ideas Learning’s Math Consultants and this month’s ‘Guest Blogger’; Russ Webber.  Without further ado, ‘Math Geek, Part II.’

Why did I ever agree to do this?  I am not a writer; much less a blogger (is that even a word?).  My wife, Barb, blogged in February and admitted to being a ‘Math Geek’, and so am I.  We met in college.  Freshman year, 7:30am Calculus.  My wife taught Middle School and I taught High School.  There were years that students had both of us for math for 5-6 years, Middle School and High School.  Our wedding and the birth of our children revolved around not disrupting the teaching year.  Our first son was named Matthew, get it.  We are ‘Math Geeks’ and proud of it.

As a consultant for Big Ideas Math I find myself reading through volumes of files and folders that I have accumulated from my colleague’s so I can be more knowledgeable and can represent Big Ideas the best as I can. Evenings in hotel rooms, on flights, at home at night, and weekends with my wife all revolve around Big Ideas Math now. 

Early in my teaching career, I tried to instill in my students that math was the most important high school subject they could learn.  Not long into my career, I revised my thinking.  Every year, at the opening of school, I emphasize that there are two critical things that students should get out of high school.  Number One is Communication skills. Students need the ability to read, write, speak, and listen, regardless of the field of study they choose.  Number Two is math skills.  Regardless of the field of study students choose to pursue, having math skills in additions to communication skills, will open doors to them that will not open to others in their field. When the CCSS came out, my message to students became validated.  The balanced approach to teaching validates the need for communication skills as well as math skills.

 I also related to my students that not every student is a mathematician, but every student can be taught math.  The Mathematical Practices also validates that for me.  The Practices guide students to how to think mathematically. To become better at any skill, it must be practiced.  We are now practicing how to think mathematically while honing conceptual understanding and procedural fluency. 

I am a Math Geek, and proud of it. I am going to strive to be the best Math Geek I can be.  I owe that to Big Ideas Math.  

In The News: Things You Learn Your First Year Teaching

This heartwarming and touching video was too good not to share with our wonderful teachers. It’s amazing how accurate  what these teachers are saying is. The first year teaching was a roller-coaster full of highs and lows. Ultimately it taught us how strong we are and how much learning takes place not just for the students but teachers alike. Enjoy this week’s ‘In The News’ video “Things You learn Your First Year Teaching.”

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Game Closet Game of The Month – Six In A Row

Who’s ready for a game? Each month, Big Ideas Learning will be showcasing a game from our game closet as part of our ‘Game Closet Game of The Month.’ This month’s game is Six in a Row. It’s simple, fun, and doesn’t require a whole lot of materials. Simply a pencil and graph paper. Game Closet Of The Month (May) – Six in a Row. Be sure to send us a picture of you and your class playing!

Click here for a link to Six in a Row