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!

Integrating Technology into a Math Teacher’s Classroom

The Common Core State Standards communicate many areas in which technology can be or should be used to enhance the learning environment for students. As states’ implementations of the Common Core progress, more schools are utilizing technology in their classrooms and integrating it more heavily into their curricula. Though technology plays a considerable role in most teachers’ daily lives, bringing it into classroom can be a challenge. What are ways that math teachers can implement and expand the use of technology in their classrooms?

Interactive Learning Tools
The Internet is full of interactive learning tools and activities that have been developed for specific math subjects. Big Ideas Math features a number of them in our Teacher Resources section that correlate directly to concepts in the Big Ideas Math series.

Graphical and Visual Representations
Tech-savvy teachers and novices alike can utilize programs like Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, and Word to generate graphs and visual representations of concepts. There are free templates and instructional resources for creating these online. A quick Google search for Free Excel Templates for Teachers will provide many great options, or change the search query for subject-specific content. Presenting a graphical example of a ‘time value of money’ problem could make all the difference for a visual learner who has been struggling with the concept.

Connecting Classrooms
Teachers have the opportunity to connect their students with their peers all over the world thanks to technology. Two teachers who live across the country can arrange to have their classrooms connect via a video chat service like Skype to share a lesson. Teachers can develop word problems using relevant data such as the distance between the classrooms, population of each state/town/capital, and cost of living data. These adapted lessons will not only increase students’ engagement but also broaden their horizons as they interact with each other.

Additional Resources
In addition to the Teacher Resources provided by Big Ideas Math, the following websites also provide additional resources and suggestions for the 21st Century math classroom:
BrainPOP Math
Educational Technology and Mobile Learning
Innovate My School
Cobllaborize Classroom: Free Resources

Please share with us how you have successfully implemented technology into your math class!