Modeling Integer Operations


Here are my materials that I used to teach VA SOL 7.3 Integer Operations.

Notes I made:


Integer Basics (Vocabulary & Representing); Adding Integers with Chips or Counters; Adding Integers with a Number Line




Modeling Subtracting Integers with counters/chips; Modeling Subtracting Integers with a number line; Multiplication & Division; Integer Operation Rules

Available on my Teachers Pay Teachers site!

What we needed: notes, highlighters/colored pencils, counters or chips

When I did it: in Course 2 Math during Integer unit.

How it went: Awesome! I’ve used these notes as my instructional tools for years and have found them to be a no fail way to do instruction.

How I used it: Went in our journals. Used the VIDEOS for absent students.

How you can use it: I have the kids use highlighters and/or colored pencils on their notes a lot.  It helps them when they look back at their notes to see where we got certain numbers.  I notice a lot of kids then use them on their homework and quizzes/tests.  Taking the time to highlight/circle/underline helps kids slooowwww down and take the time to think!


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Classroom Website

Check out my classroom website!!


I’ve always used this site, but I dropped it for a bit last year. My previous school district had each teacher have a website and I chose to create my own because that is who I am. I love making my life harder as well as learning new things.

Currently, I use Google Classroom and Google Drive to hold most of my school stuff for the kids, but for some reason I just like using this site. I think because coding is really interesting to me. Perhaps it is becoming a little obsolete and unnecessary though…

I’ve also been linking my important google docs together to create some seamlessness for the kids to click back and forth through – and it is almost like a website… hmmm

Helpful Links:

What do you use?

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I’ve been awfully silent here on … so silent that I accidentally let my domain expire, and now I am back to until I figure out what to do… But after a 1 1/2 year hiatus I AM COMING BCK.

In the time since I last posted:

  • I moved to a new city
  • I started teaching at a new middle school
  • I am still teaching 7th grade math, but…
  • I started teaching Math 7 full time (versus Algebra 1 & Adv Math 7)
  • I see my students HALF as much as I saw my previous students
  • I also teach the 7th grade ELL/ESL students math (within my regular classroom)
  • I have a little less on my plate because I’m not on any instructional committees… so that is good, but feels a little strange to be disconnected
  • I still do Standard Based Grading, and am the only one at my school who does it but I’m trying…
  • And this year (year #2 at new school) we are changing our schedule where we see our kids 3 times @ 45 minutes, and 1 time for ~ 90 mins

What you can expect from Some Become Pearls NOW:

  • How I’m modifying SBG to work with my current population
  • How I modify my pacing/plan for our new schedule (HOW DO YOU TEACH IN 45 MINUTE BLOCKS I FORGET!!)
  • More of my Interactive Notebook Materials
  • How I teach my ELL kids

Why I am coming back:

  • I loved & missed the blogging community
  • I loved & missed getting feedback
  • I think it held me accountable
  • I am hoping it will help me regain my identity as a teacher
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Verbal Expressions Mobile





What we needed: colored paper, white paper, string, single hole punch, string/yarn/fishing wire, wire hanger, paperclip (to connect to ceiling)

Another option for hanging is to use straws, connect them to form a circle, and hang items from them. Not the sturdiest option, but if you have a lot of straws and no hangers, it works.

When I did it: I do this activity after we talked about the many ways to refer to different operations and practice translating verbal & algebraic expressions.

How it went: This is a fun activity to get them to think more about what the operations mean and to get them to write about them. I like getting kids to write whenever possible, and this is one opportunity. It’s not necessarily the most “math heavy” work we do, but it does become clear who really “gets” what each mean.

How I used it: I counted it as a small project grade. Here is my rubric:


How you can use it: Use at any levels as a way to review operations and vocab associated with the operations





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21st Century Teaching & Learning

In the Spring of 2013 I was fortunate enough to be a member of the 21st Century Teaching Leads to 21st Century Learning Grant Project.  This was a project between  UVA’s School of Continuing & Professional Outreach and Virginia DOE Mathematics & Science Partnership with the goal of working with Virginia high school math teachers to learn the 5E lesson planning model and PBL unit planning process.

Description of the  Grant Project

Description of the Grant Project

I was familiar with what a lot of the course covered, and used pieces of it in my instruction of Algebra & Pre-Algebra, but having this instruction and experience was invaluable.  Much of what was covered I recalled from my classes in college: the 5E lesson planning model from my methods course in science and Inquiry Based Learning from my math methods courses in college.

Having 5E, Inquiry Based, and PBL combined, reinforced, and applied to higher levels of math inspired me.   It also made me feel like I had been teaching at such a lower level than I was capable of.  I was in my 2nd year of teaching and thought I was doing a pretty good job teaching and was proud of what I had accomplished, but this was a wake up call to me- there was so much more I could be doing with my students to challenge them.  I spent most of the sessions listening intensely and taking notes of what I wanted to adjust from my curriculum.  My brain was flooded with ideas and inspiration.  I would catch myself feeling like I was the worst teacher, not pushing my kids, not doing this, not doing that, until realizing that all of the other teachers at the conference were in the same position I was in.  We were there because we wanted to learn, we wanted to do more, and we already were doing a great job.  A lot of what we learned and talked about reinforced what I was already doing or trying to do.

If you want to check out the work that was done, check out the Mathematics Capstone Course. There are task based lessons, project based learning, and problem based learning examples- most are targeted at high school math, but could be adapted for lower level maths with some work.

Simultaneously I was taking a course, Returning Creativity to the Classroom, through Walden University (online) and working on a grant project for my school, developing a new learning space.  All 3 of these projects were working the same goals for students which made me feel so educated and prepared, but it also overwhelmed my brain.  I felt like all I thought about, all day and night, was students, challenging students, getting my students to be more creative, pushing my students to apply what they are learning.  Needless to say, the summer could not have come soon enough.

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Classroom Tour 2013-2014

Welcome to my classroom! Here is a peak into my classroom.  I haven’t taken photos of everything in here so there are some KEY THINGS missing!  I didn’t take a picture of my front board & Promethean OR my desk!

Door & Classroom


front door & view from the door



student help/work/supply table & table that students work under

“The Big Air Unit” aka Turn In/Absent Work/Display Area:


area above the radiator becomes useful

Entrance Pick Up Area:


pouches, lost & found, and calculators when entering the room

  “Big Blue” aka Where Everything is Organized:


everything is here, including an area for students to refill their “pouches”

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Tower Building Activity

I decided to do this because this year I am focusing on incorporating more 21st Century Skills into activities and assignments.  EdLeader21 has been a great resource for ideas.  To assess my students abilities with the 4Cs, I used a “Tower Building” task as a pre-assessment.   I had seen it at a 21st Century Learning & Teaching Workshop and done it with some fellow math teachers, and couldn’t wait to finally do it.


During the activity, I wandered around hearing conversations, and learning a lot about how my kids were going to handle a task that didn’t have a right answer or directions.

I saw who takes charge of an activity and who sits back
I learn who could be a distracting member of the group
I learn who is going to do the minimum and who is going to do more than I ask
I also learn who is going to follow directions

… and this is another task where there isn’t math- so what’s left is a student’s ability.


Goal: Students will be placed in groups of 4-6 and build a tower.  The students were given limited information to begin with and needed to decide what they needed to know to complete the task.

Grouping: Group them prior to beginning in whatever way you see fit.  You can hold off having them sit in their groups so they don’t start thinking about who they are with.

Set Up: I put all the items the students would use in a paper bag before class.

Directions: Once students are grouped, explain:

Your goal is to build the best tower in the class with your group.


What we needed: the pre-assessment packet I created so that the students could document their thinking and I could easily assess it after (this was instead of diligently monitoring the students or video taping them), and the building supplies (brown bag, spaghetti, popsicle sticks, marshmallows, dixie cup, rubber band, 1 inch sponge, 18 inches tape)

Packet the kids filled out as they worked (so I could see their thoughts)

When I did it: during the school year (1st quarter) as a pre-assessment of student’s 4C abilities

How it went: Really well.  The groups were somewhat random (I picked and attempted fair grouping), but could be picked as part of a “team” or with some planning of student abilities.  We chose to have the students build the tallest tower that could ALSO support 1 kg (needed to come up with strict rules as to what meant “support”)

How I used it: I used it as a pre-assessment of the 4Cs so that I know what I need to work on with my kids, as well as to get more information about grouping my students.

How you can use it: First day(s) activity for your class or homeroom.  Group teamwork/bonding activity at the start of a new project or when you assign new groups/teams in your class.  Collaboration lesson for students who are struggling or learning how to collaborate and work with others.



I can’t find my pictures of the final products!

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