Math teacher since 2012

WOW! I cannot believe I hit my first milestone at TeachersPayTeachers! A huge THANK YOU to each and every one of my followers on TpT!   TpT has truly changed my life.  

To celebrate, all of these awesome MATH sellers have graciously offered to give away some free products!  Enter to win each of the prize packs below, and you could win a free product (up to $5 value) from each seller listed below.  We will be giving away up to $150 worth of math resources!  Check out their stores, because these are some of my favorite authors on TpT, and they all have amazing resources for you and your students!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

In addition, you can download a FLASH FREEBIE from my store during this week only!  Visit 123teach to check it out.

A monthly REAL WORLD math blog link-up hosted by
Of course, someone asked me again today, "But seriously, Mrs. Kiser.  When will I ever need to know how to do this in real life?"  I think this question comes up every few days in my Algebra classes.  So when I saw this linkup, I knew I needed to share a few reasons why you will use math in real life!  

My husband and I are both in our 20s, and right now, student loans are REAL LIFE!  I am pretty sure we have lots of company at this stage in our life, because many of our friends are in the same situation.  Although we are both pretty frugal, the fact that I am a teacher and he works at a church means it is going to take a long time to pay off those student loans.  BUT, I'm not disheartened easily, and I enjoy a challenge, so I thought to myself, "How awesome would it be to pay off all of our student loans before I am 30?"

Challenge accepted.

This got my "math brain" thinking about all of the ways to get those loans paid off faster.  Here's how we are paying off our loans early:

1) I immediately found a way to get all of our loans in one place so I could analyze the information.  I found an awesome app called "Ready for Zero."  The app is good, but the web version is amazing!! If you have debt, I strongly recommend this site. (and no, they are not paying me to say this!)

2) We took some time to analyze the interest rates and prioritize which loans to pay off first.

3) We took a look at our budget by linking our bank accounts to "Mint," another amazing app for budgeting that will categorize all of your expenses for you.  You can set your budgets, have mint alert you when you are over-budget, and you can monitor your monthly cash flow and find your net income. 

No this is not my bank account... 

4) We find some easy ways to save money, such as sharing a car.  It's a little humorous when my high school students go outside and head for their cars as I sit and wait for my husband to come and pick me up, but I know I will be so thankful in a few years when these student loans are gone!  

5) We opted for a low-cost, high-deductible health insurance to give us more money for loans.

6) We both hate paying full price, so we try to shop only during sale times after holidays, back to school sales, etc.  

7) Basically, we try to save money and any extra at the end of the month goes straight towards our highest interest loan!  If you are a recent college graduate and had to take out some private loans, you probably have a few loans close to 10% interest rate like we do, so it's very important to knock those loans out as fast as possible.  It's hard to make those HUGE payments, but I know we are so much closer to our goals! 

Spoiler Alert: MONEY will be a huge part of your life no matter who you are!  So you NEED MATH!

Do you have any other tips for managing student loans and paying them off as fast as possible?  Do you have any other money tips?  If so, leave your tips in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

Week 2: Dare to Dream

This week, we were challenged to write about our goals and dreams for TpT.  When you first start selling on TeachersPayTeachers, you have to pay a $60 yearly fee to become a premium seller.  At the beginning, I didn't even think I would make back that money in a year.  To my surprise, I made over $60 my first month selling!  At that point, I knew I wanted to get serious about creating products to share with other teachers on TpT.  So here are my top three goals for the next few years:

Since I started selling in October 2013, we have used almost all of the TpT earnings to pay off student loans.  We are starting to make a dent in our loans, but for the next few years we will continue to pay off student loans as much as possible.  For our future plans, once we pay off a majority of our student loans, we can't wait to start a family.  Lastly, Destry (my husband) and I would always talk about how much we would LOVE to be able to go to Europe, although I'm sure it will be a little while before we reach that goal.  However, we never thought that would be possible before TpT! We thought we would be drowning in student debt for a long time, but after TpT we can now see a light at the end of the tunnel.  We are so thankful God provided this opportunity! 

Four awesome bloggers got together to create a TpT Seller Challenge to kick off the summer! You can click here to visit each of their blogs: Third in Hollywood, Sparkling in Second, Teach Create Motivate, and Peppy Zesty Teacherista.

To begin, I recorded my stats to track growth over the next four weeks.  Stay tuned for the end result!

For this fun kick-off, there will be a different challenge every week.  For the first week, we were challenged to completely make over a product or a product cover!  I looked through my products and found the oldest, ugliest looking product I could find! Here it is folks:

For Surface Area & Nets Practice, I have used the LearnZillion videos with my students for the past two years, and it works best when I create fill-in-the blank notes for my students to use with the video.  After I created the notes, I created worksheets to follow along with the lesson and the common core standards.  I completely made-over this product!  I added two more pages of notes to go along with a second video lesson.  I created two additional worksheet options for differentiation and included a new page of teacher directions.  And of course, I gave the product a whole new look with a brand new preview file!  Check out the product on TeachersPayTeachers by clicking on the image below.  I hope you like it!

Here's a final comparison of the Before and After.  I think the new cover makes a HUGE difference and I'm really happy with the results! I might even get motivated to make over a few other products :)

Here is a little preview of the product if you are thinking about purchasing.  Check it out!

I'll be posting another blog post for next week's challenge! Thanks for stopping by to check it out.

Hey everyone!

It's been a little while now since my last blog post! I guess I'm still getting the hang of this bloggin' thing :)

I recently stumbled across a fun website, and I HAD to share it! The Living Math Book List is compiled by a former math teacher who loves to find books with math topics! Not only has she put together a list of great math books, but she has also categorized the books by topic.  What a great idea!

If you are searching for some great children's books for your kids this summer, then look no further! Just click on the link above to find great math books like the ones pictured below:


I am super excited to join up with over 70 TpT sellers who are helping Brooke Patterson at Countless Smart Cookies celebrate reaching a personal milestone of 500 followers on TpT!  You can enter the middle/high school giveaway below, or you can head on over to Brooke's blog for more great prizes! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hi everyone!  I'm super excited to be invited to Rachel Lynette's blog, Minds In Bloom, as a featured author!  You can read my post below and visit her page for lots of other great teaching tips!

As a middle school math interventionist, the students who enter my classroom have already given up hope that they will ever be successful with math.  I bet there are many other teachers out there who have this same problem!  Since I deal with this problem every day, I have tried lots of different methods, but these are the top five practices that make the biggest impact for the students in my classroom.

1)  Help students correct their mistakes and earn 100% on every assignment!
This takes a lot of time and patience to accomplish with a large class, but it is so worth it!  Many students lose confidence in math class because they have made mistakes in the past.  Students rarely go back on their own to correct those mistakes so that they could learn from them.  Teach your students that it is OK to make mistakes, as long as we learn from it.  If you help your students learn from their mistakes, they will feel more confident moving forward! Here are some specific strategies that work in my classroom:

Classwork/Homework Assignments: In my intervention classes, students do not get credit for an assignment until there are NO mistakes.  At first, they are upset when I pass back an assignment with problems circled and I tell them that they must re-do those problems and turn it in again.  But once the assignment has been corrected, that same disheartened student is extremely proud of his/her hard work!  My students even start asking me to grade their page the first time with a pencil so that there are no pen marks at the end once they have fixed up the assignment.  You won't believe the improvement in student confidence when they work hard to earn 100% on every assignment!

Assessments: It is also a great idea to offer some type of incentive for students to make corrections on quizzes, tests, or other assessments.  My students are allowed to take a retake if they first re-do all of the problems that they missed.  Offering points for corrections gives a little bit of incentive for students to look back and figure out what they did wrong.  Oftentimes students find that they made a careless mistake, and then they are excited to retake the test in order to get a better grade.  Correcting these little mistakes reminds them to be more careful next time. Students need to get in the habit of reflecting on their work and learning from their mistakes.  The younger they get into this habit, the better!

2) Offer catch-up days.

If you expect students to make corrections on every assignment, you will need to offer "Catch-up Days."  This is a free time for students to work on any assignments that need to be corrected. These assignments are not considered "late" but it is necessary to offer some time in class to work on corrections in order for the assignments to be completed in a timely manner.  To keep track of this, every student has a folder that they keep in the classroom for "Work in Progress." These are assignments that need to be corrected before they will get points.  If a student is finished with the current task, any little bit of extra time should be used for work in progress, and students always know that these assignments need to be "fixed up" before they will get credit.  Whenever a student is finished with the current task, they know to check their "Work in Progress" to find something to do next.

It helps with the grading if you pick a day once a week to offer the opportunity for students to catch up.  Every week on Friday, we use the "Ketchups and Pickles" strategy to divide the students into two groups and give them extra motivation to get caught up on their assignments.

3) Give participation points.
Recognize and reward students for trying!  Participation points can go a long way to help improve a student's confidence in math class.  Self-conscious students in math usually feel that it is all about getting the right answer.  We need to show them that it is just as important to show perseverance as is it to solve the problem correctly.  It is better to try and fail than to fail to try.

We all have had those students who just waste time, and sometimes we want to just collect that assignment and give them a big fat zero to show that their behavior did not go unnoticed.  Come up with a different system for those types of issues.  I give out participation points every day, and a student will only earn those points if they are using their time wisely, acting appropriately, and participating.  I try not to collect an incomplete assignment and end up taking points away from an assignment when it was really a behavior/participation issue.  In math, students can't afford to just skip a topic!  Remind your students that math is cumulative, so they cannot just accept that they don't understand and move on.  I'm sure all teachers know that that is a recipe for disaster now and in the future!

4) Let the students TEACH!
One of the most rewarding experiences for a student is to teach and help his/her peers.  The warm-up routine in my classroom includes at least three bellwork questions.  Students rush into my class to get to work on the bellwork questions because the first three students to have all of the correct answers get to walk around the room with one of my red pens and a special "Ask Me" tag.  Those students are the graders for the bellwork.  You could also assign students to be the graders for the day or week, because you need to make sure that everyone gets a chance to be the grader!

During the first 5 minutes of class, the graders walk around the room checking student answers and answering questions.  Whenever an answer is correct, the graders use my special pens to put a star on that problem.  At the end of the week when I collect the bellwork pages, students only get points if they received stars on their bellwork.  This has an extra benefit for me because the grading is already done at the end of the week.

Chevron Ask Me Tags
We use the "Ask Me" tags for students who have completed their assignments as well.  When students are finished with a worksheet or textbook assignment, I check the answers of the first student who finishes.  Then, that students becomes the grader for the next person who finishes.  We take time at the beginning of the year to go over all of the requirements to be a helper, and students know that the privilege of being a helper can be quickly taken away from a student who is not being responsible.  I allow up to three students to be helpers at a time, because I can easily keep track of that many students walking around the classroom, but you will have to see what works well in your class.

Click here for a freebie to help you implement this strategy in your classroom.

5) Make math enjoyable!
Many students struggle with math because they have lost interest.  Don't forget to make it fun for the students!  My students are motivated by games, puzzle activities, competitions, prizes, etc.  Kahoot is a great resource that provides a way to assess students while participating in a fun competition.  Students are also motivated by trying different types of activities.  If the students know what to expect every day, they will get bored and uninterested quickly.  Make sure to switch it up!  When you plan out your unit, pay close attention to include different types of activities throughout the unit.

Make sure to include each of the following types of activities within each unit:
  -Discovery-based Learning
  -Hands-on/Kinesthetic Learning
  -Cooperative Learning
  -Visual Learning (Graphic Organizers, Videos, etc.)
  -Independent Work
  -Real Life Connection

As soon as students realize that you change it up often, they will start walking in the door excited to find out what we are doing today!  Students will enter the class excited and with a positive attitude. With a wide range of activities, all different types of learners will have a chance to shine.

Most importantly, don't forget to be excited about math! Click here to watch a video about a fun and unique activity to motivate students with math!

Brittany Kiser, from 123teach, is a teacher-author with experience teaching middle school and high school math.  She is currently a middle school math interventionist in Michigan, and she loves creating and sharing resources to reach struggling learners.
Visit her TpT store, Pinterest, and Blog for more great ideas for teaching math!

Well, I was super excited to join this March Madness Blogger Match-up!  The only sad part is that I didn't even have time to post about it before my team lost!  I was matched up with Texas, and I was about to post about the match-up when I got home from school, only to realize that my team was playing!  So I chose to cheer on my team, and it was fun while it lasted!

The good thing for you is that means I am going to give away a free product!  All of these teacher sellers will be giving away a free product when their team loses.  Enter my giveaway below to win a set of Free ZONK! Review Game Boards for Test Prep!  You have one week to enter the giveaway!

Help cheer on your favorite bloggers and basketball teams as we compete for some FABULOUS prizes and great TpT products that will be shared by our favorite bloggers on their blogs and Instagram.  Good luck!

Learning with Mrs. Langley cheering on Belmont
Second Grade Stories cheering on Indiana
The Neat and Tidy Classroom cheering on UC Irvine
Live, Laugh, I LOVE Kindergarten cheering on Coastal Car.
Miss Johnston's Journey cheering on Maryland
The Creative Classroom cheering on San Diego State
Fifth in the Middle cheering on Wichita State
Lessons with Coffee cheering on Arkansas
The Kinder Garden cheering on Notre Dame
Exploring Elementary cheering on NC State
Inspired Owl's Corner cheering on Oregon
Frampton's Fundamentals cheering on New Mexico State
Learning in the Little Apple cheering on Michigan State
NC Teacher Chick cheering on Utah State
A Tall Drink of Water cheering on Baylor
Sara J Creations cheering on Oklahoma
ELA Everyday cheering on Duke
The Blessed Teacher cheering on Lafayette
Mrs. 3rd Grade cheering on VCU
Rock & Teach cheering on Albany
Create Teach Share cheering on North Dakota State
One Happy Teacher cheering on Gonzaga
Fern Smith's Classroom Ideas! cheering on Iowa State
First Grade Roars! cheering on SF Austin
The Learning Chambers cheering on Hampton
Teaching is Sweet cheering on Eastern Washington
Sounds Like Fun cheering on Louisville
Confessions of a Teaching Junkie cheering on Cincinnati
Year2tastic cheering on Kansas
Sparkling in Second cheering on Wyoming
Making Meaning with Melissa cheering on Purdue
One Sassy Teacher cheering on Villanova
Brittany Kiser cheering on Texas
Coach and Teach 24/7 cheering on St. John's
Hardcore Teacher Resources cheering on LSU
The Whole Wheat Class cheering on Oklahoma
Mixing It Up In The Middle! cheering on Mississippi
Teaching Maddeness cheering on UAB
Its Elementary My Dear cheering on Ohio State
Live Love Serve Teach cheering on Providence
 Education Kingdom cheering on North Carolina
A Dab of Glue Will Do cheering on Dayton
Learning to be Awesome cheering on Kentucky
Technology Timeout cheering on Harvard
Kovescence on the Mind cheering on Butler
Blossoms of Blue in 2 cheering on North Eastern
Mrs. D's Corner cheering on Robert Morris
Where the Wild Things Learn cheering on Buffalo
Bright Concepts 4 Teachers cheering on North Iowa (UNI)
A Trendy Teacher cheering on Valparasio
Lucky to Be In First cheering on Wisconsin
O-H So Blessed! cheering on Virginia
Tales of Teaching with Tech cheering on Woffard
Very Perry Classroom cheering on Arizona
A Kindergarten Life for Me cheering on Georgia
First Grade Buddies cheering on Iowa
Miss Case's Classroom cheering on Georgetown
A Grace-Filled Classroom cheering on West Virginia
Third Grade Cupcakes cheering on SMU
The Class Couple cheering on Xavier
More Time 2 Teach cheering on Georgia State
Owl-ways Learning cheering on UCLA

Five for Friday is a weekly teacher linky party with Doodle Bugs Teaching where you post five random things from today or this past week!  Such a great idea!

This was the last week of our second trimester!  It was exciting to think that there is only one more trimester left this year, but it also made me think about how much we need to accomplish this last trimester.  My week started with exams for my regular 7th grade classes, where  I have been using GradeCam for all of my exams this year, and I love the item analysis so that I can quickly compare student answers and see percentages by question or standard.

For my Title I math classes, we were able to spend lots of time playing review games to prepare for their exams!  The class favorite is ZONK.  In ZONK, students choose a number, but they don't know if there will be a question with points behind the number or if there will be a ZONK, which means that they lose their turn.  The students get pretty excited and nervous every time they have to choose the next number, and we always end up having a great time!  Click on the image to find one of my Zonk games that reviews Equations and Inequalities.  

For Pi Day, our whole math department decided to do a reading activity in celebration of Reading Month!  We found a great youtube video with a reading of "Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi," by Cindy Neuschwander.  During the video, she stops to explain the vocabulary words, and give the students a chance to solve circumference practice problems.  You can find the Youtube video by clicking on the image below.  After the video, we completed a Pi Day Activity you can find HERE on TeachersPayTeachers.  The students were put into groups and given three different kinds of cookies.  The students measured the cookies as accurately as possible to try to find pi!  

Unfortunately, I have been coming down with a cold that has just been getting worse and worse all week!  Finally, I had to take the day off on Friday to get some rest and make sure that I am not spreading any germs to all of my students.  Fortunately, the last day this week the students just had to take their exams, so it was an easy prep day!  I even left a fun Circle Art Activity (also from TeachersPayTeachers) for the students to work on if they had extra time.  The students got to use a compass to create works of art using only circles, and I can't wait to get back to my classroom on Monday and see their creations!  

Today is finally Pi Day, and my husband has been super excited to stop by Blaze Pizza (one of our favorites) for their special Pi Day deal of Pizzas for only $3.14!  So, we decided to venture out into the warm weather (over 40 degrees) and wait in line for some great pizza from Blaze to celebrate Pi Day.  Follow me on Instagram to see a picture of my favorite pizza from Blaze.  It was delicious!  I hope you found a special way to celebrate Pi Day today as well.  Enjoy the rest of your weekend!