Monthly Archives: August 2013


Le Tour de Math Classroom Fall 2013

I am immersing myself a bit more into the blogosphere this year.  Last year I noticed some middle school math teachers on twitter would post a #MsSunFun blog post each Sunday on a middle-school appropriate topic.  I love the idea and would like to join in!

Here’s a grand tour of Ms. DuPriest’s math classroom!  I had to do a lot of cleaning and purging to get it so nice for the year and I’m pretty excited for how it turned out.  My kids eventually figure out that organization isn’t my strong point, and they never see it looking so tidy ever again once the school year gets going.

Here is the view from the back of my classroom, looking toward the front.  I try to be mindful of this when seating kids in the back of the room.  The classroom is longer than it is wide, so there’s a lot of space and kids between the back and the front of the room.  You really have to try hard to pay attention from back there.

I have a mix of desks and tables, so I set it up in clusters.  I am a big believer in cooperative learning.

This is my classroom technology and treeware!

Thanks to some generous grants and very supportive taxpayers, we have access to some great classroom technology.  We actually have 1400 computers for a school of 1050 kids!  Wow!  I have a class set of Dell Netbooks and a class set of clickers (I love these for formative assessments and immediate feedback for the students).  Technology has fundamentally changed how we use math in society, and I like to plug kids into this reality.  We use the netbooks for flipped teaching (watching video lessons), exercises on Khan Academy, creating spreadsheets, collaborating on Google Docs, writing computer programs, and making presentations.

My colorful crates have Math’s Mates worksheets in them.  These are old-fashioned treeware but they’re a key differentiation tool.  My classroom has seventh-graders and a handful of sixth-graders and eighth-graders who are learning the seventh-grade math curriculum.  To support their different levels of math readiness, I let them choose (with some guidance) which weekly Math’s Mate they want to do.  Most of the time, they pick a Math’s Mate that is a good level of challenge.  The most common complaint is, “Ms. DuPriest, this Math’s Mate is too easy. Can I go up a level?”  Kids like a developmentally appropriate challenge.  This year, I will have students working on Red, Blue, Green, Mauve, and White Math’s Mates all in the same classroom.  We split into groups for discussion, work, help, and making corrections.

Here’s where I put the Plan of the Day and such.

“YSBAT”, written on the bottom of the board, is “You Should Be Able To”.  Our daily objective(s).  One schoolwide improvement initiative is to work on literacy strategies and metacognition, so I also put up there the thinking strategies of the day and the Standards of Mathematical Practice.  We were working on fraction word problems to start off, so I encouraged the kids to use various models for the fraction word problems and thought these strategies were worth talking about.

I also hide random math problems around the room that the students can solve for fun and sticker awards, so you can see random problem #1 up there.  I just noticed in the past that if you post interesting problems on posters, kids like to come up to you and say “I think I solved it!”  So I vowed to always have something for their brains to work on when they are idle.  I’ll change up the problems every couple of weeks or so.

This is a flexible learning area that has doors that open to the neighboring classrooms, but the widest part opens up into mine.

I love this room because it’s great for small-group lessons, but also because it’s both reward AND consequence. I can say “Your group is doing a great job with such a rich discussion. Would you like to finish it up in the sun room?” or “Young lady, I cannot teach with this constant distraction. Please go sit quietly in the sun room and work until I have a chance to process this with you.”  Love my sun room.

This is my desk.

I swear, I had the desk completely clean on the first day and look, after four days of students it’s already covered with junk. I either need to sharpen my organizational skills or my sense of humor just to deal with myself. Probably both.

Toward the end of last year, a teacher told me that he and his students were talking about the current events issue of having teachers carry guns. A student raised his hand and said “I don’t think it’s a good idea. Look at Ms. DuPriest. She can’t even find her keys.” This is the reputation I have!

I am excited about the start we’ve had, and I have an awesome group of kids this year. Very polite and eager to learn.  We’re going to do some great math.

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Posted by on August 25, 2013 in School and Unit Planning


Welcome to 2013-2014!

The room is set up and the students are set to arrive! I’m going to lay out my goals for the 2013 – 2014 school year.

1) Renew my commitment to reducing paper use.  At our first staff development day, we learned we have 1400 computers for a school with 1050 students – we are now MORE than a 1:1 technology school. As such, I’m feeling guilty just thinking about making a lot of copies.  We have lots of electronic options, I have a cart of netbooks in my classroom, and all students have a Google Docs account.  I will manage electronic portfolios and make use of the one notebook that students come in with.

2) Make it a priority to create a culture of high expectations and trust.  The students need to know that when they have a job to do, everyone will pitch in and do their share of the heavy thinking. I will start with this expectation and have the students set goals and evaluate their progress on it.

3) Weave technology in thoughtfully. 21st century math skills are computer-heavy and we’ll emphasize the use of programming, spreadsheets, and apps not just for the sake of using technology, but for building conceptual understanding!  My ultimate goal with this is to have an integrated pre-algebra / programming class that really mainstreams computer science.  I really can visualize this in the not-too-distant future.

4) Honor my students’ differences.  I’ve got wildly diverse classes this year, and they all deserve access to higher math – I will use all the differentiation strategies I know to help them grow.

5) Let it go at home.  I need to acknowledge with the busy schedule I have taxiing two young kids (and myself) around, very little is going to get done for school in the evenings.  I’m breaking my own rule by blogging while my girls watch tv 🙂 but I do need to free up my mind at home and really be present in my family’s life when I’m here.

So with that, I’m signing off.

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Posted by on August 20, 2013 in School and Unit Planning