Meet our 7th Graders

7th grade is a year filled with a lot of excitement for kids! In Trumansburg it is the kids’ 3rd year of middle school, BUT this year is also the first opportunity to play modified sports. It is a year that kids are faced with balancing their work-load a little more as well. Like any year, they are learning more about themselves and what they enjoy in school.

In our school we have large bulletin boards in our hallways and thanks to our PTO they are now painted vibrant colors. Our floor’s boards are red! As part of 7th grade, I use our popsicle sticks from class to randomly invite two students for an “interview” every other Wednesday during lunch. These students can invite up to 3 friends each to join the group. We enjoy lunch and I bring in a big cookie for each student as they share about their favorite things in 7th grade.

We’re about halfway through our interviews now, and we’ve had Ms. Whalen join us for one of the gatherings. The kids are asked to answer the following questions on a paper that gets hung in the hallway. I have just a few rules that I’ll share after the question.

  1. My Sports & Hobbies (you can include school or non-school sports and any hobbies)
  2. One thing I love about 7th grade (it has to be something about school itself – not 2:46. I discourage saying lunch and study hall because almost everyone likes lunch and study hall)
  3. Three words that best describe me (For this you have to be kind to yourself with the word you choose. Say flattering things. Treat yourself like your best friend)

The pictures below capture our first half of the year. I removed them before break and put them in the kids’ portfolios so that they can bring them home at the end of the year with all their other 7th grade math things.

As with all the photos, click into it to view it as a large size so you can see the writing.

My favorite part of this is watching the kids and teachers check out the interviews as they walk by. It is a fun way to learn just a little bit more about every student in the grade.


Whiteboard Equation Solving

You can use water-based markers on a whiteboard

It was a happy accident last year. A student (or maybe it was me I don’t actually remember) wrote on our classroom whiteboard in marker. Not dry erase marker. Oh dear!! We’ll have marker on our board forever, I thought. Before panicking though I grabbed some paper towels and a water spray bottle and was so happy to see that it came off!!

This mistake prompted me to use it as a teaching tool in the classroom.

How to mix water-based markers & dry erase in class

If you are doing something that you find yourself having to re-write on the board every period, AND you want to cycle all the students through something, this technique works really well.

For this class period, we were working on solving 2 step equation word problems. I set the class up this way.

  • 2 groups worked on writing and solving their own word problems modeling them from one of 4 types. This means they changed the numbers, names, situations etc for the problems to make them unique to them.
  • The other two groups were at the board solving one of two word problems as a team. They were able to underline, circle and mark up however they wanted. When they finished the problem, they checked in with me to see if they were correct.

Check out some short video clips from some of our classes.

Using the word problems

My plan for after this day was to use the word problems the kids wrote. I took pictures of their problems and solutions and then went to write them up and use them as our “Do Now” aka warm-up to kick off class. We used two of them the day after this activity and kids were really successful!! Notes were allowed as was collaboration with shoulder partners.

My long-term plan with this is to sprinkle them in for a few weeks, weaning them from the use of notes and then from collaboration.

Here are some of our problems. You’ll notice that some are solved correctly, some are very realistic, and some not so much. Some of them are solved incorrectly but everyone tried to write a word problem modeled after what I had written for them. Select a picture to view it at a size where you can read all the words and then scroll through. There is one problem that shows all the steps that I had written on the board for them. This is some great note-taking!!



Thank you Middle School PTO for our calculators!

Calculators are a must have in seventh grade math class. Mrs. Dawson has math classes all throughout the day, and has found a system for making sure that calculators are always available when you need them. The students were asked to buy calculators, as well as the PTO kindly buying enough for everyone to use during class. They are a part of our shared bins on every table, which also includes highlighters, pens, sticky notes, scissors, pencil sharpeners and erasers. Most of these items the students were asked to help supply the classroom with, and they are definitely being put to good use.

The calculators in particular are a very important aspect. Students borrow calculators from the bins when they need them, use them during class, and put them back at the end of the period. This system has been working so nicely that bringing calculators to class is no longer a need. Mrs. Dawson is even planning on removing calculators from the supply list next year. Thank you so much to the PTO for helping give us this opportunity!

-Written by Maren Friedman with editing help from Ellie Storm

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A note from Mrs. Dawson

I put out the opportunity on Google Classroom. I presented it as a chance to write this from a student perspective¬† and to thank our PTO for supporting our classroom. Within just a few minutes I had two replies from students. “Wow! I’m so excited!” I shared with my family. “Kids are willing to write about this.” It was a really great Thanksgiving surprise when Maren shared her document with me the day before the holiday.

Our entire classroom culture has changed because of these bins with calculators. The kids have what they need and don’t have to worry about bringing their calculator to class every day. They just have to remember to leave it at the table (we’ve only lost one twice … and it has come back both times!) I originally asked the PTO to purchase them for me because I didn’t have many extras in case kids couldn’t buy their own. I also wanted to have a few for when kids forgot them in class. But there’s a constant struggle – when to loan, when to say “you need to remember your calculator.” It creates a stress that the classroom doesn’t need. I watched how the kids used the classroom bin supplies, and they were using them properly: leaving the green pens, scissors, post-its etc. “What if we add the calculators?” PTO bought us 14 and I had another 6 that I could use to have enough for my largest class. Let’s give it a go! I’m so happy I did.

I’m really grateful that Maren organizes the bins for us every Friday. She and Maya stay a few minutes into lunch and Maya washes our tables while Maren organizes the bins. The day before Thanksgiving I went in and added another little compartment to the bins – Maren noticed that the bins are truly a disaster on Fridays. She said something along the lines of what I’ve been thinking, “Wow are people trying to mess these up?” I’m hoping with this addition that keeping them organized will be a little bit easier.¬†*A note on this system – each table has its own color of calculator and each is labeled 1-4 with the letter and color label from that table.

Thank you again to the PTO for this generous donation to our classroom. I don’t need to have calculators on next year’s supply list for school due to this successful system!! We are all super happy to have them. And I am so pleased to see the kids treating them well, and remembering to leave them in class!

A locker organizing idea

The other day I was standing outside my room and I saw one of my student’s lockers. It has a nice little bin of pencils so that he will always arrive prepared for class. I asked Adam if I could take a picture of his locker and he happily obliged.

I shared this with the classes and several kids wanted to have their locker photographed. Elanor also had an organization system but at the bottom of her locker. The other two lockers photographed are nice and neat, but these students don’t have anything stored in their lockers.

If you are inspired by Adam’s locker, consider doing something like this with your child. Adam used magnets so they are just hanging up high for easy access when he needs a pencil.