Geometry PowerPoint Lessons

I really enjoy using Microsoft PowerPoint to create introductory math lessons. With PowerPoint, you can make lessons creative, colorful, interactive, and engaging for students. PowerPoints can be used with SMARTboard technology or something as simple as a laptop computer or mini notebook.

Here are two sample math lessons (via SlideShare) that I made recently using PowerPoint. Both presentations, which you can download for free for your own personal use from thatmathlady.com, are quite short and relatively simple to use.

Both presentations are uploaded in my Math Vocabulary binder on http://www.claco.com, too!

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Looking for a Good YA Literature Blog?

I really liked to read as a kid. Unfortunately, I didn’t love it. There were certain books I loved, but it was difficult for me to sit down and get lost in a book, especially books that were assigned by my language arts teachers. But, I strongly believe that may have all changed if I had an L.A. teacher like Melissa Carpenter.

Melissa Carpenter is an 8th-grade Language Arts teacher in Charlotte, North Carolina. We worked in the same school for several years and, during that time, I heard nothing but wonderful things about her from her students. I don’t know which is greater – her love for literature or her love for teaching her students – but it is that passion for both that makes my friend a top-notch educator. How do I know? Like I said, just ask her students.

Carpenter started a YA Lit blog a few years back, Pimples, Popularity, and Protagonists. She recently returned to blogging after taking a mini-hiatus from it and all I can say is, “Boy, is she good?!” In just a few words, she captures the beauty – or the ugliness – behind each book’s cover while sharing her acute-analysis of characters, settings, and/or overall message. Her reviews are fresh, witty, and real. Many people judge a book by its cover…I now judge a book based on Carp’s take. 🙂

Carpenter truly writes for the reader. If you read one of her latest blogs, Three Weeks Left to Shop For Christmas, you’ll see what I mean! Here is an excerpt from that post: “Picking books for others can be a bit intimidating… but lucky for you, it’s one of my favorite things to do! So, I’m giving you a holiday gift buying guide for YA Literature. Below you’ll see categories, book recs within them…Also, I’ve linked to previous blog posts for books I’ve already recommended for more information.”

I am so happy <and THANKFUL> for her that she has returned to blogging…let’s just say that my Goodreads book list has grown exponentially since following her blog! If you have a similar passion for literature (or for teaching YA lit), “Pimples, Popularity, and Protagonists” is a must-read blog for you!

You can also follow Melissa Carpenter on Twitter, @MelissaCarp.

My Heart Knows

A week ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to Skype with Claco founder, Eric Simons. We chatted mostly about his awesome teachers’ collaboration site, www.claco.com, and the 21st-century tools that it provides educators. I won’t bore you with details of our entire convo; however, I would like to share one snippet that has resonated within me since that day.

During our introductions, I told Eric that while I was working as a classroom teacher, I earned my Master’s in Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment. Later, he asked this question: “What would [working in curriculum] look like for you?”

Huh. Nobody had ever asked me that before. I didn’t have a prepared answer for this question, and I didn’t want to waste Eric’s time by thinking too hard about it, so I just let my heart take over and do the talking.

In response, I said something like, “I want to focus on math. I want to make math fun and make it meaningful to students. Math shouldn’t be boring or else it won’t be learned. I would like to make project-based activities that inspire students and interesting games that help students learn how to apply the material.”

As you notice, I didn’t talk about writing for textbooks or publishing assessments. The thought of designing better multiple-choice questions for those awesome standardized state assessments didn’t even cross my mind. Worksheets and dittos? What are those?

My heart, and my right mind, went straight to authentic lessons. Real-life math, in other words. Authentic lessons – in any subject – should be interesting, relevant, and motivating. Authentic lessons may include project-based learning, technology, scaffolding, or everyday puzzles that require higher-order strategic solutions. Unlike textbook-driven and scripted layouts, these creative lessons motivate students. Most of all, these types of “outside-the-box” lessons prepare students for life outside of the classroom walls (where they sometimes must rely on their “outside-the-box” thinking). This is what students should be doing…this is what students would rather be doing. And so would the teachers.

My past few months have been completely devoted to dreaming about ideal math lessons. Sometimes my dreams lead to the creation of inspired projects and activities that I know I would want my students to learn from. Other times, I just listen to my dreams and smile, knowing that I am doing my part to support authentic learning experiences everywhere. My heart knows what students need, and authentic learning is it.