The Burnout Challenge


This is more of a social experiment than a math lesson. It’s a well known fact that teachers experience burnout at some point in time during almost every school year. The demands of our profession weigh on us so hard it literally makes it hard to breathe. If you would like to push pass your burnout and feel renewed each day, take my challenge. Take it slow, completing one challenge a day. If it doesn’t work for you, you’ve probably done something wrong and will need to try it again :-).

Challenge 1: In the morning, write a letter to your favorite person explaining why they are your favorite person. Be sure to list the qualities you love about them. For the greeting write “To My Favorite Person”. For the salutation, write “the one who loves you the most.”  Fold the letter 90s style:

Take it to work and place it on your desk. Later on in the day, surprisingly find the letter and read the wonderful things someone has written about you.

Challenge 2: Tell 6 people you love them and really mean it.

Challenge 3: Smile at each person that walks pass you.

Challenge 4: Get 5 post-it notes and write “You’re worth it!” on each of them. Place a post-it note randomly on doors throughout the school.

Challenge 5: Start a high five challenge with yourself. Try to get as many high fives as you can throughout the school day.

Challenge 6: Sing a song during planning time. Like out loud. Seriously.

Some suggestions:

Challenge 7: Say please and thank you with every opportunity.

After the 7th day of the challenge, you should feel refreshed and renewed.  You know why?

Three things will last forever- faith, hope, and love- and the greatest of these is love. 2 Corinthians 13:13

Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8

Love is patient and kind…it is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Corinthians 13:7

Do everything with love. 1 Corinthians 16:14

Once you have completed the challenge, please share how it has helped you. If you’re courageous enough, journal about your day to day experience during the challenge.
With Love,


Placing Place Value in Middle School


*I know the title is corny, but the content below is great.”*

What happens to place value understanding between elementary and middle school?  From my observations, when tricks are introduced, the need for place value understanding is no longer necessary.  Why know they relative size of numbers when I can “add” zeros and move decimal points?

If you are a middle school teacher, there’s a chance you didn’t know that in 4th grade students recognize that in a multi-digit whole number, a digit in one place represents ten times what it represents in the place to its right. For example, recognize that 700 ÷ 70 = 10 by applying concepts of place value and division. (4.NBT.1) and in 5th grade students recognize that in a multi-digit number, a digit in one place represents 10 times as much as it represents in the place to its right and 1/10 of what it represents in the place to its left (5.NBT.1).  Why is that important for you to know?  In middle school, students begin to look at percentages and scientific notation, among other concept extensions, which are based in place value.  If we decide to make explicit connections between concepts students already know and understand to new information, we have essentially cut the amount to commit to memory down.  It makes me think of Van de Walle discussion on how understanding the commutative property cuts multiplication problems in half.  Well, if students know as a digit shifts left it is getting ten times larger and as it shifts right it is getting ten times smaller, it can be applied to solving percentage problems and scientific notation problems.  However, if that connections is not made, students now have to memorize in which direction the decimal point “moves” or how many zeros to “add” in addition to solving the problem.  All new information that does not make sense, nor can the reasonableness of the answer be determined.

Here are some activities I have used to help make the explicit connection of place value with scientific notation and percentages:

Exploring Powers Of 10

Scientific Notation Prezi

Powers of 10 Kahoot Session

Percentages- nzmaths

Translating Fractions, Decimals and Percents


Matching scientific notation expressions


The discussion is based on a conjecture made by a student after looking patterns connected to place value and scientific notation