Interactive Math Journals

You asked! I answered!

I hope this video really help you all design the layout of your Math Journals! Now, as you will see, I am not the MOST creative; however, I did share meaningful tips that will help you through this process.


Scissors, Tape, Ribbon, Ruler, Sticky Notes, and Transparency Film


Click here to download the editable version of the Mathematician Creed, Bulldog Pride, and QR code handout.











Unpack the TEKS

Welcome to the world of TEKS! Before reading this post, please understand that I am so not a weirdo and there is absolutely no reason why I should be able to tell you so much information about how to accurately analyze TEKS the way I’m about to. Forgive me now.

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So, let’s get started! First, I think it is important to know that all TEKS regardless of content area are outlined the same. They have four essential parts that support teachers in understanding what should be taught. For the sake of time, I will limit our focus to fourth grade math:

Part I: Introduction

This is the part that most teachers never read. Now, that I think about it… I don’t think I was ever advised to read the introduction. I recall always going straight to Part III (SE’s). Any who, we as educators must STAWP doing this because this section is loaded with information we need to know. It gives us a great overview of what our students will specifically learn in this current grade level. Check it out.

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So I picked up a few important things I would want my fourth grade teachers to know:

  • Texas has good intentions. Do not laugh.
  • The process standards should be apart of instructional planning as it tells us exactly how the students will engage in the content. We should not be confused how a skill could be assessed.
  • Students must develop number sense and be conditioned to understand that problem solving takes time, effort, and perseverance. I think another bigger unstated takeaway is teachers must model this behavior. Every activity in the classroom should not be rushed. Some problems should be allotted an extensive amount of time as students engage in dialogue about how they could solve it various ways.
  • The big focal points are: use of operations, fractions, and decimals and describing and analyzing geometry and measurement. There are limits in all areas.
  • Including: must be mastered. Such as: possible illustrative examples.

Part II: Strand

The strands are made up of standards that are grouped and categorized. The strand is located right after the number. In this case, the strand is Geometry and Measurement. For those who are curious about the numbering of the TEKS… the first number corresponds to the grade level. The second number is the Knowledge and Skills number. Click here for a snapshot of the TEKS provided by Lead4Ward.

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Part III: Knowledge and Skills Statement

The Knowledge and Skills Statements give teachers an overview of the big ideas or concept that must be understood in the current grade level. It immediately follows the strand. One thing to keep in mind…

Many teacher impart knowledge but lack giving students’ opportunities and freedom to sharpen their skills. Have you ever noticed how often we say “I taught that. They know this. Why did they get this wrong on the test?” Well…. it’s because the students can recall facts about the concept; however, they have not developed the skills (behaviors and procedures) to apply (process standards) their knowledge to different situations.

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Part IV: Student Expectations

The Student Expectations are what we know well but often miss the mark when effectively teaching it. Let me explain…. SE’s are #LOADED with content. How often do we sit and break down one SE beyond the nouns, verbs, vocab, and potential gaps?

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Example: 4.5 Algebraic reasoning. The student applies mathematical process standards to develop concepts of expressions and equations. (A) represent multi-step problems involving the four operations with whole numbers using strip diagrams and equations with a letter standing for the unknown quantity.

This SE has two skills the students must understand although its jumbled in one sentence:

  • The students must represent multi-step problems involving the four operations with whole numbers using strip diagrams.
  • The students must represent multi-step problems involving the four operations with whole numbers using equations with a letter standing for the unknown quantity.

Extra Information

I highly recommend you do not stop here when completing a TEKS Study. You should spend time analyzing the supporting information, dissecting the vertical alignment, researching instructional vocabulary, analyzing test items and overviewing your campus data, and sooooo much more!

I have created a TEKS Study Form that will benefit you in so many ways! It also has outside resources that you should use every time you analyze Math TEKS.


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Customized Email Signature

I spent my first week of summer at an amazing Leadership Institute and STEM Maker Workshop hosted by Texas A&M University. During that first week, I was required to write two weeks of lesson plans so I decided to continue the journey I never wanted to revisit. Don’t tell Dr. D I said that, I love her!


Time: 25 – 30 minutes

Objective: To customize my email signature.

Materials Needed: LaptopMicrosoft Word, Google Docs, Preferred Professional Picture, Social Media Website Links, Website:

Explicit Instructions:


If you’re feeling like…


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Love Them into Comfortability

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Cuffing 101

Typically, in relationships, we start off with the small talk which sometimes leads to deeper conversations. Now this relationship game is a process- as we know. If they make it past the first few dates and pass all of your tests, you began to feel a little more comfortable and began desiring to spend more quality time with that person. When you see one another there are genuine smiles, you enjoy sharing the same space, you engage in dialogue, you learn about one another, and you ultimately meet who that person really is. When disagreements occur, you probably tend to draw back. It’s not always because you are afraid of how they may react but often times because you don’t want to reveal the ounce of craziness you have. If you like that person enough, you forgive and love through it.

Building Relationships with Students 101

Notice we did not, at any point, tell our potential mate:

  • You are entering my territory. I make the rules and you will follow them.
  • I’m not your friend so don’t play with me.
  • I have the degree so I don’t need this- you do.
  • Try me. (Well, you may say this one, but…)

For the most part, we don’t treat the person we want to build a relationship or friendship with like this. If  you do- you probably want to reconsider your approach, lol. However, the point is: You can’t rush or bully someone into comfortability; you have to love them into it. Here are three essentials to keep in mind when building positive and authentic relationships with students:

They will absolutely test you.

One phrase that I challenge educators to move away from is “They are kids. They are supposed to….” I want to banish this way of thinking because 90% of the things we use that tag line on, 100% of adults do daily. Testing a person is one of them. Pushing them to their limits to see how much they can handle is another one. Now, I’m not saying it is right to do; however, I am making it known that it is a natural human behavior to test the limits. Therefore, prepare yourself now for when students try you later.

Teacher Tip: Create a positive aura within your classroom on Day 1. Develop a relationship of mutual respect between yourself and students AND between students and their peers. These actions will not alleviate the reality of kids testing you. However, putting certain expectations in place will make them think twice about it. It will also help them understand why their actions have resulted in a logical consequence. Try not to force the students to trust you as they are vetting you just as you are with them.

You must accept the baggage.

Erykah Badu has a song that says:

Bag lady you gone hurt your back
Dragging all them bags like that
I guess nobody ever told you
All you must hold onto, is you, is you, is you
One day all them bags gon’ get in your way (3x)
One day all them bags gon’ get in your way, so pack light,
Pack light, mm, pack light, pack light, oh ooh.

Our reality as educators is simple: We will encounter students who come with more heart- wrenching baggage than others and guess what- we can’t start singing “Bag Lady” to them. They can’t pack light. The baggage will get in the way. We have to love, care, support, challenge, and push them through it. We are living in a time where our students are raising their siblings, hotel room 206 is where they rest their head every night, the cafeteria food is their meal that has been prepped, and your classroom should serve as a safe haven for them relax and gain a win. Our job is SO serious that it can literally influence the direction of a child’s life. The last thing we want to do is ignore the child’s reality or treat them in a way that makes them feel their reality will never change.

Teacher Tip: Do not view your students with custom shades that transforms every child into one type. You must make an effort to know your students as individuals without labels. One good start is to ask yourself: (1) Have I made myself knowledgeable about the students’ ethnic, cultural, and racial identities? (2) How can I incorporate my students’ culture into the curriculum? (3) Do I allow my students to collaborate with one another to break stereotypes and unconscious bias towards other races?

You must learn to forgive.

Imagine this: You have a nine year old child sitting in your classroom who is learning what emotions are and how to express themselves. You give them an assignment that is challenging for them due to academic gaps created within the previous grade level. The child starts to misbehave and disturb the class. After being yelled at, they completely shut down and will not talk to anyone. Eventually this behavior becomes the norm and the relationship goes downhill due to the relationship not being established from the start. Now you enter the class thinking to yourself “Why is this child never absent?”, “How many long forms do I need to complete to get them removed from my class?”, and “When is the bell going to ring?”

Now imagine this: You have dated your spouse for six months now and everything is going smoothly. You both have acknowledged and accepted one another’s flaws and are continuing the relationship with high hopes. Your spouse randomly text you to get dressed for a special dinner and concert. After putting on your shoes you checked your phone all to see that the date was cancelled due to a forgotten work commitment. You basically flip out by talking to yourself for 15 minutes, pacing the room in your nice outfit, then eventually release your frustration.

The interesting part about these scenarios is that if an adult has difficulty balancing their emotions and responding appropriately in a tense situation… how exactly can we expect our students who are learning what emotions are to respond accordingly 100% of the time? It’s impossible. Just how we will probably forgive our spouse who kept us waiting- we must find ways to put our pride aside and forgive our students who are looking to learn from us.

Teacher Tip: I just have one thing to say- Forgive that child who gives you problems. Forgive them. Trust them again. Love them again. Teach them again. For two reasons: (1) The child needs you and longs for your ability to make it all right. (2) Your sanity depends on it. Pick your battles.

You were chosen to be an educator which is not an easy job. It is our duty to unite, as one, and push one another to remember our why. The center of it all involves every child we teach so I challenge you to…

Make the choice, everyday, to love each of your students into comfortability.

Differentiating Word Problems Using A Poster Board

Fun Facts:

I love the song in this video (It Ain’t Me x Selena Gomez) and I LOVE this poster board even more. Ehhhh…. I guess I’ll give one more fact. This poster board helped me accomplish my goal of growing every student and over 90% of my students passing their end of the year exam, also known as, STAAR.

What is the purpose?
During small groups, we want to make sure we have activities that are beneficial to every student (individualized instruction and practice). The best way I have found myself catering to each child’s needs is through this math poster board. It also helped me track the students’ growth and document important specific information when needed. Students’ who are advanced would work with Level 3 and 4 questions on a certain concept, whereas my lower level students would work with Level 1 and 2 questions and work their way up.

How to make the math poster board?
I recommend you print out every page of this resource on colored paper to attract the eye. After printing, cut out each part and follow the instructions on the intro video.
Download PDF File here:

How to use the poster board?
Make copies of any questions you would like (STAAR test questions, Campus Common Assessment questions, workbook questions, etc.). Categorize the questions into 4 levels:
Level 1: Questions usually have pictures and symbols with little to no words.
Level 2: Questions usually have a combination of pictures, numbers, and words.
Level 3: Questions usually have more numbers and words with little to no pictures.
Level 4: Questions are usually word problems.

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*Please share, like, and/or comment.


Five. (Find Yourself in Every Student)

It was one Sunday I invited my friend to my mother’s church with me. We walked in, sat on the third row on the left-hand side, and worshipped. Everything was smooth. Great. My mother, Pastor Harris, took the pulpit and it was very obvious something was off. She looked at me, prompted me to stand, and said, “Y’all know my baby Tysheka. God has touched her in a way that is unbelievable. She has remained faithful to Him, relied on Him during tough times, and trusted Him to carry her through this journey. Many have no idea of our story.” My heart immediately drops.


Thinking to self: I do not share personal information with everyone for my own particular reasons. Toni knows this and she has me standing here. Alone. I’m the only child, Lord. OMG, it’s not that I want people to think I have it all. That’s not why I don’t speak of the past. I don’t want others to feel sorry for me and treat me differently because they know pieces of my past they probably could not imagine experiencing.


My mom continues, “There was a time when the concrete was our bed and our trash bag of clothes was our pillow.”

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In my mind, I had passed out and took a little walk with Jesus towards the pearly gates. She said it. Needless to say, I received those side-eye glances and one awkward rub on the back and thought to myself, “How in the world did you make it here after…”

I walked into my classroom and he said, “Ms. Harris, I can’t do this. I’m hearing it again.” I moved towards him, kneeled down to look at his eyes, touched his shoulder and motioned him to follow me outside. As I took a deep breath, he said, “The voices keep talking to me and telling me to do things I know are not right. I can’t control them.” I immediately called his mother and shared the information she already knew was coming. After speaking with her and administration about the situation, it was determined he would be homeschooled for a few weeks.

I took my emotions to my bedroom that evening and questioned God about why He gave me a student who hears voices during my first year of teaching. I did not sleep well that night because my question for Him soon transitioned to why is a child experiencing this type of struggle. Over the next few weeks, I taught my students to the best of my ability with a 21-year-old mind that was overloaded with 5.

  1. My artist heard voices.
  2. My beautician was touched by her mother’s boyfriend.
  3. My singer had a father who showed Ms. Harris more attention than her.
  4. My actress was in love with my track star who was loving on another girl.
  5. My football player was emotionally disturbed and unable to express his feelings which resulted in him crying almost every day from frustration.


I saw a part of myself in 5.

  1. My artist was admitted to a psych ward.
  2. My beautician ended up getting suspended multiple times due to fighting guys who would even look her way.
  3. My singer was moved to another campus and felt as if her life was over.
  4. My actress is now 13 with a baby boy.
  5. My football player is still socially awkward and sits by himself at his high school football games.


Insight into my personal reflection:

Why do you think you seem to effortlessly attract kids like 5?

I deeply believe my childhood through teenage life experiences qualified me to strategically support these students. I believe I was chosen to meet five for two reasons: (1) I understand the importance of being quiet and listening. Troubled kids need an ear, a hug, a genuine connection with no strings attached, and consistency. (2) I, now, understand why the concrete was our bed and our trash bag of clothes was our pillow. 

Did these different experiences affect your personal life? If so, how?

I lost sleep. I cried. I chose work over family. I became fully invested in ensuring I was doing everything possible, within my classroom, to ease the load for my students and create an atmosphere that allowed them to be innocent kids. No pretending. No hiding. Just freedom.

It also impacted my personal life by making me question individuals who tried to attach themselves to me or come within my inner circle. I wanted to know what load they were carrying, what childhood issues have they not responded to, how were the troubles resurfacing within their adulthood, and many other things.

What did you learn from these particular experiences in conjunction with your own?

I’m honestly still wrapping my head around five and the other twenty-five (will be shared in later blogs). But thinking of five wholistically, I found out becoming a great teacher for all is not learned in books, seminars, and professional development because teaching is not all about content. Impactful teaching is very complex as it embodies the need for one to connect and reconnect countless times with students from different walks of life, build relationships that are founded on trust and not meaningless incentives, push the students beyond their comfort zone to work through the pain, thoughts, voices, and heartaches all while tackling the overload of unrelated-to-content duties.

I learned the importance of seperating my work-life from my personal life (unless I want to stay single forever and only see my family during family reunions). This is much easier said than done once you accept the fact that you will always, even as an Instructional Coach, be blessed with students who experience unfortunate situations. I’ve taken small steps by first recognizing I can’t save anyone. I can only share my story in hopes it will ease their pain, give them unwavering support, and provide them with academic knowledge and strategies that can be applied to further their goals and dreams.