Triangles and Photography

During our last unit, students categorized different triangles and calculated supplementary angles.  Everyone in 6th grade knew what a triangle was, but they probably see triangles much more often than they realize.  In photography (and theater… and art…) triangles are used ALL of the time.  Straight lines are visually boring.  If you have ever been in a musical theater chorus or play, you have probably heard your director scream, “You’re in a line!”.  Which is fine for “A Chorus Line”… but not great for most plays and musicals.

Every student has had their photo taken and probably had a family photo taken at some point in their lives.  I pulled some of my photos from the past 2 years and had students look at them.  Really look at them.  And see if they could find the triangles.  I did this on the Smart board, but you could post them in Google Classroom as well.

Second, after receiving feedback on some of the photos, I asked the students what they thought the most important part of a a portrait is.  Eventually one student says “the eyes.”  From there, we could make many MORE triangles and using the eyes as our vertices create many important triangles that lay the foundation for much of portrait photography.

I have included the originals and drew triangles on the second set.  I used my tablet to save time which is why the lines are not perfectly straight…. but you and the students will get the idea!

Here is the Link to Folder of All Photographs






I didn’t draw triangles on the one below because it is pretty obvious 🙂














Link to Folder of All Photographs

Note:  All photographs are subject to copyright.

Pi Day 2018

Happy Pi Day!!!  So this was my FIRST Pi day with students as in past years we were usually on Spring Break.  But I can tell you it was EPIC!!  I hope this will inspire you to plan your own Pi Day!

If you want to get kids excited, you need engagement.  I ran Pi Day two different ways at two different schools.  Here are all of the details and resources!

Two Months before Pi Day, the math teacher and I announced our first annual “Pi Bee”.  The person to memorize and recite the most digits of Pi accurately would win a prize.

One Month before Pi Day, I asked local pizza places for donations for the big event.  Mod Pizza in Wentzville donated $25 in gift cards for the winners.

I confirmed where we could hold the pi day in the school building and the time.

Two weeks before Pi day, I collected Pie Face games from parents and staff.  I purchased a white crazy scientist wig and lab coat from Amazon.  I plan to use them in my STEM Camp this summer as well, so I think it was a worthwhile investment.  The wig was surprisingly good for the price however it is on the small side.  The coat is a normal fit – so if you are normally a medium then get that size.

I also had parents sign up to bring in whipped cream, plates and gummy bears.  We had extra gummy bears and will use them throughout the year.  I asked a couple of parents to help set up as well.  This was a big help at the beginning and end of the event.

I asked the art teacher if I could borrow a class set of markers or colored pencils.

I purchased and collected and copied additional materials for Pi Day.  I had decorations and activities from last year.  This year I added on a few more stations.

I printed and laminated Pi Day Decorations in preparation for the big day.  These are my favorite – and FREE!

I collected string, rulers, cans, tubes, yogurt cups and anything else round for Pi Investigation Station.  I would advise NOT using paper with circles drawn on them.  It is very difficult and cumbersome.  It is simpler to keep your toilet paper tubes!

I asked any staff members free during first hour to come and join the pi day fun.  They would also get their faces full of pie 🙂

Activities I used included:

Pi Day Art Poster – this station has the students coloring different posters which will form one large poster.

Pi Bee Certificate and Stations – This set included a pi bee certificate which I gave to each of the winners.  I work at two different schools, so I had two 1st place winners.  There are activities I used as well.

Pi Day Word Station – I included various word searches that I found online.

More Pi Day Actvities for Stations:

No Prep Pi Day Activities: Includes another word search

Graphing and Coloring:  includes a bar graph activity and art activity

Poster:  Free poster

Pi Day Extensions:

For my gifted education class, I used a Pi Day breakout where the students had to solve puzzles and use pi to figure out the locks.  All of the materials are in the shared folder here.

Pi Day Breakout

The Day is Here!!!

Pi Day finally had arrived!  Here is how our day went so you can have your own pi day too!

  1.  Pi Day Slideshow
  2. Introduced Albert Einstein and who he was and why the day was so special.  Introduced what pi actually is and had it up on the large projector.
  3. Pie Contest!!  This can go first or last.  We had paper plates with one gummy bear in each.  Then the plates were covered in whipped cream.  The staff members and I had to find the gummy bear and show everyone first – withOUT using your hands!!
  4. Pi Bee – contestants came up and gave the digits of pi.  This part will go by much faster than you think!  I had two of us judging so it would be fair in case there was a close call.
  5. The pi bee winner was announced and given his or her certificate and prize.
  6. Explained the stations.  The pi bee contestants had to do a lot of hard work – so they were allowed to do a little bit of the stations and played the pie face game the rest of the time.
  7. We switched between stations every 10-15 minutes.
  8. The end!  Some students helped clean up and we were good to go!

That was it!  We all had a blast – now go start planning for Pi Day!

Turn Your Phone into a Slideshow Remote

Welcome to my blog!  Recently, I have a few presentations on Breakout EDU and Creating your own blog.  The resources have been posted here.

One of the most frequent questions however was how I changed the slides while moving around the room.  I used my cell phone!  If anyone figures out how to do this on Smart Notebook – let me know because that would be awesome!

Here is how to turn your cell phone into a remote control for Google Slides:

  1.  Add the Chrome Extension from the Chrome Web Store: Google Slides Remote
  2. Open Google Slideshow you want to control
  3. In the upper right corner, you should see a “Present with remote” button.  Click on that.
  4. Once your slideshow is running, the bottom bar will be different.  It will have SHOW ID at the bottom.  That is your 6 digit code!
  5. Open on another device and enter the code on the page.  Voila – you now have a cell phone or Ipad or tablet or any device that can be used as a remote for your slideshow.  It is a few steps, but after I did this a few times it really only took less than 30 seconds.

I have the limhenry website saved as a shortcut on my phone.  I believe I found that in the Play Store a few weeks ago.  But, it is no longer there.  That’s okay!  As long as you have that link you are good to go!

Happy Remoting!

The Ratio of Skittles


I am so blessed that we teach ratios in the Fall!  Halloween and the day after Halloween are a cheap and easy way to obtain candy to turn into ratios and proportions.   Towards the end of our unit, students were given an assignment in Google classroom.  The only trees harmed in the activity were the ones that were under the skittles to use as “plates”.

Skittles Lesson:  Students will write the colors as a proportional relationship and solve proportions using multiple strategies including cross products.

Skittles Lab Activity – Original

Copy of Skittles Lab – Adapted

As our “Fun Friday,” students logged into Google Classroom and I previewed the activity.  It includes creating a pie chart.  You need to go to “insert”, “Chart” and then “pie.”  The students would not see the “Create in Sheets” in the lower lefthand corner, so I showed them a few times on the Smartboard.

  1.  Students were asked and able to take the ratio of different color skittles and put it in a chart.  Instead of a coordinate graph, this lesson uses a pie graph which we see a lot of proportions use as well.
  2. Students then got to eat their math which is always fun!
  3. Students turned in the lab activity in Google Classroom.  Due to time constraints, I did not do the Google Drawing section.

Smoothies and Ratios


This Fun Friday was a LOT of fun!!  I asked the parents 2 weeks ago via Sign Up Genius to buy one food item.  The parents were happy to help contribute and I ended up with plenty of supplies.  On the day of smoothie making, I provided my huge Ikea smoothie straws, blender, vanilla and oats.

My morning class made these in the teacher’s lounge since lunchtime was far away.  It was handy to have the space and sink. My afternoon class stayed in the classroom and it still worked out well.  I made sure to have lots of napkins, wet washcloths and a disposable tablecloth (or the trash can liner works well in a pinch too!).

  1.  After our morning warm-up and Brain Pop video, the students had to get into groups of 2 or 3 and choose a smoothie recipe from the handout.

**One change I would make to the handout is that you need ice.  Smoothies taste better cold and I added a cup of ice cubes to each recipe to make it colder. **

2.  Once they picked a recipe, I gave the students *part* of the new recipe.  So for recipe #4, I gave one group 2 and a half bananas.  So they had to figure out the rest of the recipe based on that proportion.  Of course you can do this two ways:  cross multiply and divide or find the ratio.  Some students figured this out intuitively and others took a little longer.

One group received 5 strawberries instead of 4.  They figured out they needed to multiply all of their ingredients by one constant (which is faster than cross multiply and divide) – I never told them this!  It was amazing!

Star Wars Crawl for the Classroom

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is coming in December!!!  Why not give the students instructions on a Star Wars crawl instead of a Powerpoint presentation?  Or embed this into Google Classroom!

Last week, I set up a Breakout game for the students where they had to use mathematics to solve puzzles in order to open the box.  Now the game included a Powerpoint with a cheesy little story about the Dentist.  I didn’t want to do the dentist story.  It seemed far fetched.  Okay okay, Star Wars is far fetched, too…..

I have a Princess Leia wig… and costume…

and why can’t I have a video give the students instructions?

(photo credit: Star Words on Google Play)

So here is one example!  You could use this to give an exit ticket at the end of class.  You could use the video to give instructions for a lesson.  You can add whatever text you want!  Need a fun way to give announcements?  Write them in Star Words!

Here is how I created the video:

  1.  Downloaded the “Star Words” app onto my phone.
  2. Used the editor to write the text.
  3. Played the video until it was just the way I wanted it.
  4. The app has a record option.  Warning!!  Everything gets recorded!!!  You sneeze, you hiccup, birds tweet, everything.  So make sure it is quiet.
  5. Once recorded, it was stored in my Internal Storage under “Videos”.  From there I shared it with my Google Drive.
  6. Once on my drive, I downloaded the mp4 file to my laptop at school.  The drive doesn’t like mp4 files and was not playing them right until I downloaded the original file.
  7. I embedded this file into my Powerpoint presentation and had to make two movies because I teach at two different schools.  You wouldn’t have to do this extra step.  It just makes the flow easier.  I don’t like stopping class to pull something up when I can embed it once and use the presentation year after year.


Reward the Good Questions Not the Good Answers


I currently teach the 6th grade  accelerated math (known in other schools has honors) class and gifted education.  After 10 years of parenting and reflection into my prior teaching practices, I came to the conclusion to add a candy jar but not for giving me the right answers.  Students can earn a treat for asking a good question.  It must be a question that requires more research, more reasoning, more discussion and not a question that can be answered by a simple google search.

Our greatest accomplishments started with a “what if?”   — What if we could land on the moon?  What if phones could go on the internet like computers?  These accomplishments started with good questions, not good answers.

Sometimes the good answers even hinder what we can accomplish.  Andrew Wiles solved Fermat’s last theorem but the answer was wrong at first.  He didn’t give up and stop asking questions.  He did solve it after his first presentation.  In 2017, an 11 year old developed a better and cheaper way of detecting lead in the water.  We had an answer already to lead detection and scientists have been detecting lead in the water for years. But she kept asking questions – is there a better way?  Is there a cheaper way?  And that is how she invented a new lead detection device that works over bluetooth that is cheaper and more convenient than current methods.

When your child gets home from school or students enter your classroom, ask for the good questions.  Ask them what good questions they asked today.  Not what they got right.

Brain Walks with Juliana

My daughter creates lessons and has been doing so off and on for two years.  I decided that I just had to tape this one and share her “Brain Walk” with everyone.  Who wouldn’t want to go on a brain walk??  Sounds like fun!  And we all need the exercise.

Can we use this lesson anywhere else?

What can a just turned 7 year old teach us about solving problems?

Do we have all the answers and do we need to?

What may help us reach the answers we desire?

Breakout EDU – Education’s Escape Room

Wow!  I had heard of Breakout EDU before but to actually start one in class was really amazing!  There are quite a few things I learned along the way and I probably have many more things to learn.  Here are my reflections, education standards, sources of materials and steps I used to do this particular game which could apply other games.

First, I notice that they suggest whole class sizes and I see videos with classes given the puzzle.  I am not sure this is the best way to go about it.  There are only so many things you can do with the clues once everyone has gathered the evidence.  While watching the videos I noticed how some people would hang out in the back and not participate or after gathering the clues some of them had nothing to do.  I am sure some breakout games could work around this with more small lock boxes and more clues.

(Source: Breakout

Like most times when flipping the classroom, I put a LOT of time into it beforehand and then just aid the students through the game.  It is HARD not giving them hints and watching them fail and go back.  Oh my goodness!  Since changing my teaching strategy from what I used to do, it really is harder but the kids eyes light up like crazy when they get it.

Reflection:  All of us reflected on the game at the end.  The game timer of 45 minutes gives us 10 minutes to discuss:  how did we work in a group?  Were you a leader or did we all lead at different times?  Why did we make that mistake and how can we fix it next time?  So for example one student solved a clue by clicking on the eye of the Statue of Liberty.  She didn’t tell anyone though that she did this.  So the other students were looking for clues relating to the eyes of the Statue of Liberty for a good chunk of time.  So we discussed how next time clues or problems could be posted on the dry erase board.  This is really important when you have larger groups of students.

Standards:  How and what standards did I use?  I used this in the gifted class at my school for 6th grade.  We are working this quarter on Divergent Thinking, developing fluency in our ideas, flexibility in our solutions and elaborating.  They need to learn how to organize their creative thoughts and find connections between ideas.  This type of escape room is a microcosm for exercising the 4 main 21st century skills that students need:

  • Collaboration and teamwork.
  • Creativity and imagination.
  • Critical thinking.
  • Problem solving.**This game and everything listed will work in other classrooms as well!  This just happens to be the class I am teaching at the time.  To modify it for a regular classroom, I would choose a game at their level (this one was for middle school/high school) and the appropriate amount of students listed on the game or what you think your students need.   I chose a game a little above their age and used fewer players**

Step One:  Buy a Breakout EDU box or make your own.  You can purchase the locks at Amazon and the hardware store.  The number locks, directional lock and alpha lock are the key to many of the games’ puzzle.  A black light marker and black light flashlight were also used in the game.  You want to make sure the marker is invisible in normal light.

The USB drive that came with the box did’t work for me.  I used my own which was nice because it twists and added a little “twist” to solving the puzzle.  This was simply because I used to own a company and put my client’s photographs on custom made USB drives.

(Photo from Breakout EDU)

Step Two:  Create your own game or find one already created for you on the website.  I wanted to follow one first in order to be able to manipulate it later for my own needs.

Dr. Johnson’s Lab is part of the Breakout EDU so you need to purchase a kit to have access to the games.

You can also find games online and on Teachers Pay Teachers.  When doing a search, also try the term “escape room.”

Here is the set up video.

I noticed that the set up video skips the other lockbox with the Delta Airlines code on it.  Since this was my first time doing a Breakout EDU I left it out as well.  I think it would have and could have been included seamlessly into the game.  I have a small class size and this removal worked well with me.  If I had more  students, then this part would have been included.

Step Three:

Print everything out.  Mark and cut and get your items created.  So, for Dr. Johnson’s lab I had to print out just 3 or 4 sheets of paper.  The rest were colored arrows vital to the game.  Since I don’t have a colored printer, I just drew them and colored them myself.

Here are Printables for the end of the game.

Step Four:

Set all of the locks.  There is handy tutorial on how to do this.


Video for Letter Lock

Video for Number Lock

Add something fun inside the box!!  I printed out the printables, a pretend vial of the antidote and also included some Hershey Kisses in the box. The kids went nuts!

Step Five:

You need to set up the room before the students enter.  I set it up at the beginning  of the day.  Nobody noticed the extra items much.  I drew the breakout symbol with the arrow on small sticky notes and put those on the Breakout clues.  That way they could tell it was a clue versus not a clue.  You also need a computer for the kids to use.  I borrowed a Chromebook from another teacher or let the students use my computer.  Letting my students use my computer was fine except we couldn’t see the timer sometimes.

Step Six:

Set up your computer and play!
I have the Breakout Facilitator Slideshow up for introducing our game.
I have the Youtube video with the crazy mad scientist to introduce the game.
Finally, I have the Breakout timer running on another tab.


Certified Kind Classroom

(source: Amazon)

I read “Wonder” by RJ Palaccio soon after it was released – it ended up being one of my favorite books.  Then, I read it with our book club and everyone really enjoyed it!  THEN, I read the book to my 4th grade class last Fall.  Whew!  Needless to say, I still love the book and encourage everyone to read it.  I like the shift in points of view and the themes in particular.  Now the movie is coming out November 17, 2017!  Woo hoo!  If you want to read the book at the library reserve it NOW!  I am sure it will be a long list in November.

Certified Kind Classroom Project

Not only is it an awesome book, but Lionsgate is starting a Certified Kind Classroom that my class will be participating in.  There are activities AND prizes.  Who doesn’t love prizes??  The first activity is one I have wanted to do with a classroom for a long time – design our own t-shirt.  With new and cheaper methods of creating shirts I thought this would be fun.  Now the Certified Kind Classroom makes it into a contest.  So not only do we get to use creativity and communication skills – we get to apply them and compete.

The second activity is identifying precepts to live by.  Personally, I think many books and discussions have missed an underlying message:  Priorities.  What ARE our priorities??  Young people are trying to identify their priorities.  They usually adopt their parents’ priorities, sometimes try ones of their own and then – hopefully – develop a system of their own moral, ethical, physical and academic priorities.  In the most famous precept in the book (which is actually from Peter Pan by Barrie I believe) , the teacher states “It is better to be kind than to be right.”  What does that mean?  What do we take away and how do we put this into practice?

The third activity is one I have seen in a few schools.  Some call it filling a bucket.  Some call it fishing for good behavior.  Some call it “random acts of kindness.”  Whatever it is – the continuous action of calling attention to good behavior and acts of kindness is something that is worth doing!