Monday, October 22, 2012

Inequalities and Converting Temperature foldables

Did you know?

Grading the quizzes from my algebra class today, I learned that if m>32, then the solution is "all real numbers"... Oh and if 11<6t, then there is no solution.  We may have missed something in that lesson I think... maybe.

Finished Equation Sandwiches Bulletin Board

All three classes' sandwiches up with my letters.  I really like this one :-)


My kids always check the Playlist to see if they are going to be taking notes.  Most days, we take notes.  This year I decided to go with a bound notebook with the foldables in the notebook instead of a foldable for each chapter like I've done in the past.  I've noticed that my students seem to understand that their notebook is a reference book.  I seem them referring back to something we wrote in our notes while they're doing they're bellwork and class assignments.

Here are a few of our latest entries:

Outside has the formulas

Inside has the examples
Outside has "key words" and graphing clues

Inside has an example
I really like how the graphing inequalities foldable turned out today.  I had them write the four sentences on a quarter-sheet of white paper, then they cut the sentences apart.  After that, we labeled the outside of the flaps, and I could already see them thinking about which sign each sentence was going to go with.  When we had finished labeling the outside, we discussed which sentences went with what inequalities and glued them on the inside.  Then we wrote and graphed an inequality for each sentence.  I had a kid tell me "you taught that the best I've ever heard!  It makes so much more sense now."  Have to love moments like that :-)

Friday, October 19, 2012

A new look and Favorite ways to practice

I finally figured out how to add a cute banner and background to my page!  Yay!  

Sometimes we're covering a topic in class and it just requires a lot of practice.  I'm not one for just giving worksheets or book assignments.  For most students, it's just not interesting and really not very effective.  Here are some of my students' favorite ways to practice, as seen from their excitement when they see them on the day's Playlist.

Add It Up

I first came across Add It Up on Julie Reulbach's blog ispeakmath.   Students are given a set of problems - I usually use our workbook and one students does odds while the other does evens - and an add it up board.  Students write their answers on the board and find the sum of the answers.  When they have the sum, they hold up their board, and I give them a thumbs up if it's correct, or a thumbs down if it's incorrect.  If their sum is correct, they move on to the next pair of questions.  If their sum is incorrect, they must work together to check and correct each other's answers and find the correct sum.  I have been really surprised at how excited they get when they see this on the Playlist!  Their so excited to have me tell them if they got it right, they don't even notice they've done 20 questions.


I have been using some form of Math-O in my classroom for the last five years, and students always love it.  It's a game, and they have a chance to win a prize (usually a small piece of candy in my room) when they get five in a row.  I use to make my own cards with the answers from whatever set of 24 problems.  In past years, I have just written one problem on the board at a time, and letting students work the problems one at a time, but this year I've started giving them a page with the problems ahead of time, this way if a student is finished with the problem I've called, they can go on.

Here's a sample of what the cards look like.  I print 4 to a page to save paper.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Applying scientific notation

A few weeks ago, my students were studying how to write numbers in scientific notation and then write them in standard form.  I love finding ways for my students to see how the math that we do can be used in the real world.  Scientific notation has so many applications, I couldn't resist letting them see some ways it makes sense to use it.

I let my students choose a partner, and each partner got a task card with a country, continent, body of water, or planet.  Each card also included a website where the information they were to find could be found.

You can purchase all twenty tasks on my TpT site
When the partners had collected all of their information and written the data in scientific notation, they then created a poster to display their information.  My classes made some really nice displays for their data!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Life's a little better with edible equations

It feels good to blog again... I've been trying to get caught up from being very sick (strep, mono, and walking pneumonia at the same time) and missing a week of work.  

For the last few weeks we have been solving equations of every kind.  We finally worked our way up to multi-step equations with variables on both sides and parentheses.  My students have AMAZED me!  When I had some of these kids as seventh graders, I thought how much I dreaded having to teach them complex equations as eighth graders.  They have completely stunned me with how good they have gotten!  

So, last week I had my advanced class be my guinea pigs to make equation sandwiches inspired by this blog post.  They blew me away!  I put 30 equations in a bucket and had them draw one out, solve it, check their solution, make a plan for their sandwich, and then they went to the supply station and let their creative juices flow!  They made all kinds of sandwiches - smores sandwiches, pb&j, Big Macs.  Here are some of the results...

I went ahead and put the sandwiches from this class on the bulletin board around the corner from my classroom so that my other two classes can see some examples before they make their's tomorrow.  I'm going to cut letters with my cricut to say "Life's a little better with edible equations". 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Storage for Supplies

I have tried everything to try and have my supplies organized and accessible.  However, for things like glue sticks, tape, dry erase markers, and scissors, I was getting tired of passing them out because we use them everyday in our notebooks.  I don't have tables in my room... I don't even have desks that can really be grouped... So, I got creative!

A trip to Home Depot later, and here is what I had...

For $0.77 each, I got aprons that I then tied to the sides of the chairs just below the book racks! I put all the things we use on a daily basis (glue stick, scissors, dry erase marker with flannel erasers that I made from left over baby blanket fabric, and one purple and one red/orange colored pencil - what I let the kids use to grade each other's papers) in the pockets.  Hopefully this will cut down on time that gets wasted with passing out and taking up supplies.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Discovering and Teaching

"Life is good for only two things, discovering mathematics and teaching mathematics"--Siméon Poissonbeen 

Recently my district had in-service days for each middle school grade level focusing on the new CCSS (Common Core State Standards).  I have already been applying some of the CCSS practices in my classroom the last few years, but this in-service really brought up some interesting ways to do problem-based learning.  

One thing I've started incorporating in my classroom this year is a "Parking Lot Question".  It's really just an Exit Ticket on a post-it note that they "park" in the parking lot on the board.  After all their answers are in, I take the post-its down and stick them to a sheet of paper with the question and date written at the top of the page.  Then, I put the sheet of paper in a sheet protector and put it in the Formative Assessment notebook for that class (each class has its own color for organization).

For now, the parking lot is just a 5x6 grid I drew on board, but the lines keep getting erased, so I'll probably make a permanent one on butcher paper soon.  I've been using some more challenging questions and my questions are creating some incredible questions and discovery.

Recently, we have been studying the rules of exponents.  I love having my students write out (a^5)(a^6) as (a*a*a*a*a)(a*a*a*a*a*a) so that they have a reason to want to find a way to multiply monomials that is shorter.  My amazing students have discovered the rules multiplying and dividing powers with the same base, powers of powers, and powers of products all by using this discovery method!  And they're owning it, which is my favorite.

Here is one of my favorite "Parking Lot Questions" here recently:

About half of my students answered this question incorrectly on their post-it.  However, as I was listening to them discuss it as class ended, I got really excited to discuss this question more!  So, today, as soon as we had gone over Warm-Ups, I put this question back on the board.  Unsurprisingly, when they answered the question a second time, they all got it right... some of them changed their minds, based on the discussion they had with their peers!  I love when they discover these things on their own, even more than I could possibly love just showing it to them.

So, I see more "Parking Lot Questions" in our future, and lots more discussion and discovery!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Proud to Make them Practice

It's week 2 of the "new blogger initiative"! 

1) Find one worksheet or activity or test or unit or question or powerpoint slide or syllabus or anything that you are proud of. Share it.

My five years as a teacher have been quite a journey. I honestly cringe when I think about my first year. However, one thing I have always loved doing, and started doing my very first year, is creating my own material for my students. My favorite types of worksheets to build are riddle puzzles and problem sets to use with VersaTiles.  

If you don't have a set of VersaTiles in your classroom, I highly recommend them! I will admit that the first time our math coach came to me and said "look what I bought you" I was a little skeptical. But I figured I could give anything a try (since nothing I was doing during my first year really seemed to work anyway), and not only did I love them, but the kids thought they were pretty cool too. You can buy kits for whatever grade-level and subject area you teach, but sometimes I found that what was already there wasn't exactly what I needed. So I found the book with the patterns and started making my own - most of which are on my tpt store.

In the midst of switching standards over the last few years, some topics were hard to find anything for extra practice, and that's why I made most of my VersaTile worksheets. Best of all, the kids can check their answers when they are finished!

I know I'm only supposed to share one thing I'm proud of, but I can't resist sharing about my riddle puzzles. When I was a kid, i loved puzzles and riddles. I decided to use my love of puzzles and riddles to make worksheets that would be more fun for my students. I found some jokes (usually animal themed) and created my own puzzles! Each correct answer led to the answer to the riddles! They were my main tool a few years ago, and I still like to pull them out to use.