Monday, June 6, 2016

Algebra One Fun Mazes and Other Activities

Algebra One - where it all begins!  Kids as young as 6th or 7th grade are in this course - they are still little :)  They still are willing to have fun in math class - and hey let's face it - even those of us who have kids in 9th or 10th grade taking Algebra - we need a fun activity every once in awhile.  So what can we do?

Here are two ideas:

1)  Have students practice the skill you are working on within a maze.  They will go back to their earlier childhood and remember the fun they had working mazes - and you can sneak in the practice!

Here is a maze that I created for solving one and two step equations - you can download it FOR FREE from my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

If you really liked that maze - I have a whole bundle of Algebra One Mazes you might like to look at - check these out here:

2)  I am also currently working on a new type of activity called A Stick To It activity.  In this activity, students will be given a small sheet of stickers with answers to the questions on the sheet.  As they work out the problems, they find the answer on their sheet of stickers and stick the correct answer on the worksheet.  If you have Avery Labels 8167 available, you can print the stickers for students to use.  If you don't happen to have stickers available, you can always have your students cut and paste.

Here are two examples of my Stick To It activities:


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

How a Timer Changed my Math Classroom

The content of this post may seem obvious to some of you, but to others that haven't tried using a timer before, I invite you to try it...I bet you will love it.

I often have my class work in groups...sometimes they are working on task cards, sometimes a review sheet, sometimes talking about a couple of problems.  But group work sometimes ends up in a black hole - some groups finish and are really focused, some groups work well together naturally, but other groups end up talking about things other than the math assignment!

One thing that really helped me this year was using a timer to keep things moving along.  You could use any timer, but the kind that really helped me was a digital timer that I could project onto the front board.  (There are many available online for free, but here is the one I used: Online Stopwatch )

The advantages that I found while using a timer were:

1) A timer allowed me to keep track of how long the students were working.

2) A timer allowed me to hold students accountable for the task at hand.

3) A timer created a sense of urgency that the task needed to be completed and the students needed to keep working in order to get it done.

4) A timer allowed me to do something else - for example, take attendance, quickly grade a makeup quiz, etc - without losing track of the time.

5) Finally, a timer will not allow one group or student to monopolize your time...or a timer will allow you a specific amount of time to work with a struggling group or student.

I am definitely going to continue to work with a timer next year!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Geometry Roller Coaster Project

I had two weeks left in Geometry this year and I couldn't bear the thought of reviewing for 2 whole weeks.  Not that my class couldn't have used the review, but ughhh!!!

So I searched for a project and I came across the paper roller coaster project.  Click the link below to read about the project and to purchase the templates if you're interested.

Paper Roller Coaster Project Website

I'd like to tell you about my experience with this project.

Since, I had never attempted this project before, I gave the students no guidelines before we began.  I showed a few pictures from the website, but other than that, I handed them paper and tape and told them to have at it.

The beginning of the project was very took them a long time to cut out the pieces for the structure and then start taping them together.

But, then this happened...

And you could start to see things taking shape!

The students kept on cutting and taping, taping and cutting and the structures were finally finished.  (I actually eventually had to give them a deadline for finishing the structure...I think some of the groups needed a limit...they might still be there!)

Next, they were ready to start cutting the pieces to make the actual roller coaster.  

There were several days necessary to get the roller coasters made.  Here are a few pictures of the process.

Finally, at the end of two weeks of working on the roller coasters every class period, we had the finished product.

All of the roller coasters were tested by running a marble through each one...they all worked!!!

Students came up with interesting features and themes for each of their roller coasters.  They did so much hard work, that I even gave everyone 5 points extra credit!

Each group also got some type of award.  Here are some examples of awards that were given:

1) Longest roller coaster ride
2) Tallest roller coaster
3) Best engineered roller coaster
4) Scariest roller coaster
5) Most Unusual Feature
6) Most Creative Roller Coaster
7) Coolest Name for a Roller Coaster
8) Best Entrance to the Roller Coaster
9) Best Two Ride Roller Coaster
10) Best Group Work

Things to remember for next time...

1) This project takes a lot of tape.  Ask students to bring in a roll each.
2) Depending on how long you want this project to take, have students cut out their pieces at home.
3) I didn't have any problem getting the students invested in this project - there was no rubric.  But, depending on your class, you might need one.
4) Students need cardboard for the base of this project.  You might ask students to bring boxes from home and then cut them up for the bases.  I order frequently from amazon, and so I started saving my amazon boxes and they worked well.  Also, I asked my cafeteria manager to save food boxes for me.

Finally, one of the tech people at my school gave some of my roller coasters a professional photo shoot!  Here are a few of the finished products.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Teacher Appreciation Sale and a Giveaway

It's suddenly May...we've almost made it!  What could be better than a sale AND a giveaway?  (Keep reading all the way to the bottom to enter to win!)

What kinds of activities do you like to use as the year draws to a close?  I like to do things that keep kids minds on math, but they don't realize it!  In my class webquests are a big hit.  The webquests I have made teach the students something about math history - a topic we don't often have time for during the busy parts of the year.

Check one of these out:

1) Mathematician Webquest - this is one of my best sellers.  Students match a fun fact about Mathematicians to the name of the mathematician.  (see it here: Famous Mathematician Webquest)

2) Four Color Theorem Webquest - this is a fun activity for students of all levels.  You can do part or all of the webquest depending on the level of your class.  The big idea students need to understand in order to complete the activity is that there are only 4 colors necessary to color any map so no adjacent states are colored the same color.  (see it here: Four Color Theorem Webquest)

3) Golden Ratio and Fibonacci Numbers Webquest - Students learn a little bit about the Golden Ratio through looking up items online and can also learn to draw a golden rectangle.  Check it out here: Golden Ratio and Fibonacci Number Webquest

Now on to the GIVEAWAY!

Some of my STEM TPT friends and I have gotten together to sponsor a $50 TPT Gift Card.  See below to enter the Giveaway...AND don't forget to visit your favorite TPT store on Tuesday and Wednesday May 3 and 4.  Many stores are offering 20% off and TPT will throw in an additional 10% off if you use the code CELEBRATE!

Here are the stores helping to sponsor this Giveaway:

1) Teaching High School Math - (that's me :)

2) Jean Adams - Flamingo Math

3) Scaffolded Math and Science

4) Free to Discover

5) Algebra and Beyond

6) 4 The Love of Math

7) Weatherly

8) Math to the Core

Would you like to enter a giveaway to win a $50 TPT Gift Card?  For each store/blog you visit you get an additional entry - so visit and follow them all so you have the best chance to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Factoring Color by Number and a FREEBIE!

Coloring is all the rage and I decided to create a project for my students that allowed them to show their creative side!

I started by finding this outline of a mandala online.  I created 13 factoring problems and put factors in each space in the mandala.  

Each student factored all 13 of the problems and chose a color that they wanted to use for each section.  If you notice carefully in my picture, you can see that although all of the pictures are colored using different colors, they are all colored in the same pattern.  For example, no matter which picture you look at, you will see that the outermost petals that are towards the top, bottom, left, and right are always colored the same color in any student's flower project.

Would you like a copy of this project for yourself?

Download your copy [FOR FREE :) here:  Factoring Color By Number Project

Friday, April 22, 2016

Using Desmos in the Math Classroom

I love my Texas Instruments graphing calculator...I really do - BUT Desmos is the best thing that has hit my iPad...and it's FREEEEEEEE!

What do I like about using Desmos...

1) it is very intuitive.  Students can type in an equation and Desmos graphs it.   Done!

2)  it graphs as you type.  For example...if you type y = x + graphs y = x and then moves the graph up as you type +2.

3)  You can add sliders.  For you want to show students what happens to the graph of the equation of a line y = mx + b when you change m?  Type y = mx - 3 and add a slider for m.  Slide the slider and students immediately see what happens when m changes.

Lots of examples right before their eyes...awesome.  Graphing calculators work for this too, but you have to type in each new example.

4)  I like that there is an app and there is a web-based version.  I have students that bring chrome books, but most have iPads.  Both sets of students can work in this app.

5)  There are many, many pre-made activities that you can find by googling.

Last Christmas I had my Pre-Calculus class use all of the graphs we learned about during first semester and make Christmas themed drawings.  They were awesome and really taught them about piecewise functions.  I don't think many of them really understood them until they had to make lines and curves start and stop in certain places to complete their Christmas drawings.

Here are a couple of examples that my class created - awesome!

 If you'd like to see see the rubric and more information about this project, check it out in my Teachers Pay Teachers store...Teaching High School Math

Monday, April 11, 2016

We Speed Dated in Calculus Today!

I needed an idea to review a whole bunch of different problems in a limited time frame...and I am tired of explaining all of them!

Enter...Speed Dating in Math Class!

I found this idea for Speed Dating in math class on Kate Nowak's blog (see this post here...Kate Nowak Speed Dating)

Here is how I did it:

I gave a practice multiple choice test from a previously given AP Calculus test last Friday.

I graded them...seriously ugh.

I went through the first 10 questions and found students that got one of the first 10 right.  I designated these students as the "question expert" for that question.  I sat those students around the outside of the room.

I then sat the other 18 students in groups of either 1 or 2 around a ring through the inside of the room.  These students sat facing a "question expert."

I set a timer on my computer and projected the countdown on the screen in the front of the room.

The question expert was responsible for explaining that question to the one or two students sitting in front of them.

Every two minutes, the timer went off and the students stood up and moved to the next question expert.

Here is my class...speed dating :)

Things I loved about this activity:

The timer really helped me keep track of time.  When it went off, the kids stood up and switched.  I didn't get sidetracked by someone asking me a question or anything else.

The "questions experts" looked proud of themselves!  It wasn't necessarily the "smartest" kids that were the question experts.

Everyone was moving and working - they only had two minutes!

The kids loved that I called this speed dating.

Things to change for next time:

Each time I do this activity, the question experts need to change.

A disadvantage to this activity is that the question experts do not get to learn anything new.  They certainly help me by explaining what I would have had to explain a lot of times, but they didn't get their questions answered.

Have you ever tried speed dating in math class?  What things worked for you?