Saturday, March 14, 2020

Calculus March Madness





I have wanted to do a review activity centered around some type of "Math Madness" competition for a long time, but couldn't quite figure out the logistics of how to make it work.  I was inspired by a post on the AP Calculus Facebook Teachers Group and I decided to give this a try in my classroom.

Here's what I did...

First, it was important to me to keep each student involved in this activity for as long as possible, so I decided to have a Double Elimination Tournament.  I have 22 students in Calculus AB, so I googled 22 team double elimination brackets, and found a perfect bracket already made at Print Your Brackets.




I struggled as to how I should place students in the bracket...should I seed them just like the real March Madness competition?  But then I decided...this is just supposed to be fun, so I decided to fill in the bracket in real time right in front of the class.  I used flippity.com to choose one name at a time from my class list and had one of the students fill in the bracket as I went.  This generated excitement and let the students know I wasn't playing favorites :)

I just put the brackets on my white board...if I knew I would always have the same number of students in my class, I would have a big write on/wipe off poster made of the size brackets I need, but who knows?

After I had the brackets filled in, it was time to start the first round.  I arranged all of the desks in groups of 2 facing each other.  I had students put one of their phones in the middle of the two desks.  The phone was used as a stopwatch.  I distributed a copy of the first round of questions to everyone face down on the desks.

Here is an example of what my questions looked like:


When I said go, students turned over their questions and answered them as quickly and accurately as they could.  When a student finished, he or she turned their paper over and wrote the time on the back.  (This is to determine who won in the case of a tie).  When everyone finished, I read the answers and the students graded their own work.  I depended on the honor system...students were watching each other anyway, and they all wanted to win and wouldn't tolerate someone who was changing their answers.


Once we determined the winners from the first round, we filled in the spaces on the bracket on the board and moved to the next round.  Since this was a double - elimination tournament, all students were still included in this round.  The second round was finding derivatives.


We continued through several more rounds.  As we continued, some students were eliminated.  They were still expected to work on the questions given in subsequent rounds, but they just weren't competing anymore.

Depending on the size of your class, you may or may not be able to complete this competition all in one day.

I have enough questions for 8 total rounds of Math Madness.

If you'd like a FREE copy of my Math Madness set of questions, please subscribe to my newsletter!






Thursday, February 6, 2020

Pythagorean Theorem Speed Dating


It's the middle of winter here in Chicago and I need to liven things up in my classroom.

So, since we are gearing up for a quiz on the Pythagorean Theorem, I thought I might try this year's class at Speed Dating.

I made a group of 12 Pythagorean Theorem word problems that could be solved in about 3 minutes of less.  I printed one problem on each piece of paper.


I set up my room by putting 12 pairs of desks together.  Label the pairs of desks from #1 - #12  (You will want to adjust based on your number of students - I have 24 students in my class, so this worked perfectly for me.)

Each pair of desks gets one problem.

Set the timer for 3 minutes.  (You may want to adjust the timing based on your group of students.)  I actually put a timer up on my projector.  This seems to keep students focused and working for the entire time.  It also helps me keep to the schedule.  I can't get distracted by one group needing help...etc...the timer goes off in 3 minutes!

When the timer goes off, one of the students in each pair moves up a desk, and one moves down a desk.  (For example, the students who started the assignment in desk #5...one of them will move to problem #6 and one will move to problem #4.)  This gives everyone a chance to work with everyone else in the room.  No one complains about their partner because they get to work with everyone!

After everyone has had a chance to see every problem (36 minutes), I project the answers up on the screen and we go over them if students need to.

Students love this activity, and I love how it really runs itself.

If you're interested in seeing my Pythagorean Theorem Speed Dating Activity, check it out here:







Friday, January 17, 2020

Valentine Multiplication Color By Number


Do you need something to help your students practice their multiplication facts near Valentine's Day?

This 2 pack of Valentine Puzzles (one for multiplication facts and one for division facts) will help your students practice using a Valentine Theme.

If you're interested, you can buy it right here:



Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Teaching Integer Operations with Dice





One of my daughters is headed to middle school next year, and I had a thought about getting her started on adding and subtracting integers.  But..she doesn't like math...sigh!!! so I have to trick her and make it into a game :)

I bought some blank dice from amazon. (48 Blank Dice)  Using a sharpie, I started with using 4 of these dice.  On one of the dies I put the positive numbers from 1 to 6, on the second die, I put the negative numbers from -1 to -6, the third die had sides with addition signs and subtraction signs, and the 4th die had = signs on all of the sides.

Here are a couple examples of what the dice look like once they are rolled.  Notice that the subtraction sign is purple - I originally did all of the dice in black, but then we couldn't tell the subtraction sign from the number one.  So, I would recommend that you use a different color on the die with the operation signs.


Can I still do this activity if I don't have dice?

Absolutely - one option is to use a random number generator.  You can find lots of them on the web, or you could even use your TI-Calculator.

I like this one...Random Number Generator

Just change the limits


And then press generate

You could do this as an entire class activity and students could take turns generating the random numbers.

Or, here is an integer dice roller website!!

Here ---  Integer Dice Roller

I hope you and your students enjoy this activity!

{if you are interested in purchasing this activity, find it on my TPT store Integer Dice Activity )







Sunday, December 1, 2019

Crack the Code Puzzles in Math Class - Fun!



I have recently making a new type of puzzle for the students in my math classes.

These are Crack the Code Puzzles.  Here's how they work.

Most important is the set up...I set up the room before the students come in.  Desks are arranged in groups of 3 or 4 and a safe/toolbox/lockbox is set on one desk in each group.

I may write on the board Crack the Code!  This immediately generates interest in the activity as soon as students walk in the room.

There are many types of lockboxes or safes that could be used for this activity.  Just be sure that whatever "treat" you are giving for opening the lock box will fit in the box you choose.

I am trying this lockbox that I bought at Target.  It was $15.  Not too expensive, but very expensive if you have to buy too many of them!  I intend to use this multiple times though, so I figure it is worth the investment. [Need other examples of lock boxes or tool boxes?  Read my post about making an escape room activity here: Making a Breakout Box]

Depending on the time of year, the treat I give will be different.  It might be candy, it might be a homework pass, it might be a ticket for extra points on the final exam.  If you want to use mini candy bars - like Halloween size,  8 of those (and more) will easily fit in one of these boxes.  

Here's a picture of the actual item with some candy inside.



Now on to the activity...

Each page of the activity has 10 true and false questions.  

Here's an example from my Quadrilateral Crack the Code Activity.



Notice that some of the given statements are true and some are false.  Students determine the number of true statements on each page.  The number of true statements is one of the digits to the combination that will open the lock.

Students continue to pages 2 - 4 and can then try the combination on the lock.  If they are correct, the lock opens and they get their treat - or if you're really creative, you can use this as just one task in an escape room type of activity.

One advantage to using this assignment is that you can tailor the assignment to the type of lock that you have.  If you have a lock that only has three digits...only give the students 3 pages from the assignment.  If you want to give each group a different combination, change the order of the pages you give them, or give them a different set of pages.  Great for differentiation.

I currently have two Crack the Code activities available in my store, with a possibility of more coming soon.  Check them out here:







Saturday, October 26, 2019

Calculus Curve Sketching Activities and a FREEBIE!




It's that time of year in AP Calculus - teaching Curve Sketching and everything that goes along with it.  According to the new AP Calculus AB Guidelines, Unit 5 - Analytical Applications of Differentiation makes up between 15% and 18% of the AP Exam.  Unit 5 contains all of the information about Curve Sketching, so it is very important that students have a good handle on this topic.

Here are 5 activities that I use in my classroom for students to review all of the things!

Calculus Two Truths and a Lie Curve Sketching
1)  Two Truths and a Lie - Curve Sketching.  This is one of the best activities I do all year in calculus.  Students love it! In this activity, students are given an equation.  They then write 3 statements about the function.  Two are true and one is a lie.  These posters are hung around the room.  Students go through a gallery walk deciding which statements are true and which are lies.


Calculus Curve Sketching Color by Number

2) Curve Sketching Color by Number - In this activity, students practice finding the characteristics of curves.  For example, where is the maximum...over what intervals is the function increasing...where is the inflection point, etc.  Even high school students love to color!



                                              Calculus Curve Sketching Line Them Up Activity


3) Line Them Up Activity - In this activity, students are given a set of cards.  Students begin with any card.  In the middle and bottom half of the card there is a question.  Students search for the answer to that question at the top of another card.  They then do the question on that card and so on.  The last card should have its answer at the top of the starting card.  There are two sets of cards included in this activity.


                                              Writing about Math - Calculus - Curve Sketching

4) Writing About Curve Sketching - Having students write about curves and their important characteristics is very important because on the AP Test, students must justify their answer.  This means that the students need practice doing this!  In this activity, there are 5 writing prompts that students are asked to write about.


                                        Calculus Super Secret Number Puzzle - Curve Sketching

5) Finally - the Super Secret Number Puzzle.  Students are given a series of questions.  They write their answer in each blank.  When they are finished, they add up all of their answers.  This is the Super Secret Number.  If their super secret number adds up to my secret number, they probably did the questions correctly.  Add to the fun by posting the answer in a QR Code at the front of the room - students have to scan to see if they are right!


You made it all the way to the end of the post...how about a FREEBIE?  Check out this Quick Matching Curve Sketching Review Activity...

Curve Sketching FREEBIE!





Sunday, October 13, 2019

Halloween Multiplication Color By Number




Halloween = awesome!  But, everyone needs a break from all of the sugar :)

You want to do something educational, and all the kids want to do is celebrate.

Try my Halloween Multiplication Color By Number.  In this packet, you will find two different pictures that students can use to practice their multiplication facts.  Perfect to hang for Halloween decorations!

If you are interested, click here to buy it now!