Math = Love

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Evaluating Expressions Interactive Notebook Pages

We kicked off our lesson on evaluating expressions with the parenthetical promise. Every year, I force my students to make the following promise to me: I, _____________, do hereby promise that I will always use parentheses whenever I substitute values into an algebraic expression. I make them sign the promise and date it.


Every year, I seem to have a few who don't want to play along. This year, I didn't have any of those because I told them that the students who didn't play along with the promise last year ended up failing the quiz. I think this year's freshman class may still be scared of me...


Though I've done this for multiple years now, I'm embarrassed to say that this is the first year that I've made a point of showing my students the importance of using parentheses when evaluating expressions. Can you believe that?!? In the past, I've just assumed that students would take my word that it was important. No wonder some students didn't want to play along...


As a class, we worked out the same problem two ways: with parentheses and without parentheses. Look, we got two different answers! See, class, I told you that parentheses are important!

But, now we have two different answers. How do my students know that 3 really is the incorrect answer and 11 is the correct answer? Should they just blindly trust me with this too? To reassure my students that Mrs. Carter really does know what she is talking about, I had my class get out their calculators (TI-30XS) so that I could teach them a nifty calculator trick. I walked them through the steps of storing -2 for x in their calculators. Then, I challenged them each to type x^2 - 2x + 3 in their calculators. Every student in the class got their calculator to read 11. That means that when our calculators substitute in values for variables, they use parentheses, too! See, Mrs. Carter is telling the truth!

Next, we glued in our first pocket of the year. I pre-printed the steps for evaluating expressions on the pocket. Super proud of how it turned out!


Inside the pocket, we put four practice problems that we completed. See all those lovely parentheses?!?






Finally, I gave my students a "One Incorrect" puzzle from Greta Bergman to solve. Students had to evaluate expressions until they found the one that didn't equal 36. Students are always eager to get their work checked when they get an answer that isn't 36. Usually, I find some error in their work, point it out to them, and send them back to re-work the problem. So, they end up getting LOTS of practice!


Files can be downloaded here.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Monday Must Reads: Volume 10

Well, tomorrow is the day when the Oklahoma State Department of Education finally announces the 2018 OK Teacher of the Year. I'll be honest. I'm nervous. Mostly about the speech I have to give - not whether I win or not. I decided months ago that this entire process is in God's hands. He has a beautiful and perfect plan for my life. Part of that plan has involved getting to be a finalist for Teacher of the Year which has come with some pretty nice perks. As a first year teacher, I set a long-term goal that I would one day be Oklahoma Teacher of the Year. So, yes, I'd be honored to win. But, I will also say that the thought of leaving my classroom for a year to tour the state has me worried. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a teacher. Now that I'm in my sixth year in the classroom, I can't imagine myself doing anything else.

Tomorrow will have one of two outcomes. I will either hear my name announced as Oklahoma's Teacher of the Year, or I will hear someone else's name announced. Either way, I'm going to consider myself a winner. To win and have a chance to inspire teachers across the state during the 2018-2019 school year will be an honor. To get a chance to teach algebra to students for the 2018-2019 school year and continue doing what I love will be an honor. No matter the outcome, I can't lose!

Now, to get my mind off this speech I need to give tomorrow, I present to you this week's Monday Must Reads!



Here are this week's inspiring tweets!

Tony Donaldson shares a photo of what a mole of different chemicals looks like. Last year, my physical science students really struggled to wrap their minds around the mole concept. This year, I'm teaching chemistry, so it is even more crucial that my students understand this tricky concept. I hope that letting them visually see a mole of something will help!

Image Source: https://twitter.com/mrtdonaldson/status/908710741280268289


Hayley created a mini maths key fob toolkit for the teachers at her school. I'd love to use this idea for practice structures. Then, I could just flip through the cards when I'm looking for an idea when lesson planning! Hayley has posted the file to download on TES for free here.

Image Source: https://twitter.com/hayleymcelderry/status/908772614667165696
I'm always on the lookout for new ideas for foldables. Mr. Fredericks shares a new-to-me foldable type in this post. Love the emphasis on definitions AND what each vocab word looks like!

Image Source: https://twitter.com/MrFreds2200/status/908838953821757440
Mrs. Mongelli's tweet caught my eye not because of what she was tweeting about but because of the posters in the background! I want to emphasize the importance of prefixes/suffixes/root words with my chemistry students. I may just have to put up some more posters to help! :)

Image Source: https://twitter.com/Mrs_Mongelli/status/908839106255388673
Randy L. Revels, Jr. shares a creative idea to get kids thinking in class. Using the top of your desk as a dry erase board, write as many things as you can think of about a certain topic. This idea won't work with the textured tables in my room, but I'm saving it here to keep it in mind for the future!

Image Source: https://twitter.com/revs_87/status/908734006878973952
Are you doing #Teach180 or a 180 blog? Ben Wildeboer has created a calendar that lets you easily figure out the number of the day of school that corresponds to each date. My favorite thing is how customizable it is!

Image Source: https://twitter.com/WillyB/status/908520712826183680
Rick Barlow recently tweeted about an intriguing way to get students to buy into group work. He invited students to give public shout-outs to other students who took risks in problem solving. How awesome is that?!?

Image Source: https://twitter.com/rickbrlw/status/908673623535230978
Jake Valtierra is an assistant principal who shares ideas from classroom teachers. I love the idea of "Pin the Tail on the Number Diagram!"

Image Source: https://twitter.com/RiversideMS_AP/status/903727531437817856
Katie Shonk combines three awesome things (SMARTBoards, Venn Diagrams, and Post-It Notes) to make something even more awesome!

Image Source: https://twitter.com/MathWithMsShonk/status/907783082111066112

Tenille Cauley shares a new-to-me activity to give students practice working together in a group. The challenge: write a message without touching the marker!

Image Source: https://twitter.com/MrsCauley/status/906564185601003526

Mrs. Schneider had her students create beautiful pinwheels with facts about themselves on the other side. This would make beautiful classroom decor!

Image Source: https://twitter.com/SMS_Algebra1/status/907259682179469312
Megan Tuttle poses an awesome puzzle to her students. It's like a clothesline activity without the clothesline. What does m equal? What order should the cards go in?

Image Source: https://twitter.com/TuttleELP/status/816367804354101252
Gina Stukenholtz has her students complete an enthusiasm and learning chart to get feedback from her students. LOVE this idea!

Image Source: https://twitter.com/ginastuk/status/908511031969714176
Madi Roberts shares an awesome dry erase template she created. I also think this would make for an awesome foldable for interactive notebooks!

Image Source: https://twitter.com/MrsMadiRoberts/status/908452714438365184

Elissa Miller inspires with an awesome geometry lesson that involves pipe cleaners and fuzzy pom poms! I also love the card sort for Algebra 1!

Image Source: https://twitter.com/misscalcul8/status/908506048214036480
Ashley Brown shares a new-to-me idea for data collection: lucky numbers from fortune cookies! I love combining food with data collection in the classroom!

Image Source: https://twitter.com/msbrown8math/status/908467458050334720
Beverly Schroth brings chemistry to life by having students act out what happens to the charge and mass of an atom when electrons or neutrons are added or subtracted.

Image Source: https://twitter.com/schrothbc/status/908338877752074240
Daniel Carlson found a quick way to get useful student feedback. I love the question about Desmos! And, for the record, I think it's impossible to use Desmos too much!

Image Source: https://twitter.com/pythagitup/status/908093102438666245
Megan Joy combined one of my favorite practice structures, two truths and a lie, with technology in an awesome way!

Image Source: https://twitter.com/MeganJoy5/status/908160770273304577
Stephanie Goldberg uses a simple office supply, a plastic sheet protector, to create a genius demonstration of the associative property.

Image Source: https://twitter.com/sjgoldedu/status/908411354410872833
 Katrina Newell shares an awesome relation/function card sort. Check out her blog post about it here. She has also shared a version of the same activity that doesn't involve any cutting and gluing. I've already printed it and put it in my unit binder for relations and functions!

Image Source: https://twitter.com/MrsNewellsMath/status/908062674382094336
I don't teach biology, but I have to give a shout-out to Jen Winne for her creative use of pool noodles in teaching science!

Image Source: https://twitter.com/biobythemathmom/status/908026868238036992
Julie Morgan shares a poster she created for her classroom to recognize one student each week based on their Numeracy Ninjas performance. LOVE this idea. I also love that the sign is laminated so it can be easily reused each week!

Image Source: https://twitter.com/fractionfanatic/status/908003201793880065
Sarah Dimaria's students are performing a yummy stats experiment: are double stuffed oreos really double stuffed?

Image Source: https://twitter.com/MsDiMaria/status/907905284131233792
Michelle Bailey created an awesome pass and fold activity to get her students practicing the concept of complementary angles in geometry.

Image Source: https://twitter.com/MichelleBinMA/status/907679397502701574
Kaytlin Black engages her students in reviewing the scientific method by analyzing thumb wars. How fun!

Image Source: https://twitter.com/kaytlin_black/status/905481356888522752

Michelle Vanhala shocks her chemistry students by eating a candle. I've wanted to try this activity with students ever since I read about it last year. Thanks Michelle for the reminder. I'm definitely doing this with my chemistry class soon!

Image Source: https://twitter.com/MsVanhala/status/907326487438688258
Joel Bezaire wins the coolest teacher award for teaching his students how to build an enigma machine from a soda can!

Image Source: https://twitter.com/joelbezaire/status/905826033181581312
Math by the Mountain has been producing some awesome flow charts lately! Check out this one for classifying real numbers.

Image Source: https://twitter.com/MathByTheMt/status/906720043525738496
Mr. Cooke shares an awesome wall display featuring a Pythagorean Tree!

Image Source: https://twitter.com/MrCookeMaths/status/902924838754545664
Until next week, keep up the awesome tweets and blog posts!



Sunday, September 17, 2017

How I Teach

Just a heads-up that there will be no blog post here today on Math Equals Love because I'm being featured on Dave Sabol's How I Teach series.
Image Source: https://therationalradical.wordpress.com/2017/09/17/how-i-teach-sarah-carter/

You can see my answers to his questions about my teaching style and work style here.

I'll be back here tomorrow with a new volume of Monday Must Reads!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Crazy Eight Puzzle

The other day, my husband was on the lookout for blogs that shared geometry interactive notebook pages. I've never taught geometry before, so I wasn't exactly sure who all the geometry bloggers are. A quick google search led me to a blog I remember but haven't visited for years: School of Fisher. The blog hasn't been updated since December of 2013, so that's probably the reason it's been awhile since I've visited...

As I scrolled through the blog posts, I got super excited when I found a post about a paper folding puzzle that I had never seen before.

Image Source: http://schooloffisher.blogspot.com/2012/08/crazy-eight-puzzle.html
The blog post links to another post as the source, but that blog no longer exists. Thankfully, I was able to find the original inspiration post via the Internet Wayback Machine.

I printed off the puzzle, fiddled around with it a bit, and put it in my bag to take to school. With the craziness of the beginning of school, it was quickly forgotten about.

Then, the second week of school happened. I was caught unprepared by a nasty cold. This was shocking because usually my immune system holds out until at least October. I wasn't prepared to be sick in August!

So, on a Friday in August, I found myself wondering how I was going to make it through the day with this cold. I decided to give myself grace. I printed off an order of operations worksheet for my Algebra 1 students. But what could I do with my math concepts and chemistry classes? As I was looking in my bag for something else, I caught a glimpse of my Crazy 8 puzzle. Bingo! A plan!

A quick trip to the copy machine meant I had puzzles for these two classes.


I ended up teaching my Algebra 1 classes instead of handing out the worksheet I had printed, but by the time 3rd period rolled around I was exhausted. So, I passed out the Crazy 8s puzzle to my math concepts students. I walked them step-by-step through how to fold and cut the puzzle.

This class struggled for ages to figure our how to make the folds and cuts. This was not a good sign. A few kids started figuring out the solutions to some of the numbers, and I thought things were going well. Then, a student wadded their puzzle up and threw it in the trash can. Less than ten minutes into class, my students were giving up! Now, keep in mind that this is math concepts: a class for 9th graders who are not yet ready for Algebra 1.

While some students persisted, more and more students started giving up and throwing away their puzzles. This frustrated me, but my sick body didn't have the energy to argue with them.

During lunch, I started brainstorming ways to keep my chemistry class engaged the entire class period. I wrote the numbers 1-9 across the dry erase board. I told students that as they finished each puzzle, they could write their name under the corresponding number. This worked SO well with my chemistry class! It really helped my kids to be able to look up and see which numbers they had not yet completed.


We quickly learned that 1-6 were pretty easy to solve. 7 and 8. Not so much. We didn't start getting solutions to 7 and 8 until probably the last fifteen minutes of class.









My chemistry students found the puzzles to be tricky, but they didn't give up! Kids were so proud of themselves whenever they figured out a level. It was also fun to watch them accidentally solve one level when they were trying to solve another level.

This activity is a definite keeper, and it's the perfect puzzle to have in your arsenal for when you need an easy day for whatever reason. I definitely want to introduce the puzzle to my Algebra 1 students at some point during the year. You can download the file from School of Fisher.