Math = Love

Monday, May 22, 2017

Monday Must Reads: Volume 4

Things have been pretty quiet on the blog front since the last volume of Monday Must Reads. I had multiple posts I wanted to write, but I had to exercise some tough love and not let myself write any more blog posts until my state teacher of the year application was finished. I'm cheating a bit by writing this blog post today because my application still isn't technically finished, but it's finished enough that I could submit it if it wasn't for my perfectionism. I've still got lots of edits to make on my seven (!) essays. It turns out that my writing style is a bit more wordy than what the committee is looking for.  Each essay has a maximum length of only one or two double-spaced pages with 12 point font and one inch margins. That's not a lot of room!

I guess I do need to actually make mention on this blog that I was named both Drumright High School's Teacher of the Year and Drumright Public Schools Teacher of the Year. The first honor came with a check for $500 and the second honor will come with an additional $500 check once my Oklahoma Teacher of the Year application is submitted.

Without further ado, here are the blog posts and tweets that I considered to be must reads this week.

Liz Mastalio has been killing it this year with her awesome #Teach180 tweets. The snapshot she provides into her classroom is incredibly inspiring, and I find myself wanting to be a student in her class!  In a recent post, Liz decided to create a curation of her favorite Teach180 tweets from the year. This classroom highlight reel is a treat to read!  And, you should definitely consider joining in next year with the #Teach180 hashtag.  I might even have to steal Liz's idea and create my own blog post with my favorite tweets of the year.  What an incredible way to reflect on the end of one school year as we begin to prepare for the next!

Norma Gordon created an awesome #SmudgedMath activity involving interquartile range and box-and-whisker plots. I love the student thinking required in an activity like this.  Norma's #SmudgedMath tasks can be downloaded here.

Yah Lee's recent tweet about using a visual to help students solve equations has got me thinking a lot about how I want to approach solving equations with my Algebra 1 students next year. Last year, I used a combination of the flow chart method and the traditional approach. I would love to get away from the traditional approach, but I also want to make sure that whichever approach I use can be used when there are variables on both side of the equal sign.

I'm not sure this tweet from Fawn Nguyen needs an introduction. #TRUTH

Rebecka Peterson does the coolest projects with her students. Her Rate In/Rate Out Shoebox Dioramas are no exception.  And, if you're not regularly reading her One Good Thing posts, you are missing out on a daily dose of inspiration that I think all teachers need to be reading.

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Desmos recently blew my mind with their awesome Rube Goldberg machine graph!  It's animated, so you'll have to click through to get the full-level of awesomeness. I'm unsure who to credit as the creator, so I'll just put it as Desmos until someone tells me otherswise.  :) 

As a (hopefully) soon-to-be chemistry teacher, I can't not mention Jenn Vadnais' recent post about using Desmos Polygraph to practice the periodic table. Now, if only my school had the technology necessary so that I could use this in my classroom... 

Students referencing a periodic table while playing the Desmos Polygraph: Periodic Table
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One of my favorite probability activities is Probability Bingo. My students love this game and get super competitive every time we play! Liz Mastalio recently found a way to fix one of the most annoying aspects of the activity by using shapes instead of colors. It's so much easier to produce two dice for the activity by gluing on shapes instead of trying to color the dice and dealing with the colors rubbing off. Yes, I speak from experience.  

Mr. B's tweet caught my eye because it helps illustrate a solution to a problem many of my algebra students have. Most of my students can solve this type of problem in their heads, but I've never been really sure how to help those students who struggle to understand where the missing value is coming from. 

I recently had my first breakout box experience as part of the Tulsa Math Teachers' Circle. I've been toying with using the idea in my own classroom, but I didn't want to spend a lot of money on a bunch of different locks. Nick Waldron created an activity that caught my eye because it allows students to do lots of math practice but only requires a single lock.

I love using logic puzzles in my math class, but I often have issues with students trying to do a puzzle without first fully understanding the rules. Molly Rawding's new approach to introducing KenKen puzzles is a brilliant way to solve this problem!

If I ever get the chance to teach statistics again, I definitely want to find a way to get my hands on some of these stats stencils that Will Davies tweeted about.  Can you tell I'm a bit anxious about the fact that I don't know what classes I'm teaching yet for next year?

Jennifer Michaelis is making me wish that I could teach trig again next year. How awesome are these plexi-glass graphs that allow for instant trig graph transformations?!?

For the four years I taught Algebra 2, I taught my students that roots, solutions, zeros, and x-intercepts were all the same thing. Today, I learned the truth thanks to David Butler. It makes so much sense, and I wish I could go back and re-teach my former students why there are so many different words. Special thanks to Matt Enlow for taking David's tweet and turning it into a catchy image! 

And, here's Matt's awesome visual of this: 

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And, that's all of the blog and twitter awesomeness I have until next time.  Remember, my Monday Must Reads post may become a bit sporadic over the summer due to other obligations.  Keep sharing, #MTBoS!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Cover Up by Frank Tapson

I really hope you guys aren't growing tired of reading blog posts about Frank Tapson's awesome activities because you're about to read another one.  Previously, I've shared about How Far Can YOU Climb?, Manifest, and Skittles.  Frank also designed the number line poster I have at the front of my classroom.    

I love to keep his activities on hand for when a class finishes unexpectedly early.  That was exactly the case when we played Cover Up.

In order to play, students need to be in pairs.  Each pair needs one game sheet, a handful of playing pieces (some of my pairs used bingo chips while others used two colored counters), and a pair of dice.
Here are the rules:

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Like with previous activities I have tried, many of my students did not read and comprehend the rules fully before starting.  Next time, I will play a few sample turns under my document camera!

Once my students caught on, they had a lot of fun with it.  I heard lots of strategy talk as I walked around the room taking "action shots."

This would be a great activity to use as an introduction to a probability unit.  Which of the spaces on the game board are going to be hardest to fill?  Which will be easiest?  How should that impact my strategy? 

Here are a few more of the action shots I took: '

Monday, May 15, 2017

Monday Must Reads: Volume 3

My last professional day of the year is finished.  Grades are turned in.  And, I've already started throwing out all my extra quizzes from this year to clear out the filing cabinet for next year.

It's also Monday which means it's time for Volume 3 of Monday Must Reads.  I've been trying to write one of these round-up posts each Monday, but my posting might be a bit more sporadic as summer starts.  I hope to pick up a regular Monday posting schedule again once school starts back in August.

Here are the blog posts that I deemed as "must reads" this past week.  Have a blog post or tweet that you think needs to be read?  Leave a comment below!

Sara VanDerWerf blogged about a brilliant pop-up session she organized at MCTM Duluth.  In this session, she invited five conference participants who weren't speaking to share a 9 minute presentation on their favorite thing from this school year.  I loved reading about each person's favorite thing, and I also found some new math teachers to follow on twitter!  So many awesome ideas were shared in this presentation, and I'm so grateful that Sara took the time to share them with us as well!

Hedge is back in the classroom and teaching 8th grade math.  This summer, she is trying to put together a PLN (Professional Learning Network) of 8th grade teachers who want to collaborate.  I don't teach 8th grade myself, so I can't participate.  But, I do want to encourage you to check out her blog post and jump in if you are an 8th grade teacher.  If you haven't been exactly sure how to jump into the #MTBoS, this would be a great way to start!  Check out her post for more details!

Christie Bradshaw recently blogged about the resources she created for teaching systems of equations.  I included her tweet about creating a dry erase template for the elimination method in Volume 2 of Monday Must Reads, so I wanted to give everyone a heads-up that she is sharing the file for free (plus several other files) on her blog!

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Caitlyn Gironda posted a poem she wrote for her AP Calculus students.  It was such a fun read, and I can tell that she put a lot of time and effort into it!  I won't include the whole poem here so you'll have to click over and read it on her blog, but I'll share my favorite stanza with you.  The last line is the best!

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Sharon Soule' wrote a great post about coming to better understand how the box method works for factoring polynomials.  The discovery she discusses making was one I was forced to discover a few years ago when Shaun kept pressing me to answer the question "Why?" in regards to how we know how to fill out the box.  If our students don't understand where the different numbers are coming from in the box method, then it's a trick that's no better than the FOIL method.

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Dan Rodriguez-Clark shares a bunch of great ideas to get students to see the fun, creative side of math(s).  The activities he shares in his post are a summary of what his school did to celebrate "Maths Week" in Peru.  The activity that first caught my eye was a murder mystery activity called "Who Killed Mr. Dipentagram? by dave789 on TES.  I was able to print off the resource and implement it with one of my classes on the exact day I discovered his blog post.  How awesome is that?!? That was just one of the ideas shared.  I highly suggest you check out all 8 of his ideas for engaging students in doing math(s).

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Greta Bergman shared an awesome, reflective post about an activity she created to engage her students in applying the order of operations.  I love the questions she created, and I look forward to trying them with my own students.  I am inspired by her willingness to reflect on her own teaching with such transparency.  I need to create more of the experiences she describes so vividly in my own classroom!

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Kate's Classroom Cafe shared an awesome organizational trick that I am definitely going to use next year.  It's so simple and effective that I'm embarrassed I didn't come up with it myself.  Do you have trouble finding stuff in your hanging files?  Kate has got the solution.  Thanks to Kelly for posting a picture of your organized files on twitter to inspire me!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

DEAL ALERT: Dry Erase Pockets from Amazon

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  

If you spend any time on my blog at all, you will quickly learn that I love my dry erase pockets!  I have several sets of 9" x 12" dry erase pockets that fit 8.5" x 11" paper and a set of 11" x 17" dry erase pockets that hold 11" x 17" cardstock for larger, group activities.  

Amazon currently has an awesome deal on their 9" x 12" dry erase pockets!  As of the time of this posting, they are only $11.02 for a set of 25.  This makes them just over 44 cents each.  I have NEVER seen them this cheap before!  

I honestly believe that every classroom needs a set of these!  My students are willing to take much bigger risks with a dry erase marker in their hand than they will with pencil and paper.  Plus, these make it so easy for me as a teacher to produce quality, reusable activities in almost no time at all.  I spend less time at the copy machine, and my students are engaged throughout the class period.

The possibilities for using these are endless.  You can print any activity, slide it inside, and be ready to go.  Here are a few ideas for using them if you need some convincing.

Venn Diagrams

Periodic Table of Mistakes

Mean, Median, Mode, and Range Spider Puzzles

Workmat for Finding Five Number Summary and Checking for Outliers

Can You Level the Towers?  - An Activity for Understanding Finding the Mean

Simplifying Radicals Work Mat

Farkle Score Sheet

Predicting Products of Chemical Reactions

Practicing Finding Domain and Range From a Graph

5-4-3-2-1 Challenge

Combining Like Terms Maze

Are you convinced?  Click here to pick up a class set.  I guarantee that you will love them!