Math = Love

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Math Taboo

I've written before about my plans to play Taboo as a warm-up with my students on Tuesdays.  We've had two Tuesdays so far, and it's gone really well.  I wouldn't say it's my students' favorite day of the week.  That's probably Witzzle or the Train Game.  But, I like that it gets them thinking about how they use their words.  And, it's also a really good way to sneak some math vocab into what they think of as just a cool beginning of class activity.

Here's the way I've been doing it:

On Tuesdays, I display Taboo on the board and ask for volunteers.

Each class plays through 4 taboo cards.  2 cards are random words from the English language. The other 2 cards are math vocabulary words.  I mix the order up, so I ask students to volunteer BEFORE they know if it's going to be a math word or a random word.

At some point, I may go to randomly selecting students.  I haven't decided.  It seems like the same few kids want to volunteer each time.  It's still early in the year, and I know a lot of my freshman students might still feel uncomfortable playing a game like this in front of their peers.  I don't want to push a student to participate who doesn't want to.  But, I also want to give the kinda shy kid a chance who is too scared to volunteer but still wants to play.  Maybe I should choose randomly but allow students to pass if they wish???

I have the first volunteer turn around to face away from the SMART Board while I project the first card.  The rest of the class gives clues while trying to avoid the words written at the bottom of the card.  This Tuesday's first card was DRAGONFLY.  I downloaded a PDF file with a bunch of free taboo style cards here.  They were created for ELL students, but I've found they work perfectly for my purposes.  I've just been using the snipping tool to cut out the cards I want to use each day.

Now that we've played twice, my students are getting better at not yelling out clues that contain the words at the bottom.  The first time we played it was rough.  Part of the problem is that they way I've structured our Taboo opener is that there isn't really a punishment for saying the word at the bottom.

The main point of this post is sharing some resources I've found for math taboo cards with you all.  I'm trying not to recreate the wheel this year in ALL aspects of my teaching (only some).

Math Taboo Card Resources

James Cleveland offers a set of 163 pre-made math taboo cards ready to print as a PDF!  I've been using this set to pull out cards for my classes.  

Tina Cardone has posted some geometry taboo cards!

Paul Collins offers a set of 50 taboo cards.

This set is from a UK website, so some of the vocab words may look unfamiliar to US readers.  Before I started dating an Australian maths teacher, I had no idea just how many math terms differed based on country.

And, here's a calculus version of taboo.

Of course, Fawn steps this up a notch and has her kids create their own taboo cards to use.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Labeling Turn-In Trays

I finally got my turn-in trays labeled with the class periods.  After having last period plan for the last two years, I'm back to having first period plan.

My labels aren't anything fancy.  I took some colored index cards from Dollar Tree and cut them in half.

I folded each half in half and labeled them with the class period and what I teach that hour.

The arrows are my new addition this year.  Last year, quite a few students struggled with whether their papers belonged in the tray above or below the label.  With a little critical thinking about how the trays are made, I think they could have figured this out.  But, students rushing to turn things in before heading out the door to their next class meant papers in the wrong tray all the time.  So, arrows it is.

I taped them to the tray with some handy dandy packing tape.  I use this stuff for seriously everything.

Finished trays.  I have two empty trays at the bottom.  Wait, make that one.  I decided to store my laminated train games that we use on Thursdays on the bottom shelf.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Algebra 2 Skill 1: Classifying Real Numbers

For my first year of teaching, I made this nifty set of nesting boxes to illustrate the real number system.

First-year teacher me was too terrified to write on them with a Sharpie for fear of messing them up.  So, I held them up to illustrate, but they didn't actually end up getting much use.

Second and third year teacher me decided that the real number subsets weren't actually on the end-of-instruction exam so she didn't teach them.

Fourth year teacher me decided that she wanted to make sure her Algebra 2 students could talk about numbers using a more precise vocabulary.  So, the boxes made a new appearance.

This time, though, I wrote on them.  Is my handwriting perfect?  Nope.  But, I'm okay with that.

Note to self for next year: Label all four sides of the boxes!  (And, maybe the inside bottom!)

I also took some Dollar Tree neon index cards and chopped them in half.  Each card was labeled with a number to sort.

Fun colors make everything better.

I had a graphic organizer from my first year of teaching, but I decided to change up the look just the tiniest bit.

We glued this in our notebooks.  Then, I had the students write the definitions for rational and irrational numbers.  I gave them a quick introduction to the graphing calculator so they could type various numbers in to see what kind of decimal they produced.  We typed in pi.  We typed in e.  We typed in 2/3.  We typed in Radical 2.

A few minutes before class started, I had decided to let each student pick a sticker as they walked in the room.  I used a box of random name badge stickers that have been in my cabinet for ages.  Not sure exactly how I acquired these...

I wrote out a set for each of my Algebra 2 classes.

I made it so half were rational and half were irrational, but I didn't tell them that. ;)

It turns out that the stickers weren't that sticky, and they didn't stay on that well.  One tweep suggested I use paper plates in the future.  I really like that idea!

When kids walked in the door, I fanned out the pile of stickers in front of them and let them choose one.  They just saw the blank backs.  One girl picked the sticker that said pi.  The first words out of her mouth? "Ms. Hagan, I picked your favorite number!"  YES!

I guess I did tell them this on the first day of school...

After our introduction to the scary looking graphing calculators, I had them type the number off their name badge into their calculator.  Then, I gave them the task of sorting themselves into rationals and irrationals.

In retrospect, I made a mistake here.  I was really just wanting my students to practice using their calculator.  But, now a bunch of my students think that you have to type 2/3 into your calculator to see if it is rational or irrational.  Oops...

I went around the room and had each student read out their number.  The class decided if each student was in the correct category.  If I were going to do this again, I would have everyone sort themselves.  Then, I would do a quick survey and tell the class how many people were in the wrong place.  And, I'd let them discuss to figure it out.  Hind sight really is 20/20.

After we were all sorted correctly, we went back to our seats to finish our notes.

Next, I brought out the nesting boxes.

In 2nd period, I laid them out on the desk like this (but nested).  And, I had students come up, grab a card, and place it in the correct box.  It didn't work so well.

In 5th period, I handed the cards out to the kids (either 1 or 2) and had them walk up to the boxes and put them in once they had used their notes to classify the number.  SO much better!

Sometimes I feel bad that my morning classes are my guinea pigs since my afternoon classes are all repeats.  Every morning, I learn what not to do when teaching a lesson.

I took the cards out of the box one at a time.  On a blank notebook page, the students listed the number and what subsets it belonged to.  If it was a natural number, I would prompt them with "What box does the natural number box always fit inside?"  Whole numbers.  "What box does the whole number box always fit inside?"  Rationals.  And so on.

Seeing a 3-d representation really helped my students in a way that the 2-d version in their notes didn't.

We went through all of the numbers.  It was a bit more time consuming than I'd hoped.  If I do this again, I'd want to streamline this section.  Somehow.

The next day, students came in and found a dice activity to complete to wrap up this skill.

I always hated Always, Sometimes, Never in high school geometry.  But, I decided to give it a go with my students.  So glad I did!

Here's the sheet I gave them:

On the board, I wrote the numbers 1-6.  I asked them to list different types of numbers.  They quickly came up with 5: natural, whole, integers, rational, and irrational.  It took a few more moments before someone remembered that those are all types of real numbers.

I handed out one jumbo foam die to each table group.  The other math teacher I work with gave me these last year, and my students and I have had so much fun with them!

This picture shows me using two foam dice, but I just did that to show how I got each box filled in for my #Teach180 tweet.  I had my students just roll one die two times.  This meant they had to write the number subsets in a certain order instead of being able to choose which subset went in which slot.

I did an example of how the activity worked on the board for students to see.  Then, I set them loose to do 5 as a group.  I went around and stamped them after I checked them.

Look at these cute stamps I picked up at Dollar General!  They were 5 for a dollar.  I'm not sure how long they'll last, but the kids were definitely amused with them for this activity!

It was great to just be able to walk around and eavesdrop on their conversations.  When I noticed students were struggling, I brought over the nesting boxes for them to use.  One group had rolled this sentence: A integer is a natural number.  Half the group thought it was always true.  The other half of the group thought it was sometimes true.  So, I held up the integer box for them.  You have a number in this box.  Is it always in the natural number box or is it sometimes in the natural number box?  Looking at it this way, the answer seemed obvious to them.  Soon, I had groups fighting over who got to keep the nesting boxes sitting at their desks.  They informed me that I needed to make a set of boxes for reach group because they really helped.

I tried explaining that this was the same as the graphic organizer I had given them, but they weren't buying it.  I think rolling the die to make the problems was the real selling point of this activity.  I've found that anytime I pull out the dice that my kids get excited.  There's just something special about when the dice decide your problem instead of the teacher!  I found this was the case last year when working with point slope form!

Want to download my files for this lesson?  Here you go!

Monday, August 31, 2015

This Year's New Bulletin Board

Gave my first SBG quizzes of the year on Friday.  When I hand them back, I write a score of A, B, or Not Yet on them.  I actually grade on a 4-point SBG scale, but I've renamed 4 to "A" and 3 to "B" since I enter a score of 4 as 100% and a score of 3 as 85%.  Any score of 1 or 2 is a "Not Yet" because students are required to reassess until they earn a 3/4 (A/B).

Those students who get an A the first time will get a sticky note stuck to their quiz.  They will write their name on the sticky note and staple it to this board.  I can't wait to watch it fill up!

Here's the link to the Perfect Score First Try! Poster.

And, here's a link to my math symbol posters that are hanging above it.

Also, if you want the YET posters, click here.

Other Note: Eventually, I will finish decorating my classroom and post it for all the world to see.  There's so much stuff I didn't get done this summer.  And, I'm still paying for it.  I can still be an effective teacher with blank bulletin boards.  They do stress me out, though...  

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Organizing Algebra Tiles

So, I've decided that the reason #Teach180 is working for me is that it seems doable.  I can post one picture a day.  I can write a caption.  Most days, there are multiple pictures I could post.  I teach three preps, and each prep is usually doing something unique.  I just pick one of the neat things we did and post it.  There's no need to be comprehensive.  For me, #Teach180 is not about chronicling every thing I do in my classroom.  Instead, it's my effort to stay plugged into the #MTBoS every day.  I learn so much from twitter.  But, it's usually the first thing that starts to slide when life gets busy.  I know I'm a better teacher for those interactions with my tweeps, though.

For the next few days, I'm going to try to approach my blogging in a similar manner.  I usually blog a comprehensive idea at a time.  For example, I usually blog an entire unit's worth of notebook pages at a time.  What happens when I don't have a picture of one of the pages?  That blog post gets put off and may never actually happen.  I keep getting e-mails from people asking where the rest of my Algebra 1 INB pages from last year are.  Well...this girl is a perfectionist.  And, they're not perfect nor complete.  And, that's kept me from writing those posts.  I need to get over my perfectionism and get to blogging.

Shorter, Incomplete Posts > Perfect Posts that Never Happen  

That's going to be my blogging motto for this year.  Hold me to it, guys.

Today's Incomplete Idea:  Algebra Tile Storage

I got a classroom set of algebra tiles this year.  I'm excited to use them to illustrate factoring, distributing, completing the square, and combining like terms this year.  I tried using algebra tiles cut out of card stock one year.  That was a disaster.  Oh my goodness.  Little bits of paper.  Everywhere.

Each set came in a zip-top baggy.  But, I know my students.  Ziplock baggies somehow have a way of getting destroyed in my classroom.  Or they get tossed back in the bin without being zipped up properly.  [Though, Ziplock Baggies > Rubber Bands.  I learned that the hard way with my first day of using conic cards...]

I want these resources to be easily accessible to students whenever they need them.  I want them to stay organized, too.

I saw a pin where an elementary teacher was storing base 10 blocks in tupperware-style containers that were divided into sections.  I pinned it thinking I should do something of the sort with my algebra tiles.

While in Dollar Tree, I saw sandwich containers that were 3 for a dollar.  They're not divided into sections, but the price is definitely right!  I'm going to put two sets of algebra tiles in each container.

My desks are arranged in groups of four, so this will let my students share easily with their partner that is next to them or across from them.

Here's what two sets in one container looks like.  

My thoughts: students can dig around in the container without dumping the contents of the bag on their desk.  Less dumping should mean less pieces on the floor.  And, I hope that making sure the lid is snapped on well comes more easily than making sure the bag is zipped properly.

I could probably put a table's worth of pieces in each container, but I'm hoping that doing containers by each pair will increase participation of ALL students.

Warning: I haven't actually used the containers with students yet.  This idea is completely untested.  So, if you have what you think is a better solution, please share in the comments!  I may be needing it...

Saturday, August 29, 2015

#Teach180 Awesomeness

We're seven days into school, and I've only blogged about the first two days.  Not off to the best start.  But, I am proud of myself for tweeting a #teach180 picture every day.  Hopefully these pictures will all become blog posts of their own some day.  I'm so excited about all the awesome people who have joined in with me to tweet something from their classroom every day!

In an attempt to persuade you that you MUST check out this hash tag, I'm going to post some of my favorite ideas I've seen so far.  You guys are so creative!  [I should be writing a blog post about one of my own ideas at the moment, but my brain is fried from spending the entire morning on a grad school assignment...]

If you don't see any pictures below, just wait a second while they load!  #worththewait #pinkypromise

Factoring Trinomials Card Sort

Awesome, Artsy Classroom Windows

Using Post-It Notes to Post Four Fours Solutions

Graphing Calculator Posters

Dry Erase Magnets for Organizing Information by Class Period
[This is my sister, y'all.  We need to convince her to start her own blog.]

Ways to Grow Your Brain Bulletin Board

I really, really, really want to be in Nancy's German class!

Function/Not a Function Exit Ticket and Card Sort Idea

There were lots more amazing posts.  But, it'd be silly to post them all when you can just look at them all by following this link.

Hope you've found an idea to try.  Or inspired you to follow the #teach180 hash tag on twitter for more awesomeness.  Or maybe inspired you to start posting your own picture of the day on twitter?  I know you have some amazing ideas, and I really want to steal them.  

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Futoshiki Puzzles

One of the things I love most about the #MTBoS is that for every idea I blog, I seem to get three or more ideas back in return.  Recently, Christine Mishra left a comment on an old post from 2013 with a link to a (new-to-me) logic puzzle: Futoshiki.  Christine thinks these would be awesome to include in a unit on inequalities, and I agree!

Here's the link she sent me to check out.

Each column and row can only contain a number once.  And, all inequality symbols must be obeyed.

Here's a puzzle from the previous link.  Clicking this puzzle will take you to the original source!

Doesn't this look fun???

Don't worry, there are smaller puzzles, too.  They go down to a 4 x 4.

I asked my fiance if he had heard of these puzzles before, and we ended up spending a couple of hours skyping and trying to solve the same puzzles at the same time.  Yeah, we know how to have fun.  :)

If you're looking to try these out online, the best site we found was BrainBashers.  It lets you make pencil marks which is a huge help in the problem solving process.

Anyone use these with students?  Or have an idea of how to best use these?  I'm thinking I'll give students one as a Figure It Out! Friday puzzle.