Math = Love

Friday, February 12, 2016

Quadratic Formula Templates

This week, my Algebra 2 students started solving quadratics using the quadratic formula.  Wednesday, I passed out one of my favorite homework assignments of the year to get them started off right.  

This year, I didn't teach it to them to the tune of quadratic formula.  Instead, I gave them the paper, let them freak out a bit and try to memorize it on their own.  A few students remembered their older siblings singing the song and filled the rest of the class in on how it went.  That was fun to see.  :)  I also told them to check out YouTube to find a version of the song that would help them remember it.  
Yesterday, I knew I wanted to create a notes template that would help them organize their work.  In the past, I've done a Tangram Puzzle for them to cut and paste in their notebooks.  

This was cute, but my I found my students need A LOT more help with setting up the problems than I have given in the past.  So, I whipped up this template on my planning period:

I inserted it into a quick booklet foldable with two example problems for my students to work through.  

My students seemed to understand where the a, b, and c came from much easier with this template.  Of course, they freaked out a bit when the imaginary numbers came into play...

After working through the practice problems, I set each group up with a Quadratic Formula Question Stack Activity.  The cards I use are hand-written because I made them last year before I had a computer template, so I don't have a set to share.  Sorry!  (But, you can learn more about Question Stacks here.)

I decided at the last minute that I should make them a dry erase template to help set up each problem. I just cut and pasted the template from the notes onto a blank document and increased the font.

They weren't pretty, but they worked.  We slid them into these dry erase pockets to make them erasable and reusable.

The kids insisted we get out the red/yellow/green cups so they could indicate when their group was having trouble.  The thing that I liked the best from this was that when a group was having problems, it was super easy for me to figure out if they had even set up their problem correctly since that's where I find most errors occur when working with the quadratic formula.

I tweeted a picture from this lesson, and John Golden suggested using different shapes for a, b, and c.

Of course, I had to pretty-up my dry erase template for the future, so I created two versions.

Version 1: Regular Rectangles

Version 2: Different Shapes

All files can be found here.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

5 x 5 Game

Just want to give a quick shout-out today to Sara Van Der Werf and her awesome 5 x 5 game!

I read her post about it before Christmas and filed it away to use on one of those random days when I wanted a filler activity that was still very much math-y.  Well, I got the chance to use it last week.

My statistics students are working on designing and implementing their own surveys.  They are practicing different sampling designs and trying to avoid introducing as much bias as possible in their results.  It's been super fun to listen in on their planning as they critique each other's projects.  Many of my students have chosen to do an simple random sample, and I told them on a certain day that I would give them the list of all the students in the school (or the students in the grade they had chosen).  It just so happened that the copy machine decided to break that very same day.

So, I had to scrap those plans and keep my stats students occupied somehow.  My stats class is notoriously hard to keep on task because a fair number of them are seniors and there is no end-of-instruction exam at the end of the year.  But, they quickly got into this game and became super competitive!  My students also noted similarities between this game and 20 Express.

The best thing was I could throw it together at the last minute because Sara already has made images to explain how the game is played.  I just cut and pasted them in my SMARTBoard file from her blog post.  All you need is a deck of cards with the face cards removed to play.  I'm not going to rewrite out all the steps of playing because Sara already did an awesome job of explaining them!

I had my students play using dry erase boards because I was throwing this together at the last minute.  They drew their own 5 x 5 board, but it was super time consuming.  They all agreed it would be better if they had a template to use next time.  Sara includes a sheet of game boards that you can print out, but I decided to make a giant game board to use in the future with my favorite dry erase pockets.

Here's my box template.  Uploaded here as a PDF and Publisher file.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Basketball Homecoming Spirit Week: Song Edition

Basketball Homecoming is this Saturday.  So, that means this week has been Spirit Week.  My student council kids decided to go with a "Song Week" this time around.

They'll probably get mad at me for posting this, though.  When they were doing research for spirit week ideas, they just kept finding all the spirit weeks they've done in the past that I've blogged about...  How do I know this???  One of them mentioned me in this tweet: "So frustrating trying to look up new spirit weeks and then finding what you've already done, posted by your famous teacher @mathequalslove"

Each day of the week has song lyrics that coordinate with the day's theme.

Spirit Week Hash Tag



Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Make Someone's Day

I spilled hot chocolate on myself this morning, and I thought to myself that it was probably a sign it was going to be one of those days.  I got to work this morning, dropped off my lunch in the teacher's lounge, turned on my computer, and scurried to the restroom to try and remove the signs of the hot chocolate from my blue blouse.

When I got back to my computer, I noticed that I had just received an e-mail.  My principal had nominated me for a teaching award.  Instantly, my day had brightened!  Did my principal have to do that?  Definitely not.  If I decide to submit an application for this award, it's going to mean more work for him.

So, I want to send you on a little mission today.  Do something to make someone's day today.  It doesn't have to be big.  It doesn't have to take a lot of time.  It doesn't have to cost anything.

Write a note to another teacher.  Go out of your way to have a conversation with someone you don't normally get to talk to.  Compliment someone.  Invite someone to eat lunch with you.  

I'm so thankful for those who have gone out of their way to make me feel special lately.  My principal nominated me for an award.  My amazing coworkers threw me a wedding shower yesterday afternoon, and my church family threw me a wedding shower on Sunday.  I woke up to a short DM this morning from a blog reader who wanted to thank me for the resources I post.  Another Oklahoma math teacher sent out a tweet yesterday encouraging people to read my blog.    

Making someone else's day might just help make your day. :)

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Oklahoma PD Opportunity

Hi guys!  If you're a math teacher in Oklahoma, I want to let you know about an exciting professional development opportunity that's coming up.  Best news: it's free!

It's for Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, and Geometry teachers, and it will be held at Oklahoma Christian University on February 27, 2016 from 9 am - 12:30 pm.  You're going to need to follow the directions in the flyer and RSVP by February 19th.

I've been to several workshops put on by this group, and they are AWESOME!  I sadly can't attend this year since it's at the same time that Shaun's family will be in the country for the wedding.  But, I can guarantee you will walk away with tons of ideas to use in your classroom!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Password Review to Practice Vocabulary

So, I've been in the processing of trying to clean out my drafts folder in blogger.  Most of these drafts are just titles that were meant to remind me what I should get around to blogging about.  Sadly, I don't remember what a lot of these titles are even referring to, so they've been deleted.  It's crazy how much stuff you forget about your day-to-day experiences of teaching if you don't write it down.

This post has been sitting in my drafts folder since last school year.  I do remember what it was supposed to refer to because I was smart enough to take pictures for the post!  :)  This isn't a new or novel idea, but that could be said for most of the stuff I post here.  It's actually based off games/tv shows like Password or Million Dollar Pyramid.

Last year, I gave my students a list of vocab words that they needed to know for their semester tests.

Here's an example from my Algebra 2 class:

Since I knew many of my students would not practice these vocab words on their own, I decided to devote part of our review time in class to vocab practice.  I typed up the vocab words they needed to know in a quick table.

Algebra 1 Words:

Algebra 2 Words:

These were cut apart and paper-clipped together to make decks of cards.

I put students in groups of 4.  Each group formed 2 teams of 2 that were competing against each other.  The cards were shuffled.  One student picked up the pile and tried to get his/her partner to say as many of the words as possible within one minute.

Rules:  You can't say what the word starts with.  You can't say what the word rhymes with.  You can't say how many letters are in the word.  Believe me.  Teenagers will try ALL of these things!

Tally up how many points the first team got.  Switch teams.  Repeat.

The first time I tried this, I had both teams going at the same time.  I found that my students wanted to listen to the other team for practice.

We played a few rounds of this, and it was awesome to hear their vocabulary improve as the game continued.  Students would overhear other groups describing things and use that to alter their descriptions later in the game.  Some came up with hand motions to represent the different vocab words.  I allowed this, but you might choose not to.

The best thing about this activity was it got students talking and describing.  I was able to just walk around and eavesdrop.  I learned a lot about what my students did and didn't understand.

So, this isn't new or novel, but I thought I'd share anyway since someone might be able to use it.  :)

Friday, January 22, 2016

Quick and Easy Review Games

There are the days when I spend hours crafting an awesome practice activity for my students.  Then, there are the days where I show up to school and need to figure out what all 3 preps are doing for the day during my 53 minute planning period.

Today, I want to share two ideas that I've used this year that can be thrown together on the quick.  They've both been stolen from other teachers, so I'll link to my inspiration.

Four In A Row - Inspired by Fawn Nguyen

* Find a pre-made worksheet for your topic online that has an answer key.  Print double-sided with the answer key on the back.  
* Make a quick table with the number of needed questions.  My worksheet had 26 questions, so I made a table with 25 boxes.  (Want the template for 25 boxes?  Click here!)  I didn't like the next-to-last question, so I told students to mark that one out and change #26 to #25.
* Put students in pairs.  I usually let them choose their own pairs.
* Each pair of students needs a worksheet/answer key, box template, and dry erase boards to show their work.
* Students decide who goes first.  This person chooses a question for both students to work out on their dry erase boards.
* Once both students are done, they turn over to the answer key and check their answers.  If the student who chose the question got it right, they get to write their name in that question's box.  If the student who chose the question got it wrong but their partner got it right, their partner gets to write their name in that question's box.  If both students got the question wrong, the box gets marked out without any names written.
* The other student gets to pick the next question.
* Play continues until one player gets their name four times in a row.  

Risk - Inspired by Julie Morgan

I've done a paper-based version of RISK before, but this was my first time using it with dry erase boards.  I played this with 5/6 of my classes on Wednesday.  Each class proclaimed that the game was fun and we should play it again!

* Come up with a set of practice questions.  You could write these yourself ahead of time.  Come up with them on the spot.  Copy them on the board from a textbook or worksheet.  Or, do what I did, and use Problem Attic (an awesome, free source of assessment questions!) to choose a bunch of questions related to the day's topic.  The great thing about the last option is there is an option to generate the questions as "Overhead Style."  You'll get a PDF file with one question per page to display with your projector.

* I put my students into groups of 2 to play this game with the hope that it would encourage conversation.  The pairs did result in lots of conversation, but I noticed only one student in the pair would do any of the writing.  So, you need to decide if you're looking for conversation or if you're looking for 100% participation.

* Have students/groups set up their dry erase boards.  I drew this picture on the SMARTBoard to explain what goes where.  I had each student start out with $100 on the right hand side of their board.  Their risk went in a specially designated box in the upper left corner.  And, they had to write their answer in the remaining space.

* Give the class a question and time to work it out.  I give students a warning of 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1 to remind students to have their answer AND their risk written on the board.  When time is up, I make all the students hold up their boards so I can scan them.  I'm looking both at their answers AND their risks.  I require my students to risk at least $1 on every problem.  They can risk up to the amount they have, but no more.  If a group risks everything and loses, I give them $10 to get back in the game so they don't try and sit there and do nothing because they've lost.  The great part of this game is you can make up the rules to fit what your students need.  

* Work the problem out together.  If students got the problem right, they add their risk to the right-hand column.  If students got the problem wrong, they must subtract their risk in the right-hand column.  

* Repeat for as long as you have time.  My groups get super competitive and usually don't want to stop.  I tried stopping the game once because the bell had rang, but my kids begged for the last answer to be revealed so they could compare their scores.