Math = Love

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Nine Dots Puzzle

I love brainteasers. I also love finding a way to incorporate them into class. Since the first week of school is rampant with schedule changes (especially this year since we don't have a guidance counselor), I aim to engage my students in math-y activities that get their minds working but don't necessarily tie into the curriculum.

I've decided to do daily warm-ups this year that students will keep in their interactive notebooks. School started on Monday, and we won't be setting up our notebooks until tomorrow (Thursday). This means that my students needed a place to keep their warm-ups until notebooks were set up.

Introducing the Warm-Up Divider!

At first, I wasn't sure what to put on this divider. Then, I realized I could put warm-ups ON the warm-up divider. Can't believe it took me so long to think of that!

I did this for both my Algebra 1 classes and my Chemistry class. The divider pictured above is for Chemistry.

On Tuesday, I assigned them one of my favorite brain teasers: the nine dots puzzle. Without lifting your pencil (or dry erase marker), draw four straight lines that pass through all nine of the points. Since this one is a bit tricky, I decided to make them a dry erase template that would give them lots and lots of chances to try and solve the puzzle. I figured if they had to draw and erase too many times that they would just give up.

Here's what I came up with:

 When I gave my chemistry students the option to use the dry erase template yesterday, almost every kid chose to use it! I think only one student went without, but he came in late anyway. I'm assuming he just ended up copying off of the person sitting next to him. :(

Each table's folder had templates inside. Kids just had to slide the template into one of our dry erase pockets (affiliate link). If you don't have a set, they are one of the best investments I have ever made for my classroom. You can find them on Amazon super-cheap if you search for "shop ticket holders." 

Action Shots:

The kids really struggled with this one, so the dry erase template really paid off!

Download the file for this activity here.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Printable Gameboard for Traffic Lights

As school starts this week, I'm looking forward to teaching my new 9th graders (yes, I am teaching 9th graders for five of six periods again this year) to play Traffic Lights. As I wrote in my giant 21 Ideas for the First Week of School post, I learned of this game from Julie Morgan who learned of the game from NRICH.

Not familiar with how to play? I'll let Julie explain!

Image Source:

Last year, I tried this game on the fly, so I ended up using the game boards I created for Rainbow Logic to play this game. This year, I decided it deserved its own set of game boards. :)

Here's what I came up with:

I printed the game boards two to a page and laminated them so my students will be able to play with red/yellow/green bingo chips. 

Another way I'm changing things up this year is demonstrating how to play the game using my SMARTBoard instead of my document camera. I made an interactive version of the game using one of my favorite SMARTNotebook tools - Infinite cloner! I will let the class work together to try and beat me before they ever start playing their own partners.

You can download the file for the gameboards and the SMARTNotebook file for the drag and drop version here.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Oklahoma Teacher of the Year Interview Process and Video

Last week, I went through the day-long interview process for Oklahoma Teacher of the Year. I loved having the chance to talk about my favorite teaching ideas and the process I go through to create memorable experiences for my students, but an entire day of making small talk was exhausting for this introvert.

It was great to get to meet the other eleven finalists. Everyone was super nice and supportive. As we each returned from our interviews, the rest of the finalists would cheer. Even though we are all competing against each other for the same honor, it didn't feel like that at all.

The interview process consisted of two fifteen minute individual interviews and one group interview. My first interview went SOOOO well. I got a chance to talk about what I love most: teaching. I even got a chance to teach the panel of judges how to play Slope Dude Says. At the end of the interview, one of the judges thanked me for the fun experience. At lunch, one of the judges from that group came up to me to say that I had done a great job in my interview that morning.

My second interview went well, but I didn't feel like I had the chance to really showcase who I was. The questions they threw at me were kinda controversial. I felt like I did a good job answering them, but I didn't really get to spend much time talking about what I love: teaching.

The last interview of the day was done Miss America Style. All twelve finalists were seated at the front of the room. The 19 judges were seated at desks in the Senate's Caucus Room. (The interviews were held in the Oklahoma State Capitol.) We each took turns going to the center of the room, drawing a question from a fish bowl, and answering it in a microphone in sixty to ninety seconds. The purpose of this interview was to gauge how well we would be able to answer questions thrown at us by reporters if we were teacher of the year.

After the group interview was finished, the panel of judges convened to choose a winner. Unfortunately, we don't get to find out who that winner is until September 19th. I'm so thankful to have been able to make it this far in the competition. I did my best with my interviews, and I know that the outcome of this competition is entirely in God's hands. If it is His will that I be Oklahoma's Teacher of the Year, He will make it happen. If He has something else in store for my future, He will make that happen, as well. Knowing this going in helped to take away a lot of the pressure I might have felt to try and "perform." Instead, I just decided to show up and be myself. After all, God's the one who made me exactly I am.

In addition to our interviews, the judges also had access to our portfolio which contained our resume and seven essays and a ten minute video that we had to submit. One of the judges told me that he had watched each finalist's video three times. Let's do the math. 10 minutes per video * 12 finalists * 3 times each = 6 HOURS of watching videos! That is dedication right there. When I told him that, he responded that he is a superintendent and wants to take the best ideas back to his own teachers. How awesome is that?!?

Shaun and I had to put together this video while we were in Australia with limited internet access. Even though the process of making the video was hard, I'm super proud of how it turned out. My superintendent mentioned the video at our all-district meeting on our first professional day, and lots of coworkers were interested in seeing the video. If you're interested as well, I'll post the video below. If you're reading this through RSS, you may need to click through to see the video.


Lastly, I want to say a HUGE thanks to the MTBoS. Thanks for all the support! I wouldn't be the teacher I am today without my online math teacher friends. :)

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

SI Base Units Posters

Another day. Another poster. I guess that must mean it's back to school time. I'm teaching chemistry for the first time this year, so I decided I need to up the number of science-y posters on my walls. Last year, I found out I was teaching physical science at the last minute, so I didn't really have the time to make any posters or the wall space to hang them.

I decided the perfect place to start was with the basic SI Units. I did some googling and found a really cool circular graphic on the website of the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures.

Image Source:
I knew that I wanted this graphic to somehow be the center of my poster. I made mini-posters with each unit type, and I thought that I would arrange them like spokes. 

When my husband saw my poster arrangement, he suggested that I arrange them horizontally instead. 

I wasn't totally sold on the idea because I was still envisioning them as spokes on a wheel.  

However, when I got to school yesterday to hang up my new posters I realized that there really wasn't anywhere to hang a giant wheel of SI Units. So they did end up getting hung horizontally. :) 

Want the files for these posters? I've uploaded them here

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

OK Graphing Posters

Today was definitely not my day. Our first professional day is tomorrow, so I decided it would be wise to go into school early today to try and get used to the fact that summer is over. After a bit of chatting with coworkers, I went to my room to send an e-mail. I turned on my computer and waited and waited and waited and waited. Nothing. 

Now that I've moved classrooms, my husband's classroom is just across the hall. He is way more computer savvy than me, so I asked him to come and look at it. After examining it for a couple of minutes, he told me it was time to text our tech person. My computer was DEAD. When our tech guy arrived, the case came off the computer to reveal that my motherboard had exploded. 

This is the second time in my teaching career that I've had a motherboard explode on my computer. Good news: I backed up ALL of my school files before summer break. Bad news: My district is currently under a spending freeze. So, I'm not sure if I will have a working computer when school starts on Monday. Our tech guy is doing everything he can, but I'm realizing that I may have to take my laptop to school for a while.  

Even without a computer, I was able to get quite a few things marked off of my to-do list. The 40 Hour Teacher Workweek List Making System has been a real game changer for staying organized and productive lately. 

Then, my clumsy self managed to burn three of my fingers with hot glue while re-gluing a magnet on one of my displays. This led to me standing in the bathroom with my hand running under cool water and crying my eyes out while band students walked by and gave me strange looks.  

And, to top things off, I got a text from my mom to say that my grandma is in the hospital. 

I'm definitely hoping for a better tomorrow. 

This weekend, I designed a few new posters for my classroom. It was so rewarding to see how they look up on the wall. Today I want to share the files for one of those posters. 

The TULSA acronym was shared with me by @druinok. Last year, my students were always forgetting to label their axes or title their graphs, so I knew I had to take proactive measures this year! 

T - Titles
U - Units
L - Labels
S - Scales
A - Accuracy

For the record, Tulsa (the second largest city in Oklahoma) is 41 miles away from Drumright. I realize it might be weird to hang this up in your room if you're not near Tulsa, but I'll post the file anyway. You can always use the template to make posters for your favorite graphing acronym. 

I'll be back soon with more posters! :) 

Download files here

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

An Invitation to #Teach180

Reality is starting to sink in. School is starting. Soon. For some of you, school has already started. For others, you'll be soaking up summer until Labor Day has come and gone. Or, maybe you teach outside the U.S. and are currently in the middle of your school year. Whatever your situation, I want to invite you to join in #Teach180 this year.

So, what is #Teach180? Let me give you the history of how this hash tag came to be.

For years, many bloggers (in the MTBoS and outside of it) have kept 180 blogs. The idea behind these blogs is to write a short post each day containing a photo of one of the day's activities with a short description. Though I've always liked reading these 180 blogs, I knew that there was no way I could commit to writing a blog post every single day. Some of you may be thinking "Sarah, but you do often blog every day." Except I don't. Usually, when you see me go on an every day blogging streak, many of those blog posts have been written on the same day and scheduled to post so it *looks* like I'm blogging every day!

Two summers ago, I decided I wanted to take the general idea behind a 180 blog and turn it into something that would work for me. I was also wanting to become more involved on Twitter, so I decided to smash 180 blogs and twitter together. This produced the #Teach180 hash tag. You can read my very first post introducing the idea of #Teach180 here. The experiment has been a success! I love taking the time to make a short daily reflection in 140 characters or less. Taking lots of photos means I have photos to insert into blog posts later! And, I've achieved my goal of getting more involved on Twitter!

The idea is simple. Take a photo of a classroom activity each day. Post it to twitter with the #Teach180 hash tag. Need inspiration? Do a quick search of the hash tag to find hundreds of creative and innovative ideas. Over the years, #Teach180 has developed into a community of its own. Participants love to see what other participants are up to. I've been so encouraged by the comments and "likes" from other #Teach180 participants.

Have you been looking for a way to interact with the #MTBoS? Have you been convicted to #JustPushSend? Do you want to start using Twitter but are too scared to just jump into a conversation? #Teach180 is a great way to get started!

If you are interested in participating via blog instead of twitter, Julie has a great how-to post. Or, maybe you prefer Instagram to Twitter? Quite a few people have decided to post on Instagram with the #Teach180 hash tag this year. They'd love to have you!

Really, it doesn't matter if you're opening your classroom to the world via a blog, twitter, or instagram. Just do it!

Need more convincing? Check out this awesome article written by some #Teach180 participants! Here's my favorite quote from the article:

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Algebra 1 SBG Skills List 2017-2018

Yesterday, I had the best intentions of compiling a Monday Must Reads post. But, after seven hours hanging posters in my classroom, I just wasn't feeling it. I started to beat myself up before I remembered that my goal for this year is to give myself grace.

As a result, I'm not going to try to catch up today and write a Monday Must Reads post on a Tuesday. I'll just keep collecting great blog posts and tweets for next Monday. :)

Here's a sneak peek at my favorite wall so far. Still have more posters to hang, though!

My husband blogged his newly updated SBG skill lists for Geometry and Algebra 2 today, so I thought I would do the same for Algebra 1. This will be my sixth year teaching Algebra 1. It's our second year using the Oklahoma Academic Standards which were written after Oklahoma adopted and then rejected Common Core.

After my first year of teaching to the new standards, I've figured out what worked and what utterly failed. With those things in mind, I present you my new list of Algebra 1 SBG skills:

UNIT 1 - Expressions
·         I can find the absolute value, opposite, reciprocal, and opposite reciprocal of a number.
·         I can use the order of operations to simplify expressions.
·         I can evaluate expressions. (A.3.4)
o    Include Radicals
o    Include Absolute Value Bars
o    Include Fractions
·         I can evaluate expressions involving non-standard operations. (A.3.4)
·         I can rewrite expressions by combining like terms. (A.3.2)
·         I can rewrite expressions by applying the distributive property. (A.3.2)
·         I can translate between words and algebraic expressions, equations, and inequalities. (A.1.1, A.2.1)

UNIT 2 - Solving Equations and Inequalities
·         I can solve equations and inequalities with variables on one side of the equal sign. (A.1.1)
·         I can solve equations and inequalities with variables on both sides of the equal sign. (A.1.1)
·         I can solve and graph compound inequalities on a number line. (A.2.2)
·         I can solve absolute value equations. (A.1.2)
·         I can solve absolute value inequalities. (A.2.2)
·         I can solve an equation with many variables for one variable in terms of the others. (A.3.1)

UNIT 3 - Relations and Functions
·         I can generate equivalent representations of a relation and determine if the relation is a function or not. (F.1.1)
·         I can identify the independent and dependent variables in a situation. (F.1.2)
·         I can find the domain and range of a function. (F.1.2)
·         I can identify domain and range restrictions in real-life situations. (F.1.2)
·         I can read and interpret the graph of a real-life situation. (F.1.4)
o    Piecewise linear graphs – not step functions!
o    Identify Independent and Dependent Variables
o    Identify Domain and Range
o    Identify Rate of Change
·         I can create a graph to describe a story and create a story to describe a graph. (A.4.4)
·         I can evaluate functions and interpret the results in real-life contexts. (F.3.2)
·         I can write a function (using function notation) to model a real-world situation and use the function to answer questions. (F.1.3)
·         I can determine if a function is linear or non-linear (quadratic, exponential or absolute value). (F.2.1, F.2.2)
o    Emphasize Graphing by Making Input-Output Tables!

UNIT 4 - Linear Graphs and Inequalities
·         I can calculate and interpret slopes and intercepts of a linear function. (A.4.1)
·         I can classify equations as parallel, perpendicular, or neither. (A.4.2)
·         I can write an equation (in slope-intercept, point-slope, and standard form) and use the equation to solve problems. (A.4.3)
·         I can identify and generate equivalent representations of linear equations, graphs, tables, and real-world situations. (F.3.1)
·         I can predict how a linear graph will be transformed when the equation is changed. (F.2.2)
·         I can create scatterplots, determine regression and correlation, and use these to make predictions and assess the reliability of predictions. (D.1.2)
·         I can graph a linear inequality and interpret the solution. (A.2.1)
·         I can write a linear inequality and use the inequality to solve problems. (A.2.1)

UNIT 5 - Absolute Value Graphs and Inequalities
·         I can find the slope, vertex, and orientation of an absolute value relation.
·         I can write the equation or inequality for an absolute value relation.
·         I can predict how the graph of an absolute value graph or inequality will be transformed when the equation or inequality is changed. (F.2.2)

UNIT 6 - Systems of Equations and Inequalities
(With each skill, have students determine how many solutions the system has!)
·         I can solve systems of equations graphically and interpret the solution. (A.1.3)
·         I can solve systems of equations using the substitution method. (A.1.3)
·         I can solve systems of equations using the elimination method. (A.1.3)
·         I can solve systems of inequalities and graph and interpret the solution on a coordinate plane. (A.2.3)

UNIT 7 - Polynomials
·         I can name polynomials according to their degree and number of terms.
·         I can write polynomials in standard form.
·         I can add and subtract polynomials (including when written in function notation). (A.3.2, F.3.3)
·         I can multiply polynomials (including when written in function notation). (A.3.2, F.3.3)
·         I can factor out the GCF of a polynomial. (A.3.3)
·         I can fully factor a polynomial. (A.3.3)

UNIT 8 - Radicals
·         I can simplify radical expressions. (N.1.1)
·         I can add and subtract radical expressions. (N.1.2)
·         I can multiply radical expressions. (N.1.2)
·         I can divide radical expressions, rationalizing the denominator when necessary. (N.1.2)

UNIT 9 - Sequences
·         I can classify a sequence as arithmetic, geometric, fibonacci, or neither and find the next term in the sequence.
·         I can recognize that arithmetic sequences are linear and write a formula to find any term in the sequence. (A.3.5)
·         I can recognize that geometric sequences are exponential and write a formula to find any term in the sequence. (A.3.6)

UNIT 10 - Data Analysis
·         I can find the mean, median, mode, and range of a set of data.
·         I can determine if a set of data is discrete or continuous. (D.1.3)
·         I can create a data display for a set of data and use it to describe the data set. (D.1.1)
·         I can interpret a data display.
·         I can compare data sets using summary statistics. (D.1.1)

UNIT 11 - Probability
·         I can determine the size of a sample space and use it to calculate probabilities. (D.2.1)
o    Tree Diagrams
o    Counting Procedures (Multiplication and Addition Principles)
·         I can calculate experimental probabilities by performing experiments or simulations. (D.2.3)
·         I can find complements, intersections, and unions using Venn Diagrams. (D.2.2)
·         I can use Venn Diagrams to find the probability of an event (D.2.2).
·         I can apply probability concepts to real-world situations to make informed decisions (D.2.4).

The bold skills are not explicitly required by the standards, but I feel that they are necessary for students to master. I know for sure these won't be perfect either, but I'll wait until next summer to go back to the drawing board. I love that every year I get a chance to be a bit of a better teacher than the year before. I'm always improving, and I'm thankful for each one of you reading this post. You are helping me on this journey to be the best teacher possible.