Math = Love: July 2015

Friday, July 31, 2015

Pi Clock Sign

Today's post is another idea stolen from Annie Forest that I can't wait to put up in my classroom!

She posted about decorating her classroom for Pi Day, and I decided I needed to steal one of her ideas to decorate my classroom EVERY day.

Here's Annie's Pi Day Clock:

I don't have mine up in my classroom yet, but I'll post a picture as soon as it's up.

Here's a link to download the file I created. I've uploaded it as a Publisher file (editable) and a PDF file (non-editable).

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Free Math Symbols Posters

Fair Warning:  If you get annoyed by blog posts about posters I've created for my classroom, you might want to avoid my blog for the next few days.  Let's just say I've gone a little poster crazy the past few days and created a heap of new posters for my classroom.  I haven't been able to actually start decorating my classroom for the upcoming school year, so I've been compensating by just making pretty things to hang up in it eventually.

Don't worry.  I've done some actual productive school work, too.  For example, I have all of my SBG quizzes written for Algebra 1!  Now, I need to get busy and finish Algebra 2.  And, I guess I need to start thinking about statistics at some point...  It's okay.  There's still a bit of summer left.  At least, that's what I keep telling myself to keep from freaking out too much.

At the end of last year, I had a blast doing the Four Fours activity with my students.  One of the most exciting things that resulted from that was getting to introduce my students to the concept of factorial!  (Yes, I did intentionally end that sentence with an exclamation point.)  This got me to thinking about math symbols and ways to make my students more familiar with them.

As I spend more time in the classroom, my thoughts about what should be on the walls is changing.  My current spin on classroom decoration is as much math as possible + growth mindset stuff.  I want people to walk in my classroom and have no doubt that we do math in that room.  Lots and lots of math.

So, I made math symbol posters to hang up.  I have no idea where or how I'm going to hang these yet.  But, don't worry, they'll find a home.

There are currently 26 posters plus a title poster in the file.  I started by just including algebra symbols, but I threw a few geometry symbols in at the end.  If you teach geometry, you'll need to download the editable version and complete the set with the symbols you use.  I don't teach geometry and never have, so I didn't spend too much time tracking down geometry symbols to cut and paste. Sorry!  I want this to be the type of resource where you  just print the posters you need for your classroom.  And, feel free to add your own!

You can download the editable Publisher file and the non-editable PDF file of the posters here.  If you want to edit the posters, you will need to download this free font: ChunkFive Roman.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Analyzing Errors - Free Poster

This year I'm making lots of tiny changes to my classroom.

Still doing notebooks.  But, I'm letting students use their notebooks on their quizzes.  And, our notebooks are going to have a heap more worked examples in them.  

Still doing SBG.  But, I'm changing the format of my quizzes and what students have to do to be able to requiz.

Still doing A/B/Not Yet.  But, I'm toying with the idea of changing how I enter these grades in the computer.  This is yet to be decided.

There's a ton more examples, but I think you should have an idea of what I mean.  :)

Last year, I required my students to retake any quizzes they received a "Not Yet" on.  Students would get back their "Not Yet" quizzes and the groans and complaints would start.  Life was unfair, they claimed.  I hated them.

As the year progressed, the process of retaking quizzes slowly morphed into a system that kinda worked.  At the beginning of the year, I would have students take the exact same quiz over.  Some students quickly figured out that they just had to find a way to get their hands on someone's quiz who made an A or a B and memorize the answers.  This idea quickly went out the window.  I started writing each kid a customized retake based on what they had missed on a separate sheet of paper.  This worked better.  Each kid has their own personalized problems to work.  Cheating was a whole lot harder all of a sudden.  But, this also had its downsides.  Personalized problems means Ms. Hagan has to work out the problem herself to check the work.  Grading without an answer key is fine and dandy for some topics that I can do in my head without really thinking.  But, dividing polynomials which result in a remainder?  Those quizzes were a pain to grade!

For this next year, I am going to have all students take the same first SBG quiz for each skill.  Then, students will be given one of four or five retake quizzes.  Students will have to copy these retake quizzes in their own handwriting on a quiz template which should save me some hassle.  I plan on writing these retake quizzes on index cards and keeping them in a box on my desk.  Writing the retake quizzes and their answer keys will take a bit of time and effort, but I think it will be a much better system than this previous year.

Here's the big difference though.  I'm not going to let students get away with just retaking a quiz.  This is probably what drove me the most crazy last year.  It annoyed me even more than the students who were intentionally looking for ways to cheat in my class.  It was the students who would show up at my desk and ask to retake a quiz.  They would have their old "Not Yet" quiz in their hand to show me what quiz they needed.  I would take a look at the quiz, and I would ask, "So, did you figure out what you did wrong on that quiz?"  Their answer would most usually be "No."  Then, I would ask, "How do you plan on avoiding making the same mistakes on the new quiz if you haven't even figured out what mistakes you made on the first quiz?"  And, I would send them back to their seats to spend some quality time with their old quiz.

It's like my students thought that the act of retaking a quiz would magically improve their understanding of the concept.  Instead of complaining about this any more, I've decided to take action.  No quiz retakes without completing an error analysis sheet for the quiz.  Now, this sheet has yet to be created because I haven't exactly decided all that I want it to accomplish.

I do want this sheet to do these things:

  • Require students to work out each problem correctly
  • Ask students to identify what they did wrong when they first attempted the problem
  • Direct students to reflect on how they will avoid making this same error in the future
  • Get students thinking about what types of errors they are making
When I hand back quizzes in my class, students immediately check to see if they made an A, a B, or a Not Yet.  This leads to the A students rejoicing over their great fortune.  The B students can be broken into two groups.  There are the students who are relieved that they never have to take that quiz again.  And, there are the students who are super frustrated with themselves for performing less than perfectly.  The Not Yet students are usually either not surprised because they knew they had no idea what they were doing OR they are devastated because they thought they had aced the quiz.  

When I mark quizzes as A, B, or Not Yet, that is the only piece of information I give the students.  I don't mark what problems they got wrong.  I don't circle their errors.  I just write the letter(s) A, B, or NY.  I want students looking at their quizzes and trying to figure out where they went wrong.  This leads to students comparing their quizzes.  This leads to discussion between students.  How did you get that?  Why was your answer right and my answer wrong?  I love this.  I love, love, love this.  

Though, as students start to compare their quiz scores, the question always arises, "Why did I get a Not Yet and so-and-so get a B?"  I explain that not all mistakes are equal.  I only give students an A or a B on their quiz if they have convinced me that they have a solid understanding of how to solve the problem.  If I have any doubts about their level of understanding, I am going to give them a "Not Yet."  It's not because I hate them.  It's because I love them.  I care about their future, and I want them to leave my class with the best understanding of algebra that is possible.  

Then, I saw this image on pinterest.  It was designed for an elementary school classroom, but it got my brain to do some major thinking.  Would making my students determine what type of error they had made make them thinking about their errors differently?  I think it will.  So, I set out to take this and modify it for my own high school classroom.  I want to make a poster to hang on the wall.  Then, I want to have an area on their error analysis sheet to have them note which type of error they made.

I came up with this, and I posted it to Twitter for feedback from the #MTBoS.

Have you noticed that I keep using the word "error", but my poster says "mistake?"  

One of my tweeps suggested that there is a difference between a mistake and an error.  I have to admit that I'd never really thought about that before.  

Another twitter conversation gave me even more food for thought.

These two conversations led to this new version of the poster:

Is it perfect yet?  I don't think so.  I'm still thinking about how errors should be classified.  I'm still debating which category some of these examples belong under.  There are still a ton of ideas percolating in my brain.  

One person on twitter suggested changing "careless error" to "attention error."  I'm still thinking about this.  Another tweep suggested that careless errors and computation errors could be combined at the high school level.  I think this would work for my Algebra 2 students, but for my Algebra 1 students who still struggle with integer operations, I think I need to leave them as separate categories for right now.  (Don't worry - I posted editable versions, so you can make this change if you would like to!)  

But, I want to go ahead and post this for a few reasons.  

1)  You guys are amazing.  You can help me make this better.  

2)  School is getting ready to start back for many of us.  If I'm going to post a poster, I should do it sooner rather than later.  

3)  I'm hoping someone else might be interested in joining me on this journey of having students classify their errors throughout the school year.  Any takers?  

I'm thinking that I want to start class one day per week with analyzing an incorrectly worked problem.  Students will have to find the error, classify the error, and correct the error.  

You can download my two current versions (and any future versions) of this poster here.  They have been uploaded as an editable Publisher file and a non-editable PDF file.  If you wish to edit the file, you will need to make sure you download these fonts: Londrina Solid and Caviar Dreams.  

These posters are currently formatted to print on 18" X 24" paper.  You can print this size of black and white poster at Staples for $1.99!  Then, all you have to do is laminate it to have a pretty giant poster to hang on your wall for just a couple of dollars.  You can upload the file online, pay with your credit or debit card, and then just walk in the store and pick it up.  I did this last year with my "What Zone are you in?" Poster and loved the results.    

Thursday, July 23, 2015

New Tab

Well, I added a new tab to the top of my blog to go with my new blog header.  It's been up for a little bit, and it still makes me smile!  I'm attempting to create a getting started with INBs resource page that I can send people to.  This is the start.

Question for you lovely readers: what would be the easiest way for me to organize all of my foldables and interactive notebook pages for you to find?  I created a pinterest board with all of the pages, but at 417 pins, it's becoming a bit unwieldy.  You can also visit this link to access all of my materials to download on box.  

The problem is some foldables have their own blog post while others are just posted in unit form.  I know a lot of you use the search box, but there has to be a better way, right???

I'm open to any and all ideas.  Thanks!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Teaching Respect

I've been staying busy the last few days with finishing up work for my second graduate class of the summer - Diversity in Education.  I'm missing my math based classes and looking forward to getting back to them as the school year starts back up.  Of course, I'm more excited about the fact that I'll be graduating in the spring!

Our last big assignment for this class was to create a video that sent the message that respecting diversity is important.  I looked at the example videos, and most of them were just quotes and images set to music.  I tried this approach, but I quickly got bored.  And, when I get bored with an assignment I stop doing it.  That's when I decided that I needed more of "me" in the video.  I wanted someone to be able to watch the video and think, "Sarah definitely made that!"  That's when I decided I would have the person watching the video make a foldable.  Yes, a foldable.  I know.  Very predictable.  And, very me.  :)

The video isn't perfect.  I started and finished it in a single afternoon.  If this was something I was actually going to use in class, I would need to make a lot of changes.  But, I feel proud of what I created for a random homework assignment.

Want to watch my creation?  I created the images using and the video using

Or, maybe you'd just like some images on respect (plus a few miscellaneous images, too) to use in some way?  The more generic images about respect, including a few quotes, are towards the bottom.  Hope someone is able to find this useful in some way.  Want to download higher quality images?  I've uploaded the originals to  

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Keep Calm and Combine Like Terms Poster

The idea for this poster is completely unoriginal.  In other words, I completely stole it from Annie Forest at Show Your Thinking.  When I saw her post a few months ago, I knew this had to find a place in my classroom decorations for the new school year.

I found a free Keep Calm maker online that lets you download the file as a PDF.  I will be uploading this PDF to the Staples Copy Center and have it printed as a giant engineering print for $2.  Then, I'll laminate it and hang it in my classroom.  When students freak out that a problem looks too complicated, I'll just point to the sign and remind them to keep calm and combine like terms.

Make your own at KeepCalmStudio or download the poster I made here.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Beginning and End of Year Concept Map Foldable for INBs

For the past two years, I was participated in the Oklahoma Geometry and Algebra Project, or OGAP.  One of the requirements for this program was having my students complete concept maps at the beginning and end of each year.  I love this activity, and I always learn a lot about how my students view algebra, mathematics in general, and my classroom.  For a sample of this past year's concept maps, click here.

Since that program is over, I no longer have to collect concept maps and submit them for analysis.  I still want to continue having my students do a concept map at the beginning and end of each year, though.  I've decided to make a place in our interactive notebooks for students to keep their concept maps.  At the beginning of the year, students will make a concept map, glue it in, and seal it shut with a piece of tape.  At the end of the year, students will make another concept map and write a reflection over how their view of algebra and mathematics has changed.

To keep these more organized looking, I made templates for two booklet foldables.

I left the subject area blank.  You can have students write it in themselves, or you can download the editable Publisher file.  

The inside of the booklet foldable has a place for students (or you) to fill in the subject area and lots o blank space to write!  

The end of year foldable is very similar.

If you download the editable Publisher file, you will need to also download these free fonts: Desyrel and Alpha Echo.

Download the files for these foldables here.