This has been a CRAZY week. Two nights of parent teacher conferences. A trip to the airport. Blood Drive. Mix this with the natural craziness of the week before spring break, and I realize that the only blog posts I've written this week have been Monday Must Reads and Five Things Friday. Oops. Given that next week is spring break, I can't promise that next week will be any better in the posting department.

Here's a peek into some of what I've been up to this week.

1. We broke out the algebra tiles in Algebra 1 this week to learn how to multiply polynomials. My students had never seen algebra tiles, so first I had to teach them how they work. I tried four different ways of introducing algebra tiles, and I'm really happy with the fourth iteration of my intro to algebra tiles lesson. I handed each student a bowl of algebra tiles (I find that the flat square bowls at Dollar Tree with the green lids are perfect for storing sets of Algebra tiles in the classroom) and asked them what they noticed. It was a beautiful scene to witness. Students were noticing that there were different sizes and colors. They noticed that each size of shape featured a red side. When I asked why that might be, one student suggested that the red side probably meant negative.

After we had listed other things we noticed such as "they make a cool sound if you hit two of them together," I asked for a student volunteer to come to the board and make a picture using some of my jumbo magnetic algebra tiles. Then, I wrote the polynomial that represented this picture beside it. I challenged my class to figure out how I was determining the polynomial. After the first picture (the butterfly on the right), my students were stumped.

So I invited another student to make a picture. This led to the flower beside the butterfly. They were still stumped.

Then, another student made a picture that consisted of only a red square. I thought this was brilliant because when I wrote -x^2 next to the large red square, there was no denying what the large square meant. The next student's picture was a single large blue square. When I wrote x^2 next to this picture, there were oohs and aahs as students started to figure out why I hadn't written an x^2 in the polynomial for the butterfly despite it having two large squares.

After students had started to grasp the meaning of the tiles, I started having them tell me what a picture would equal before I wrote down the polynomial. This was a lot of fun, and I think it will now be my go-to method for introducing algebra tiles in the future.

2. We had a student council meeting this week, and my dry erase board ended up being taken over by speed drawn pigs. Who knew that you could turn a capital E, two W's, one M, and one cursive l into a pig?!?

3. We're working on polynomials in Algebra 1. I made several question stack activities for this topic last year, so it's been nice to just go over to my filing cabinet and pull out the day's activity without having to do any prep! Here's the link to the blog post with this adding/subtracting polynomials in function notation question stack.

4. I think our blood drive was a success! My student council kids did a great job of trying to make sure everyone's blood donation was a great experience. They recruited extra donors on the day of the drive, and I'm incredibly proud of them. Even though I was technically the blood drive coordinator, they did almost all of the work. I was a big fan of the blood drive sign up poster they made!

5. My principal bought everyone tacos for dinner for the first night of parent/teacher conferences. Since I'm vegetarian, they special ordered me a quesadilla. Having a yummy dinner made it much easier to stay positive while spending 3 hours after school for conferences. I love meeting with students and parents, but it makes for SUCH a long day!

## Friday, March 16, 2018

### Five Things Friday: Volume 14

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