Math = Love: August 2019

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Math Joke of the Week Posters and Binder

This is a project I started putting together at the end of last school year. I'm super excited about how it turned out. I put the finishing touch on it this week, so I'm finally ready to share it with you guys.

Image Source:
I saw an idea on twitter a year or so ago (yes, I realize it's a tweet from 2015, but I didn't see it until 2018) where a teacher posted a daily joke for students in their classroom. It was actually featured in Monday Must Reads Volume 45. I decided I wanted to do the same thing with math jokes. But, I wanted to do it on a weekly basis. I also knew if I didn't pre-plan what all the jokes were going to be and prepare them all in advance that it would quickly become the "math joke of the month" or "math joke of the semester."

I started collecting math jokes from various websites and typing them up in Google Slides.

After I had almost 40 jokes, I printed them off and placed them in sheet protectors.

I printed the answers 4 to a page and cut them apart so they could be inserted in the sheet protector behind the joke. 

Then, I assembled all of the sheet protectors with the jokes and answers in my new "Math Joke of the Week Binder." 

Now, I can easily pull out a new joke each week and place the old joke back into the binder.

I have a chalkboard coordinate plane in my classroom that I don't use because I also have a smaller dry erase coordinate plane.

Last year, I just hung some posters on top of the chalk board and sort of used it as a bulletin board. It worked, but it didn't look the nicest. This summer I got some bulletin board paper and taped over the coordinate plane. Then, I used some colored tape I had in the cabinet to make a border around the edge. It doesn't look perfect up close, but it looks so much nicer than it did last year.

Since it's still magnetic, I'm planning on using this board to hang various things using magnets such as announcements, information from the office that I'm required to post, upcoming ACT dates, my math joke of the week, and whatever else I can think of.

I bought a set of 16 magnetic clips from Amazon (affiliate link) to use to make it super easy to hang stuff on the board. They're super strong, and I think they're going to make it easy to change out stuff as necessary.

Once I had my first joke of the week hung up, I decided it was missing something. So I decided to design a sign to hang above it that says "Math Joke of the Week." It also gives students instructions about how to find out the answer to the joke.

As you can see, students flip up the bottom of the sheet protector to reveal the joke's answer. 

Here's next week's joke.

It was super easy to grab the binder, take out the next sheet protector, switch the magnetic clips to the new sheet protector, and place the old joke in the back of the binder for next year.

You could even make it a student job to switch out the joke each week!

Interested in posting a math joke of the week in your own classroom? I've posted the jokes as Google Slides here. If you'd rather have a PDF to print, you can find PDF versions of the jokes here. This link also includes links to the poster that says "Math Joke of the Week" and the binder cover.

Have a favorite math joke I didn't include? Leave it in the comments, and I'll type them up and add them to the files at a later date! Some of the jokes I included are definitely targeted towards a high school audience (making mention of trig functions), so I'd like to add some more jokes so that there is a full year's worth for elementary and middle school teachers as well!

Monday, August 19, 2019

Teaching the Train Game

I've got so much I want to blog about and so little time to actually make it happen. I want to talk about the first day of school and the second day of school and my new plan for bellwork and my new systems for cell phones and dry erase markers and my classroom decorations and my puzzle table and my thoughts on being a working mom and I guess you get the idea...

I guess I'll start by blogging about an activity I *should* have blogged about last year. For the past two years, the Train Game has been my go-to 2nd day of school activity. I've mentioned it on my blog before, but I've never written an entire blog post explaining it fully.

The game isn't actually called the "Train Game." It's actually 20 Express (affiliate link) by Blue Orange Games. But, years ago, my students dubbed it the "Train Game," and the name stuck.

I received this game as a Christmas present in 2014 from my sister. In fact, it was one of the very first board games that Shaun and I played together. I'm pretty sure he's won almost every time we've ever played...  

Sadly, the game is discontinued. But, Blue Orange still has printable game sheets on their website for people to download and print. So, all you have to make to create your own game set is a set of tiles to draw from.

The first time I tried explaining this game to students, I really struggled to get them to understand the rules. So, over the years, I've created a way to explain them with the help of some visuals and teacher moves. For the past two years, I've turned these visuals into a set of Google Slides that I think explain the game pretty well.

I love this game because it is the perfect mix of strategy and luck. It can be played by any number of people. Plus, it's super low prep!

I start my explanation by going over some basic rules. I have my students use dry erase markers, so the "no erasing" rule is super important.

Whenever I tell students that longer trains are worth more points, they always look at me with confusion. This leads to my next slide where I ask "What is a train?" Instead of telling students what a train is, I give them two columns. The sequences on the left are trains. The sequences on the right are not trains. Then, I challenge students to figure out what makes a train a train.

I didn't intend it this way, but students often come up with the misconception that a train is a sequence that follows a pattern. They notice that 1, 4, 7 involves adding 3 each time and 20, 21, 22 involves adding 1 each time. Usually, they voice this before they read as far as the third example of a train. The 8, 15, 15, 30 throws a wrench into this theory.

After a bit of discussion, students eventually arrive at the realization that a train is a sequence of numbers where each subsequent value is GREATER THAN OR EQUAL TO the previous values.

Next, I try to aid students in solidifying this new knowledge by challenging them to find the trains in a set of numbers. Students often make a mistake of identifying the last train as 9, 8, 11, 15, 40 instead of seeing two trains of 9 by itself and 8, 11, 15, 40. When students do this, they are almost always called out by their fellow students. I barely have to do anything!

I color code the trains just to re-emphasize what creates a train of numbers. Students cannot understand the rest of the game without understanding what a train is. 

At this point, I tell the class that I have a bucket of numbers that I will be drawing from during the game, and it is to their advantage to know what numbers I could possibly draw.

I project a list of the numbers on the screen and ask students what they notice about the contents of my bucket.

The most important things for students to realize are that the numbers in the bucket range from 1 to 30. The numbers 11-19 appear twice. And, there is one wild card (denoted by an asterisk). This wild can be placed in any position on the game board. At the end of the game, it can be considered to be any number of your choosing when calculating your score. 

At this point, I introduce students to the game board.Pro tip: Don't hand out the dry erase markers until you've explained ALL the rules. My students, at least, can't resist the urge to doodle!

I used to laminate the game boards, but I found students had a really hard time erasing the dry erase marker from the laminated plastic. Now, I use dry erase pockets (affiliate link) for this activity. They erase SO much better. Blue Orange has a free download of the game boards on their website

During the game, students write each number as it is called in one of the 20 train cars around the edge of the gameboard. The goal is to create trains that are as long as possible. The longer a train is, the more points it is worth.

At this point, I introduce students to the scoring chart that is printed on the gameboard. A train that contains 5 numbers is worth 7 points. A train that contains 11 numbers is worth 30 points.

I've found that the best way to get students to wrap their mind around scoring and game play is to share a sample game board and ask students to calculate the student's score. 

 As a class, we identify each train and use the score chart to figure out how many points it is worth. 1, 3, 5, 7 contains 4 values, so it is worth 5 points. 2, 9, 11, 11, 14, 18, 19, 20, 22, 23, 25, 26, 30 contains 13 values, so it is worth 40 points. 13 is in a train by itself. This doesn't do us any good because it's worth 0 points. 8, 29 is worth 1 point.

Then, I challenge students to see if they can beat this sample student's score of 46. 

Let's see if I can summarize the rules of game play. 20 numbers will be drawn. After each number is drawn, the number must be written in one of the train cars on the game board. Numbers cannot be moved or erased once they are written down. Each number must be written down before the next number is called. Try to arrange the numbers in the train cars so that sequences are formed where each number is greater than or equal to the numbers that come before it. Longer sequences are worth more points than shorter sequences. Highest score wins!

The first game that we play as a class is definitely a learning experience for students. It's often about halfway through this first round that the rules/strategy of the game finally click for ~25% of students.

I love to watch students' strategies grow and develop as we play subsequent rounds. This game truly is a student favorite. I hope your students enjoy it as much as mine!

As for time required, I was able to talk through the explanation of the rules, play 3-4 rounds of the game, and we still had 10-15 minutes left of our 50 minute period. One thing to be aware of. If your principal walks in your classroom while you are playing this game, they will assume that you are playing bingo!

After many requests, I have uploaded a copy of the game card and template to cut out your own pieces here. You can access the Google Slides I created here.  

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Printable Powers of 2 to 9 Posters

To celebrate the last week of summer break, I've been doing a mix of relaxing and prepping my classroom for back to school. Yesterday, my focus was just getting my room clean. It's crazy to me how dirty and dusty a classroom can get over the summer!

Today, I finally started hanging up a few decorations. I'm excited that it's starting to look like a math classroom again!

Since sharing the pictures of my new posters on twitter/instagram this afternoon, several people have asked me to share the file for the powers posters. So I thought I should blog about them ASAP since so many other people are also in the midst of setting up their classrooms right now. By the way, if you're one of those people looking for decoration ideas, I recently updated my poster page on my blog with pictures of pretty much every poster I've created in the past 7 years. Check out my 7 years of math posters here.

These posters are going to replace the Perfect Square and Perfect Cube posters that I've had in my classroom the past few years. I love those posters, but I had so much trouble this past year keeping them stuck to the wall. My new school has cinder block walls, and they hate me. The best thing about these posters is that I can stick them to my cabinets!

I'm anticipating that these posters will be extremely helpful references to my Algebra 2 students as we tackle exponentials, logarithms, and radicals! 

The numbers 2 through 9 are printed on letter-sized paper. I printed mine on card stock and laminated them for extra durability.  

The tables of powers are printed on 11 x 17 cardstock (affiliate link). I print on this size paper by sending my print job directly to the copy machine where I have the 11 x 17 paper in the bypass tray.

If you don't have access to 11 x 17 paper or a copy machine with a bypass tray, you can change the PDF print settings under "Multiple" to print it on two pages. Then, you'll have to tape/glue them together.

You can download the files for these posters here

Monday, August 5, 2019

Monday Must Reads: Volume 61

It's Monday! For me, it's the last Monday of summer break. Next Monday, I report for our first PD Day of the year, and students start on that Thursday (August 15th). For weeks now, I've been trying to wrap my mind around the fact that this will be my 8th year in the classroom. Time really does fly when you're having the time of your life teaching math!

To help get me in the going back to school mood, I thought I'd compile one last summer volume of Monday Must Reads. Typically, I tend to post these a bit more frequently during the school year (since you all are sharing the amazing things you are doing in your classroom at a much higher frequency), so I look forward to that! Monday Must Reads is my attempt to capture the amazingness of math teachers on twitter by sharing the ideas that inspire me the most here on my blog. I hope that you take away at least a few ideas that you can use in your own classroom. And, hopefully you find a few new math teachers to follow on twitter as well!

Sharee Hebert shares a great real-world graph. Would your students know what happened in 2012? 

Image Source:
The Mathematical Association of America offers an intriguing introduction to topology through this rather creative map of the United States!

Image Source:
SmirkyGraphs shares an interesting map/graph that caught my eye while scrolling through Twitter!

Image Source:
Teaching percentages? You might want to use this picture from Mr. Foster as a conversation starter.

Image Source:
Also from Mr Foster, check out this exponent puzzle.

Image Source:
Amie Albrecht shares some great Quarter the Cross student work AND a card sort!

Image Source:
I've seen quite a few math lessons recently tackle the topic of gerrymandering. Check out this font from Ugly Gerry.

Image Source:
nhoiten has her students bury the phrase "I can't" at the beginning of the school year. I think that's awesome, and I love the resulting bulletin board!

Image Source:
RupeleMx recently challenged his students in Mexico with the Square Pi Puzzle. I love how he also captured the other figures they ended up creating.

Image Source:
Meredith Webster shares a new poster she made for the hall of what mathematicians can look like. The center is a mirror!

Image Source:
Emma Breese inspires with quadratic formula cupcakes!

Image Source:
Familiar with ten frames? Check out these Hungarian 10-Boards shared by Bernie Westacott.

Image Source:
Have you ever seen so many lovely shapes made out of 30-60-90 right triangles? Thanks goosegirl for sharing your students' awesome work!

Image Source:
Claire Mulhern shares a way to connect the concept of a clock with a number line!

Image Source:
Amy Haskins shares a picture of a poster she received. Graphing your state could make for a very cool cross-curricular project!

Image Source:
Ms Hinchman keeps students organized with a jumbo table of contents for them to reference. How cool is this?!?

Image Source:
Ella Hereth's first day of school sneak peek has me so excited! I can't wait to hear all about it!

Image Source:
These facts about sheep from the Australian Bureau of Statistics could make for some interesting word problems!

Image Source:
Giant origami as part of a math lesson? Count me in! Check out this idea from ML.

Image Source:
Collette Hauge inspires with some giant hall graphing.

Image Source:
Mean deviation with water balloons sounds like a lesson from Teacher Tiliches that students will not soon forget.

Image Source:
Amanda Howard shares some WODBs she created for her Algebra 1 classes.

Image Source:
Ed Southall's Instagram Archive of Geometric Puzzles is a thing of beauty!

Image Source:
S Leigh Nataro shares some WODBs she has created for AP Statistics.

Image Source:
Image Source:
Image Source:
David Butler shares a fun prime number fact.

Image Source:
David's tweets always push me to expand my own understanding of mathematics. This fraction talk he had with his daughter blew my mind.

Image Source:
Though, this 4-D Noughts and Crosses (Tic-Tac-Toe) might do my head in!

Image Source:
Teaching geometry? Druin created a large protractor printed on transparency paper to match the small protractors she provides students with (also printed on transparencies).

Image Source:
And, check out Druin's awesome door decoration. I got to see it in person last week, and it is gorgeous!

Image Source:
How would your students handle this area question from Sudeep?

Image Source:
This Colorku game (affiliate link) looks like a great addition to any math classroom. Check out how Katie Johnson uses it.

Image Source:
I LOVE this prompt from Melissa Copland to introduce domain restrictions.

Image Source:
Need some "bad graphs" for your students to analyze? Look no further than Bill the Lizard's twitter account! Here's just one example.

Image Source:
Dorsa Amir shares what is, by far, one of the worst pie charts I have ever seen.

Image Source:
Micah Hudson suggests posting optical illusions in the hall for students to look at during passing periods.

Image Source:

Derek Thompson points us toward an intriguing graph of how couples meet.

Image Source:
Cara Daley shares a clever way to illustrate systems of inequalities using sheet protectors.

Image Source:
Until next time, keep sharing your awesome ideas!