Saturday, November 19, 2011

Fraction Review {Math Lab}

One of my favorite things about teaching where I teach, is the freedom to go outside. 6th graders NEED to go outside sometimes, and this is a PERFECT math lab to get their never ending energy out, while maintaining their focus and keeping them accountible for learning. I do this at the end of our unit on fractions (which since it's 7th grade level math is working towards mastery, so they're pretty confident on these concepts)

Fractionopoly is a game-based math game that I created help get my students outside, and also have a fun way to integrate fractions, estimation, and integers. I guarentee your students will have fun playing this game just because they get to go outside!

  • Colored sidewalk chalk (or sidewalk paint)
  • Open space for creating life-sized game board
  • Foam dice (2)
  • 1 small whiteboard and whiteboard marker per team
  • Candy
  • Master Game Board (for answer key)

Time Period: 1 class period (30 + mins)


Select an appropriate place to create your game board. Depending on the size of your game board, you may need a lot of space, or not so much space. Also, if you have gravel, I suggest using chalk paint. I used regular chalk and the gravel pretty much ate my chalk!

Next, outline your game board and remember to count the number of squares you are using. I used white chalk to outline and colored chalk to write inside the squares.

Use your master copy of the game board (that has the problems and answers) to write in each of the squares. Be sure to include "fun" squares like "move ahead 3 spaces", "Go back to start", "Send one team to jail", "Candy" (like free parking) and plenty of problem spaces for students to solve.

This should be done before your class starts. I did it before school and I think if I would have used chalk paint it wouldn't have taken as long, although total I spent about 30 mins. creating the board.

During Class:
Place your students into three or four equal teams and give each team a small whiteboard for working problems, and a whiteboard marker to write with. I remind my students that their grade for the day depends on their participation and behavior outside and during the game.

Playing the Game:
  • This is a classic-game in that each team takes turns rolling the dice.

  • The team that arrives back at "Start" safely is the winning team.
  • Students walk around after each roll to their designated spot.

  • Teams take turns rolling and must have a CORRECT answer to their problem by the time it is their time to roll again, or they forfeit their turn.

  • An incorrect answer warrants a loss of a turn. If a player rolls the die and lands upon an occupied square, they are required to more to the square directly behind and follow instructions on that square.
  • Students that land on the "Candy" square earn 1 piece of candy (or other small-but-fabulous prize).

I hope that you have as much fun as I did playing this game. It's a great way to review before a holiday like Thanksgiving!

Math Notebook {Notes}

Update (6/14/13): I have a complete version of this notebook for download here

After my post on Integers, I received a few emails and comments asking for more pictures on the "math notebook". So I've put together a step-by-step walk through on how I use composition books in my classroom to help train my students to take notes, use their notes, and of course not lose their notes. :)

At the beginning of each school year, I have my students but two composition notebooks (wide ruled and graph paper) instead of trying to keep track of loose-leafed paper for notes. I collect them at "Meet the Teacher" night and mark off everyone who has brought them in. I also have spare one incase someone is new, can't afford one, etc. They're really cheap during back to school shopping. Then I set up the first few pages for them to cut down on time in class spent and to ensure that it's set-up the way I want it.  It doesn't take long. here's what I do:

Page 1: This is the cover page. I leave it blank so that students can use their creativity and decorate it (appropriately!) Here's mine:

Page 2: Page 2 is folded in and taped to page 3 to create a "pocket". I do this for students as some of them have trouble doing this step and it's faster for me to just do it for them. I color the pocket opening so that it's easily visible. This is where any papers that we tape/glue into our notebook, etc. can be placed for easy transport to and from school.

Page 4: Pages 4 - 8 are used to set-up the table of contents. This is a great tool to help kids not only take better notes, but to help them learn how to use their resources when they get stuck. I mark off along the margains and title them in order "Date", "Title" and "Page #" (my date is left blank b/c I use mine from year to year). I made each chapter a different color so that it's easy to see where chapter breaks are.

Page 9 Page 9 is where the students will actually start their notetaking, so I start their numbering by writing a "1" on the bottom right corner. Here's two examples of some of the notes I give. The pen is what I write on the board, the pencil is what I lead students in "teaching each other" (I like to interact with my students)

This has worked WONDERS for me. I created each chapter's notes just before I started teaching that chapter. It makes giving notes for absent students easier too, as I just have to go down to the copier and copy it. Students that are absent then don't feel as if they missed too much and they copy my notes into their own notebook.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Area & Perimeter {Math Lab on Rectangles}

In addition to teaching middle school math, I am also teaching high school Geometry this year. I hated Geometry when I was in school, but now I like it almost as much as Algebra. So when we cover geometric concepts at the sixth and seventh grade level, I try to make it fun, interesting and challenging. I think this is one of my favorite labs, and I know it's one of the student's as well.

Area & Perimeter: Rectangles

Time Needed:
1 class period (60 - 90 minutes in length)


  • Bright DuctTape
  • Rulers
  • Scissors
  • Area & Perimeter Math Lab

  1. BEFORE class starts, tape four rectangles on your classroom floor in different duct tape colors. Measure these in both customary (inches) and metric (centimeters)
  2. Students should be very familiar with how to find area by now, so notes should not take long. I reinforce the importance of using a formula to help set the stage for Pre-Algebra.
  3. Place students in four groups and pass out the math lab packet.
  4. Watch the discovery begin!
Here's a few pictures of my students in action during this lab:

Area and Perimeter Math Lab: