Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Coordinate Graphing {Math Lab: Centers}

If you're caught teaching a grade level like me where your students know about coordinate graphing, but need to "polish the edges" with it and practice, this math lab is super fun. I do it every year with my 6th grades and modify it for my pre-algebra students. I got the Nerf gun idea from a good friend of mine, and came up with the centers on my own. I'll upload a PDF of the lab for you - just please site my site or name if you use it. :)

  • Nerf Dart gun (shoots 6 - 8 darts)
  • Suction cup darts
  • laptop or computer with internet access
Time Allotment:
  • 1 class period (60 mins) after quick refresher notes

Place students into four groups, as equally as possible and rotate every 10 - 15 minutes. Allow enough time for each group to complete the Nerf Gun center. All other centers can be completed at home.

Center #1: Nerf Guns
Have one student be the "shooter" and shoot the coordinate graph. Another student is the "recorder" and records on the shooter's paper the ordered pairs. A third student will pull off the darts from the board after the shooter is finished shooting and call off the ordered pairs for each dart. Additional students may help pull off and record. Rotate within the group so that each student has had a chance to do each job.

Center #2: Coordinate Graphing
Students will complete in their group the coodinate graphing hidden picture. Remind students how to complete these and that they need to connect points as they go to create the picture.

Center #3: Internet Resource
Students will collectively complete 25 problems on the IXL website. I have a trial subscription, but students were able to also complete this at home without a subscription and it is a GREAT resource for math!

Center #4: Word Problem Practice
Students can collaboratively complete the problems on the provided Word Problem Worksheet (by Glencoe - Lesson 2-3)

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PDF of Math Lab: {Click Here}

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Integers {Notes}

Ever wonder how to make integers not only practical, but fun? I know I struggle sometimes with trying to get the importance across to my young students that these "little" negatives are SO important! I had inspiration though the other night while planning a science lesson.

I've discovered this one true fact.

Middle Schoolers like LOVE Post-It notes!!!!

Here's how I taught the lessons of integers. It took a few days to complete the four operations, BUT we not only had fun, we learned our rules and can now look back at them any time we need to!

  • 4 different bright colors of Post-Its
  • Sharpie
  • Math Journal
**Before class, I had pre-written on each post-it to save time, but you can also have students write on their own during class too.

  1. Write one operational symbol on each color of Post-It. (i.e. + on pink, - on yellow, etc)
  2. Have them grouped ready to be passed out following the warm-up so that each student recieves four Post-Its.
  3. Students will place ALL FOUR Post-Its on ONE page as shown:
  4. Have students trace around each Post-It to give a defined space when removing each note to write the integer rules underneath.
  5. Add appropriate rules under each note and complete examples on following pages.
  6. Once all Post-Its are complete, have a page dedicated to "Mixed Review" as most students get confused between (- 3)(- 4) and (- 3) - 4
Here's a close-up under the "Subtraction" Post-It;

Happy integer note-taking! :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Math Properties: BINGO GAME!

Is it me, or is teaching "The Properties of Math" kinda difficult? I mean, teaching it so the students will not only remember them, but understand them.....

I found a GREAT game to help reinforce the properties of math once you've introduced it in your math notebook. It's Math Properties: BINGO!

Here's the materials you'll need:
  1. Visit the website and printoff your BINGO cards (I mounted mine on colored paper and had them laminated for longer use)
  2. Cut up index cards or post-its to use as "markers"
  3. Place students in groups of two

 **Modification to the game that I did - Instead of calling out the properties on the call sheet that came printed, I wanted to challenge my students by giving them an example on the board and then having them mark the corresponding property on their boards.

This game was surprisingly fun to play and the kids have done really well at remembering the properties in the weeks since we've played. A good reinforcement tool!

Scavenger Hunt {Review Game}

I like LOVE to play games in my math class. The more interactive, the better. It's hard being a teacher and trying to compete for my student's attention when they've got things like Nintendo, facebook, sports, Playstation, etc. on their minds. So at the end of each chapter, we have a review right before their test. One of my favorite reviews is the "Scavenger Hunt."

Here's what you'll need:
  • Index Cards to write the "clues" on
  • 15 - 20 math questions covering concepts you want your kids to know for their test.
  • A "Small, but fabulous prize" for everyone that finishes before class ends :)
  • A class period (45 - 60 mins) to play
Instructions for Play:
  • Number each card in the upper left-hand corner.
  • Write a math problem on the first card.
  • Take another card out of numerical sequence and write the answer in the upper right hand corner.
  • Write another math problem on the card you just wrote the answer to the first problem on.
  • Repeat until all cards are filled up.
  • RECORD your numerical sequence (this way you can help students who have made a "wrong turn" along their hunting)
  • Place cards in random places around the room to encourage students to "hunt"
What you will have is a numerical sequence that allows the kids to HAVE to work the problems out to find the next card. I always tell them "Don't think you can cheat because you are on card #2. The answer is NOT on card 2, or 3 or 1!"

  • Pair up students in groups of 2 - 4 (depending on class size). Have each group start at least 3 cards apart from each other.
  • No matter where students start, they will all be able to complete each card since the system allows for a "loop"
  • Students will know when they have completed all the cards when they arrive back at the card they started with.
  • I give the team that finishes first with the correct sequence an added bonus of 5 test points on their test average. We don't play this game often, but they LOVE it!
Here's some photos of my 6th graders during Friday's "Hunt":

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Algebra Tiles: Order of Operations

I LOVE manipulatives. They have a place in the middle school classroom too.

When I first started teaching in 2004, I attended a conference for Marcy Cook. The way she taught us was the way I had envisioned teaching - hands-on, discovery-focused, learning. So I spent what little money I had on a few of the tiling task cards and started in my 8th grade classroom.... with students just six years younger than me.... It worked! They have become a vital part of my teaching techniques as they not only create a fun, learning atmosphere, but they can easily be worked into whatever curriculum you are using and promote higher level thinking. Here's what I do:

  • Place students into groups of two or three and hand each group a tub of quiet tiles and a task card.

  • Students can use each tile only ONE TIME. There will be no single digit or three digit numbers as solutions (except the last one is a single digit). There will be no "doubles" (11, 22, 33, etc.)

  •  Make a competition or something fun out of it. I usually create a tally board on my white board and then at the end of the allotted time I give the team with the most points some sort of reward (candy, points, etc).

  • There are 20 task cards ranging in difficulty and when you order, you recieve a fun tracking sheet, so I simply sign it for each completed card to make sure no group does the same one twice and to get a wide range of cards in there.
  • HAVE FUN and challenge students to think critically if they get stuck.

Students will enjoy the challenge and it helps build teamwork and communication. Remember to always switch up your groups to avoid "cliques" and hurt feelings.

    Friday, September 2, 2011

    Math Journal {Spice up your notes}

    Have you noticed it's hard to teach how to take "good" math notes? I teach middle schoolers and their note taking skills aren't refined yet, but I don't want to "hand" everything to them either. So, I took an idea a friend gave me for science, and modified it for math! The reason I use a composition notebook is because you literally have to TRY to get the papers more lost notes!

    • Composition notebook for each student (I put this on their school supply list and have them bring it to "Meet the Teacher" night so I can set up the beginning for them.
    • If you have graphing in your curricula then ask parents to bring a graphing composition notebook too. I found mine at Target during Back to School sales shopping for under a buck.

    The Set-Up:
    • The first page is for students to creatively give it a title (and put their name on it somewhere!)
    • The second page is folded down and then taped to the third, creating a "pocket".
    • Pages four through seven are used for the table of contents. Have this also set up for students with the left margin for the date, niddle for the topic, and the right margin for the page #.
    • Page eight is then numbered with a "1" for the first topic for students to start taking notes!

    Here's my example: (Everything in pink is what I write on the board, the pencil is what students lead to in class during our interactive note-taking)

    The BEST reason for doing this is so that students won't say they never learned this or you didn't teach them when a student is absent, you can just copy the notebook and they can add it to theirs and not fall behind! I do a chapter at a time to stay above the students a bit.

    What methods do you use that work well?