Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Wheel of Equations Notes

I love gimmicks!  Interactive notebooks lend themselves to gimmicks and the Wheel of Equations are perfect!  This is a short post sharing my favorite note delivery template!

Yes, I hum as I rotate the wheel to the next problem.  And yes, I purposely chose problems far from each other on the wheel so the Wheel of Fortune theme could be fully completed in my glorious nerdy humming display.

I got this from a grant I participated in a few summers ago from Jennifer Clayton and Valerie Blackburn.  It was probably my favorite takeaway!  It also allowed for more problems on my one-page notes too so... extra practice!!

I first gave a top sheet of the 3 Questions and then had them connect the wheel directly to ther notebook.  This was to conserve paper.

I discovered that students are not very versed in brads/brass fasteners so I started doing it whole page which made it easier to use in the notebook.

The wheel perfectly fits in the blank space and the page perfectly fits in a spiral notebook!

I have them put the brad right through the middle!  These notes are always a hit and the students periodically play with the wheel.  It's also easy to refer back to these notes because they are so unique!

They, of course, could be adapted to any note or activity!

Get all the templates here for FREE!!

Enjoy!  And I'd love to hear feedback or any other things you create with it!


Monday, September 10, 2018

How Do I Solve This? Problem Processing and Testing Strategies Activity

A couple of years ago, I noticed that a lot of times we gave practice problems but not necessarily word problems until the test.  I wanted to start helping with not only math but testing strategies to help prepare them for future classes.  

I also looked at frequently missed STAAR Questions (Texas Standardized Test) and wanted to help walk students through them.  I did a quick template of How Do I Solve This?  and applied it to a number of problems.  
The questions might need editing or a change of order from each problem.  These activities are to both help them get started and write about math!  I usually do some with them (especially the first few) and then assign some throughout the year.  I will do them with the unit they apply to and use them as spiraling.  

I have had some positive feedback from students and they definitely get quicker at them.  When I grade them, I usually put a check if they got it correct and wrote sufficient information and an X if they missed the problem.  They still received credit for trying.  My goal is the processing!!!!

Here is an example of a multi-step inequality problem.  

I always tell them as far as the writing goes, there is no write or wrong.  Often, throughout the day, different classes even have different responses.  It's all about processing the problems!  At least trying to get started!

Here are a couple others so you can get an idea of what I am trying to get them to express.

I have 20 done as of this writing and they are all available here for FREE!  These are great for exit tickets, warm-ups, assignments, and spiraling.  I have based these off released STAAR Tests from Texas Education Agency which you can access here for FREE.  These were all from the Algebra 1 tests.

If you ever have any questions about how I do one, please feel free to ask me!  I usually post most answers throughout the year on my Twitter and Instagram @cbhsrichmath as they are part of our notebook that I post almost daily.


Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Can You Escape the Death Star? Maze Activity

Are you brave enough to traverse the Dark Side?  Solve your way to the Escape Pod so you can join the rebel forces in defeating Darth Vader the Sith Lord.  

When will you ever use this in real life, you ask.... well here you go!  Nothing like defeating evil with Algebra to see the relevance of multi-step equations in the real world.  We never know when we need to fight a Star War!

And of course... I always go a little overboard....

These are just characters taped to solo cups to place over the Sphero to add come character.  Below is a video of how they move.

This summer I received a couple of grants for Spheros in my math classroom.  I've been working on integrating STEM and STEAM into my class as a way of engaging and motivating learners.  What is a Sphero you might ask?  

I saw these a couple of summers ago at the Texas Regional Collaborative in Austin, Texas.  I have played with them a few times and even brought them up to school at the end of last year.  I wrote a grant through WeTeach_CS and DonorsChoose.org.  Blessedly I received both of them!  The WeTeach Mini Grant allowed me to realize a life long dream too!  I received my first ever 'bigcheck'!  

He went on a  number of adventures the rest of the summer which you can see on my classroom Twitter: @cbhsrichmath.

Immediately I started brainstorming.  I have a bad habit of going overboard so I wanted to slowly bring Sphero into my classroom.  I have already integrated Ozobot into my class so I just needed a few assignments to work in.  Robotics and coding are so important to basic life skills as I've previously wrote about on my blog.  They teach fundamental life and math skills so even just 'playing' can be great learning.

So Sphero..... Hmmmm..... there are a ton of great resources to intorduce into the class like the following Teachers Pay Teachers Activities from Miss Talented and Gifted:

The Twister activity is fabulous!  When we did it at a STEM Camp they loved it and really applied their coding.

With my students, I wanted to work it in to the curriculum as an initial interest motivator.  So I thought, 'hey, they could drive it through a maze!'  Then I thought just take any maze WS  and print it poster size to put on the ground.  I have a bunch from Algebra Accents I could use! BUT.... this is me and I wanted a Star Wars themed one!! Of course I couldn't just use what I had, could I?!?!?

Enter Can You Escape From the Death Star?

I printed it in poster mode from PDF at 625%.  This made it 9 sheets by 5 sheets and the perfect size to navigate Sphero through to the Escape Pods.  Every pair/group/individual will solve their problems to navigate through the maze on paper.  They will then drive their Sphero through it all on the floor maze!

I added a students WS to show their work.

At first, they needed some time to familiarize themselves with it and play.  I demonstrated how to connect and do the basic drive commands for this activity.  We will get more into the coding later.

The students worked hard to get to the fun.  they were able to master the mechanics and even practice their 'escape' plan to show me for their grade tomorrow.  Below are the Sphero Mini's which have a totally different drive dynamic in my opinion. 

As always, I have provided copies of the activities in Word and PDF.  The fonts I used were Star Jedi and standard Stencil in Word. 

Download the Maze and Student WS here for FREE!

Have a gallactically great day!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Slope Graffiti

No holds barred!!  Fill the paper!! Tag it up!  It's Slope Graffiti!

I want you to tell me everything you can about the equation assigned.  Everything!  The more the better.  There is really no right or wrong here.  It is just about recalling and applying their knowledge. I first did this in a grant I attended several summers ago and have made it a regular assignment in my Algebra 1 and Math Models Classes. 

In Math Models (a post Algebra 1 class), I do this on the third day of school!  It takes a bit of effort and many students to have a difficult time writing down anything about math.  Many can say it and remember it but actually putting it down takes practice that I focus on throughout the year.  In Algebra 1, I assign this after all necessary teaching and practice have been done on slope-intercept form.

I have 2 versions.  The first have the equations in slope-intercept form.  The next time we do it, 2nd semester in Algebra, it is in standard form.  I provide a graph template for them as well so they do not have to draw a graph free hand.  I allow one full class period.

I have a PPT with 4 different slides of equations.  On each one, I did put the parent function.  I display this throughout the class period.  they do work in groups so I have very relevant math vocabulary as their Group Names.  

I have had some beautiful and excellent projects over the years but unfortunately lost them to the floods so I cannot show you.  One of the few things I did not photograph!!  Ugh!!!  Generally, later on in the year, there is a lot more 'writing' on the posters but my students did an excellent job this year for the third day of school.  

There were a lot of laughs, some struggles, but in the end they all remembered the critical basic information!  Below are some selected pictures from this year.

I have been working for 3 years now to have students write more about math so you can definitely see a progression throughout the year when I ask them to do these type activities.  I also have a notebook/journal warm-up that goes along with this concept:

They are just instructed to tell me anything they can about it!  I also have a bunch of one page different equations they could do.  I will include all of them in the link below.  The font used is KG Girls on Fire and can be downloaded here for FREE!  I just love fonts!!!

Thank You and Enjoy! 

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Headbands Are All the 'Math' Rage!

Where do I start with this little piece of genius I was taught a few summers back?!?!  There are no words for the educational value of these 6 strips of paper.  

Way back in the summer of 2016, my life was forever changed when I joined a grant through Texas Regional Collaboratives.  UTMB in Galveston had a Grant taught by Valerie Blackburn and Jennifer Clayton.  

So of course, I needed to create one for my class.  This little gem was shared and it has snowballed on our campus!  Yes, almost all levels of core math use it now. 

The first one was a little more intense than I realized and lasted way longer than I planned BUT the results were well worth it!  We spent 30 minutes in my Algebra 1 class doing the slope from tables one.  I was able to get a lot of formative assessment and in the end ALL students completed and worked diligently on 6 critical problems. 

This resulted in one of my favorite teaching moments of all time... 

Student: 'What's the point of this?'
Me: **thinking quickly of a witty response** 'When you put it on your head, you are learning by osmosis."  **secretly hoping they buy this**
Students:  'Oh my gosh, we are learning about that now in biology!! Cool!!'
Me: **thinking score cross-curricular vocabulary.**

I sent it to my principal laughing at the cross-curricular tie and it ended up going all though the district.  I even had teachers telling me students were wearing it in the cafeteria.  Later that year one student pulled it out and put it on during a test and when I asked him why, he said it made him feel smarter.  #teachermoment

Now let me share how to create your very first headband!  Any 6 problems will work and it is basically like a scavenger/mouse hunt.  You place the answer to a different problem on the left of the headband and a problem in the middle.  They solve the problem and connect/match it to the answer on a different piece forming a complete headband!

What I made a mistake of and was a reason the first time took so long was that you want to make all pieces connected like above.  The first time I had each piece with a space between and those precision cutters took forever!

AND DO NOT make them in order either... or then you have to redo and mix them all up... I've already been there, done that!

Each student recieves one copy of the headband to cut and construct.  I have a cut one projected on the board to show expectations. Sometimes I'll work one but most of the time I just demonstrate my expectations about connecting.  They solve the problem and look for the answer on another piece them solve that problem until they are back to the first piece.  Instant assessment for them which are my favorite kind of activities. 

I also have all mine designed to fit on 1 page.  Just as an FYI... these are great for those dark colored papers you might have that you can't really use for a WS.

AND don't worry, I've got templates for you as well as ALL my headbands shared below!

Another tip is to have students tape or staple them together so they can put them on right away.  And they will likely need to overlap and measure as they go.  I make them show work on the bands and just cover the answer or arrow.  One kiddo ended up making a belt instead so they can be pretty big. 

Here is what a couple of completed ones look like...

To store them, I just added a headband envelope in our notebook.

I'm not really sure how to say that I love these things!  I love seeing seniors wear them and post on their social media.  I even offer some credit for wearing them outside my class.  Anything to have kids talk about math!  

Some get creative with their'Headbands' too...

Get all resources here for FREE!!!  

I have them both in Word and PDF as always!  If you want my font, Janda Curly Girl, it is downloadable for free here!  It's one of my favorites!!

Enjoy the rage!!

Friday, July 13, 2018

Build Me a Castle Review

How do you get your classes to finish 1,217 problems in 2 days? Give them a cup after each one!! Build me a Castle Review, SUCCESS! Crazy busy but so worth it!

A while back I saw a post online that someone did a review where after each problem, they received a cup to stack.  So simple and sooooooo engaging... so I thought!  Not so simple really.  It was fast.  It was furious.  It was rigorous.

Of course we couldn't just stack cups right?  We needed a theme!  The student above, Anosha and I came up with Build Me A Castle!  We ordered tiaras and even dressed princess themed the first day.  I didn't get a picture because we were going crazy.  This is not a review for the weak.

First, I laminated and used a bunch of task cards I had.  I even made one for standard to slope-intercept form.  Most of mine came from Algebra Accents on Teachers Pay Teachers.  I purchased her whole curriculum several years ago and it has been one of my best investments ever!  The ones I used will be listed below if you are interested.

Really, any matching game can be used.  I'll include my slope matching game that you could just use the graphs for.

To say the students loved it would be an understatement. They did not stop. We did it for 2 solid days and they answered non-stop. I threw out easy and hard. Order of ops to exponential functions. It was a great spiral for the semester exam as I did it just before the end of the year.

I gave each student a wipe board to show their answer on. Each day I had about 5 task card stacks. Each group got one from each stack to start regardless of how many group members they had. It is easiest for you if each card stack is a different color. As each student solved, they came up to the teacher to check answers. If correct, they took a cup and a different problem. If wrong, you could have them correct of offer instruction.

I was surprised that as fast as it was moving, we were able to differentiate pretty good and make sure students were doing a variety of problems. At the end of the day, we took a cup count and let them start with that the next day. Another option is castle height or design.

The above were our winning group with 120 cups. I had them compete within the class then across my classes. Either way, they loved it and every group was able to spiral review.

It was a great activity I will use several times each year. I think my favorite thing was a way to use all those task cards again!!! I needed about 300 cups as an FYI.

Get a couple of my task cards for FREE here.  I will add any other task cards I create in the same folder so you can check back throughout the school year.  The ones I included right now are:

Slope Matching Activity with these graph cards:

Standard to Slope-Intercept Form

The Algebra Accents ones I used and were worth every penny (I think most are $3) were:


Let's Code and Roll... the Ozobot DICE!

I was really trying to work in the Ozobots once more this year!  We did not get them until December so we only had a semester, in addition to the shortened curriculum because of Hurricane Harvey, to use them.  I get so easily excited that I always end up over doing but we had some 'extra' time to work on geometry and I decided to work in a little coding.  How I feel about coding in math has been communicated quite extensively by me.  My colleagues and friends are surely sick of it but I can not see a better fit than order of operations and accuracy in math.  Beyond that are careers, life lessons, and of course interactions beyond the standard social media.

Read about my initial ideas and Ozobot lessons here.

I also wrote more about coding and math here.

Guest Blog: Ozobots in Algebra 1

So here comes the end of the year.  Kids are tired.  State tests are taken.  They need some motivation and engagement to get through the final haul of what has been a roller coaster Texas school year.  I decided a nice poster project to round out the Geometry Unit would be nice.  I could not have been more happy with the results.  The students blew me away with their coding and concepts mastery.  It was so rewarding and a great way to further practice our coding in math!

I first created dice with a combination of coding and geometry concepts.  There are 4 unique dice.  2 are numbered and 2 are lettered so you can mix it up.  I printed all the numbers on blue and letters on orange and laminated them.

For the instructions, I put the codes for all the dice under each number so they could just circle which ones they rolled.  I also created a rubric on the back.  I also stated to roll a dice and complete the action then roll again.  Some groups did all their roles then created so it is completely up to you.

 I also encouraged adding extra to it as well.  Many kids were so excited that they were scared to add more and mess it up.  I loved their excitement and pride in their work.  One young lady even asked we send the video to her Mom 😍 They just watched their Ozobot perfectly travel the line for about 15 minutes.  It was fabulous!

I provided one piece of the gridded chart paper to help with the geometry concepts.

One of the discussions we had was what happened when Ozobot chose left instead of right or got stuck somewhere?  All groups had worked that out and accounted for it in their projects.  It was educational magic!!

I provided it in both PDF and Word.  Those of you wanting to edit will need the fonts KG Payphone (for the WS) and Austie Bost Envelope (for the dice).  Download then for free here.

As an additional fun note, we did this activity with a Texas theme in my WeTeach_CS face-to-face!  This was teachers completing it and below is one of the completed ones....