Math = Love: 2017

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Recognizing Inequalities from Graphs - Speed Dating Activity

As I'm working my way through my folder of blog drafts, I'm realizing that most of the ideas have found their way into other posts. This post contains an idea that was mentioned in another post, but I never got around to sharing pictures of what the activity actually looked like.

I wanted my Algebra 1 students to be able to quickly glance at a graph on a number line and determine the algebraic inequality that would produce that graph.  I created a set of speed dating cards using sharpie, pencil, and colored index cards.  The index cards don't have to be colored, but I find that my kids have much more trouble seeing through the colored cards than the plain white ones.  Please tell me I'm not the teacher who has the few students who waste more time trying to read the answer on the other side instead of just answering the question.

I used sharpie for the graphs and pencil for the answers in the hopes that I could prevent cheating even more that way.

So, how does speed dating work? Each student is given a card with the graph facing up.  Once they have determined the inequality that produces their graph, they flip the card over to check their answer.

Once all students have had ample time to solve the problem on their own card, I have each student stand up and find a partner.  Students hold their cards up to their partners with the problem facing out.  
I tell my students that in speed dating, the goal is to meet as many people in as short of time as possible and exchange contact information in case you later decide you want to get to know someone better.  In class, our goal is to get as much practice naming inequalities as possible. 

Students take turn answering the other's question.  Each student coaches the other student through the solution if necessary.  Then, students trade cards and find a new partner.  This continues until the teacher calls time. 

Here are some action shots: 

One of my summer goals is to take these speed dating activities that I have handwritten on index cards and turn them into share-able digital activities.  I'll be sure to share once I get this done!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Sticky Note Mobiles in Math Concepts

I'm back to cleaning out old draft posts.  Today, the plan is to share about a sticky note challenge I issued my math concepts students.  At my school, math concepts is a class for freshman that are not yet ready for Algebra 1.  The puzzles in this post were taken from the Transition to Algebra curriculum.

Students were placed in pairs and given four sticky notes with the four values (example: 80, 81, 38, and 39) written on them with marker.  Each pair stood in front of a hand-drawn mobile on the dry erase board.  When I told them to go, they had to determine how to place sticky notes on the mobiles so both sides would be equal.  

This sparked a lot of awesome conversation between the students in each pair.  Students were asking each other to justify their placements, and it was a beautiful sight to behold!

Even better, we had a great conversation afterward about helpful strategies to solving

Looking back at this activity now, I'm now wondering how I could create a similar activity within the Algebra 1 curriculum.  Any ideas?  The only idea I've had so far is to make mobiles that require students to combine like terms.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Creating Our Own SolveMe Mobiles

It's summer which means it's time to clean out the drafts folder in Blogger!  This post has been sitting as a draft since September!  My math concepts class (a class for freshman not yet ready for Algebra 1) really working on SolveMe Mobiles this past year.  If you aren't familiar with SolveMe Mobiles, you need to follow the link right now before you continue reading.   

Image Source:

After spending several weeks on these puzzles, I challenged my students to make their own. They drew their rough drafts on our individual dry erase boards. Then, after their mobile was checked by me, they recreated it using construction paper (affiliate link) and circle stickers (affiliate link).

Here were the finished results:

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Must-Have Supplies for a New Physical Science Teacher (Part 1)

Well, I've officially finished my first year as a physical science teacher.  It wasn't a journey I planned on taking, but I learned so much from the experience.  For example, I re-learned just how much I love chemistry and don't love physics.  I guess that's the reason I sought out my chemistry certification so I will hopefully be able to teach two periods of chemistry a day next year.  Don't worry, math will always be my first love!  

This is the first half of a mini-series about the supplies that I considered a must-have in my physical science classroom.  Now, you'll have to keep in mind that I was teaching science in a regular, non-lab classroom.  This led to having to make numerous, numerous adaptations that would not be necessary in a laboratory setting.  Hopefully this post will help inspire a future physical science teacher!  

Please note that this post does contain affiliate links.  If you purchase any of the items featured, I will receive a small portion of your purchase price.  This costs you nothing at all, and it helps pay for the file hosting on this blog.  

Dice.  A few years ago, I asked my school to invest in a set of 500 dice plus a set of polyhedra dice.  These have proved useful in both my math classes and my science class!  We used the dice to play Periodic Table War.   

Cups.  My students often needed a bit of water for a lab activity.  Since I don't have a sink in my room, I would have to send them to the bathroom sink to fetch water.  These cups saved the day for this many times before I was able to receive some proper pitchers through a local grant.

Dominoes.  These dominoes are not actually mine.  A student brought them so that her fellow students could incorporate them into their Rube Goldberg machines.  I recently ran across a scatter plot activity involving time vs. number of dominoes that I would love to incorporate into my Algebra 1 class next year.  Looks like I need to get a few sets of my own dominoes for my classroom!  

Timers.  I received three MyChron timers for attending a HS Science Workshop with OERB.  Then, I received six more MyChron timers from a local donor.  I know that my students could always use their cell phones as a timer, but I would rather my students NOT have their phones out during a lab!  These work perfectly, and my students love using them.  

Baking Soda.  Not having a proper science lab has meant that I had to be very creative with the types of chemicals we were able to use during labs.  Baking soda made a few appearances in our curriculum!  

Salt.  This was another common household item that my students were able to use in their labs without having to worry about disposing of toxic chemicals.  

Effervescent Tablets.  My students completed a lab where they compared the impact of different water temperatures on reaction rate.  Effervescent tablets worked perfectly for this.  

Packing Peanuts.  I originally saved these thinking that my students could use them for some sort of density activity, but they actually came in most useful for our egg drop project!  

Do Not Remove This Card. I created these laminated cards that read "Do not remove this card" after seeing Steve Spangler do the same at a workshop with his Mysterious Water Suspension trick.  I have some awesome video I took in class when doing this activity that I need to share soon!    

Cotton Balls.  Like the packing peanuts, these make the perfect supply to provide students for building egg drop devices.  They also made appearance in the Mini Metric Olympics.  

Graduated Cylinders.  I received these plastic graduated cylinders from an OERB Workshop.  I love that they are plastic so I don't have to worry about cleaning up broken glass if they get dropped.  We used these to explore measuring volume, and we continued using them in lab after lab.  My Algebra 1 students even got to use them for our Crow and the Pitcher activity.  

Sponges.  These sponges made an appearance in the Mini Metric Olympics.  They're also just generally useful for cleaning up after labs!  

Glass Beakers.  These beakers were another gift from attending the OERB workshop.  Most of my labware is plastic due to being in a classroom setting instead of a laboratory setting, but it was nice having some glassware that could be placed on our hotplates.  

Digital Thermometer.  We did several labs that required testing the impact of different temperatures of water.  Having a digital thermometer made our data collection so much easier!  Now, I need to find a way to get my hands on a class set of these! 

Decorative Glass Gems.  These can be found in the craft section at Dollar Tree.  They're meant for filling glass vases, but my husband and I have both used them in our classrooms.  He used them for modeling a jumping activity.  My physical science students used them in the Mini Metric Olympics.  We also used them when practicing measuring volume.  My Algebra 1 students used them for our Crow and the Pitcher activity.  I'm also thinking they would be great for modeling electrons on Bohr models in the future!          

Soap Pads.  When you need steel wool in a hurry for a lab on making rust, you buy these.  In the future, I'll find somewhere to purchase some proper steel wool for that lab!  

Mrs. Stewart's Liquid Bluing.  We used this to make crystal "Chemistrees" right before Christmas Break.  Yet another activity I still need to blog about!

Straws.  The picture also features pipettes, but I didn't actually end up using any pipettes in Physical Science this year.  The straws were used for the Mini Metric Olympics.  

Flask.  Remember my tiny, 100 mL glass beakers from earlier?  For quite a while, these were the only glassware in my classroom.  Heating a substantial amount of water on the hotplate with only 100 mL beakers takes a LONG time.  Eventually, I broke down and borrowed a 500 mL flask from the old HS chemistry lab.  This made heating water so much more efficient.  

Oven Mitts.  These were a gift from my secret pal.  I'm sure she meant for them to be used in my kitchen, but they worked perfectly for removing glassware from the hotplate!  

Hydrocarbon Modeling Kits.  I received these modeling kits from the OERB workshop.  We didn't do much with organic compounds in Physical Science, but I did teach my students to name and model the various alkanes.  They had a lot of fun building the different models!    

Platform Scale.  My mom picked up this scale for me at a yard sale, and it worked perfectly for when we needed to find the mass of items that were too large for our triple beam balances.  

Plastic Containers.  These were perfect for carrying water and containing experiments.  My students were so amazed that they nested one inside of another.  If you take them out, they keep getting smaller and smaller and smaller and smaller!    

Corning Hotplates.  These were perfect for heating water for various labs.  I received three of them for attending an OERB Workshop.    

TI-30XS Calculators.  I LOVE these calculators for both my Algebra 1 classes and my Physical Science class!  They are the most user friendly scientific calculator I have came across!  

Triple Beam Balances.  I was able to borrow a set of these from our old HS chemistry lab, and I am so glad I did.  It was quite a while before I was able to get my hands on a digital scale, so this was all we had for measuring.  I had many of my physical science students in Algebra 1 as well, and those kids loved showing off their measuring skills in math class!  

Vegetable Oil.  This was another one of those common household items that showed up in classroom activities.  

Pitchers.  Remember when I was having to tote water from the bathroom in plastic cups?  These pitchers from EAI Education made transporting water to the classroom SO much easier.  The pour spouts kept my room a lot drier and cleaner, too!  

Plastic Test Tubes with Racks.  These are marketed towards primary students, but I love being able to use them with my high school students because I don't have to worry about glass breaking.  It does mean we're limited as to what chemicals we can put in them, but as you can tell already I kept the chemical list pretty tame this year. ;)  

Measuring Cups.  These got most of their use measuring out baking soda and salt for various labs.  

Graduated Cylinders.  I was lucky to get grant money from our local education foundation to purchase more plastic graduated cylinders for our various labs.  

Plastic Beakers.  These plastic beakers are also from EAI Education and were also purchased with grant money from our local education foundation.  

Digital Scale.  I'm not sure what to say about this scale.  My students definitely prefer it to the triple beam balances, but they broke it on the first use out of the box.  :(  It still works, but the top doesn't stay attached like it should.  

Sidewalk Chalk.  We calculated how many grams of chalk we thought it would take to write our names on the sidewalk.  Then, we measured the mass of a piece of chalk, wrote our name, and re-measured the mass to determine how much chalk was used.  Finally, I had students calculate their error and percent error.  I blogged about the activity here.  

Mason Jars.  These were used for Steve Spangler's Mysterious Water Suspension Demonstration.  If I don't blog about this soon, please remind me!  

Bubble Wrap.  This protected many an egg in our egg drop competition!  

Two Liter Bottles.  These were used for experimenting with inertia in the hex nut probability lab.  We also used them in a lab I haven't blogged about yet where we examined the most efficient way to empty a two-liter bottle.    

Ammonia.  This was an important ingredient in growing our "Chemistrees."

Vinegar.  If baking soda is in your lab, you better have vinegar, too!  

Dry Erase Pockets.  I used these to make many of our physical science activities interactive and reusable.  My students love using these pockets!  

Slotted Weights.  These were perfect to add to various objects to vary the weight during a lab.  

Marbles.  You can't have Marble Roller Coasters without marbles!  These would also work for the Mini Metric Olympics and the Crow and the Pitcher activity.    

Bingo Chips.  We used these to play Scientifico.  They would also work great for modeling electrons in Bohr diagrams.  

Meter Sticks.  These are probably the most used item in my science class.  We used them for EVERYTHING.  

Foam Pipe Insulation.  Each piece is cut in half lengthwise to make roller coaster tracks for marbles.  You can read more about this activity here

Plastic Tubs.  These have been SUCH a lifesaver this year.  Without easy access to a sink, these make it easy to clean up and catch the mess.  They also came in super handy for groups to keep their supplies in during activities like the time we built Rube Goldberg Machines.  

Pipe Cleaners and Pony Beads.  These were perfect for making models of covalent bonding.  I blogged about this activity here.  

Magnets.  My sister gave me these circular magnets, and they were perfect for modeling how to draw Bohr Diagrams on the dry erase board!  

Paper Plates and Circle Stickers.  While I modeled my Bohr Diagrams with magnets, my students created their models using paper plates and circle stickers.  

This represents only part of my list of must-have supplies, but I need time to take more photos before writing up the second half!