Math = Love

Monday, February 19, 2018

Monday Must Reads: Volume 31

Happy Monday! It's President's Day here in the US which means a day off at my school. And, let me say that this day off is much needed. We haven't had a single snow day this year, and I've really missed having a few unexpected breaks during the school year. This was originally supposed to be a professional day for us, but we get the day off since we attended a PD day during the summer that counted for today.

Once again, I'm compiling a list of the great ideas I ran across on twitter and in my RSS reader this week. I hope you enjoy this week's "Must Reads."

Liz Mastalio shares an awesome graphic organizer that I will definitely be stealing if I ever have to teach exponent rules again! My students used to never know when they were done simplifying. I can't believe I never thought to give them a checklist!

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My school struggles to get a good turn-out for parent teacher conferences. We're always looking for ideas that will get parents in the building. Liz Mastalio tracks how many students/parents came to conferences by breaking them down by their house. LOVE this idea!

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I've been super-impressed with the immigration project that Rick Barlow has been having his students complete. Check out more information on Rick's blog!

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Maria Dunlap modified a slope activity that I posted on my blog last week to involve tooth picks, and it made the activity at least ten times more awesome!

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Texas Math Teacher shares a creative way to help students estimate square roots that aren't perfect squares.

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As teachers, we often complain that our students are out of touch with the reality of the world around them. Ron King's Million Dollar Project works to tackle this problem by opening students' eyes to the realities of paying for college, buying a house, buying a car, budgeting for vacations, and researching charities before donating to them.

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Nico Rowinsky shares a photo of an awesome bulletin board. I love this idea of showing off students' struggles instead of rewarding students who completed the task quickly on their first try.

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Kim Spek has blown my mind by sharing a step-by-step tutorial for creating a fabric hexaflexagon!

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Illustrative Math poses an interesting question: which inequality would your students say doesn't belong?

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I love this idea shared by Erin Schultz of creating a Demos Wall of Fame.

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Team Maths shares another awesome resource by Don Steward. These arithmogon puzzles give students critical practice working with integers! Be sure to check out Don's entire post here.

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Need a fun practice idea? Check out this activity from Erin Dunn. Students earned a cup for each equation they solved correctly. The final challenge? Build the tallest tower possible.

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10ticks shares a fun area-based algebra puzzle for your puzzling enjoyment.

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I know Valentine's is now a distant memory, but I can't keep from including this creative Valentine that Kassia Wedekind's daughter received from her preschool teacher.

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Shera Higbee brings out the creativity in her students by posting a student-created math pun on the board each day.

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Planning for next month's Pi Day? Jacqueline Tishler shares the idea of engaging students with a kahoot on pi facts.

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David Butler shares a heart-shaped puzzle he created for his wife for Valentine's Day.

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Have some popsicle sticks laying around? Check out this idea from Maria Dunlap.

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Molly Hamilton inspires me. She created a twitter account just to share some awesomeness that her students created. How cool is that?!?

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Cassandra Valenti engaged students on Valentine's Day by having them graph some cardoids by hand.

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Steve Phelps shares some candy-based fun for your statistics lesson.

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Jessica Silas wins the award for coolest use ever for a clinometer.

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Caitlyn Gironda shares a great real-world application of geometry by examining food deserts.

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Mark McCourt shares an interesting geometry problem from John Mason.

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Parmenter Math shares an awesome heart-themed WODB.

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I love this question approach from Jae Ess where students are given the answer and have to create their own math problem to equal it.

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Allie Webb shares a real-world example of compound inequalities.

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Mariel Mates wants to encourage crafty math teachers to knit or crochet their own pi day scarf that has rows of colors corresponding to the digits of pi. I'm not sure I will pull this off for this year, but maybe next year will be the year?!?

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Until next Monday, keep up the awesome sharing!

Friday, February 16, 2018

Five Things Friday: Volume 10

It's finally Friday! It's felt like this week has dragged on - probably because I've been looking forward to having a 3-day weekend! Here's some miscellaneous happenings from this week that deserve a mention on the blog: 

1. I bought a new puzzle book. Yes, I know I'm addicted to puzzle books. No, I don't think that's really a problem. My newest purchase was The Big, Big, Big Book of Brainteasers by The Grabarchuk Family (affiliate link). This is the same family that edited and contributed puzzles to the Puzzle Box Volumes 1-3 (affiliate link) that I rave about all the time on this blog. If you need even further proof of this family's awesomeness, check out their new Strimko Puzzle Books (affiliate link)!   

This puzzle book is turning out to be just as awesome as the others. There are 567 puzzles in the book, and I only paid $5.83 on Amazon for a used copy with free shipping. That's just over 1 cent per puzzle which I think counts as a super-awesome bargain. If you are a geometry teacher, you should definitely check out this book because there are probably at least 100 puzzles that tie directly to various geometry standards. 

My husband and I had lunch duty together all week. On Thursday, I brought my new puzzle book with me and we enjoyed a fun half-hour of puzzling and discussing which puzzles we could use with our students. Shaun tried his hand at a geometric puzzle that involved making a net of a cube which he plans to use in his unit on 3D shapes. 

2. We had some fun playing Fraction Capture in Math Concepts. We haven't reviewed improper fractions yet, so we'll get another chance to play with an increased level of strategy after that.

3. Shaun and I spent Valentine's evening at church. We teach a class of 4th graders at church on Wednesday nights. Since it was Valentine's Day we were supposed to create some sort of Valentine's Day Craft. I'm a last minute planner and didn't have time to grab any special supplies, so we took some yarn, colored paper, and tape to make heart mobiles. My sweet husband made this one for me.

I learned that seven fourth graders can make quite a mess while doing arts and crafts.

I also learned that cutting out hearts is a skill that my 4th graders have not exactly mastered yet. Our Wonky Game (affiliate link) made the perfect introductory activity to our lesson over the parable of the wise man who built his house on the rock and the foolish man who built his house on the sand.

4. Some of my classes had some unexpected downtime this week since they managed to get themselves ahead of my other classes. I pulled out part of my game stash to keep them busy.

We enjoyed some games of Absolute Zero (affiliate link). The creator of this game reached out to me a few weeks ago and asked if I would like a free copy in exchange for a review on my blog. I added it to the games table this week to see what students though. A full review is in the works, soon, though! This card game gives students practice adding positive and negative integers with the goal of landing a hand that equals zero. One of my students said "Tell the creator that it's on okay game for a math game." It must have been more than just okay because the same student insisted on playing the same game a second time this week!

We also played some Izzi (affiliate link). I like to think of Izzi as Panda Squares on Steroids. 

Otrio was probably the biggest hit of all the games I put out this week. If Izzi is Panda Squares on steroids, Otrio is Tic-Tac-Toe on steroids. I received my copy of Otrio as a gift, but I've been told the best/cheapest place to pick it up is Target.   

This week's Silhouettes Puzzle from the puzzle table also got some attention during free time. 

The last game that captivated my students was Tantrix (affiliate link). I taught students to play the solitaire version of the game where you flip over the first three tiles and make a loop. Then, you flip over the fourth tile and make a new loop. It gets harder and harder as you go. I loved watching students go from thinking "This is impossible!" to "Oooh...wait...I got it!"  

5. My chemistry students requested that we do something fun for Valentine's Day. We haven't done a lab in a while, so I put together a Conversation Hearts Lab. I saw that you could do the standard Dancing Raisins activity with conversation hearts, so I decided to try it out. It turns out I should have just stuck with raisins.

Some of my students were able to get their conversation hearts to dance in their cup of soda, but most of the hearts just sunk or floated. :( They still enjoyed themselves, though!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Valentine's Project 2018

This year, I decided to have my students complete a special Valentine's project. I realized a few weeks ago that this is the first year since I started teaching where I forgot (oops!) to have my students celebrate National Letter Writing Week in January. To make up for it, I decided to have my students write special notes to every single school employee in our building (all 26 of them) that would be delivered on Valentine's Day.

To kick off the project, I typed up the name of everyone who works in our building: principal, secretaries, tech guy, teachers, paraprofessional (yes, that's supposed to be singular), janitor, and cafeteria workers. I printed each name in large font (HVD Comic Serif Pro, for the record) on a piece of 11 x 17 cardstock (affiliate link).

Next, I used the shape tool to draw as many hearts as possible on a sheet of 8.5 x 11 paper. I made lots of copies of this template on various sheets of colored paper.

I lined all of the posters around the front of my room, and my students went to work adding individual valentine messages to each person.

For a few days, I gave my students the warm-up question of "Write a Valentine" instead of the normal math problem. This meant that completing this project didn't take much extra class time at all.

One of my classes who was ahead of the other classes sorted the posters by hallway to be delivered 2nd hour on Valentine's Day. My second hour broke up into three groups to deliver the Valentine's to each separate hall of the school.

As I went through the school for the rest of the day, it was fun to see my students' Valentine masterpieces displayed proudly by their recipients.

I haven't hung mine up yet, but I need to do so soon. I guess you could say my desk is currently a mess!

Here's a peek at some of the Valentine's Day messages I received.

The lemon bars I frequently make for Cookie Club got a mention!

Some messages were a bit on the silly side!

This message on Mr. Carter's poster made me giggle.

I used to get frustrated when I would see teachers on twitter share what their schools did to celebrate them on various holidays. I lost so much joy comparing what my school was doing for me (usually nothing) with what other schools were doing for their teachers. It took a few years, but I learned that I can take actions to make the days of the people around me. It turns out that this approach is more fulfilling than anything anyone else could ever do to show me appreciation. I have more power than I often realize to make another's day. And, I need to take advantage of that power.

I do believe I've started a new tradition at my school.