Math = Love

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Cover the Heart Puzzle from Puzzle Box, Volume 3

It's time to update y'all about the happenings of one of my favorite places in my classroom - the puzzle table. Even though Valentine's Day was LAST week, I've got a bit of a Valentine/Heart themed puzzle out for my students to tackle this week. 

I found this puzzle in Puzzle Box, Volume 3 (affiliate link), and I've decided to call it "Cover the Heart." The puzzle was created by Tanya Grabarchuk. The only thing I did was create a version of the puzzle with physical pieces of the puzzle for my students to move around. This puzzle book (and the entire series for that fact!) are chock-full of puzzles that can easily be adapted for classroom use. 

The instructions are pretty simple. Arrange the five pieces to entirely cover the heart shape below. You can rotate pieces and flip them over, but you cannot overlap the pieces. 

If you've already tried the Cover the Duck or Cover the Camel Puzzles with your students, you will be excited to hear that this puzzle uses the EXACT same pieces! It was nice to be able to just print out another puzzle board and not have to laminate any new puzzle pieces. 

Speaking of other puzzles, did you hear that I created a new page on my blog solely dedicated to puzzles?!? You can find links to every single puzzle I have ever blogged about here

I did run into one snafu with this puzzle that I was NOT expecting. Some of my students thought that the heart that they were supposed to be covering was the heart in the middle of the shape instead of the overall heart shape. I guess I need to figure out a way to clarify the instructions to make it clear exactly what part of the shape students should be covering. 

You can download the file for this puzzle here. Special thanks to the Grabarchuk Family for providing me a free copy of this book! If you've been enjoying using the puzzles from the Grabarchuk Family's books, I highly recommending supporting them by purchasing a copy of one of their books from Amazon. Each Puzzle Box book (affiliate link) contains 300 awesome puzzles that you can use with your students or for your own puzzle solving enjoyment. 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Equivalent Fractions Card Sort

My Math Concepts students are currently working through a self-paced review of all things fractions. One key skill for my students to wrap their minds around is the idea of equivalent fractions. Proof this skill is important: I still have students in my Algebra 1 classes asking me to explain why we replaced 2/4 with 1/2 in our equation.

To give my students plenty of practice with this skill and time to discover some of the patterns between equivalent fractions on their own, I decided to type up a set of cards to be used as a card sort.

My deck of cards consisted of every single proper fraction (51 of them) that can be made using the sets of fraction tiles from EAI Education (affiliate link). Each student has a set of these tiles thanks to a generous grant from my school district's education foundation. They have proven to be an amazing resource.

In groups of 2 or 3, students worked together using their fraction tiles as a reference to place the cards in piles where each fraction in the pile is equivalent.

Two of my three groups did this efficiently and only with minor mistakes.

My third group really struggled with staying focused on this activity and taking it seriously. After an entire class period, they had not finished the activity. Since we're working through this unit at our own individual rates, this meant that this group could not move on to the later activities until this card sort was finished.

It was interesting to see each group take a different approach to matching up the equivalent fractions.

Some groups were very methodical. Others took a more haphazard approach.

Overall, I think this activity was worthwhile. I wanted to have them make more connections to what makes various fractions equivalent to one another, but this didn't go as planned since one group did not finish in the allotted time.

In the future, I would make several tweaks to this activity. I would have students assemble the equivalent fractions along a number line made of masking tape on the floor. I also would take the blank fraction cards and have students create their own equivalent fractions to add to each group.

Interested in the file for this activity? I've uploaded it here.

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!