Math = Love: 2017

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Free Scientific Method Posters from Scholastic

At the beginning of my career, I ran across a set of free scientific method posters from Scholastic. I remember thinking to myself, "These are so cute. I almost wish I was a science teacher!"

Fast forward a few years. I'm now teaching chemistry after teaching physical science last year. This means I can finally hang them up in my classroom!

I thought the posters were missing something, so I whipped up a "Scientific Method" header to hang on top. You can download my file for this scientific method header poster here.

Eventually I will get around to sharing pictures of all the posters in my new classroom!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Question Stack Explanation Card

I'm currently in the process of making more question stacks for my Algebra 1 classes. Every year, students are a bit confused when I introduce the practice structure. Often, they are talking or day dreaming when I am giving the crucial instructions, and they end up wasting a lot of time.

This year, I've decided to make a template for students to use with their question stack cards that has the instructions printed on it.

Here's what I've come up with:

I've printed them on peach paper and laminated them.

You can download the file here.

Want to see the question stacks I have created thus far and posted on my blog?
Factoring Trinomials
Rationalizing the Denominator
Adding and Subtracting Polynomials in Function Notation
Operations with Radicals
Evaluating Expressions
Rational Expressions
Fraction Operations

More coming soon!

Friday, September 22, 2017

How Many Elements Can You Name?

Just a quick post today to share a quiz I recently wrote for my chemistry class. It's a quiz to see how many of the elements they already know before we delve into our study of the periodic table.

I don't expect my students to be able to name all 118 elements. Hello, I can't even do that myself! But, I do want to emphasize to my students that there are 118 elements. The numbers are there only for students to keep track of how many they can remember. They do not need to know the atomic number for each element and place it correctly. Though, maybe the quiz could be used for this later in the year???

You can download the file here.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

War Activity for Practicing Absolute Value, Opposite, Reciprocal, and Opposite Reciprocal

I might have went a bit crazy when I started making activities for our first skill of the year in Algebra 1. So, you'll have to put up with quite a few posts involving activities for practicing absolute value, opposite, reciprocal, and opposite reciprocal.

Today, I want to share a war activity I created. My sister and I loved playing war when we were kids. Most games weren't that exciting. Whoever had the most aces almost always won. But, there was just something exciting about throwing down a card to see whose card had the highest value.

While the traditional card game is only played with two people, this practice activity can work with two, three, or even four students in a group. Each group gets a set of cards. The cards are printed on two different colors of paper and laminated.

The yellow cards are criteria cards. There are fifteen cards. Three each of five types: original number, absolute value, opposite, reciprocal, and opposite reciprocal.

The criteria cards get shuffled and placed in the center of the playing area. The rest of the cards are distributed evenly according to the number of players.

The top card on the deck of criteria cards is turned over. This card tells the players how the winner will be decided. The player whose original number is the greatest will win. Original number is the easiest because students don't have to do anything to their numbers to determine the winner.

Each player turns over the top card on their deck.

8 is the highest original number, so the other two players give their cards to the player who had 8. These cards are placed on the bottom of the winner's stack.

Now, let's change the criteria card and flip over some new numbers. This time, students have to find the opposite reciprocal of their numbers.

1/3's opposite reciprocal is negative while the others are positive, so that player doesn't win. 1/3 > 1/8, so the face-up cards are given to the player with -3.

Up next: Opposite

The opposite of -7 is 7 which is the highest value of any of the opposites (7, 6, 1/4).

Next Round: Absolute Value

My students really enjoyed this game! They had quite a bit of trouble comparing fractions to determine which was larger. I spent a lot of time going around and helping students figure out which values were bigger when fractions were involved. This is something they should have mastered in middle school, but we'll just have to keep practicing comparing numbers until they get it!

Here are a few action shots:

You can download the file for this activity here.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Add Em Up Activity for Non-Standard Operations

Non-standard operations are one of the skills that are in the new Oklahoma standards that weren't in the old standards. So, I need to work on building up activities for this topic. I decided to create an Add Em Up activity to give my students practice with these weird looking problems.

Students are given four problems. When all four problems are complete, the sum of the four answers should match the number in the center. This allows students to check their work. If their sum doesn't match, it's time for them to start rechecking their work!

You can give all four problems to one student, or you can give the set of four problems to a group and have each student do one of the problems. Either way works! I prefer to have each student do all four problems myself.

Here are the two problem sets I created: 

You can download the file here.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Evaluating Expressions Interactive Notebook Pages

We kicked off our lesson on evaluating expressions with the parenthetical promise. Every year, I force my students to make the following promise to me: I, _____________, do hereby promise that I will always use parentheses whenever I substitute values into an algebraic expression. I make them sign the promise and date it.

Every year, I seem to have a few who don't want to play along. This year, I didn't have any of those because I told them that the students who didn't play along with the promise last year ended up failing the quiz. I think this year's freshman class may still be scared of me...

Though I've done this for multiple years now, I'm embarrassed to say that this is the first year that I've made a point of showing my students the importance of using parentheses when evaluating expressions. Can you believe that?!? In the past, I've just assumed that students would take my word that it was important. No wonder some students didn't want to play along...

As a class, we worked out the same problem two ways: with parentheses and without parentheses. Look, we got two different answers! See, class, I told you that parentheses are important!

But, now we have two different answers. How do my students know that 3 really is the incorrect answer and 11 is the correct answer? Should they just blindly trust me with this too? To reassure my students that Mrs. Carter really does know what she is talking about, I had my class get out their calculators (TI-30XS) so that I could teach them a nifty calculator trick. I walked them through the steps of storing -2 for x in their calculators. Then, I challenged them each to type x^2 - 2x + 3 in their calculators. Every student in the class got their calculator to read 11. That means that when our calculators substitute in values for variables, they use parentheses, too! See, Mrs. Carter is telling the truth!

Next, we glued in our first pocket of the year. I pre-printed the steps for evaluating expressions on the pocket. Super proud of how it turned out!

Inside the pocket, we put four practice problems that we completed. See all those lovely parentheses?!?

Finally, I gave my students a "One Incorrect" puzzle from Greta Bergman to solve. Students had to evaluate expressions until they found the one that didn't equal 36. Students are always eager to get their work checked when they get an answer that isn't 36. Usually, I find some error in their work, point it out to them, and send them back to re-work the problem. So, they end up getting LOTS of practice!

Files can be downloaded here.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Monday Must Reads: Volume 10

Well, tomorrow is the day when the Oklahoma State Department of Education finally announces the 2018 OK Teacher of the Year. I'll be honest. I'm nervous. Mostly about the speech I have to give - not whether I win or not. I decided months ago that this entire process is in God's hands. He has a beautiful and perfect plan for my life. Part of that plan has involved getting to be a finalist for Teacher of the Year which has come with some pretty nice perks. As a first year teacher, I set a long-term goal that I would one day be Oklahoma Teacher of the Year. So, yes, I'd be honored to win. But, I will also say that the thought of leaving my classroom for a year to tour the state has me worried. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a teacher. Now that I'm in my sixth year in the classroom, I can't imagine myself doing anything else.

Tomorrow will have one of two outcomes. I will either hear my name announced as Oklahoma's Teacher of the Year, or I will hear someone else's name announced. Either way, I'm going to consider myself a winner. To win and have a chance to inspire teachers across the state during the 2018-2019 school year will be an honor. To get a chance to teach algebra to students for the 2018-2019 school year and continue doing what I love will be an honor. No matter the outcome, I can't lose!

Now, to get my mind off this speech I need to give tomorrow, I present to you this week's Monday Must Reads!

Here are this week's inspiring tweets!

Tony Donaldson shares a photo of what a mole of different chemicals looks like. Last year, my physical science students really struggled to wrap their minds around the mole concept. This year, I'm teaching chemistry, so it is even more crucial that my students understand this tricky concept. I hope that letting them visually see a mole of something will help!

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Hayley created a mini maths key fob toolkit for the teachers at her school. I'd love to use this idea for practice structures. Then, I could just flip through the cards when I'm looking for an idea when lesson planning! Hayley has posted the file to download on TES for free here.

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I'm always on the lookout for new ideas for foldables. Mr. Fredericks shares a new-to-me foldable type in this post. Love the emphasis on definitions AND what each vocab word looks like!

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Mrs. Mongelli's tweet caught my eye not because of what she was tweeting about but because of the posters in the background! I want to emphasize the importance of prefixes/suffixes/root words with my chemistry students. I may just have to put up some more posters to help! :)

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Randy L. Revels, Jr. shares a creative idea to get kids thinking in class. Using the top of your desk as a dry erase board, write as many things as you can think of about a certain topic. This idea won't work with the textured tables in my room, but I'm saving it here to keep it in mind for the future!

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Are you doing #Teach180 or a 180 blog? Ben Wildeboer has created a calendar that lets you easily figure out the number of the day of school that corresponds to each date. My favorite thing is how customizable it is!

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Rick Barlow recently tweeted about an intriguing way to get students to buy into group work. He invited students to give public shout-outs to other students who took risks in problem solving. How awesome is that?!?

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Jake Valtierra is an assistant principal who shares ideas from classroom teachers. I love the idea of "Pin the Tail on the Number Diagram!"

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Katie Shonk combines three awesome things (SMARTBoards, Venn Diagrams, and Post-It Notes) to make something even more awesome!

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Tenille Cauley shares a new-to-me activity to give students practice working together in a group. The challenge: write a message without touching the marker!

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Mrs. Schneider had her students create beautiful pinwheels with facts about themselves on the other side. This would make beautiful classroom decor!

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Megan Tuttle poses an awesome puzzle to her students. It's like a clothesline activity without the clothesline. What does m equal? What order should the cards go in?

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Gina Stukenholtz has her students complete an enthusiasm and learning chart to get feedback from her students. LOVE this idea!

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Madi Roberts shares an awesome dry erase template she created. I also think this would make for an awesome foldable for interactive notebooks!

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Elissa Miller inspires with an awesome geometry lesson that involves pipe cleaners and fuzzy pom poms! I also love the card sort for Algebra 1!

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Ashley Brown shares a new-to-me idea for data collection: lucky numbers from fortune cookies! I love combining food with data collection in the classroom!

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Beverly Schroth brings chemistry to life by having students act out what happens to the charge and mass of an atom when electrons or neutrons are added or subtracted.

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Daniel Carlson found a quick way to get useful student feedback. I love the question about Desmos! And, for the record, I think it's impossible to use Desmos too much!

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Megan Joy combined one of my favorite practice structures, two truths and a lie, with technology in an awesome way!

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Stephanie Goldberg uses a simple office supply, a plastic sheet protector, to create a genius demonstration of the associative property.

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 Katrina Newell shares an awesome relation/function card sort. Check out her blog post about it here. She has also shared a version of the same activity that doesn't involve any cutting and gluing. I've already printed it and put it in my unit binder for relations and functions!

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I don't teach biology, but I have to give a shout-out to Jen Winne for her creative use of pool noodles in teaching science!

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Julie Morgan shares a poster she created for her classroom to recognize one student each week based on their Numeracy Ninjas performance. LOVE this idea. I also love that the sign is laminated so it can be easily reused each week!

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Sarah Dimaria's students are performing a yummy stats experiment: are double stuffed oreos really double stuffed?

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Michelle Bailey created an awesome pass and fold activity to get her students practicing the concept of complementary angles in geometry.

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Kaytlin Black engages her students in reviewing the scientific method by analyzing thumb wars. How fun!

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Michelle Vanhala shocks her chemistry students by eating a candle. I've wanted to try this activity with students ever since I read about it last year. Thanks Michelle for the reminder. I'm definitely doing this with my chemistry class soon!

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Joel Bezaire wins the coolest teacher award for teaching his students how to build an enigma machine from a soda can!

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Math by the Mountain has been producing some awesome flow charts lately! Check out this one for classifying real numbers.

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Mr. Cooke shares an awesome wall display featuring a Pythagorean Tree!

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Until next week, keep up the awesome tweets and blog posts!