Sunday, November 29, 2015

Thoughts of Gratitude Blog Hop


As a mathematician, I am thankful for shortcuts.  I think part of the reason that I have always loved math so much is because I recognize and implement shortcuts.  I love to look for patterns in numbers and procedures.  I try to share these tips and tricks with my eighth grade math students whenever I can.  I want to share with you a little gem I recently discovered from a colleague.  My Accelerated Algebra 1 students are currently writing linear equations.  Given a point and the slope, students are practicing writing linear equations in slope intercept, point-slope, and standard form.  Naturally, standard form always caused the biggest headache (and low quiz grades).  But fear no more!  Check out this awesome strategy that utilizes proportions:

Step 1: Rearrange the point-slope form to isolate the m.


Step 2: Input (x, y) and m.
























Step 3: Cross multiply.


Step 4: Arrange to form Ax+By=C.



Voila!  No messy fractions to clear, few steps, and a beautiful final answer!

Check out my resources related to writing linear equations here.

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Saturday, November 14, 2015

Engaging Secondary Math Students in Meaningful Thanksgiving-Themed Activities


Thanksgiving (and its break) arrive at the perfect time each year.  Teachers and students are feeling exhausted.  Overwhelmed.  Inundated with tasks.  And creative?  Yes!

Each year I have wracked my brain for ways to engage my eighth grade math students in meaningful activities that highlight the upcoming holiday.  I have always fallen short.  My most notable “fail” was my first year when we made hand turkeys and wrote about being thankful for math.  <<Palm to Forehead.>>  Thankfully I’ve come a long way since the hand turkeys.  I have developed a meaningful activity that engages students in a hands-on review of the current unit of study.  I love it.  My students love it.  Other teachers love it.


 
Motivation
Students work with a partner to complete eight stations.  Here’s the twist:  Each partner solves a different problem (“A” or “B”), but they should arrive at the same answer.  Students are motivated because they have someone else to bounce ideas off of and they get quick feedback to measure their understanding of the topic.




Movement
In this activity, students are up and moving around the classroom.  I allow my students to move at their own pace and go in any order they’d like.  Movement and hands on practice stimulate the brain and promote high student engagement.




Meaningful
By developing a Thanksgiving-themed activity around our current unit of study, I can feel confident that my students are engaging in meaningful math practice.  These partner stations are leaps and bounds more meaningful than those original hand turkeys.




Making Merry
As Thanksgiving approaches, students are naturally going to become excited and antsy.  These Thanksgiving-themed activities embrace that excitement and channel it in a meaningful educational direction.






Here is some of the feedback I have received from other teachers around the country:

“The format was perfect as the problems were so challenging that the students wouldn't have worked on them on a normal worksheet in my special education support class. They were proud that they had been successful after working so hard. I want more of these!!”

“I love the combination of stations and partner work! This is a well-thought out activity! Thank you!”

“Great resource!”

The following Thanksgiving-themed topics are available to purchase:
Decimal Operations

Similar activities are also available for other holidays.  I am happy to create based on requests!

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