Math = Love

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Reflecting On My First Classroom

As I've been going through my draft folder, I find many posts that are easy to delete. Occasionally, though, I run across a post and wonder "Why didn't I ever finish that?!?"  This post is one of those.  I've now completed my first school year in our newly-designated 7th-12th grade building.  Here's a blog post I wrote but never published last summer. 

I'm not entirely sure what to blog about today.  I did some major decorating work in my classroom yesterday, but I left without taking pictures.  So, those will have to wait for another day.  I did take a few pictures of my old classroom.  I'm still teaching high school math next year, but I'll be doing so in a 7th-12th grade building instead of a 9th-12th grade building.  This means I'm leaving behind my first and only classroom.

Is my new classroom nicer?  Definitely.  It's bigger.  It's newer.  It has an entire wall of cabinets.  Of course, it's not right next to the copy machine/teacher's lounge/staff restroom.  But, I think I'll be able to cope with that this year.

But, this classroom, the place where I truly learned how to be a teacher, will always hold a special place in my heart.  My parents and sister came up last Friday night to take down my dry erase boards and bulletin boards and move them to my new classroom.

This leaves my old classroom looking much like it did when I first saw it.  Here's the blog post where I first shared pictures of my classroom so very long ago.  After spending hours painting and decorating this classroom to make it a bright, cheery place for students to learn, it's sad to see this place I love so much look so sad.

No more math will be learned here.

Good bye, old friend.

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: