Saturday, January 14, 2017

8th Grade Math Exit Slips Full Year Bundle is Complete!

As I have navigated through my first semester teaching a section of 8th grade math, I have started to get a good sense of where my students are at and how I can keep pushing them forward. After teaching primarily 6th grade math for my first five years, it has been important for me to get a good understanding of what my 8th grade students know and what we need to work on! One of the ways I have been doing this is with our daily checks in 8th grade math.

Instead of a warm-up each day in math class, my students do four daily check problems that increase in difficulty. My school district uses a grading for learning system, so these daily checks make it easy to see where my students fall on our grading scale (Beginning, Developing, Proficient, Advanced). With this being my first year teaching 8th grade math, I have spent time creating four daily check problems for every concept that we cover. For a free sample unit, check out my 8th Grade Math Exit Slips: Area, Volume, and Surface Area. I now finally have the full year bundle of questions complete for 8th grade! You can check them out by clicking on the link below.

As the name suggests, these problems also work great as exit slips at the end of class. The problems cover a wide range of concepts, from algebra to geometry, and almost everything in between! For those of you that have downloaded my 8th Grade Math Task Cards and/or 8th Grade Math Enrichment Task Cards, the format of these exit slips is similar. The only difference is that every exit slip card includes exactly four problems that always increase in difficulty (some of the task cards have fewer problems on them... especially the more challenging problems). I discovered a pretty good storage system for my task cards (pictured below) with these bins from Michaels. At some point, I plan on doing the same with these exit slips!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Math Dollar Deals Are Back!

Mrs. E Teaches Math is hosting our first December Math Dollar Deals! Back in July, some great math teachers and I got together to provide dollar deals... and now they will be back every Tuesday this December! Check out the info below to find out how to find what is on sale.

3 ways to find the $1 stuff!

The ways to find the sale items are the same this December as they were in July:

1. Head over to this Pinterest board to check for the new deals each Tuesday!

2. You can also search Teachers Pay Teachers for #mathdollardeals to find all of the resources marked down to $1!

3. Or you can head over to Mrs. E Teaches Math's post for links to each item on sale!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Mystery Prize Review Activity (For Any Topic/Grade!)

Recently, I tried out this review activity with both my 6th and 8th grade math classes. It was one of those activities that you plan last minute to fill time and get some extra review... and it turns out to be really effective and motivating! Both my 6th and 8th grade classes were reviewing for a test and I had loads of extra Halloween candy, so I decided to combine the two.

My first step was to create mystery prizes. I wanted 7 mystery prizes to go along with the 7 review questions that students would be answering. In addition to the extra Halloween candy, I made a quick trip to the dollar store to grab some packs of gum (always good prizes) and some mints. I also had some fun math Pi pencils leftover from Pi Day last spring. All of my mystery prize bags contained some combination of these items!

Next, I needed to create some review problems. This didn't take long... I focused on 7 algebra topics that we were working on at the time in our class. If you are looking for some middle school level questions, you could easily use some of my Scavenger Hunt questions as questions for this review as well. I also recently added a FREE set of 6 problems that can be use as a 6th grade math review.

The morning of our review, I posted the 7 problems around the room. Next to each question, I taped the corresponding mystery prize bag next to the question. I also put a bucket and some scrap paper next to each problem. You wouldn't believe how motivating the mystery prizes were as students came in the door! The rule was, you couldn't touch the bag (but you could look at it or smell it!).

After that, the prep was complete! To start the activity, I told students that they could walk around the room at their own pace and do the problems in any order. They could work alone or with a partner, but they both had to submit work and answers separately if they chose to work in partners. At each problem, they took a piece of scrap paper, completed the problem, and put their answer in the bucket next to that problem (don't forget names!).

After about 15-20 minutes, or once students had a chance to try them all, I had the class go back to their seats. One at a time, we discussed the correct answer to each problem. After we went over the answer, I drew responses from that bucket until there was a correct answer. The first correct answer won that mystery prize!

To spread out the wealth a bit, I did make a rule that once you had won a prize, you couldn't win another one. The only exception was if a student won a prize, and then on a later question was the only student to get the answer correct. Fortunately this didn't happen, since we had multiple correct answers on the problems!

This was a great activity! Sometimes it seems like the last minute ideas turn out to work better than the ones you plan hours for... and this was no exception. The idea of a "mystery prize" was really what hooked the students in and made it extremely motivating to work to get the correct answers to the problems!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Fractions, Decimals, and Percents in the World of 6th Grade Math

The last couple of weeks have been all about fractions, decimals, and percents in sixth grade math! Over the last few years, I have continued to add and alter activities to help my students grasp these concepts. For my 6th graders, this unit includes a lot of conversions and comparing of the three types of numbers, as well as a lot of practice finding the percent of a number. Following, are a few of the activities that I have found helpful for my students. I'd love to hear about other ways that you get kids motivated to learn these concepts in the comments below!

As we begin learning about converting decimals to fractions, it is so important for students to have a solid understanding of place value. They must be able to accurately read decimals (0.8 is "eight tenths" not "zero point eight!") in order to understand how to write these decimals as fractions. These foldable notes are one method that I use to help students remember their place values and how to properly say these numbers. I have found these foldable notes to be valuable activities for my 6th graders. They somehow seem so much more motivated to take notes on the folded paper as opposed to in their notebooks!

After we have learned how to convert between decimals, fractions, and percents, I use several resources and activities to help them practice these conversions. I have found that my students become very good at each type of conversion (ex: fractions to decimals) when we spend all day doing only that conversion. It is so much harder for them to remember how to do each conversion when we put it all together at the end of the unit! We make these foldable notes to help them remember and practice the different conversions. I love watching them refer to these notes as they work on problems in class.

Another resource that I have found helpful to practice these skills is this Fractions, Decimals, and Percents Memory game. Students take turns flipping over two cards as they try to find the matching numbers (ex: 1/8 and 12.5%). This has been a fun way for them to practice!

The second review activity I have the sixth graders do is this Fractions, Decimals, and Percents Scavenger Hunt. I don't know what it is about scavenger hunts, but they are weirdly motivating for students! I use these for a lot of other topics as well. If you haven't tried them out, I highly recommend them. Students start at different problems that are posted around the room. After solving their problem, they must find that answer at the top of one of the other problems. Eventually, the should make it around to each problem, ending up at the problem in which they started!

Once we have mastered these conversions, we move on to finding the percent of a number. This is such a valuable, real-world, skill that students will use! My free Percent Scramble game is a fun way for students to practice finding the percent of a number. It takes some printing, cutting, and laminating ahead of time, but is definitely worth it as you watch the students have fun solving these problems!

Finally, I am always looking to challenge my students who pick up on the concepts right away. The last thing I want is for students to be bored in class (we all know what behaviors that can lead to!). Here is one of the Challenge of the Week problems I always post during this unit. All of my sixth grade Challenge of the Week problems are free in my TpT store.

Hopefully you were able to find something useful when it comes to learning about fractions, decimals, and percents in middle school math! As a stated earlier, I'd love to hear what you do to help your students understand these concepts in the comments below!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Tower Challenge - A Community Building Activity for Any Grade

When planning the first few days and weeks of the school year, a few things always stick out as important to me. First, is building routines and laying out the structure of what class will look like. For my 6th and 8th grade students, that means filling out assignment notebooks, starting our daily check routine with some simple questions to start class, and learning how to work together. Second, I try to place a great deal of emphasis on making math fun and exciting for my students during those initial class periods, so that they leave feeling engaged and wanting to come back. Diving deep into challenging math concepts can wait a few days. I believe the very beginning of the year should include some simple math tasks to build confidence and lots of fun, engaging, and hands-on activities. The past couple of years, I have grown to like one team building activity in particular... the Tower Challenge!

Setup: I break the class randomly into groups of 3-4 students. Each group starts with the materials pictured above: 2 pieces of card stock, 2 pieces of large construction paper, 2 Popsicle sticks, 4 paper clips, 1 ruler, and 15 inches of tape. One of the great things about this project is you can really use any materials. This is just what I used last year... it has changed pretty much every year based on what I have available!

Planning: Tell students they will have approximately 13-15 minutes total to build the tallest free-standing structure using only the materials provided. Their tower cannot be attached to any wall or table, but they can tape to the ground. They can only use the materials provided! They will get 2 minutes to talk as a group and come up with a plan (without touching the materials!). After the planning time is up, they will get to start, but here is the kicker... for the first 4 minutes of building, they won't be able to talk to each other.

Round 1: For the first four minutes, students must work together without talking. They can sketch, write, or use any other form of nonverbal communication. I usually come up with some sort of penalty if I hear talking. For example, they must take 3 inches off their final height.

Round 2: After the first four minutes is up, I have them freeze. The next four minute, they will be able to talk. However, for this next round, they can only use one hand. I would suggest having them put one arm behind their back, since it is very easy to forget and accidentally use two hands! It is great watching the teamwork involved with this round!

Round 3: After the round of using only one hand, I usually walk around and give each group an additional piece of construction paper and about another foot of tape. Then, for the final 5 minutes, they can use all of their resources. You probably want to forewarn them that this is it... after these 5 minutes, the must let go of their tower. If it falls it falls!

Measuring: I usually have students go back to their seats, where they are a little bit less talkative, while we measure. I walk around and measure each tower to the highest point. Even if it fell, they highest point is usually at least 3-5 inches. As I measure, I usually have a student record each height on the board. Even though we don't cover it until later, I usually find the class average and we have a little friendly competition between class periods!

This activity has been great for a couple of reasons. For one, it promotes a ton of teamwork and working together. I tell the students going in that working together is our number one goal of the activity. If their tower falls that is fine, I am looking at how they are able to work with their group! Second, students LOVE it! I want students to leave math the first few days saying that math was awesome. This is one of those activities that can help do that.

Hope you are all off to a great start to the school year! For another beginning of the year activity, be sure to also check out this Math is Everywhere project. It is one of those easy, low pressure math activities that gets students off to a great start in math and also gets them thinking about where they see math in the real world!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Moving into 8th Grade Math

This school year is bringing some big changes! In addition to teaching a couple of my usual sections of 6th grade math, I will also have the opportunity to have one class of 8th grade math this school year. It can be a little nerve-racking to switch grade levels, but I am excited to get started! Since I am planning on using a math workshop structure (similar to what I do with the 6th graders), it has been a summer busy with creating materials and resources that I can use in 8th grade math. I thought I'd highlight a few of these 8th grade math resources in this post!

I started by creating task cards. My 6th grade math task cards have worked so well for me to use at the front table during workshop, I knew I had to start by creating an 8th grade version. Pictured below is a free unit of these 8th grade task cards that focuses on Units of Measure. You can click on the picture or the title to grab a free copy! :)

You can also grab the full year bundle of these math task cards at the following link. The bundle includes 12 different units, 91 topics, and over 275 problems!

To go along with these math task cards, I also created a more challenging set of task cards to push my higher students. At the front table during math workshop, I always start the students with the task card from the set above. If they are able to easily finish those problems, than I give them one of the enrichment task cards. I'm excited to have a full set of these ready to go for my first 8th grade math class! As you can see, I've spent a bunch of time this summer printing and cutting these task cards! I'm hoping I can get around to laminating them before the year starts!

After having my two sets of task cards ready to go, I knew I would need some resources to use at the math centers where students were working in small groups! I decided to start with one of my most engaging, class-tested 6th grade games... Connect Four. I use my 6th grade Connect Four games all the time and it seems like students don't ever get sick of playing! I use them a lot as math centers, but also with my math intervention groups - they have worked great in both settings. Theses games don't take long to print, cut out, and have ready to use! Each topic comes with 6 different game boards, 16 problem cards, teacher instructions, and sheets for students to record their work! You can try out Connect Four: Area, Volume, and Surface Area - 8th Grade Math, which is pictured below, for free if you want to get an idea of how it works!

All 10 of my 8th grade math Connect Four games are also available as a full year bundle!

I hope you are all off to a great start to the school year (or about to get started like me!). I'm sure I will be looking to create and find some more 8th grade math resources as I start this new adventure into the upper middle school grades, so be sure to stay tuned for more! :)

Monday, July 25, 2016

Final Math Dollar Deals of the Summer!

It's almost here... the final Math Dollar Deals Tuesday of the summer! For the last several weeks, a group of math teachers and I have been posting a $1 math resource every Tuesday. Tomorrow will be the final day to grab these great deals... and to cap it off, many of us will be posting two $1 resources!

These are the two resources that I will be posting for $1 (and just did if you want to head over there early and grab it tonight!).

There are a couple of ways to find all of the other great resources that are available as a part of these deals.

(1) Head over to the Scaffolded Math and Science blog to see the links to all of the deals.

(2) Search #mathdollardeals in the TpT search box.

Hope you are all enjoying the final weeks of your summer and/or getting ready for the new school year!