Sunday, November 22, 2015

Dry Erase Table Update...3 months later

I thought it is about time I give some updates on the biggest change to my classroom this year...our new dry erase table! Earlier this school year, I wrote about the process of turning my front table into a giant dry erase board for students to use during our 6th grade math workshop. Click HERE for that linnk. A can of primer and dry erase paint later, here is what the initial result was... a brand new (and shiny!) table.

The students have absolutely loved using the table. We used it almost every single day during our math workshop at the "Teacher Center." At this center, I give students 3-4 problems to try and I can help as needed. I recently began creating task cards of these problems (I was tired of holding up the problems on a white board!). Click HERE for a free copy of the decimal and exponent problems (and check out my store for other units - more are still in the works!). If students fly through these initial problems, then I give them an enrichment task card that is focused on whatever math concept we are learning. A full set of these enrichment task cards has been available in my TpT store for a while - if you are interested in a copy click this link: Math Enrichment Task Cards. The dry erase table has been perfect for students to use as we complete these problems. I can easily check to see if they are on the right track as they work!

My biggest concern with the table going in was how it would hold up. I bought the cheapest dry erase paint from Home Depot... I think it was about $20 if I remember correctly. I'd say on a scale of 1-10, I would give it about a 7.5 as far as its condition after three months. This is after pretty heavy use I might add. Each spot on the table gets used by 12 groups a day, which means 12 students per spot. Each of those students is doing approximately 5 problems each day at that spot. That adds up to each spot being used and erased about 60 times per day! Here is what the table currently looks like.

It's a little tough to see with the glare, but the heavily used spots are definitely not perfectly white anymore... but honestly, this doesn't really bother me. For how much students enjoy using it and how convenient it is to use during math workshop, it is definitely worth it. Other than it not being perfectly shiny, the only other minor issue has been a few small chips or cracks in the paint. I am considering putting on a fresh coat of the dry erase paint over winter break, although it wouldn't be necessary. So what's my opinion on how the table is working? Even though it isn't a perfect white (I was never expecting it to stay that way!) and there are a few small cracks in the paint, I am happy with how it has worked in my classroom and would 100% do it again.

Here are a few more shots of the table in action! If you have questions about the table, let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

1,000 Follower Sale!

It is time for a sale! I recently reached 1,000 followers on TpT! As a thank you, I will be throwing a 20% off sale on Thursday and Friday this week! If you are already following, be sure to check your Teachers Pay Teachers Inbox for a freebie that I sent earlier this week! Most of my activities and resources are geared towards upper elementary and middle school math.

The sale includes EVERYTHING, including all of my bundles. I encourage you to take a look around everything in my store, but I thought I'd highlight a few of my bigger bundles here that you can save big on!

First off are these Math Enrichment Task Cards! I use these during math workshop with any of my students that show they have a solid understanding of whatever topic we are learning about. These could also be used as a center in themselves or for students who get done with their work early! They cover a ton of different topics that would work well for advanced 5th and 6th grade students.

Also included are these Math Brain Busters. I recently discovered a new storage system for them that was really easy and really effective! Just a few tacks and they were ready to go! The full bundle includes 675 questions relating to all of the 6th grade math Common Core Standards.

One of my most recent products are these math sorts. These have been very engaging for my sixth grade students. They must sort the cards based on their answers. Once sorted, they flip over the cards and must unscramble the fun words on the back. These are great as centers, for groups done early, or as a planned group activity as a whole class. Lots of different upper elementary and middle school topics are included!

The majority of my products can be purchased at a big discount as a part of my Math Mega Bundle. Right now, the only products not included are the Math Sort activities and my newest Fractions, Decimals, and Percents Memory game. Everything else is a part of this Mega Bundle.

Anyways, I hope you are all off to a wonderful beginning to the school year! If you have any questions about any of the products or sale, comment below and I will be sure to get back to you!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Math Mega Bundle (For Upper Elementary/Middle School Math)

Wow...can't believe we already are four weeks into our school year, but things are off to a great start in sixth grade math! We recently finished up our first unit, which focused on multiplying/dividing decimals and solving problems with exponents. As I am sitting here grading tests (and watching college football pregame of course...) I am excited about how well the sixth graders are doing with our first unit! This year, I have been able to incorporate a lot of my new math games and activities into our math workshop. I was recently able to combine my math resources into one, huge, discounted bundle! In this post, I wanted to highlight and give a preview to some of the bundles included in this Mega Math Bundle!
First up are these Math Enrichment Task Cards. I created these task cards to challenge my students who quickly understood whatever concept we were learning about. The bundle includes 1-3 challenging problems for 87 different lessons, ranging from geometry to algebra (and everything in between!). All in all, the bundle includes 162 of these enrichment questions. Students love the challenge and it has really helped my higher students continue to grow (and not get bored!). I created them for sixth grade math, but have gotten a lot of feedback from fifth grade teachers who have found them useful as well! I personally use them at my front table during math workshop (at our Teacher Center), but they could easily be used in a lot of other ways!

Another fun bundle that is included in this Mega Math Bundle are my Math Brain Busters. This bundle includes six different Brain Buster sets. I created one set of Brain Busters that relate to five of the Common Core standards for sixth grade math and one additional variety set. With these problems, I enjoy how students are able to self check their work. They read and solve the problems on the front of each card and can then check their answers on the back. I have also found that students enjoy the format of these Brain Buster sets. I have used these in several different ways in my a math center, for students who finish work early, and with my math intervention groups. If you combine all six sets, this bundle includes 675 problems for students to solve!

One of my newest bundles is this Connect Four Bundle. I just recently used my Connect Four: Multiplying Decimals game and the students really enjoy playing. For 14 different topics that my students study throughout the year, I created a Connect Four game. In the game, students solve problems and then cover up that answer on their board. The first person to connect four in a row wins! Each of the 14 games include six game boards and sixteen problem cards. This is a great one to use as a math center or use with intervention groups! math game that comes in handy as a math center once we move into our algebra units are these Equation Top-it games. Every time we did any math activity with a deck of cards, I always had students asking if they could play the card game War. This gave me the idea to make a math game that incorporates the rules of War, only math related. In this game, students divide up the equation cards evenly. After each flipping over a card, they must solve the equation on the card. Whoever has the greatest solution gets both of the cards and adds them to their deck. This bundle includes sets for addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and two-step equations! Also, each of the five sets includes a beginner and difficult set to help differentiate. I usually have my students start with the beginner set and then have the difficult set ready to go if it seems too easy! This is a game that makes solving equations fun! I have used this as a math center, in partners (as a whole class), and in my math intervention group.

Next up...BINGO! The three bingo games that are included in my Math Bingo Bundle were a some of the first math games I made when I began teaching. I still use these quite often as a way to practice basic facts, multiplying negative numbers, and squares/square roots! The bundle includes three bingo games...Multiplication Bingo, Negative Number Bingo, and Squares and Roots Bingo. Each set includes 30 unique game boards and calling cards. The Multiplication Bingo is a great one for students who are still in the process of mastering their basic multiplication facts. I usually start the year playing Multiplication Bingo, then begin incorporating Negative Number Bingo and Squares and Roots Bingo as my students begin to really master their basic facts.

For the first time last school year, I tried doing a math scavenger hunt with my students. I'm not going to lie, I was pretty nervous about how they would handle it and how it would go. Turns out, it was extremely engaging! For whatever reason, the idea of a scavenger hunt was all it took to help motivate ALL of my students. I had several students asking why we couldn't do one every day! What is really great about these is it gets the students up and moving around the room. My Math Scavenger Hunt Bundle includes 7 different scavenger hunts. Each includes twelve problems that are posted around the room. Once a student solves a problem, they must walk around and find that answer on the top of their next problem.

These are just some of the math resources that are included in my Math Mega Bundle. There are several more that I didn't highlight in this post (Math Jeopardy games, a Stock Market Challenge, flash cards, a fun probability activity, and more!). I also included all of my free products from my store! I encourage you to head over to my Math Mega Bundle and take a look at everything that is included in its description.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Creating My Dry-Erase Table for Math Workshop!

Well, it's official. I finally gathered up the courage to do something I have been thinking about for a while...creating my own Dry-Erase table for my 6th grade math workshop! Previously, my students had been using some old white boards (the ones on the table below) during our teacher center. Towards the end of last year, these boards started to peel, break, and turn every color BUT white. That is about the time I started to see pictures of white board tables floating around the internet, and last weekend I finally decided to give it a try. Here is the table I started with. It was a very dark brown and had a very smooth surface.

My first step, was to prime the table. My table was such a dark table to begin with, I thought this was necessary. I wanted to make sure that if I was going to try this project that it turned out, so I decided to take the extra step of priming it. If the table was white or a lighter color to begin with, then I maybe would have considered skipping the primer. I didn't end up sanding the table at all (I actually didn't think of it until it was too late!). I used a bunch of Frogtape to line the side of the table so that it wouldn't get any primer or paint on it. Here is a shot of the table halfway through the primer! I used a few coats of the KILZ 2 Latex Primer.

After getting the primer on, I went home and gave it about 24 hours to dry. When I came back, I got out the dry-erase paint kit I purchased. For about $20, I bought the Rust-Oleum Dry Erase Paint. I was a little skeptical going in, since this was the "cheap" option and I had read some not so great reviews of the paint. I followed the directions on the box, giving the table two coats of the dry erase paint. I used a foam roller that was designed to paint a smooth surface. Once you mix the paint together, you only have an hour to use the paint. I did one coat, let it dry for about 25 minutes, and then added the second coat. It was as easy as that! The toughest part was waiting the three days before trying it out! Here are a few pictures of the whole process!

I am making sure that I test out all of my markers on a different white board before using it on the table. For some reason, my green Expo markers always have a tough time erasing, so I am making sure I don't use those. My sixth grade students were beyond excited when I showed them the table! Since we haven't gotten into our math workshop rotations yet this school year, they haven't had a chance to try it out yet...but we are looking forward to it this week! Not only will it be fun for students to use, but it is also great from my perspective, since I can easily see all of the work that they are doing during our teacher center!

Update: I am now in year two of using the white board table! Students love working on it. After three months of use last year, I posted this update about how it was holding up. Click the link below to see how it held up after three months of heavy use!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

First Day of School

How come it always seems like I spend so much time planning for the perfect first day of sixth grade math, and before I know it, it's over and I only accomplished about half of the things I wanted to accomplish? If you ask me, it is by far the hardest day of the year to plan. There are just too many things I want to do and not enough time with the students to do them! Getting to know the kids, setting routines, planning fun icebreaker activities, setting class expectations...the list could go on forever. In five years of teaching I don't think I've had two first days that have been the same. Here is an insight into our first day of middle school math this year!

After a brief welcome and introduction, I wanted to start by setting a few of the routines that we will have throughout the year...for my students, it is their first day in middle school, so there are a lot of them! We start by practicing filling out our assignment notebooks - the 1 is for what we did in class, the 2 is for any homework we have. I love the new tape measure tape that I found at Office Depot!

Next, I wanted to introduce our Daily Check routine. I talked for a few minutes about my two big expectations. One, that students are respectful and polite to everyone. Two, that they give their best effort. This second one fit in well with our principal's pep talk about grit at our morning assembly. I then gave students a Post-it note and had them brainstorm 2-3 expectations that THEY wanted for the class. At the end of the day, I tallied what themes came up most in their Post-its and created our class expectations you see below! I plan on making them into a poster this weekend for students to sign!

After discussing and practicing these routines, I wanted to get the students up and out of their seats. This great "Would You Rather?" activity from Mixing it up in Middle worked out perfect. I was so thankful to have this awesome icebreaker activity. I highly recommend it! I guarantee that if I polled my students, the majority would say that this was their favorite part about our first class! It got them up and moving around, getting to know each other, and excited about the questions they were answering!
After giving them the chance to get to know each other with the "Would You Rather?" activity, I wanted them to have some fun getting to know me. I created a Mr. O Guessing Game worksheet for them to try. The activity has a bank of numbers that they must use to fill in answers about me. A few examples of questions are below.

1. How many siblings do I have?
2. What year was I born? (This is always a fun one...I've only had 1905 guessed once).
3. What place did my baseball team get this year (out of 10).
4. How many countries have I traveled to?

You get the idea...I won't list all 13 questions. They must take the numbers and try to place them correctly next to each question. They really enjoy this one too, since a lot of times they have to completely guess! When they have finished, I have them trade papers and we go over the answers. In my room...winner gets a mint!

Believe it or not, this is just about all I was able to get through in our 90 minute classes! Although you can't accomplish everything you want to on the first day (some things just take more time!), I liked how this year's first day went. It got some important things started...setting up some routines/expectations, getting students to know each other better, students getting to know me, and of course some time to answer all of the questions middle schoolers have coming into middle school! 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Math is Everywhere (A First-Week Math Project for Upper Grades)

I am always on the lookout for some new first-week activities to do with my 6th grade math students. In addition to "get to know you" activities, I like to find projects that are fun, math-related, and motivating for students during those first few weeks. One of these projects that I have always done during the first week of school (but you could really do any time of the year) is my Math is Everywhere tile activity. Before the year starts, I buy some white card stock (or white-ish...this year I got some silver/metallic card stock). I then cut them into square tiles. This year I cut them into tiles with 5 inch sides, but I think I have done 6x6 in past years. Whatever works for you! I use a corner rounder from Target to round of the corners of the tiles.  Here are the tiles and the start of my example tile that I created to show my students.

For the project, students must think of a place that they see or use math in the real world. I usually brainstorm a list as a class, and then students can either use one from the list or think of their own topic! Once they choose a topic, they use a tile, pencil, ruler, and colored pencils to show how they see math in their topic. Being the baseball fan that I am, I chose to make my Math is Everywhere tile about how we see and use math in baseball. Below is my finished example tile!

*Tip: Many of my students who choose a sport want to know the dimensions of the court, field, etc. Last year, I printed out sheets that had the dimensions to save the time and hassle of students looking them up!

Once the students are finished creating their tile, there is one more step. On the back of the tile, they must write at least three sentences describing what they chose and how math is seen in their topic. Here is the example that I wrote for baseball.

Finally, once all of the tiles are finished and turned in (don't forget names!), I put them all up on my bulletin board. I cut out the words "Math is Everywhere" and staple them in the middle of the board, surrounding it with all of the finished tiles! Here is a shot of this year's tiles! I have a few more still to add, but it's already starting to come together!

Update: I recently posted the "Math is Everywhere" bulletin board letters for free in my TpT store. Be sure to grab them at the following link! Also included in the resource are letters that say "Welcome to 6th Grade" that I use for my hallway bulletin board.

I am excited to link up this post with Miss Math Dork's awesome monthly Math IS Real Life link up! Click the link or picture to see some other great ways we see math in the real world!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Back to School Math Giveaway!

Alright folks, I am excited to try something completely new to me - a Back to School Giveaway! I've only been a part of one giveaway and this is the first one that I am organizing myself. I am really excited to try it out and also give away some awesome math prizes from my TpT store! Here is how it is going to work!

If 25 people enter - I will be giving away one product, of the winner's choice, from my TpT store. This prize does not include any bundles.

If 100 people enter - I will be giving away one bundle, of the winner's choice, from my TpT store. This prize does not include my Full Store Bundle.

If 500 people enter - I will be giving away my Full Store Bundle, which is over $125 worth of upper elementary and middle school math resources when purchased individually!

For each step of entries we reach, I will give away that prize IN ADDITION to the prizes listed above it. For example, if 500 people enter, there will be three winners. I will give away one product, one bundle, and the Full Store Bundle.

It is easy to enter! All you need to do is visit my Middle School Math Man Facebook page and then follow my TpT store (Alex O'Connor) by midnight on Wednesday, August 11th. When you visit my store, just be sure to tell me what number follower you are...or, if you are already following me just tell me how many current followers! I'm really hoping to get this thing going...and you can help spread the word by sharing my image above! The more people that enter, the bigger the prize...I'm hoping to give away a Full Store Bundle!! :)

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Friday, July 24, 2015

A Brain Busting Friday Freebie and Sale!

For those of us on break, I know that it can be tough keeping track of what day it is - as seen in this hilarious e-card! However, I checked the calendar, and it is that time of the week again - FRIDAY! That means it is time for the Friday Freebie! I posted a link and description later on in this post! I get into the Freebie, I want to share some exciting news that I was able to finish up yesterday! I decided to bundle all of my math products into one huge (and discounted) bundle - my Full Store Bundle (6th Grade Math). I do have to give some credit to my wife Nicole, over at FirstieFavorites, for the awesome cover design. If you teach first grade, I've got two things. Number one...I'm not sure why you are reading my middle school blog (just kidding, I'm glad you are here!!). Number two, you should head over to hear blog for some cool first grade ideas. Okay, back to my new bundle. It includes everything....and I mean EVERYTHING...from my TpT store. Individually purchased, that means more than $120 worth of upper elementary and middle school math resources. I am putting it at a pretty big discount and it will be an additional 10% off until tonight (Friday, 7/24) at 11pm Central Time! Be sure to check it out or tell your middle school math teacher friends! Here are a few pictures of some things included in this bundle, although there is much more than just these activities!

Alright, enough of the paid stuff, right? Let's move on to the Friday Freebie. This week is a big one - Math Brain Busters (Number Systems). How many of you start off the year teaching concepts relating to the number system? Multiplying and dividing decimals, multiplying and dividing fractions, etc. This Brain Buster set focuses entirely on the number system. It is a fun way for students to practice either individually or with a partner. As you can see in the picture, the questions are on the front side of each card and the corresponding answer is directly behind the question. It takes a little time to print and cut, but then once you have them you can use them in a lot of ways! I highly recommend laminating, hole punching, and looping them around binder rings.

Have a great weekend everyone! Don't forget to check out the giveaway below! It's an easy way to try to win a $60 Target gift card or some great middle school TpT resources!

Monday, July 20, 2015

I've teamed up with a great group of Middle School Bloggers and TpT Sellers to bring you this great mid-summer giveaway! We are giving away TWO prizes! A $60 Target Gift Card and a TpT Product Bundle! Please see the rafflecopter below for how to enter. And make sure to stop by and check out these other wonderful teacher bloggers!

Best of luck!


                         Lit With Lyns   //    Middle School Math Man   //   Teaching Teens in the 21st!        
                                          Koch's Odds 'N Ends    //     Junior High Core Values                                

Our TpT Bundle includes the following items:

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Freebies Galore!

It has been about two weeks since my wife and I got back from Australia. Although it's nice to be back home, I still find myself wishing I had a few more days in Sydney! If you follow me on Instagram (@middleschoolmathman), you probably saw a few of these pictures along the way, but here are a few of my favorites (and then I promise I will get to the freebies!).

Now...on to the freebies! As many of you, and myself included, are recharging batteries and getting geared up for another school year, I wanted to take a minute and recap some of the free products available in my TpT store. These are geared towards 6th grade math, however many of the products can be used anywhere from 4th to 7th grade! Now that we have a chance to take a deep breath and prepare, I thought I few of these might be helpful.

So what is first up on the freebie cart? Why not start with one of my newest math games...Connect Four: Multiplying Decimals. This one includes 6 Connect Four game boards and 16 playing cards. Students must solve the problem and then cover up that answer on their board. First player to connect four in a row wins! free product that I recently completed is a full set of my Challenge of the Week problems for sixth grade math (although many could also be used in 5th grade!). If you click on the Challenge of the Week tab at the top of the page, you can get an idea of how I display and use these problems in my classroom. It is a great way to give my higher students a little extra challenge throughout the week. Click on the picture or link below to get a copy of all of the problems and answers! The Challenge of the Week has been a staple in my classroom for the last few years and my 6th graders love trying them out each week. I know they like them because of all the flack I get when I forget to put a new one up on Monday morning!

 Enrichment: Decimals and ExponentsIn my classroom I use math workshop, which you can read more about by clicking the Workshop tab at the top of the page. One of the benefits of using math workshop is that I can easily differentiate my instruction, since I am meeting in a small group with each kid. One of my favorite parts of this is that I can really push my higher students. To do this, I created math enrichment problems, or task cards, to give the students who already understand what we are doing. My first unit of these cards is free in my store, so be sure to check them out! The free unit includes topics related to decimals and exponents (I apologize for the terrible product cover in my store...this is on my to-do list, but I promise the actual product is better than the cover!). You can see how my students use these cards in the picture. I laminate the cards and then students show their work on their white board as I meet with them. free one that I have available are some questions that go along with the children's book "Math Curse." If you haven't read this one, you need to find a copy! It is hilarious and engaging for the students. I usually read this one to the sixth graders on our half day before Thanksgiving Break. After reading the book, we then break into partners and they get to try to solve some of the crazy questions that come up throughout the story. For those of you that were also a part of the TpT Seller Challenge, this product cover was my "Makeover Madness" product. The new one looks much better that the old!

Once your students start learning about how to find the percent of a number, be sure to check out this next math game: Percent Scramble. This is such an important skill and one of the most applicable in the real world. From shopping to sports to business, students are going to need to know how to find the percent of a number. Percent Scramble is a fun way for students to practice this skill. This game really helped some of my lower students master this concept, when otherwise I'm not sure that they would have!

I also have a few other free memory games in my store. One of these is Equation Memory: Addition Equations. This is a fun way for students to practice solving addition equations. Like other memory games, they lay out the cards face down in a rectangle. Taking turns flipping over two cards, students try to match the addition equation with its solution. This was a fun one to use as a math center during my math workshop rotations.

The other memory game I have up in my store is Equivalent Fraction Memory. This one helps students practice finding equivalent fractions...another critical skill! This game comes with both a beginner and difficult set to help you differentiate with your students. I found this necessary the first time I tried playing it a few years ago.

As we all gear up for another school year, I hope that many, all, or even just one of these free products can help your students succeed in math! I do have a few other free ones in my store (including a scavenger hunt I recently tried for the first time!) so be sure to check those out as well. Good luck getting classrooms ready and I look forward to blogging again soon!