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!