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!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Tuesday Math Dollar Deals - Here Again!

Once again, there are some amazing Math Dollar Deals today on TpT! All you have to do is search #mathdollardeals in the Teachers Pay Teachers search box and then check out all of the middle school and high school math resources that are marked down to $1 for the day! There is really some great stuff from some fantastic math teachers.

This week, my math dollar deal is this Connect Four: Two-Step Equations game. I have found these Connect Four games to be extremely effective at engaging students. A lot of students get so wrapped up in the game that they forget all of the learning! I especially like using these with my math intervention groups. The game includes six different game boards and sixteen different question cards. This one focuses on solving two-step equations, but there are plenty of other Connect Four games in my store if you are looking for another concept! Enjoy1

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Math Dollar Deals for Middle School/High School Math!

It is Tuesday, which means our dollar deals are back! I have teamed up with an awesome group of middle school and high school math teachers for these Math Dollar Deals! Every Tuesday this summer, we will each be putting one of our math resources on sale for just $1.

The activities on sale are easy to find! Just search #mathdollardeals in the TpT search box and all of the dollar deals should come up!

Or another option is to check out this Pinterest board, which will feature all of the math dollar deals each week.

This week, my dollar deal is this entire unit of Math Task Cards (Volume and Surface Area). These are great for 5th/6th grade math or possibly for 7th grade intervention groups. For those of you that have downloaded my Math Enrichment Task Cards, the Math Task Cards cover the same topics but are more basic problems. I use both sets every day during my 6th grade math workshop!

The following topics are included in this set of task cards: Volume of Triangular Prisms, Volume of Pyramids, Volume of Cylinders, Volume of Cones, Surface Area of Cylinders, and Volume of Composite Figures. Enjoy and don't forget to check out all of the other great math dollar deals by other math teachers using the hashtag #mathdollardeals!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Exciting news! After starting my summer Dollar Deals last Tuesday, some other middle/high school math teacher friends and I have decided to team up to provide some great deals on math resources for the rest of the summer!

Every Tuesday from now until July 26, a bunch of great math teachers will be providing one of their resources for just $1. You can search #mathdollardeals on TpT OR just stay tuned here at my blog for links to the various resources. Unfortunately this week I am on a road trip and won't be able to get all of the links on this post, but it is easy to find the deals by searching #mathdollardeals in the TpT search! This week, my Dollar Deal will be this Area and Perimeter Sort for 6th grade math. Although I created it for 6th grade, they could also be pretty useful with 5th or 7th graders!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

"Dollar Deals" are Coming this Summer!

This summer, I have decided to try something a little different. Every Tuesday, I will be posting a different math resource in my TpT store for just $1!

With it being the first Tuesday of summer, I figured there is no better day to start than today! The first resource up are these Exit Slips: Perimeter, Area, and Volume - for 6th grade math. Each of the nine topics included have four problems, which increase in difficulty. These exit slips could be used as a check as students leave the class, in math centers, small groups, or in lots of other ways! Check them out and stay tuned every Tuesday for the new deal!

To make sure you don't miss out on the future Dollar Deals, follow my Instagram and Facebook pages, where I will be posting updates!

Instagram: @middleschoolmathman
Facebook: Middle School Math Man

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Math Brain Teaser Challenge!

Sometimes the best classroom ideas come once textbooks are turned in, no new math lessons are in the plans, and the school year is winding down! This year, whether it was a result of creativity or that end-of-year desperation, I tried out a new math brain teaser activity in my classroom. It turned out to be a fun way to keep the 6th graders engaged (and moving!) as our final week of school came to an end.

It's actually a pretty simple concept. I searched around online and found some free math brain teaser problems that I thought would fit my class. I threw the ones that I liked into a PowerPoint, so that I six total brain teasers, each on their own poster. They looked something like this.

There are plenty of great sites that have fun brain teasers, but the primary two websites that I pulled mine from were CoolMath4Kids and Math Warehouse.

Next, I posted the six brain teaser posters around the room. Each problem also had a basket and scrap paper next to it for students to write and place their guesses. To start the activity, students walked around at their own pace, reading and attempting to solve the problems. I let them go in any order. After a student attempted a brain teaser, they wrote their name and answer on a piece of scrap paper, and placed it in the basket next to that problem.

After about 20 minutes, we got back together as a class. One at a time, we went through the solution to each problem. After solving it, I drew answers out of the basket for that problem. The first correct answer to be drawn from each basket won a prize (in my class a mint or a Starburst)! Hope you enjoyed this quick and easy activity... it could really be adapted to any grade or subject, it is just a matter of finding the right level of brain teasers for your students!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Repairing the "I'm Bad at Math" Attitude

After teaching middle school math for almost five years, I have found that one of the biggest hurdles and misconceptions for students is their attitude and confidence in their own math abilities. As a math teacher, one huge challenge is changing the "I'm bad at math" attitude that some students enter the year with. Of course, not all students carry this attitude with them. Many students are confident in their math skills. However, I think that making a dent in the attitude of students who lack that confidence might be the most important, and challenging, part of teaching math. Here are a few classroom routines and ideas that I have found to help repair and change the "I'm bad at math" mindset.

(1) Make Math Fun
After reflecting on my first year of teaching 6th grade math, I found out very quickly that I needed to make math fun and engaging. I think the first step in changing the attitude of students who have struggled in math is making math class a place they enjoy coming to. One of the classroom routines I started is the Math Joke of the Week. It takes about 10 minutes per week to look up a fun (or corny) math joke and get it up on the board. Students love it when the joke is something they can try to guess, and I always hear about it quickly when I forget to get a new joke up.

Incorporating some random fun routines and things around the classroom can also start to get these students to enjoy coming into math class. Last year, I blogged about some of the fun things around my classroom. Although a lot of these aren't math related, I think they can help the general attitude of the students who come into the class! also have tried to make the learning process more fun for my students. In 6th grade math, we play a lot of math games that reinforce the concepts we are learning about. I've created many of these, but have also found a ton of awesome ideas floating around as well. My students love playing this Kaboom (also called Zap) game, which I adapted to practice solving equations. One of the other favorites are the Connect Four games that I created for various topics. My Connect Four: Multiplying Decimals is a freebie in my TpT store! As much as possible, I have tried to make learning and practicing our math concepts into some sort of game or engaging activity.

(2) Get Kids Moving
Many of my lessons during my first year of teaching involved me at the overhead projector (yes, I was still using an old-school overhead projector) and students at their seats watching me do examples. Reflecting on that first year, I discovered a few things. Number one, I probably damaged my eyesight by looking into that dang projector all day. Two, I was doing most of the work while students sat and watched. And three, a lot of the time students weren't sitting and watching... they were doing something they weren't supposed to be doing, not paying attention, or just flat out bored (and looking back I don't blame them). This structure made it difficult for me to reach the students who felt they were bad at math. I switched to a math workshop structure, where students rotate around the room to different stations each class period. This structure allows me to meet in a small group with all students, which helps me reach the students that normally struggle. Whether it's math workshop, or some other structure, I feel like it is important to get students out of their seats. Of course that's not to say we never have stretches where we are taking notes, watching me do problems, etc., but I have tried to limit the length and amount of these. More details about how I run the math workshop are at the tab at the top of my blog!

(3) Challenge Students students enjoy a challenge and some competition... at least if there is a prize involved! Although my Challenge of the Week problems are often completed by my students who are very confident and strong in math, I was pleasantly surprised by the number of students who try these problems. There is nothing more rewarding than when a student who usually finds math difficult, gets the challenge problem. I put up a new problem every Monday. Students have until Thursday to enter (it's optional). On Friday, we go over and discuss the answer as a class - any correct answers get a mint! This is another routine that is pretty easy to set up, takes minimal time each week, and is a great way to stretch students thinking! If you are looking for some 5th/6th grade level problems, a full-year set is free in my store. The optional, low-risk, nature of the Challenge of the Week really encourages everybody to try it since there isn't any penalty for getting it wrong.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Area Review (Parallelograms, Triangles, Trapezoids, and more!)

It has been all about finding areas recently in sixth grade math! The last week or two, we have been finding the area of parallelograms, triangles, trapezoids, and circles (with some perimeter and circumference thrown in there too!). For a while now, I have been trying to find a good way to review these concepts. This last week, I thought I would try an activity that worked pretty well last year with my sixth graders during our volume unit. This activity gets students up out of their seats, moving around the room, talking about math, and analyzing each others work!

I began by creating six different posters that each focused on a specific concept. I started pretty basic, with the area of a parallelogram. The other five focused on the area of a triangle, area of a trapezoid, area of a circle, circumference, and one challenge problem! Each student started by getting 6 different colored Post-it notes. On each of the posters, I put one of these different colored Post-its in the corner, so students knew which color to do their work on for that problem. After assigning them a  poster to start at (3-5 students per poster), they went around the room solving each problem on their Post-it notes. Here are a few shots of them in action!

Once students got to their starting point, I gave about two or three minutes for them to solve that problem on their Post-it note. After the time was up, I had them rotate to their next poster. I debated having them just go around at their own pace, but this system of sticking together with their group seemed to work out pretty well! I was impressed with the great math conversations going on as they worked! There was a lot of "but don't we need to double the radius" and "it's a triangle, so we have to divide by two!" Once they had all gotten to each station, I gave them a minute or two to go back to any problems that they had not had time to finish. Then, once we were all ready, the students went around an placed their work (which was on each Post-it note) on to the correct poster. Each poster looked something like this...

Then, here was my favorite part. I gave the students three minutes to walk around and look at the work of their classmates. To give them something specific to look for, I had them try to find at least one thing we did well as a class and at least one mistake they found. The students really enjoyed walking around and looking at their work and it was a great way to spark a discussion about the different area problems we had been learning about. Here are a few pictures of students as they were analyzing each others work!

I really enjoyed using this one as a review and I love how it could really be used with any concept! I'd love to hear any questions or similar activities that you have tried in your classrooms!

Looking for more ideas to help review area concepts? Check out a few of these interactive activities from my TpT store!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Angles, Triangles, and the Start of Geometry in 6th Grade Math!

With the beginning of our geometry units in 6th grade math, it has been all about angles and triangles this past week! Thanks to some creative (and cheap!) angle ideas I found on social media, I was able to incorporate some new things in my classroom this year as we start geometry! First off, this fun idea to reinforce a basic understanding of angles! With some leftover fun tape from Office Depot, a little card stock to write the angles, and about ten minutes, I made this fun entryway into the classroom. I can't take credit for the idea, but am happy to share it! It definitely caught the students attention and had them thinking about different angles!

The second fun idea I found (again... can't take credit for this one) I was able to use with my math intervention groups this week. After we had learned about different angle relationships (vertical angles, supplementary angles, and complementary angles), I covered our front dry-erase table with table at various angles. I then went through and measure the minimum number of angles they would need to be able to find all of the missing angles without a protractor. This turned out to be a great problem solving challenge and really promoted teamwork and working together. I could also see this working out great as a math center during math workshop.

UPDATE: I recently added a full set of Angle Relationships Task Cards to my TpT store! It currently includes over 70 challenging angle problems and 4 different levels of difficulty!

With the start of geometry, I was also able to try out one of my newest units of Math Task Cards: Triangles, Quadrilaterals, and Transformations. I now have two sets of task cards up in my store. A set of Math Task Cards, which are a little more basic problems. Then, for students that finish these quickly, I have them try the Math Enrichment Task Cards. Having these more challenging task cards makes it easy to push my higher students and keep them challenged! Here are a couple shots of the prep and final product of some of these task cards. I always print out six cards for each topic, which is what I need for my math workshop front table group. If I have time I corner round the corners and laminate to help them last!

Geometry has also allowed me to finally get to what is probably my favorite Challenge of the Week problem! I recently updated this freebie with five more questions that could be used, so be sure to re-download it if you have already grabbed this one from my store in the past!

So that's what we have been up to in 6th grade math recently. I'd love to hear what you have all been working on in your classrooms! And how about some humor to get everyone on their way? Who knew that One Direction is now a swear word?