Saturday, January 23, 2016

Free Pi Day Challenge and a Freebie Bundle!

It has been a busy end to the quarter in 6th grade math. We are close to wrapping up our three units focused on algebra, we STAR tested this week, and had our annual end of semester middle school field trip to reward students for all of their hard work! It seemed like a good morning to get out this awesome new coffee mug I got for Christmas and get back to the blog!

I recently put together a new Free Pi Day Challenge activity and a Freebie Bundle in my TpT store, which will be the focus here today! The Pi Day Challenge is brand new to my store (although I have done it for a few years now in my classroom) and the Freebie Bundle is just a combination of all of the free products in my store. I hope you can find a use for some of them with your students!

With Pi Day right around the corner, I thought it would be a good time to share this fun challenge! It's pretty basic, but there is a ton of math involved and it has proven to be really engaging for students. I usually start Pi Day by reading the book Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi, written by Cindy Neuschwander. It really is a great book that shows how pi is found - which is by dividing the circumference of a circle by its diameter!

In this challenge, students do exactly that! The activity includes four circles of difference sizes. I make a bunch of copies of each of the sizes. Students, in partners or individually, must pick a circle to use for the challenge. Once a circle is picked, they grab some yarn and a ruler. The challenge is to measure the circumference of the circle (using the yarn as picture below), measure the diameter using their ruler, divide, and see which group can get the closest to 3.141592...! After doing this for a few years now, here are a few tips. First, depending on your class, you may want to review measurements and the fractional parts in between each inch or centimeter. They will want to be as exact as possible and don't want to become frustrated if they don't understand how to measure their dimensions accurately! Second, when measuring the circumference, you don't want to pull the string too tight when straightening it out. You want to straighten it out (so you can measure it), without pulling it too tight and adding extra length that isn't actually a part of the circumference!

After creating this free challenge, I thought it would be convenient to throw all of my free products into one Ultimate Freebie Bundle! Most of these have been available for some time now, but now they are all in one place. This bundle will also be updated every time I add a new free product to my store. Here is a quick snapshot of everything that is included!

1. Math Task Cards (Decimals and Exponents)
This is one of my more recent freebies! These task cards are a simple version of my Math Enrichment task cards. This is the first unit, which is up for free in my store. A full-year bundle is also available, which includes all 12 units!

2. Math Enrichment Task Cards (Decimals and Exponents)
These are the task cards I mentioned above! These are great for students who are catching on to a concept quickly and need a challenge! This unit, focused on decimals and exponents, is free. Again, a full-year bundle is also available!

3. Challenge of the Week Problems
Here is the full-year set of my Challenge of the Week problems for 6th grade math! If you follow me on Instagram, you have probably seen some of these (@middleschoolmathman)! These are optional for students to try each week and I give a small prize to any correct answers.

4. Connect Four: Multiplying Decimals
This Connect Four game is the first of fourteen Connect Four games in my store. These have been extremely useful this year, especially during my math intervention time to use as a review. They also work great as math centers! If you are interested in the full set of Connect Four games you can find them here!

5. Equation Memory: Addition Equations
This Equation Memory game helps students practice solving addition equations. On their turn, students flip over two cards and are trying to match the equation to its solution. Another fun one for review or as a math center! An Equation Memory Bundle is also available in my store, which also includes subtraction equations, multiplication equations, division equations, two-step equations, and inequalities!

6. Math Curse Challenge
Fun and easy to prep challenge if you have a copy of the book Math Curse. Students must try to answer some of the crazy and wacky math problems from the book!

7. Scavenger Hunt (Number System)
I started using scavenger hunts as a way to review towards the end of last year and am mad at myself for not doing them sooner! This one focuses on the number system (including multiplying/dividing decimals and fractions, exponents, and more). I also have several more scavenger hunts available for purchase as a part of my Scavenger Hunt Bundle!

8. Blueprint Project
Lesson plans for this architectural blueprint project I do each year with my students! They must design a dream house or building on grid paper and then enlarge it (to scale) onto the poster board. They always have a lot of fun with this one!

9. Percent Scramble
Percent Scramble is a fun and easy to prep math game that helps students practice finding the percent of a number... with some friendly competition of course! They must flip over a percent card and a whole number card. Once they find that percent of their number, they record their score for the round!

10. Pi Day Challenge
Check out the start of this post! :)

I hope you can all find a use for some of these activities in your classroom! I intend to update the Freebie Bundle every time I get a new free product up in my store, so make sure you stay tuned! Enjoy the weekend everybody!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Math Task Cards and the Teacher Center

Well, it took a little bit longer than I expected, but my new Math Task Cards are finally all finished and ready to go! Last year, I created a full-year set of Enrichment Task Cards, pictured below, to use at my Teacher Center during my 6th grade math workshop. I found these enrichment problems extremely useful and engaging for any of my students who grasped the basic concept quickly and needed a challenge.

What I didn't have, was a good method to display/give the more basic problems to these students - the problems that I use to determine if each students understands the basic concept. I had tried writing them on the board behind me and writing them on a mini-white board and holding it... both of which were annoying and sucked a lot of prep time out of my day (having to think of and write these problems every day!). That's when I decided to start making a set of more basic task cards (as opposed to my Enrichment Task Cards) for my students to use. That way I could give them the basic task card to work on first and if they finished that one easily, I could hand them the enrichment task card. Just recently, I finished up all twelve sixth grade math units and included them all in my Math Task Cards Full-Year Bundle. So far, it has worked out great! Here is a shot of the cards set out and ready for my students!

I love how convenient and easy to distribute these cards are. Although it takes a little extra time, I usually try to cut, round the corners (with a corner rounder from Target), and laminate my copies. Since I use them within the math workshop structure, I only need six copies of each - since my largest group has six students. I have found the extra step of laminating, as you teachers all know well, saves a lot of time in the long run! By the way, if you are curious about the dry-erase table... be sure to check out my post about how I turned my front table into this fun classroom work space!

Here is another shot of these task cards up close. The topics span a whole range of math concepts... multiplying/dividing decimals and fractions, ratios, percents, algebraic expressions, equations, geometry, probability, and more! I use these with my 6th graders, but they could also be used in 5th or 7th grade for different students. If you are curious about the level of the cards, I would recommend checking out my first unit for free, which focuses on decimals and exponents!

*Update: With my transition to teaching 8th grade math, in addition to 6th grade, I created task cards for 8th grade math as well! You can check out the two full-year sets at the following links!

I hope you all have a great second half of the year!