Thursday, April 13, 2017

Easy and Effective Ideas for Teaching Statistics in the Middle School Classroom

Everything has been statistics related in both 6th and 8th grade math over the past few weeks! Of course, we better start with some corny statistics humor first (answer at the bottom of this post). I thought of this one myself, so I will apologize for the terrible joke now. On a side note, I recently began sending out a weekly newsletter every Sunday morning. Each newsletter includes classroom tips, a freebie, and math humor. If you are interested, you can sign up at the link below! Please share with any other teachers you know that might be interested!

Alright, onto the good stuff! Here are a few easy prep, yet effective, ideas to help teach statistics in the middle school math classroom.

1. Data Displays Foldable Notes
This is one of those ideas that came to me in the middle of the night on one of those nights you just can't sleep because your mind is going a million different directions (if you're a teacher, you've surely been there before...). I have used foldable notes before with other concepts. For whatever reason, my students are way more likely to copy down notes if you fold them first. Weird, I know. We had been learning about various data displays. In 6th grade, we had covered finding the measures of central tendency, box-and-whisker plots, frequency tables, and stem-and-leaf plots. We also later added histograms to this foldable. In the activity, students each got two dice. They rolled the dice and multiplied the two numbers to get each number in their data set. I set a minimum of twelve rolls, so that they would have at least twelve pieces of data. After getting their set of numbers, they had to find or create each the measures/displays pictured. This was a fun, hands-on way to review and I also allowed students to use these notes on their mid-chapter quiz.

2. Mean, Median, Mode, and Range Math Sort
These sorts are one of the more engaging resources that I have created. I usually use these as a math workshop center, but I have also had students work on them individually or in small groups. For each set, students must sort the cards under the correct answer. Eventually, each of the four answer cards should have five problem cards sorted underneath. Once sorted, the students flip over the cards and must unscramble the funny phrases on the back! You can click HERE to get a copy of this resource. This particular sort focuses on finding the mean, median, mode, and range... other topics are also available in my TpT store!

3. Class Survey Circle Graph
When it comes time to learn about statistics, we do a lot of class surveys. This year we did number of pets, states traveled to, number of siblings, and in the example pictured we voted for a celebrity president. As you can see, we had some interesting candidates. We used the results from our class election to create a circle graph. It was a great way to get students engaged in our lesson!

I hope you all have found some useful ideas for teaching statistics and have a great rest of the school year!

Answer to the Math Joke of the Week: Histo-gram :)

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Hands-on Volume of Composite Figures Activity

As we began to wrap up our unit on volumes in 6th grade math, I started trying to think of some fun ideas to help my students review how to find the volume of the figures we had studied. In 6th grade, we cover the volume of rectangular prisms, triangular prisms, pyramids, cylinders, cones, and then finally work up to finding the volume of composite figures.

In past years we had constructed these shapes from their nets, so I decided to add on to that by letting the students come up with their own 3D creations from these nets. These free 3D figure nets from Math Geek Mama worked out perfectly for this project! The rules were simple... students could use 3-5 of the available nets to create their own 3D creation! Here are a few that they came up with.

Day one was all about creating the figures. Students really liked the freedom of picking their own nets and designing their figures however they liked. They could use tape or glue to form their nets and composite figures.

On Day 2, as students finished creating their figures, they started to find the volume of their composite figures. Many of my students had already grasped the idea of finding the volume of composite figures, but for those who hadn't, this project gave a great hands-on opportunity for them to practice these problems! Since I was short on time, I just had students take a piece of loose leaf paper to find their volume on. They turned in their paper and their robot (with names) once they finished!

This is definitely a project I will be doing again!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

All About Angles in Middle School Math (With Freebies and New Task Cards!)

Every year, I enjoy the transition from our algebra units to geometry. It is a nice change of pace for my 6th and 8th grade math students. In past years, I have noticed that students really enjoy angle challenge problems, like the one pictured, where they must find the missing angles without measuring. I have always included these in my Challenge of the Week problems this time of year. If you haven't downloaded these yet, you can find both my 6th Grade Math Challenge of the Week and 8th Grade Challenge of the Week problems for free in my TpT store!

These types of problems have become so popular with my students, that I decided to create an entire set of Angle Relationships Task Cards! To help differentiate, I decided to divide up the problems into four different levels of problems (1-star, 2-star, 3-star, and 4-star). For the first three levels, I created 24 different cards. For the 4-star problems, I currently have two task cards, but plan on adding to this set in the future!

The one-star problems include 24 pretty basic angle relationship problems. Each one has two intersecting lines and students are given one of the angle measures. They must use their knowledge of vertical angles and supplementary angles to find the remaining three angles!

The two-star problems include 24 problems. These are slightly more complicated, since students must use their knowledge of finding missing angles in triangles to find the missing angles. They also use supplementary and vertical angles for these problems.

The three-star problems are one extra step up from the two-star challenges! Not only do students use vertical, supplementary, and triangle angles, but they also must use their understanding of angles in quadrilaterals. This is the level that many of my 6th graders choose to try.

The four-star problems are the ultimate challenge! For these problems, students must find the missing measure of lots of angles, using everything described in the last three levels. In addition, they must know how to find the sum of the angles of other polygons (pentagons, hexagons, etc.) to help find missing angles! These have been great for my high achieving students.

I hope you can find a use for some of these resources in your math classroom and would love to hear what you do to teach angle relationships in your math classroom in the comments below!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

8th Grade Math Mega Bundle!

With it being my first year teaching a section of 8th grade math, I have been spending time creating resources to use with my 8th grade group. I have finally gotten around to putting all of these 8th grade math materials into a mega bundle. Below I highlighted each of the math bundles/resources that are included! The bundle is linked at the bottom of this post, or you can click here to take a look!

8th Grade Math Task Cards Full Year Bundle set of 8th grade math task cards includes problems that are at a more basic level of the concepts we cover. I expect all of my 8th graders (it is a Math 8 class, not Algebra) to be able to do these. This bundle includes a task card for 93 different concepts and includes a total of 276 problems. Since we are all math people, let's do the math... that is an average of 2.97 problems per card! :) Topics include a wide range of 8th grade math concepts, including topics related to rational numbers, proportions, percents, a wide range of algebra concepts, two and three dimensional geometry concepts, statistics, probability, and more!

8th Grade Math Enrichment Task Cards Full Year Bundle

This set is similar to the regular task cards that I described above, however these are much more challenging problems. I don't always expect all of my Math 8 students to be able to get to these, but of course am always pushing them to try! This bundle includes 89 different concepts and 215 total problems (I'll let you do the math this time!). The reason there are fewer problems is because these tend to take much longer to solve. The topics are similar to the other task cards, just more difficult! I have found these to be great to use during math workshop with the small group that I am working with and also for early finishers during whole group work times.

8th Grade Math Exit Slips Full Year Bundle

This set of exit slips is set up the same way as my task cards, however each card includes exactly four problems that increase in difficulty. It ends up being 93 topics and 372 total problems. My district uses grading for learning, so each student earns a beginning, developing, proficient, or advanced grade in each math standard. These exit slips include one problem at each level for every concept. I actually use these as a daily check, which is like a mini-quiz, at the start of each class. It gives me a great chance to see if my students understood the lesson from the previous day!

8th Grade Math Scavenger Hunt Bundle

I have found scavenger hunts to be extremely effective and engaging for both 6th and 8th graders. I put together this scavenger hunt bundle to use throughout the year in 8th grade math. It includes 7 different scavenger hunts for various 8th grade concepts. Each scavenger hunt includes 12 problems/posters that you place around the room. Students travel through the 12 problems and must find their next problem based on their previous answer! These are a great way to get kids up and moving around.

8th Grade Math Sort Bundle

The math sort bundle might be the most effective way to kids working together and talking about math. In small groups, they receive 4 answer cards and 20 problem cards. After solving a problem, they sort the card under the correct answer card. After all 20 problem cards are sorted, they flip over the cards and must unscramble the funny phrases on the back! The bundle includes 4 topics, 16 sorts, and 320 total problem cards.

8th Grade Math Connect Four Bundle

This Connect Four Bundle includes 10 different games, again all related to 8th grade math concepts. After creating a wide range of these for 6th grade math and seeing how engaging they were, I decided to start making them for my Math 8 class. Students must solve problems, cover up their answers on their board, and try to connect four!

8th Grade Math Challenge of the Week Problems set of problems are the problems I post each week as my "Challenge of the Week." As you can see in the picture, I also have a set of these problems for 6th grade math as well. The challenge of the week has been a great opportunity to give my higher students a chance to challenge themselves. Every Monday, I post a new challenge of the week problem on my board. Students have until the end of the day on Thursday to submit an answer. On Friday, we discuss the problem and anybody that got it correct gets a mint or Starburst! Right now, the 8th grade set includes 27 of my 8th grade challenge problems, but I will probably add to this as the year goes!

Hopefully this gives a solid picture of what is all included in this bundle! If you are looking for a wide range of resources for 8th grade math from my TpT store, this bundle is the most discounted way to do that! If you also teach 6th grade math, I have a similar bundle (linked below) that is even more extensive than this 8th grade bundle. If you have any questions about specific resources or topics that are included, please ask in the comments below!

6th Grade Math Mega Bundle
8th Grade Math Mega Bundle

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!