Sunday, December 31, 2017

Area Invasion! A Math Board Game

A new board game is ready to go! This new Area Invasion game is my first game that focuses on a geometry concept. This post explains the rules and how to play! You can get a copy of Area Invasion at the following link.

Materials: The game includes a game board, four different sets of 22 Area Cards (Rectangle, Parallelogram, Triangle, and Trapezoid), 21 Circle Slide Cards, Teacher Instructions and Rules, a Student Worksheet, and an Answer Key.

The game begins with each player on the "START" space. On each player's first turn, they can choose any type of Area Card. If they are able to correctly find the area of the shape on the card, they move ahead as many spaces indicated on the card. Once they are off of the "START" space, they must start each turn by drawing an Area Card that corresponds to the shape of the space that their game piece is on. For example, if they are on a trapezoid space, they start their turn by drawing a Trapezoid Area Card. If they are able to find the area of the trapezoid on that card, they move ahead the number of spaces it says on the card! The picture below shows one of the easier and more difficult problems for each type of shape.
If at any time a player lands on a "Circle Slide" space, they immediately draw a Circle Slide Card. If they are able to find the area of the circle on the card, they get to move ahead on the slide (the arrow on that space). If they get the problem wrong, they stay at the space they are on. On their next turn, they would then take whatever shape is on that space. One of the easier and more difficult Circle Slide Cards are shown below!

First person to reach the Finish space wins the game! I hope your students enjoy playing!

If your students enjoyed this game, they may also like playing the following board games. Each of these sets are at a discount when purchased as the bundle.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Using Games in the Math Classroom

As my teaching career has evolved, so have my classroom procedures, routines, and teaching style. However, one thing that has remained constant is the goal of creating or finding math activities that make math fun for my students. It is only natural then, that math games are a central them in my classroom. Whether it is in partners, small groups, or as a whole class, math games can be a great way to get students learning and practicing math, while also having fun! Below are some of the games that are either new or have become staples in the math classroom.

1. Product Game
This game has A TON of strategy involved. It is a great way for students to practice their basic math facts and is way more fun than just practicing with flash cards. The best part... you can try this one out for free at the NCTM Illuminations website! Click HERE to give it a try!

2. Fractions and Decimals Board Games
Up until this year, I hadn't really tried using board games that often with my students. After introducing these fraction and decimal games earlier this school year, I am wishing I would have done this sooner in my teaching career! Kids have responded really well to these games. This bundle includes a little bit of everything when it comes to fraction and decimal operations. There are six different games included that focus on either adding, subtracting, multiplying, or dividing fractions and decimals. You can click on the link below to check them out!

3. Siega
In my third year of teaching, it was a student that recommended playing this game. He had come from another district, where his teacher had taught his class what he called "Siega." Although it isn't math related, the strategy is great. Students start with three counters on their side of the board. They take turns moving one of their counters to an open spot that is touching (directly or diagonally) its current spot on the board. A player wins by getting their three counters in a straight line (horizontally, vertically, or diagonally). However, the straight line cannot be in the original spot where the counters started. Play this a few times and students will quickly learn how they can "trap" the other player!

4. Math Bingo Games
Who doesn't like to play bingo? Whole group bingo games can be a fun way to practice different math skills. I like using the Squares and Square Roots Bingo game (linked below) in particular when we first cover exponents and square roots. It is a fun way for students to practice these skills and it can help these concepts "stick" that much more!

Whether it is math games or other engaging math activities, making math interesting and fun for students can have a long-lasting effect, helping to shape a positive attitude of students towards math!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Middle School Math Man's Favorite Things Giveaway

1. Favorite Holiday Activity

When it comes to the holidays, spending time battling the family in board games often tops the list of things to do. Whether it means breaking out a classic like Monopoly with the nephews or some Ticket to Ride against the in-laws, there is never a shortage of board game competition! This isn't very surprising, coming from someone who once played himself in Monopoly as a kid because all his friends and family were so sick of playing and more recently, played 17 games of Catan in two days... :)

2. Favorite Math Activity

Sticking with the board game theme, I discovered a new student favorite this year in middle school math. These new Fraction and Decimals Board Games have been a huge hit with students and are a fun way to practice different operation with decimals and fractions. In each of these games, students answer math problems as they work their way around the board. You can click HERE to see a blog post with some more information about how the games work!

3. Favorite Teacher Tool

When it comes to teacher tools, I've got to go with dry-erase paint. The $25 spent on this paint from Home Depot each year is the best $25 I spend in my classroom. I have seen increased engagement (who doesn't want to do math on a table?) and it works perfect as a table for the teacher center of math workshop. If you are interested in trying it out, be sure to click on the blog post below that details the whole process!

Don't miss my giveaway!

For a chance to win a $10 TpT gift card and a pack of Expo Dry Erase Markers, be sure to do the following two things:

1. Comment on this post with your favorite holiday activity! 

2. Follow my weekly newsletter by clicking HERE (and also receive a task card freebie!). If you already follow my newsletter, than you only have to comment on this post to be entered. A winner will be chosen on Monday, December 18th at 8pm EST. Good luck!

Now it's time to hop over to Scaffolded Math and Science's blog to enter another giveaway! 
Giveaway ends Monday December 18, 2017 at 8PM EST!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Expressions, Equations, and Inequalities Board Game Bundle

The popularity of board games in my middle school math classroom has been such a pleasant surprise! After creating these Fractions and Decimals Board Games for my students earlier this year, they soon became a classroom favorite. Students were actually asking if they could play them!

After seeing how students responded to these games, I decided it would be worth it to create similar games with a focus on algebra. This new bundle of games, an Expressions, Equations, and Inequalities Board Game Bundle, includes the following six board games for middle school math! Each of the games includes a similar game board that students must work their way around by solving problems. The board includes "Test Your Luck" spaces that provide an element of luck, either moving the player ahead or backwards. Each game board also includes a "Switch It Up" space. If a player lands here, they must switch their game piece with any other player! First player to make it to the end wins!

1. Expressions Frenzy! A Simplifying Algebraic Expressions Board Game

This game focuses entirely on simplifying algebraic expressions. Students must combine like terms, both positive and negative, to simplify each expression as they work their way around the game board!

2. Equation Invasion! A Solving Equations Board Game

This version of the game requires students to solve equations. This edition only includes positive numbers, but includes all types of equations. They range from simple addition equations to more complicated two-step equations. All of these problems have the variable on only one side of the equation.

3. Equation Invasion! A Solving Equations Board Game (Negative Number Edition)

This Negative Number Edition is similar to the regular Equation Invasion (above) but includes equations that involve negative numbers. These equations range from addition equations to two-step equations, but only have the variable on one side of the equation.

4. Equation Invasion! A Solving Equations Board Game (Multi-Step Equations Edition)
This Multi-Step Equations Edition includes equations that have a variable on both sides of the equation, making it a little more challenging. Students must first isolate the variable to one side and then solve!

5. Inequality Invasion! A Solving Inequalities Board Game

Inequality Invasion requires students to solve one and two-step inequalities as they work their way to the end of the game board! This version only includes positive numbers. Addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and two-step inequalities are all included in the playing cards.

6. Inequality Invasion! A Solving Inequalities Board Game (Negative Number Edition)

This edition is very similar to the Inequality Invasion game above, however it includes negative numbers. This version is great for upper middle school grades!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Easy Prep Multiplying and Dividing Mixed Numbers Review

It seems like the most effective teaching ideas and activities come at the last minute. Maybe you realize your students need some extra practice with a certain concept or you have a group that finishes early and needs something to do. This activity was a "morning of" idea I had for my math intervention group as we practiced multiplying and dividing mixed numbers. We needed some more practice with this skill, but I wanted to avoid just giving a worksheet. Instead, we made a challenge out of it!

Each student got one regular die and one fraction die. The idea was pretty simple, but very engaging. They rolled the two dice together to make a mixed number. Then they rolled them both again to create a second mixed number that they multiplied with their first number. This would also work great for dividing mixed numbers!

*If you don't have fraction dice, your could five them each 3 regular dice. Their first roll is the whole number and the next two create their fraction.

To make it into a challenge, every time they completed a problem correctly, they got to go up to the board and add a tally to our "Problems Completed" tracker. I went around and checked their answers as they finished.

For other games and activities to help practice operations with fractions, be sure to check out the following links!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Fractions and Decimals Board Game Bundle!

I finally completed this full set of math board games! In 6th grade math, we begin the school year with a lot of multiplying and dividing of fractions and decimals. For some students, this can be frustrating if these computation skills have been a challenge for them in the past. I made these board games to give students a fun, low stress, way to practice these skills!

The bundle includes 6 different board games. You click HERE to check it out the bundle or click on the links below to see individual games. Each of the games is similar in how the game is played. On their turn, students draw a playing card and must answer the problem on the card. After checking with a calculator, they move ahead then number of spaces indicated on the card. If students land on a "Take a Chance" space, they draw a card from the Take a Chance pile. These cards either tell them to move forward or back. The six games that are included are listed below! If purchased as the bundle, you get one of the games free compared to purchasing individually!

Decimal Derby: An Adding and Subtracting Decimals Board Game
Decimal Dash: A Multiplying Decimals Board Game
Decimal Duel: A Dividing Decimals Board Game
Fraction Fury: An Adding and Subtracting Fractions Board Game
Fraction Fever: A Multiplying Fractions Board Game
Fraction Frenzy: A Dividing Fractions Board Game

I have been pleasantly surprised with how these games have gone over with my 6th graders this year. I've had a lot students actually ASKING to play these when they are finished early! I have also been using them with my math intervention groups with students who need some extra practice with these skills.

Monday, August 21, 2017

6 Ideas for Setting Up the Middle School Math Classroom

As a teacher, there is so much to do when it comes to setting up the classroom, that it is hard to know where to start! Over the course of my first six years of teaching middle school math, a few of these classroom projects have become staples in my classroom. In this post, I plan to share a few of these ideas.

(1) Assignment Notebook Board

The first thing my middle school students do (or should be doing!) when they come to class is fill out their assignment notebooks. With some ruler tape that I found at Office Max, I created this assignment notebook board. The number 1 on each day is for what we do in class. The number 2 on each day is any homework that is assigned. For example the 1 might be "Multiply Fractions" and the 2 might be "Pg 232 hw (due tmw)."


(2) Math is Everywhere Board

I have written about this project in a few other posts, but it is one of my all time favorites to start the year! I have two bulletin boards in my classroom. This one gets filled with these tiles. Students must show how they see math in the real world on their tile. On the back of their tile, they must write a paragraph explaining how math is seen in the topic that they chose! You can click HERE for a free set of the bulletin board letters!

(3) Challenge of the Week

 Many of you have already seen or tried out the Challenge of the Week in your classroom! I have loved seeing the pictures! Each week, I put up a new challenge problem. They are optional and students have until the end of the day on Thursday to turn it in. Anyone who gets it correct gets a small prize on Friday when we go over the answer! Both the 6th Grade Challenge of the Week Problems and the 8th Grade Challenge of the Week Problems are FREE in my TpT store. Enjoy!

(4) Teacher Book Shelf

My teacher book shelf took on some major changes recently. I started with this new way of organizing all of my math workshop materials. I decided to organize them more by the type of game, rather than by the topic like I had done in the past. I cleared these shelves off and organized them in these containers that I had ordered a few years ago. If you are looking for the materials and resources that I use for math workshop, be sure to check out my Math Mega Bundle (Upper Elementary/Middle School) and my Math Mega Bundle (8th Grade Math).

Below these containers, I have two shelves with labels for Monday through Friday. This is where I put all of my plans and resources that I will be using for the coming week. This has been a useful way to stay organized and prepared throughout the week! As you can see, I am not quite ready for the first week of school...

On the bottom of these shelves are my task cards, which very well could be the hardest resource when it comes to organization! I found these containers at Michaels. They have worked out pretty well. I have two sets of task cards that I use throughout each school year for each grade level. I have a regular set of task cards and then a set of enrichment task cards. Each set takes up two of these containers. Teaching two different grades means I end up with 8 of these containers, which is pretty manageable! Check out the links below if you are interested in the task cards for each grade level!

Math Task Cards Full-Year Bundle - 6th Grade Math
Math Enrichment Full-Year Bundle - 6th Grade Math
8th Grade Math Task Cards Full Year Bundle
8th Grade Math Enrichment Task Cards Full Year Bundle

(5) Bulletin Board (Number 2)

My second bulletin board is filled with some routine-oriented and expectation posters. I made these the last few years. The colored math workshop poster shows where students of each group should be at any given time. The homework data chart is where we record our homework data. As a class, we figure out what percentage of homework we turn in on time each day. Over the course of the year, we graph these and look at trends. It also becomes a fun competition between classes!

(6) Bobblehead Collection

I started my bobblehead collection a while ago and it has just grown ever since! Students enjoy seeing them and it is a fun way for students to get to know me and my interest in baseball! My wife and I are trying to get to all 30 MLB stadiums, and recently made it to Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. Luckily it was a bobblehead giveaway, so the Kevin Appier Royals bobblehead is the most recent addition to the collection!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Decimal Dash! A Multiplying Decimals Board Game

In my opinion, it never hurts to add another math game to the classroom repertoire! One concept that we review early on in 6th grade math is multiplying decimals. I decided to create a board game that can help students practice this skill... Decimal Dash! This is honestly the most fun I've had creating a resource!

The game play is pretty simple, since I wanted to make sure it was easy for students to learn and play on their own. Each player begins on 0.0. On a player's turn, they flip over a Playing Card and must find the answer to the problem (a student work sheet is included!). Their opponent checks their answer with a calculator. If they are correct, they move ahead the number of spaces indicated on the card.

If at any time a player lands on a Take A Chance space, they draw one of the Take a Chance cards pictured above. The card will either move them ahead or backwards. First person to reach the 2.6 space wins the game!

The only things not included that you will need are calculators and some sort of game pieces! I plan on using colored counters as game pieces.

I can't wait to try this one out this fall with the 6th graders! Click HERE to grab your copy!

Don't forget that you can sign up for my weekly newsletter for free! As a bonus, I am including a free preview (16 cards) of my Angle Relationships Task Cards with sign up! You can click the link below to get the newsletter.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

New Resources for 8th Grade Math

It has been a busy week beginning to prep materials for a second year of 8th grade math! It was a pretty smooth transition from teaching only 6th grade math to having a section of 8th grade math (in addition to 6th!) last school year. However, having gone through a full school year, there are a few additional 8th grade resources I felt my students could use!

Pythagorean Theorem Task Cards
One of the concepts I quickly realized my 8th graders could use a lot of practice with is the Pythagorean Theorem. Since my students enjoyed the "star-level" aspect of these Angle Relationship Task Cards, I decided to create a set related to the Pythagorean Theorem. This new set, linked below, includes 56 task cards related to the Pythagorean Theorem. They are differentiated with four different star levels that correspond to the difficulty. With these cards, students practice determining if a triangle is a right triangle (using the PT), finding they missing hypotenuse of a right triangle, finding the missing leg of a right triangle, and solving challenge problems.

I try to keep my students working on as many hands-on activities as possible, but let's be honest, sometimes you just need a bank of practice problems to help students review! I began creating these 8th grade math review packets last school year and just recently finished up a full set of them. They hit all of the main concepts that we cover in 8th grade math. The bundle includes five different packets and a total of 147 problems. Topics and link are below!

1. Rational Numbers, Monomials, and Percents
2. Equations and Inequalities
3. Angles, Polygons, and the Pythagorean Theorem
4. Volume and Surface Area
5. Statistics and Probability

Hope you can find these resources useful in your back to school prep! I will be continuing to add to my bank of 8th grade math resources, so stay tuned for updates!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

4 Effective Games for Middle School Math Workshop

Those of you that have implemented math workshop in your classroom know the importance of having engaging, easy prep, centers for your students. Math games are an integral part of my classroom and are an important part of creating a "math is fun" attitude in my students. If they are reusable activities... even better! I have found math games to be an effective way to keep students motivated. In this post, I will share the four games that I have found to be the most engaging!

(1) The Product Game about a strategy game! The Product Game is such a fun way to get students thinking ahead while also practicing their basic facts. The goal of the game is to get four in a row. Students determine which number they cover up on the number grid by multiplying the two numbers that are covered on the bottom of the board. A more detailed explanation of the rules is at the link above. I have played this as a class vs. teacher game as well as a partner game during math workshop! This has been a go-to game for my math centers. I usually introduce it early on and then come back to it again towards the end of the school year.

(2) The Factor Game
This is another great strategy game. If you are working on finding the different factors of a number, The Factor Game is perfect for practice. Players take turns circling a number on the game board. For each number circled, the other player gets to circle all of the factors of that number. At the end, students add up their circled numbers to determine the winner!

(3) Connect Four Games all of the games I have created, these games are probably the most engaging and versatile. I use these as small group math centers, as a whole class game, and all the time with my math intervention groups. Doing problems in a game format is just so much more fun than a worksheet! I have a huge range of topics available for both 6th grade math and 8th grade math. Many of these would also work for other grade levels! Check out my 6th Grade Math Connect Four Bundle or my 8th Grade Math Connect Four Bundle, depending on what you need! If you would like to get an idea of the format, grab a free copy of a game from each of these bundles at the following links!

FREE Connect Four: Multiplying Decimals - 6th Grade Math
FREE Connect Four: Area, Volume, and Surface Area - 8th Grade Math

(4) Zap!
I have seen different versions of this floating around the internet. I'm not sure who originally thought of it, but it is great... and never ending. We all know their is nothing better than an engaging and never ending math game for students to play! The idea is basic. Students take turns pulling a stick from the jar. If they solve the problem correctly, they get to keep the stick. If they pull a "Zap!" stick, the have to put all of their sticks back in the jar. The best part about this one (other than the never ending part) is that you can easily create a set for various topics. I have a set of basic facts as well as a solving equations set. Both have worked out great! Click HERE for a full explanation of how the game works!

I'm always on the search for new math games. In the comments below, feel free to share the most effective math games that you use in your classroom!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

3 Ideas to Help Survive the End of the Year in Middle School Math

The end of the school year can be a challenging time of year in middle school math! Students (and teachers!) are ready for summer and it always seems like the number of meetings and things to get done multiplies. In this post, I put together three of my favorite activities for the end of the school year in middle school math. All of them focus on getting kids engaged, out of their seat, and burning off some of that extra energy!

(1) Brain Teaser Challenge
This is one of my favorites. So much so, that I not only did this at the end of this school year, but I also did one earlier in the year. The basic idea is to post 6-7 brain teasers on posters around the room, each with a bucket and some scrap paper next to it. Students can move freely around the room as they try the problems, entering their guesses (with names!) in the corresponding bucket. Once finished, I draw answers out of each bucket until there is a correct answer. That person gets a small prize! If you would like to read my full blog post about it you can click HERE.

(2) Mystery Prize Challenge
This one is similar to the Brain Teaser Challenge, however it is easier to keep this one more focused on academic concepts. I tried out this one for the first time this year and students begged to do it again. I posted six review problems around the room. Each had a mystery brown paper bag that held a prize. This year, I filled them with pencils, mints, Starbursts, candy, and gum... or some combination of those! The rest of the activity works very similar to the Brain Teaser Challenge. Students go around the room, entering answers into a bucket next to each problem. We then drew names out of each bucket... first correct answer from each won the prize! For some more details about this challenge you can click HERE. If you are looking for problems to use, my 6th Grade Math Scavenger Hunt Bundle and 8th Grade Math Scavenger Hunt Bundle provide a wide range of options!

(3) Silent Ball
This one could either be as a quick brain break or you can add an academic twist to it! I'm not sure who came up with this one, but they are a genius! Students stand around the room at a spot. You then begin tossing a ball around the room. In our game, there were four ways you could get out... if you talk, if you drop the ball, if you make a poor throw, or if you throw overhand. The game goes on until there is only one person left. You can also add rules to make it more challenging. We tried throwing/catching with one hand or the opposite hand, standing on one foot, one eye closed, etc. To make it a little more academic, you can also have them say a math fact (we stuck with 9x9 or less) and then whoever they throw it to has to answer it correctly. This is a great one to use as a break if you have long classes!

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!