Wednesday, September 30, 2015


Ok, I went back to explore Learn Zillion's new improved website and wow is all I can say.  Although, I teach high school math, there is material in the K to 8 curriculum I could easily use with my students.   

I looked at the 8th grade math curriculum and the first unit is on transformations which I cover in most of my math classes.   I love the way they listed the key concepts, needed prior knowledge and future units based on this material. In addition, there is a link that takes you to the page with detailed information so you can plan.

Rectangular, Perpendicular, PythagorasFurthermore, there are 10 individual lessons all focused on introducing students to transformations.  Each lesson is complete with everything needed to teach it.  The lessons I checked even had some form of assessment.  Three of the lessons focus on real world applications for transformations!  Yeah.

I can set up classes such as geometry, or algebra and then I can add students to each class.  Furthermore, the program generates enrollment codes so that students do not need an e-mail address and I can attach assignments to the classes so students know what they need to do.  Yes.  By the way, the lessons even have a teaching guide with suggested pacing and questions.  At the end of a lesson is a quiz you can assign to the students.

I just discovered there is intervention material available should the students need extra practice.  In addition, there is even a list of key vocabulary.  I like this.  Later this week, I am going to look through the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades to see what material I can use in my classes.

Finally, there is a mobile app for either apple or google based tablets.  So it seems to have developed into something that is easy to use in class.  I'm off to see about setting it up for my classes.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Two Things

Slide Rule, Count, Math, MathematicsFirst of all, I got a notice from Learn Zillion indicating that they have expanded their website to include a K to 8 Math Curriculum that is an open cloud based curriculum, great math videos, reading and writing lessons.  I use the videos all the time in my classes because they are short, to the point and they talk about misconceptions.  I absolutely love the videos.   The other thing is that it is all free.  That is awesome!

The other thing is using SAS's gloss app.  I had a student today who worked all his multi-step equations out on the whiteboard choice before writing it on the paper.  If he made a mistake, he just undid it and tried again.  It was absolutely wonderful.  My students are beginning to use it as a whiteboard so they can make mistakes.

Monday, September 28, 2015

It Worked!!!!!!

Mathematics, Board, School, CountToday in my second period, I gave a few problems out to work on their iPads and it gave me a true feeling for how well they knew the material.  I had one student who had no problem doing it and everyone else struggled with solving two step equations.  It was awesome!

I could just look and see exactly where the student was having trouble.  Most got started well but a few had trouble figuring out which term they needed to work with first.  The majority moved the constant and then got stuck.  So that gave me an idea of what to teach today.  It was a very focused lesson.

Later on, after a focused lesson, I had the students work with the  cover-up app. 
They could either solve it using the standard method or just remove the variable so instead of 2(x + 1)= 7  So it read  2(   ) = 7.     Once they put in 3.5, they are asked to solve x + 1 = 3.5

I like giving students more than one way to look at a problem and more than one way to solve it if they can.   Overall, it was a great class.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Regular Quizzes

Forum, Question, Answer, Quiz, IconDue to everything I have to teach, I find it hard to plan quizzes ahead of time.  Things happen, so often your plans get rearranged.  I have a couple doodling programs on the iPad and I can hold impromptu quizzes based on the right time in the class.

I throw a couple problems up on the board, have students do it on the iPad, hold up the answer and I've respond with a thumbs up or thumbs down.  Sometimes, I have students raise a hand so I can go over and check their work.  If its right I draw a smiley face, if not, I draw a frowny face.

There is no paper involved, makes it much friendlier than an official quiz and I don't have to count it if I don't want to. I can use it to ascertain where they are at this point in time.  I can have them work additional problems if they are weak or cut it short and move on if they are doing well.

What I like best, is that the process takes 5 minutes and I have a decent assessment at the end of it.  I have tests scheduled in two classes this week, so I'll run quizzes tomorrow to see if the students are ready for the tests or whether I should give them more practice. 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

QR Codes And Reviewing

Qr Code, Scanner, Bar CodeI have scheduled three math tests either this week or next week in various math classes.  Today, I realized I can run reviews using technology rather than the standard pencil and paper.  QR codes popped into my head. 

So I am going to set up a series of QR codes around the room.  Each code will have one problem.  The students can work out the problem and write the answer down in an app and once done, they can check their answers with the master sheet on my iPad. 

This activity will work with all three of the math classes who will be taking the test.  It will also help them prepare and it will require them to get up  and move around.  It is important to give students a chance to move around and to check themselves.

Speaking of helping students check themselves, I decided to give my Pre-algebra class a partner test. The partner test means that pairs of students will work together.  Each one will have different problems but the answer will be the same so if their answers do not agree, they know they are wrong.   I hope it helps students to take their time, not give up, and provide a chance for them to self correct before turning the test in.  That test will be given Friday.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Sparking Ideas

Popcorn, Buttered, Cinema, Corn, FoodToday I received notification from Next Lesson about two new math lessons that are available at their web site for a small fee.  It was the titles and descriptions that sent my mind scrambling to figure out how to use these ideas in class.

1. Block Buster Movies.  Students could research the top 10 blockbuster movies for the past three months, for the summer, for the year. It all depends on how you want to set it up.  As they research the movies, they could find information on how much did it cost to make vs the amount of profits.  How many theaters did it show in.  What was the average amount per theater.  What is the average cost of a movie ticket?  How many people saw this movie?  Create a chart, an infographic, or a report. 

2.  What about Gross National products, etc.  Students could look up values for economic indicators for 2015, 2010, 2005, and 2000 to show how these indicators have changed over the past 15 years.  Find the economic indicators for several other countries such as Iraq, England, Japan, Korea, Brazil, or Mexico.  Students could prepare charts, compare and contrasts, infographics, etc. 

The above two ideas require the internet to find the information.  They require students to create a compilation of the information, turn it into a readable form, interpret the data, and present it.  All skills that are required in jobs and in college now a days. 

Thursday, September 24, 2015


Fraction, Math, Mathematics, AlgebraI've noticed my Pre-Algebra class really has trouble dividing because about half of them do not have their multiplication facts down solid while the other half have the facts down, they just can't go in reverse.  So as a way to help them, I put the students on Prime Smash, a wonderful free game by Panasonic.

Prime Smash is great for having students identify prime and composite numbers.  With three levels, I am able to differentiate instruction so that I am meeting all of student needs.  Those who struggle a bit more, did the easiest level while my more advanced students chose the hard level.

It was awesome.  The students were totally involved and did not want to put the iPads away to go to lunch.  They had such a blast.  There were so involved with the game, no one misbehaved, no one was off task.  I plan to run this again to help them with factoring.

On another front, my geometry class was on top of everything.  Today we started learning AAS and ASA.  Due to my having taken time to make them color triangle before writing proofs for SSS and SAS, my students immediately were able to spot which triangles were AAS and ASA after my short talk.   Yeah!!!!!!!

They immediately grabbed the colored pencils and started coloring the same angles and sides so when we write simple proofs tomorrow, they are ready and should be able to do it with very little trouble.  They transferred knowledge.  I am so proud of them.  Yeah.  It was a good day.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Brains and Learning

Businessman, Cartoons, Training, LectureRight now, we are going through a professional development that deals with brains, learning and ways to help students do better at school.  What makes this training different, is that the trainer spends time during the school day working with the kids, helping them learn ways to become better students.

Last night we learned that providing activities with verbal, auditory, and physical can help but add color into the activities.  Throw in some little games here and there to break things up.

This afternoon, the trainer went through below the line and above the line.  Below the line were behaviors such as denial, justification, blaming others or quitting which kept them from taking ownership of their work and behavior.  On the other hand, above the line included responsible actions, choice, ownership and personal power all of which help a student become responsible and able to learn successfully.  This part actually brought up a discussion on consequence between another teacher and myself. 

I am used to consequence being used to mean something resulting or being effected by an action and could be either good or bad.  I was informed that it now means something bad and I was out of touch with current meaning.  I checked my dictionary, it has not evolved to mean only something bad.  Yeah.   Back to the training.  One reason many students have difficulty moving from below the line to above the line is that the part of the brain that helps make reasonable choices does not fully develop till around 25 or 26.

We have some more training tomorrow night but I've already got a few new tools to use in my classes.  Yeah!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


Ball, 3D Printing, DesignI am on the mailing list for regular updates on a pen that can be used to create 3 dimensional shapes.  The shapes are not solid but I think I figured out how I can use the pen effectively in class.  In order to create the shapes, the pen relies on people tracing shapes on paper and then using more plastic to spot weld corners together.

In the past, I've had students create their own 3D shapes out of construction paper, scissors and tape.  So with the 3D pen, I could easily have the students create their own patterns and use the pen to create the shapes.  Further more, it would be fairly easy to include markers for units such as millimeters.

When a student starts creating the cube, they would make sure to create each side with all the smaller units so once the whole shape is assembled, they can see the units within the figure and can count the cubic millimeters.

This could easily be done with rectangular prisms, triangular prisms, etc.  I know my students often miss that little connecting piece.  In addition, it would allow my students to see how you go from 2 dimensional pieces into 3 D shapes. 

For instance, a cylinder is made up of a rectangle and two circles and those are used to create the volume or surface area formulas.  I might splurge in a pen and try this in my Geometry class.  We'll see.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

More thoughts on art.

For some students, trying to create art on a computer or iPad is difficult.  It takes awhile to create the art, the way they want it.  I created this mountain scene to show increases, decreases, relative and absolute max and mins. 

I found it a bit harder to draw using a computer than using colored pencils and a paper.  I know the same is true for many students.  So the question arises - "Do we have to have it all created on technology or can we have students create it using colored pencils, import the picture into an app so students can put in labels, etc to finish off the creation?"

I want to take student artwork and create one big poster with the electronic versions of the assignment so I can run it off, laminate it and post it in the hallway to show work.  I hate trying to hang 20 different assignments because I easily run out of space.

These pieces of art would also be great in student created books or electronic portfolios.  Since one of the goals is to help our students learn skills for the 21st century. So the more activities we incorporate into the math classroom that use technology, the more possibilities they have for their future and we are meeting the 21st century goal.

Saturday, September 19, 2015


Mathematics, Board, School, CountI was working today at school, preparing things for next week when a major thought slapped me on the side of the head.  Most of my students have mobile devices on them at all times. In fact, I have one student who always takes pictures of materials on the smart board because he is always loosing his glasses (on purpose) and can't see it.  So he snaps a picture and uses that.

Iphone, Cellphone, Smartphone, MobileI have gotten in the habit of thinking of using only the iPad set in my classroom but why couldn't I integrate some BYOB into my classroom.  I could easily have students take pictures of the homework assignment so they don't loose their papers.  They could either do it on a paper and turn that in, perhaps they use an annotation program to complete their homework and then put it in a drop box type place. 

It was too late today to consider doing it this week but I could do it next week after I set up some place for them to electronically submit their work.  I keep thinking I need to get more of my class to be electronically based because it will help prepare them for the business world out there. 

So next week, when I'm home or have some spare time, I'll be setting up a place to turn in all homework electronically. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

It Works!

Thank you to Tammy Morris in Alaska for sending me back to Shodor.  The last time I visited there, I could not use the applets on the iPad and it only worked on computers.  Due to her suggestion, I went back to Shodor and check the applets out.  Every applet I tried work on the iPads.

They have improved the site tremendously.  There are sections for both teachers and students.  I checked out the teachers section and looked at a lesson on functional graphs.

Each lesson gives a short summary of the lesson, the objectives, the standards, knowledge prereqs, possible textbook alignment and everything you need to complete the lesson from worksheets to the applet to  suggested followup.

I love the way the lesson plans are arranged so I just have to follow them. They have an introduction, the lesson, guided practice, independent practice and closure.  Everything I need.  There are units where I do not have the time to create my own lessons and these will provide me with some great material to use in the classroom.

In addition, you can sort lessons by math class such as algebra, geometry, calculus, number and operations, etc so I can look for lessons for specific classes or topics.  Yeah.  more resources that work on the iPad.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Fieldtested WileD Math

 Although, I reviewed WileD Math before, today is the first chance I've had to try it.  I had both my Algebra I and Pre-Algebra classes try it out because the app can be used by several different levels of Math.

I had my Pre-Algebra class try the Order of Operations and honestly, they struggled with it.  The problems were much more complex than most students who are struggling can handle.  I think there are other apps that would be easier for my students to use until they can handle problems with 5 to 7 terms.

On the other hand, my Algebra I class loved this app.  I had them do solving one step equations.  They loved working their problems out on the "chalkboard" before entering their answers.  It is nice in that they get immediate feedback.  It only tells them if they are right or wrong, not how to do it properly.  It does give a percentage of how well they did.  In other words, it gives the number  right/ number attempted. 

In addition each player is awarded a point for each correct answer.  Once they've accumulated a few points, they return to the main page and choose one of 5 games to play.  The games require either 3 or 4 points or credits to play.

At the end of the class, a few students were reluctant to put the iPads away.  They want to play with this app again as soon as I can arrange it.  Overall, they gave it thumbs up!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Math Clocks Part 2

My students are just finishing up their math clocks.  I've selected 4 to share with you.  This was very hard for them because most of the students are classified ELL and this activity required higher level thinking skills.  I put the requirements:
1.  You cannot use all addition, subtraction, multiplication or division.
2.  You cannot use all square roots.
3.  You must use some variables.
4.  Think creatively.

So here are a few I'm sharing.
From the class clown

A basketball player

Runner and Basketball Player

New Kid
I just wanted to  you some of the great results with everyone.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

One More Book

School, Book, Science, Physics, NuclearI stumbled across The Algebra Teacher's Guide to Reteaching Essential Concepts and Skills by Judith A. Muschla, Gary Robert Muschla and Erin Muschla.  It has 150 mini-lessons for correcting common mistakes.

Although it is designed to correct common mistakes, I like the lessons as an introduction to the topic or as a homework assignment. There are teaching notes for each topic but I like the worksheets because there is a small set of instructions a student can follow, an example with the math and 8 to 10 problems.  Just enough to do in class.

The number of problems is small enough that the students do not feel overwhelmed.  I used one today on solving two step equations.  One of my students actually read the instructions when she got stuck on a problem.  Understand this is a group of students who hate reading so this was a great start.  I think she liked the instructions because they were short and to the point.  She did not have to sort through a lot of material to find the relevant information.

The teaching notes page has an explanation, suggestions on how to teach the material, a small extra help suggestion and the answers.  Furthermore, every topic has a teaching notes page and at the very back are four pages that identify the common core state standards for mathematics.  Yes.  This way I know what standard I am addressing in class.

I am so glad to have found this book and the other two. 

Monday, September 14, 2015


Chart, Graph, Graphic, Statistics I have been wanting to incorporate infographics into my classroom but could not figure out how to do it until today.  Its often hard to think of ideas that do not have a contrived feel to them.  So I got to thinking about the types of things I've seen on infographics and the answer is something with stats.

1.  Choose your favorite sports star and create an infographic on his/her stats.

2.  Look up information on what people ages 15 to 19, 20 to 30, 30 to 40, 40 to 50 spend their money on.

3.  Look up median house prices in various cities in your state.  What percent buy houses or rent?  how many are first time home buyers vs experienced home buyers?

4.  Find out the top 5 to 10 industries in the state.  Explore how many each employs, the percent, and how much money do they provide in taxes.

5.  How many of each type of car is owned in the state such as Ford, Dodge, etc or pick-ups, SUV's, compact, etc.

6.  Does the state have agriculture?  how much of what is grown, exported or used in the state.

7.  Find a top 10 list and use that.

Tons of choices and some of the infographics could be created from information students usually use to create bar graphs, histograms, etc.

So the next issue is checking out infographic apps for the ipad and websites on the computer to see which works best.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Differentiating Instruction in Algebra I

The second book I found on differentiating instruction is Differentiating Instruction in Algebra I by Kelli Jurek.  This book contains four ready-to-use units covering function and relationships, systems of linear equations, exponent rules and exponential functions and quadratic functions. 

School, Teacher, MathsEach unit has vocabulary, unit objectives, an overview and everything you need to teach the unit. The first unit on functions and relationships has a preassessment, learning target and study guide, a vocabulary choice board, four lessons each with an agenda, and an exit slip.  Lesson four is designed to tie it all together and assess knowledge. 

This is awesome because it lays out the lessons in a wonderful style and I can use it to create other units in various classes.  As I've stated before, I am not very good at creating differentiated units without having examples in front of me.  This book does a great job of providing guidance. 

I already plan to utilize this book for Algebra I and Algebra II when I cover this material.  The other nice thing about the book besides aligning with common core standards, is that many of the assignments are set up so the student does x number in part one, has some choice in part two and total choice in doing any problems in part three. 

I found one other book that has great problems for the first day of introduced material and for homework.  I'll talk about that in a few days.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Differentiation That Really Works - Math

People, Child, School, GeniusI just purchased Differentiation That Really Works - Math by Cheryll M. Adams, PhD, and Rebecca L. Pierce, Phd.  I have been interested in differentiating my classroom but its hard to find the concrete examples I need.  This book has a variety of examples from Pre-algebra all the way up to Calculus and the examples are from real teachers who use these in the classroom.

The book has a short introduction and then its into the meat of the material.  The chapters cover exit cards, choice boards, cubing, graphic organizers, learning contracts and tiered lessons.  Each chapter has a template and  tons of examples.   For instance, I've always wanted to use exit tickets but I come up with ones that do not do much more than "What did you learn today?" or "Is there anything you still do not understand?"  Usually, I've gotten "I don't know" or they copy everything from their notes.  Neither answer gives me much to go on. 

The cubing is something new for me.  You design a dice cube with math things on it and the students play with it doing what the cube states when it finishes rolling.  The examples give me so much to work with and I can even see how to adjust some of the cubes to meet the needs of my students.  I am wondering if I could set a cube up on my Smartboard to do a whole class activity.

Even the learning contracts have some great examples that might be worth implementing with my students who are less motivated.  It might just provide that little push they need to start working harder.  I will be spending the weekend looking for ways to implement these ideas into my classroom so I am able to offer differentiated instruction.

I found a second book on differentiation that goes hand in hand with this.  I  will review it tomorrow.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Pandalgebra App

Every two or three weeks, I surf the iTunes store looking for new apps that I can use in my math classroom.  Yesterday, I found Pandalgebra which is both free and is challenging in two ways.

First it requires the student to solve an equation and then direct the small panda by tilting the iPad so it lands on the correct answer.  Fortunately, it does not happen all at once. 

The first thing the app does is to allow the player to choose the level of problems they want to work with.  Easy, medium or hard.  Once the level is chosen, the first problem flashes on so the player can take a minute to solve it before tapping the screen to bring four possible answers up.  The player then tilts the iPad to help the panda land on the correct answer.  Every time the player gets the panda on the wrong answer, the number of points decreases until they receive zero. 

 I have found that the panda does not always go the direction I was trying for and it took me a few tries to get the correct answer.  I actually had fun playing it and I could spend a full evening just on this app.

I had one of my students try it after school today and he liked it.  He said it was pretty good and he is one of my lower performing students.   So this app is worth trying in my classroom.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Math Clocks

Time, Time Indicating, Agreement, DateWednesday is my usual word problem day. Since the classes are about 15 minutes shorter,  I try to focus on helping students learn to solve word problems using a methodical process.  Last week, we began an activity out the a NCTM publication on mathematical clocks.

Problem 2 required the students to create their own mathematical clock.  I passed out the paper with a circle drawn on it so students could start creating their own clock.  I did have to put parameters on what they could use as equations, otherwise I would have had students filling their clocks with things like 0 + 1, 1 + 1, 1 + 2, etc. or the square root of 1, 4, 9, etc or even 1 * 1, 1*2, etc.

I had to use these parameters because many of my students are lazy and take the easiest way out.   By the end of the period, after a bunch of complaining, my students were actually producing some decent equations.

This is an example of one I put together using Sketchbook Express on my computer.  I have two drawing programs on the ipad I plan to  have my students use to produce a final product after they get all the equations worked out.

I like this activity because it makes the students slow down and really think about what makes an equation that will produce a specific result.  Several students wrote equations that produced 1/3 instead of 3  or 27 instead of 3.  I think I'll put this activity in my file of repeat activities.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Teaching Integers

Number, 3D, Rainbow, Gradient, BrightMy Pre-algebra students have had trouble with adding and subtracting integers.  They either add the numbers together or subtract them regardless of the signs.  I've been trying to have them slow down to determine if the signs are the same or different. 

They don't want to use a number line, chips or any other manipulatives so out of desperation, I tried something new which helped several of them.

Starter, Career, Start Block, NumbersI laid several pieces of masking tape across the floor, marked them like a number line with zero in the middle, negative numbers to the left and positive numbers to the right.  After dividing the students up into groups and assigning each group to a number line, I had them physically move around the number line to solve a series of problems.

For example, for 4 - 5, one student stood on positive 4 and then walked to the left five places to get to -1.  They took turns doing this.  I allowed about 10 minutes for this activity.

What was great is that at the end of it, many of the students were able to do the calculations much more accurately than before.  They were much better at showing they could add signed numbers.  I am so thrilled to have this breakthrough happen for both them and myself.  Yeah!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


Today, I had a 5th or 6th grader spend some time in my room today. One of his problems required him to use a place holder and he did not recognize it was needed.  He totally omitted it.  I recreated the problem the way he solved it.

 I looked at his work and realized that he did not see the  way the digits were lined up.  this meant he didn't realize he had to look at dividing the 12 into the 3.  He got frustrated at this point because he knew some thing was wrong.  I have noticed that many students, even those in high school, do the same thing.  After some thought, I came up with a solution. It can be done on paper or on an ipad.

If a student uses paper, they can use graph paper to line up columns or they can draw dotted lines in as on the drawing on the right.  The lines help students keep track of the digits.  If its on an ipad, they can use an app such as gloss or take a screen shot of a problem and use an annotating program to draw in lines and do the work.

If anyone else has suggestions that would help students remember to use a zero as a place holders, please feel free to share.  I find this is a big problem with the students who struggle in math.  So please share.

Monday, September 7, 2015

6 Websites with Sports Math.

Runner, Race, Competition, FemaleIts the time of year, where sports are starting to kick in and rule some kids lives.  Just think of the perfect opportunity math teachers have to utilize results and perform some mathematical analysis in class.   At my school, it is time for crosscountry running.

It won't be long before wrestling and volleyball are in full swing.  By January, it will be basketball season and kids will be fully involved in play.

I heard too often that math is boring, its irrelevant, or they can't do it.  Obviously, it is important to integrate math that is relevant to their lives.  Since many students are involved in sports, I needed to find some websites with sports math on them.

1.   Sidwell has a nice sports math site with math problems on seven different types of sports from basketball and baseball to swimming and Olympics.   Many of the problems are simple but if you have students who have difficulty doing word problems, they should be able to do these.  This site is set up for students to submit their answers on line.

2.  Freemathhelp  has four mini lessons on finding batting average, earned run average, field goal percentage and on base percentage.  These mini lessons provide a start with an explanation.  it wouldn't take much to make a worksheet for students to look up their favorite players to dine their averages.

3.  Mathgoodies has several math and sports webquests students can do themselves.  The questions and instructions are there for students to follow.  In addition, the websites used are listed at the bottom along with all other recources.

4.  David Bernstein has a nice blog entry on sports math. The scenarios look at possibilities along with links to dailymathproblem which has the original problems.

5.  The math warehouse folks have some great articles connecting sports with math.

6.  Sports Math from the University of Cambridge has great  math units  complete with videos available to integrate into the classroom. It was designed to accompany the 2012 Olympics.  It comes with a free magazine, lessons for everyone from kindergarten up to high school and the appropriate videos to help set up things.

These are just six of the many online resources for conducting a sports unit of math.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Legos in Math.

Lego, Build, Building Blocks, ToysWhile researching using manipulatives in high school math, I discovered a great article from Scholatic on using legos in the math classroom.  The author states that when you first put out the legos, students will want to play, let them.  Its always worth letting students check out the manipulatives or apps.

Many of the lessons, the author designed deal with part of a whole, multiplication and division, equivalent fractions, and my favorite - mean, median, mode, and range.

Each activity is well described, has lots of pictures and comes with already made worksheets that can be downloaded for immediate use.  I grew up with legos being a toy, not as an educational activity.  Who knew.  So after reading this article, I did a search for more idea using legos in math and found the following.

1. love2learn2day has a lovely lesson using legos to help teach symmetry.  It wouldn't take much to extend this to teach transformations.

2. Math with Legos by Lee De Cola has some lovely representations for sin, cos, radii, pi, bar graphs etc. 

Legos are actually fairly easy to get second hand at garage sales.  You don't need complete sets.  You just need enough of the various sizes and colors to accomplish the activity.  Unfortunately, there is more information out on Legos Robotics (which are great), not on their direct use in math as manipulatives. 

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Geometry Lab Book

Geometry, Nothing, Color, BackgroundThanks to Josh Fisher for this lead.  I read a blog entry by Henry Picciotto and decided to explore the rest of his site.  He offers so much including a nice new way to show functions and a free geometry lab book with 78 activities that can be used in middle school and high school.

The book is 266 pages long with 11 chapters on everything from angles to polynomials to area and perimeter. It is designed to use pattern blocks, geoboards and other manipulatives you might have around the classroom.  I have some pattern blocks in my classroom and the first activity on angles uses them.  Yeah!

My expertise is in integrating technology, not manipulatives.  If the manipulative is via an app or a website, I know how to use it effectively but it does not have the same kinesthetic feel as the real item.

School, Teacher, MathsI am glad to have a book  that was designed for use in the upper levels.  I am a firm believer in using manipulatives but they did not train us in anything other than lecturing when I went through my teachers education program.  If I had trained in elementary school, I'd have known how to use manipulatives but I didn't. So I am always on the lookout for material like this.

Thank you Henry for this wonderful book.

Reality Math

Basketball, Ball, Sports, Orange, RoundI was checking for sports units to integrate into my math classes when I stumbled across the Reality Math web site located at the University of North Carolina.  This site has units designed for college students to embed in a variety of subjects in a real way.

The units cover the application of math in sports, energy, environmental science, finance, health and misc.   I took a look at the misc group and some of them are cool.  The topics range from exercise and nutritional labels to firearm deaths to voting.  Yes a wide variety of topics but topics that might stop students from asking the question "When will I ever use this?"

Credit Card, Master Card, Visa CardIt appears each unit has everything you need including some excellent explanations, tables, etc so students do not need to go anywhere else to find extra materials.  In addition, each unit includes links to where the information was obtained.  

I pulled up the unit on credit cards.  The activity starts with information on how having a good credit rating reduces the rate charged for a mortgage.  The reason for starting this way is to show students how you can establish good credit using credit cards.

The unit goes on to explore finance charges, late charges, credit limit and fixed rate limits, student credit card rates, the minimum payment trap and the multiple card trap.  Throughout the unit, students calculate the costs of various scenarios.  In the process, students are exposed to all the facets of owning a credit card.  This is awesome.

Every unit I looked at was complete and detailed.  In addition, I felt like the examples were so much more real and did not have a contrived feel that many units I've run into have.  I can hardly wait to try these units with my students.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Multiple flowers

After I finished my entry on factor trees, I wondered if there was some other mathematical topic I could integrate with art.  It took a while but suddenly a flower flashed into my mind with a number in the center and multiplse around the edges.

Again this was produced on a drawing application on my computer.  I wanted to put something in each petal to indicate the number of times 5 was multiplied but I couldn't figure it out.

Perhaps students could create the flowers to help them identify the lowest common multiple when finding common denominators.  Ohhhh, they could create a set of flowers for the most common numbers to keep in their binders as a resource if they have trouble remembering their multiplication tables.

Too many of my pre-algebra students struggle when asked to find LCM's while working with fractions.  I think I'll spend a day or two having them create flowers when its time to do LCM's for fractions.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Factor Trees

I would like to thank both Josh Fisher and Mr Gregg at the Pinkmathematics blog site which gave me a new way of creating factoring trees.  The idea is that you create a real tree with branches and flowers with the factors.
what you see above is my attempt using a drawing program on my computer.  I forgot to bring home my drawing pencils.  I like the idea because it integrates art work and mathematics into one activity.
This is my second try on creating a factoring tree.  Its better but with a real pen and paper and some time, I bet I could produce some great work.  I think it might also appeal to the more artistic students I have who would rather draw than do the actual math.  I plan to try this in my pre-algebra class because those students need a bit more motivation to learn and this might just appeal to them. 
I love new ideas.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


Gears, Head, Silhouette, Profile, FaceYesterday was the first time I ran across a video website with cute videos created for the everyday teenager with an equally cute name.  In addition to math videos, Shmoop has videos for most other subjects such as English, Social Studies, etc.  I showed a short video on relations and functions in class.  When it was done, my students actually talked about it rather than remaining quiet.  Awesome.

The story behind the relations and functions video was a kid went to the functions dance and had to learn to do the correct movements.  He was trying to dance to YMCA but could only do the Y and the M because they are functions while the C and A are relations.  There were a couple chaperones off to the side, playing games on their mobile devices.  I can hardly wait to see the next video for my enjoyment today.

What I like best about these videos is that they are short and to the point with cute little bits interspersed throughout.  There are 44 different videos on functions so I have a wide selection to choose from.  I plan to show  6 videos over the next few days to my Algebra I and Algebra II classes to help them with the material.

Yesterday, I had a student who asked me why I showed so many videos. I explained that it was best to share the material in as many different ways as I can so they have more ways to learn.  I am glad to have another video site I can access.