Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The One With Blokus

I attended a workshop today on enhancing my current lesson plans in math with the new common core standards. At one point during this workshop we played the board game Blokus and talked about ways to use this in our classroom.

I had never played this game until today, but let me tell you I'm in love with this game. I want it for my own personal use as well as my classroom.

It is a strategy game. One that will make you think. It requires a bit of problem-solving skills.

This game is designed for four players. Each player has 21 game pieces. Each person's first game piece has to be placed in his or her corner. You then take turns playing a new piece each turn. Your pieces cannot touch sides, vertices only. Right there is some Math vocabulary. The goal is to be the first person to use all your pieces...if you can do that. GOOD LUCK!

When you get to the point where no one can play, you tally up your score. Each unit square is worth -1. The person with the highest score wins. There are also a couple of ways to earn some bonus point.

We received a handout for the students to work on after they've had a chance to play the game. This handout covers several concepts: integers, percents, ordering numbers, and several more.

A couple of questions that are on the handout...

* For your color game piece only, what percent of game pieces were you not able to play? How did you figure the percent?

* What is the ratio of all unused game pieces to all used game pieces for your group? Put that in a sentence.

* Compare your score with the scores of your team mates. Place these numbers on the number line below:

*What is the distance between the lowest and highest scores? Justify your answer.

The game can also be used for symmetry, transformations, rotation, etc...

 I can't take credit for because I received at a workshop. I believe she got it from a magazine. You can download this activity for free in my TPT store.

Have you ever played this game? Have you used it in your classroom? How have you used it?

Friday, September 23, 2011

The One With The Hug

I teach 7th grade Math. To say that my class isn't the most coveted place to be would be a huge understatement. I always hated math as a student so I try to make it as fun and enjoyable as math can be.

With that being said I had a rough meeting with a parent earlier this week. I was told that my teaching style is all wrong for her child.

Though I'm not naive enough to believe that every student and parent will love me, I am a pretty well liked teacher. Students enjoy my class and that is part of the reason I love teaching. It's never easy to hear when a student or parent doesn't feel that way.

After my rough day I had several people praying for me. God definitely answered those prayers. Thursday I had a moment that every teacher dreams of having.

I have a student who really struggles with math. He has to participate in remediation every year because of benchmark scores. He typically has a bad attitude because math just doesn't come easy to him. He never seems to be on task and I feel like I'm constantly asking him to get busy.

Thursday it was like he was a totally different kid. The students were doing some practice on adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing integers. WITHOUT CALCULATORS! They thought I was the meanest teacher EVER! Long division with only pencil and paper! How dare I?!?

This student worked so hard and was on task the entire 55 minutes. He asked for help occasionally, but never once whined or made statements like "I can't do this." He doesn't know his multiplication facts so instead of multiplying 35 by 6, he was adding 35 six times. He wasn't taking any shortcuts. He did every problem the longest way possible and still managed to have a great attitude.

It was one of those moments when as a teacher I wanted to cry because I was so proud. A few minutes before the end of class I told him to go to the office and pick out a candy bar. I was treating him because of his hard work.

When the bell rang, he gave me a big hug and thanked me for helping him and the candy bar. WOW!! That is why I teach! It made the rotten days previous to this one all melted away.

I love for moments like that! I emailed his dad to brag on him. That's the kind of emails I enjoy sending.

Thanks to all those who prayed for me.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The One With TPT

I did it. I finally opened a store at TPT. It seems a little weird to think that someone might pay for something that I made. But you all have been so kind in showing interested to the things I have shared here on the blog.

So far the only things in the store are the Ordering Integers and M&M Observations that I posted about previously. Hopefully as the school year goes on my store will grow.

We shall see. If you would like to visit the store click here.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The One With the Reading War

Have you seen one of those bulletin boards with a map of the United States that says "Reading Will Take You Places"? Maybe you have even had one in your room. I have one in my room for the first time this year.

Our school is all about encouraging literacy. At first thought I would just put the bulletin board up in my room and be done with it. The idea grew from there. Students tend to be motivated by competition. I decided to declare war on the 8th grade.

We are having a competition to see which grade can read a book from all fifty states first. It is going really well. Our students are constantly coming to me and letting me know where their book took place.

It's great!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The One With The Ordered Integers

This is only my second year to teach math, a subject that I would dare say is my weakest area. I learned a lot last year and am still learning this year.

So when I come up with something all on my own for math, I'm pretty proud of myself.

This idea hit me last night as I was planning at the last minute before I went to bed. Anyone else do that?

We started comparing and ordering integers Friday. The students did a quick six problem assignment at the end of class. That assignment showed me they were struggling with ordering negative numbers.

I knew I needed to hit that again today before we could start ordering decimals, fractions, and mixed numbers. I wanted something hands-on. I hate the typical paper and pencil stuff. Sure it has its place, but if I can make it hands-on and a little more entertaining, that's what I prefer.

I made a cut & paste worksheet last night. It has six sets of integers. Students had to cut them out and glue them on a second sheet of paper in order from least to greatest. Easy enough.

They seem to really grasp the idea today. We worked on a number line before this cutting & pasting. I think that really helped.

I really thought this would be a twenty minute activity that we could do as a review before moving on. Nope! I had no idea 7th graders would struggle so much with cutting and pasting. I guess struggle is the right word. They were just slow! It ended up taking all class period in three out of my four math classes. But hey, if the got the concept I'm okay with it.

I'm thinking I might start a store on, but until then it's free for whoever would like a copy. Just leave me a comment if you are interested and I email you.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The One With The Five Minute Game

Several years ago I heard about this game at a workshop. I've kept it tucked away in the back of my brain and have used it a few times. My math classes played it yesterday so I thought I would share it with you.

Though I'm not 100% sure, I think the game is called Round Table. That is what I remember, but like I said, I learned about it several years ago. I have desk this year instead of tables, so we called it Straight Line. Original right? The kids thought it was funny.

This game can be played with any subject matter. I've played it in history before as well. Each row or table is a team. The only materials you need are a piece of paper, pencil for each student, and a stopwatch or clock with a second hand. The paper starts with the person at the front of the row. You present the teams with a question that has several answers. For example, yesterday they had to list multiples of 6. The first person writes down an answer and then passes it to the person behind him. They do this until it gets to the last person in the row. This is where I thought having rows was more fun than tables. The last person then runs it back to the first person.

Don't worry I had them put all their stuff at the front of the room so that aisles were clear.

The rules:
*No talking.
*No heping each other.
*You must write an answer before you can pass to the next person.
*You cannot change some one's answer.

The team with the most correct answers at the end of the set time (I usually give them one minute) is the winner.

Like I said, this game can be played with any subject. Here are a few more ideas off the top of my head.

Math: Multiples, Factors, Two #s that have a sum or difference of ?

Science: Elements from the periodic table, Bones, Muscles, Organs

English: Adverbs, Nouns, Pronouns, Adjectives, Prepositions

History: States, Capitals, Presidents

The ideas really are endless. It's great for the first or last few minutes of class. I would love to hear other questions that can be used in this game.