Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Connect Four Review Game

This post by Ali at Graphs&Glasses says it all...

Trying to be a "positive teacher" is hard work. We have to constantly try to avoid the negativity around us so we won't get dragged down too. I love teaching and I have a passion for helping my students learn math. So this semester I chose to start eating lunch in my own room just so I can get some #MTBOS motivation to stay positive and stay up to date on the current awesomeness!! 

Today's awesomeness came from a blog by Jon at mrorr-isageek about games in math. I was so inspired after seeing this blog that I came up with my own twist which is now called the Connect Four Game. 

The game is played much like the connect four game you might have played as a child except you don't have to take turns and you don't have to start at the bottom and stack the pieces. So here is a quick summary of how the game is played:

1) Split the class into small groups I had 4 groups of 3 or 4 people working together. 
2) Give each group a review packet with problems 1-100 or number of squares in your table.
3) Explain that students can choose any problem to solve but goal is to get 4 in a row (horizontally or vertically) or to block another group from successfully connecting 4. Explain that students in a group should all be working on different problems so they get more correct questions. If a group gets a question correct they must then circle the number so no one else can earn credit for this question for the remainder of the game.
4) I walked around with a clip board and answer sheet for when students needed answers checked. If they got it correct I said "53 is taken"
5) Point values vary: 1 pt correct questions, 3 pts connect four, 5 pts strategic block
6) If students get more than four in a row they will only get 3 pts for connect four if they have multiples of four in a row otherwise each additional circle only counts as 1 pt. 
7) We determined after playing that a strategic block only occurs when they completely block a team from connecting four. For example 94 is a block but 16 isn't because the blue did get four in a row. This is the only one I'm still questioning... I may change it to a block only occurs when you stop a group after 3 in a row. I may have to keep up with who is doing what or have them tell me when they planned to specifically block a group. What are your thoughts? How would you determine a strategic block? 

So that's pretty much the jist of it. Other than telling you how motivated and enthusiastic my students were while playing this game. I had students running to the board to circle and running back to there seat to start a new problem. I was seriously overjoyed at how this turned out. Esspecially since I took only lunch to create the activity and roll with it. Nice to know it takes little effort to implement. I will say that my really low level students gave up. I think I only had two but still this is frustrating. I think I will choose a very simple review task to include and give like random 5 minute intervals on those problems to increase their motivation to try. As well as explain to the class that those that totally understand should seek harder problems so their teammates have problems they understand how to complete. 

When putting your packet together I would suggest randomizing your problems so not all topics are grouped around same numbers. For example, I was working on systems of equations with graphing, substitution, & elimination but I choose to do sets of 4 and alternate between topic so they were forced to do different types of problems. Also I specifically told them during this 5-10 interval they could only do elimination problems because obviously graphing was the easiest. 

Hope you guys enjoy!! 

To download my connect four board game:

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Truths & Lies Activity

Super excited to share this new activity with you guys. It was inspired by Sarah over at mathequalslove when we discussed some common activities that could be structured around all courses. One of those awesome ideas was the game Truths & Lies which is amazing!! 

I originally came across this idea as an icebreaker that you do on the first day with your students so everyone can get to know each other and get a few laughs.

1) Allie & I were almost licked by a giraffe 
2) I've been ziplining in the mountains
3) I won $1000 on a lottery ticket

Can you guess which one is the lie? 

Wait for it!

Wait for it!

Wait for it!

Eventually I'll tell you...

I promise I will...

Don't cheat...

Which one do you think was the lie???

Our first trip to the zoo was amazing! Thanks to an awesome friend 
who let us come visit over the summer and took us to the zoo. 

Wish I had gotten someone to take the pictures but it was a last minute decision. You know your an exhausted momma and teacher when you would rather take a nap during free time than go zip lining or ride go carts. HAHAHA!! Luckily when I woke up there was still plenty of play time left. This was truly an awesome experience and I hope to do again in the future.

Well I guess you now know I haven't hit it big with the lottery. I'm smart enough to use my money for something that is a sure thing... like new teacher clothes!!

So back to the activity...

Later I came across the idea while looking at twitter or a blog about how someone used this idea in the classroom (honestly, I can’t even remember where – too many great resources). I then decided to use it in my classroom with my geometry unit and congruence shortcuts where students in groups had to create 2 correct examples and 1 wrong example. Then all the other groups had to try to figure out which example was incorrect. It actually worked really great and got them talking. 

After talking with Sarah about some other cool ideas this truths & lies kept coming back into my mind and I really wanted to make another card sort type game but with a little change. The activity below is what I have come up with so far. I have made one for my math 2 class on the sum of the angles in a triangle and one for my math 1 class on systems of equations using elimination. Here is a picture from class. 

I'm also thinking it might be cool to laminate some larger ones and let kids make their own and switch among groups. If I try it out I'll let you know how it goes!

If you would like to download the file you can get them here:
Solving Systems of Equations using Elimination

Do you want to find more resources like these???
Check out my virtual filing cabinet page

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Reflection for 1st 9 weeks of Spring Semester 2017

Let me just say... Is it summer yet??? I don't know about yall but I'm exhausted. I need like a weeks worth of nothing but sleeping in and taking long naps during the afternoon to get maybe just a lit bit of the energy I have lost from all the effort I have put in this semester. Spring Break is in one week thank goodness but being a single mom to a three year old I don't see those much needed naps in my future so I guess I'll just keep drinking my coffee.

So here is a recap of everything you have missed because blogging is unfortantely at the very bottom of my to-do list.

1) I have made TONS of card sorts and I can't wait to share them!! They are like my new favorite thing along with the laminator I bought at the beginning of the school year which is totally worth every penny.

2) I have spent so much time this semester doing more hands on practice and I really miss using my Desmos Activities. So this is a reminder to book the mobile carts and get those students thinking a little deeper. Today I was checking out some of the latest activities designed by the staff at Desmos and I came across a trig graphs activity to teach amplitude and it made me think of how cool it would be to make an activity for shading the domain and range of a function. Super excited to share that activity its pretty awesome even if you use as just a teaching tool for direct instruction.

3) Overall my students are amazing this semester. It's so awesome when you get a group of students who really seem to want to learn and try really hard. I feel like I am really growing in the classroom management area too.

4) This is my second semester doing standards based grading and I love it!! It's so great to be able to look at my master list and know exactly where I need to focus my instruction with each individual student. I have changed a little bit in how they are graded just because I wanted to give them the oppurtunity to continue with any standard even if we were in a new 9 weeks. I'll try to make this a post in the future.

5) I am continuing to build to my supply of classroom instructional posters which has truly made the learning more visual for some of my students. I get so excited when I see my students using the number lines or the perfect squares & cubes posters. I just created a graphing with a calculator and the slope intercept form poster.

6) Started using only schoolnet tests this semester as my assessments and it is amazing. Yes my students tend to bomb the test in the beginning and some standards are much harder than others but I know they are getting more practice in preparing them for the EOC or NC Final exams.

Sorry if this post was on the boring side but I want to keep track of how things are going in my classroom year to year and it has been forever since I blogged so this is more of a brain dump than anything else.