Sunday, 5 March 2017

Celebrating Pi's not just for Math class!

Hi there!

I am here to tell you that I LOVE Pi Day!
Every year March 14 comes around I get a little giddy! I think every math teacher understands.
I always make it my personal mission to make a big deal out of it, and get the kids super excited, days in advance.

Here's a glimpse at how I celebrate Pi day:

Every year Pi day looks a little different. I've celebrated the day simply within my math classes, I've celebrated with my whole team, and I've also organized the day for a whole grade level. I've done small scale and large scale celebrations, and they have always been well worth the organization required. The kids (and teachers) always have a blast!

One misconception I think a lot of teachers have about Pi Day is that it is all about Math...not true! When I first sat down with a colleague of mine, we made sure to integrate our activities within all the core subject areas. This way we were able to convince our team teachers to get on board with us, to make Pi Day an all day celebration! Research a little Pi history, write a funny poem or song about Pi, integrate some Pi Art, the possibilities are endless.

Here's just a few of the activities I do throughout the day.

1. Pi Memorization - I don't think Pi day is complete without a memorization competition. A week in advance I inform students of the competition and provide them with cards with the first 100 or so digits of Pi. I had a student last year blow my class record of 170 digits out of the water, by memorizing 217! My mouth was literally on the floor!

2. Pi Facts - Read interesting facts about Pi to your students throughout the day, or post them around your classroom. If there is time, use these facts to create a short trivia game that students can compete in at the end of the day. 

3. Pi challenges - I do a couple of these throughout the day as quick engagement activities. One activity the kids really enjoy is making a list of all the words they can think of that start with "pi".

4. Pi Centers - Have students work through a series of centers to learn even more about this amazing number.

5. "Pi"e activities - Pi Day wouldn't be complete without some actual pie. Two ideas - pie eating competition, pie throwing auction - enough said!

Want to celebrate Pi Day, but don't have the time to plan it?
Check out my full resource for a fun-filled Pi Day here.

Happy Pi Day to all my fellow Math teachers! Have an ePIc one!

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Introducing the Secondary Mathletes!

Ever notice that the internet is flooded with elementary math ideas, but that finding quality secondary materials is virtually impossible.... LOOK NO FURTHER! I'd love to introduce you to the

Secondary Mathletes! mathlete image 9


Live.Love.Math - Danielle Krantz
Grades 5 - 9
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lindsay perro
Lindsay Perro
Grades 6 - 9
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MissMathDork - Jamie Riggs
Grades 4 - Algebra I
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Nautical Blog Button
Lessons With Coffee - Jameson Ivey
Grades 5 - 8
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4mulaFun - Jennifer Smith-Sloane
Grades 4 - 9
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All Things Algebra - Gina Wilson
Grades 6 - 11
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secondary math workshop
Secondary Math Shop
Grades 8 - 12
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to the square inch
To the Square Inch - Kate Bing Coners
Grades 4 - 9
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Teaching Math By Hart
Grades 5 - 8
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teaching high school math
Teaching High School Math - Jennifer Lamb
Grades 6 - 12
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Hodges Herald - Elizabeth Hodges
Grades 5 - 8
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21st century
21st Century Math Projects - Clint Clark
Grades 6 - 12
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scaffolded science and math
Scaffolded Math and Science - Shana Donohue
Grades 8 - 11
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for the love of teaching math
For the Love of Teaching Math - Andrea Kerr
Grades 6 - 12
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rundes room
Runde's Room - Jennifer Runde
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math station central
Math Stations Central - Adrienne Meldrum
TpT Store  

While you are out looking at some new Mathletes in your grade level (and hopefully adding some great things to your wishlist), what are you looking for in resources? How can we help your further your teaching at the secondary level? We'd love to here from you HERE!

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Bionic Teacher

What happens when hundreds of wonderful TpT sellers decide that a fellow teacher is in need?

A MASSIVE fundraiser happens! That's what!

We call it Teachers Helping Teachers, and it came about after TpT teacher-authors heard the story of Diana Salmon, a New York teacher who lost a leg in a tragic hit and run accident.

Diana is an inspiration to all who know her, sending a message of strength and resilience by returning to the classroom just months after the accident.

Unfortunately, the extensive injuries Diana sustained require an expensive bionic knee for her to be at her dynamic best. This is where Teachers Helping Teachers comes in.

Diana's fundraising store, Bionic Teacher, is now the home of TEN limited edition resource bundles promising HUGE savings to all who purchase one. There is a bundle for everyone, and they all contain the most amazing products from top sellers! Best yet, 100% of the profits go to Diana's fund!

Visit Bionic Teacher, download the freebie for Diana's Story, and take a look at the bundles. You will be happy you did!

I have included my Number Puzzles in the Grade 6-9 Math bundle!

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Reading in Math - Book 3

Here is another book I love to read to my students in math class.

* Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links*

 “One Grain of Rice” by Demi.

The theme of this particular book is best used when teaching about doubling (lower grades) or exponents (higher grades).

Quick Summary – Rani convinces the king to give her 1 grain of rice, and double it every day for 30 days.

            Before reading the story, I pose the following question to the students, “Would you rather receive $1 000 000 today, or receive one penny today and double it every day for 30 days?” I tell the students they only have 10 seconds to decide, and they need to write down their answer and explain why. I usually ask for a show of hands, to see who chose what amount.
         As I begin reading the story, the students don’t make a connection between the question and the story until Rani is presented with a single grain of rice. This is where I stop reading. I then ask them to make some predictions; how many grains of rice do they think Rani will receive on the 30th day and how many grains of rice will Rani have received altogether over the whole 30 days? Again, don’t give them too much time, because I guarantee you some students are going to try and do the math in their heads to figure it out! I ask a few students for their predictions, and they usually vary by quite a lot.
            Before I continue reading, I get my students to draw a 5 x 6 chart and label each box Day 1 – Day 30. I tell them to fill in the chart as I read. Not all the days are mentioned in the story, so I tell them not to worry and we will go back and fill them all in later. Some students will insist on filling it in on their own, but it doesn't take long for them to notice that the numbers get quite big, really fast!

            Once the story is finished there is a chart in the back to help you fill in the missing days. Students are always amazed with how big the number is on the 30th day, but I remind them that we still need to figure out how many grains of rice Rani received in total, over the whole month.
I have them record, under their predictions, the actual amounts. Then ask them if they would change their initial choice of taking the $1 000 000, or the penny doubled, every day for 30 days. Obviously, they will take the penny doubled every day for 30 days, as it is equivalent to $10 737 418.23! The students who chose the penny would get over 10 million, that’s over 10 times more money!
I then tell them to go home and see if they can convince their parents to pay them their allowance that way!

            Interested in incorporating more reading in your math class?  Check out my “Math Stories” Collection.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Reading in Math - Book 2

Here is another great book I read in my Math class.

* Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links*

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein, more specifically the poem, “Smart”.

Ok, so it’s not technically a story but it will still make a great addition to your math lesson.  I love to use this particular poem during out unit on ratios and rates. I usually choose to read this poem to the students after we have worked with ratios for a few days and before I introduce rates

Quick summary -The “smartest” son starts out with 1 dollar, but after making a few trades he ends up with 5 cents. His reasoning – 5 is more than 1. 

            For this activity I read the whole poem aloud to the students. They usually think it is pretty funny, and it doesn't take long for them to figure out the “problem” in the poem. Immediately after reading the poem, I provide each student with their own copy, so that they can read it again on their own and have them reflect on the poem in a quick-write. A “quick-write” is a timed period that students are asked to write their immediate thoughts and feelings about something. The goal is for their pencil to not leave the paper until time is up. I usually provide 2-3 minutes for this particular activity.  Afterwards, we have a discussion about the poem and why the smartest son is not so smart. My favorite answer that a student came up with was, “Maybe he was smart, just not math smart”.

            I tell all the students since they are all much smarter than the smartest son; they need to determine what he should have traded for if he really was the smartest son. I then have the students determine the ratios, rates and unit rates for all of the combinations found in the poem.

            This is such a cute poem, I know yours students will love it!

            Interested in incorporating more reading in your math class?  Check out my “Math Stories” Collection.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Fly on the Math Teacher's Wall - Fractions

Join me and my fellow math bloggers as we squash mathematical misconceptions, while offering you some insightful tips and tricks!

Whenever I tell my students that we will be learning about fractions, it is usually met with a collective groan. Fractions just have a bad rap! Students hear fractions and they think things are going to get tough. 
Those pesky fractions aren't nice to work with like whole numbers...they're part of a whole. What's that about? It has that number on top and a number on the bottom...UGH! Sound familiar? 

While we're being honest, how many of you teachers feel the same way when it comes to teaching fractions? Fractions can definitely be one of those love it or hate it relationships.

So today I would like to share with you a few tips I have for helping my students develop a deeper understanding of fractions and come to the realization that they aren't so bad after all.

I find a very common misconception among teachers is the thinking that fractions should be taught in isolation, i.e. "Now we're going to do a unit on fractions", when this should not be the case. 

Fractions are rational numbers. What else is a rational number? How about decimals and percentages?

What is a fraction? Part of a whole.
What is a decimal? Part of a whole.
What is a percentage? Part of a whole.

They are all different ways of representing the same thing! For this reason, when talking about fractions with your students, decimals and percentages should also be a part of the conversation. When students recognize these connections, a deeper understanding of  numbers will ensue. Once this knowledge is internalized, it will be easier to focus on more specific skills, such as simplifying fractions, multiplying and dividing fractions, etc. 

When I start talking about fractions with my students, I always begin by assessing where they are in terms of connecting the 3 different types of numbers.

We start with a whole class discussion that goes something like this:

"What is a fraction?"
"What is a decimal?"
"How are they the same? How are they different?"
"What is a percentage?"
"How is a percentage similar to a decimal or fraction?"

I would then get them to represent a few different numbers in a variety of ways.

"How many ways can you represent 3/4? Use pictures, numbers and words."
"How many ways can you represent 0.3?"

...and so on...

How does this help? Students begin to use their knowledge of number relationships to make connections and deepen their understanding. A student will come to recognize that 50% is 1/2 because 50 is half of 100. If they know that they will likely realize that 25% is equal to 1/4. These connections will only help them when they begin to work with more difficult fractions in more complex ways.

After our discussion, we begin to talk about converting between the 3 types of numbers. 

I love this anchor chart from Teaching with a Mountain View

I have students follow along with me, as they complete a foldable in their Math scrapbooks.

As a culminating activity, I have students search for real life examples of fractions, decimals, and percentages in magazines, newspaper, etc.

Real life connections = Engagement

Once they find their examples they must explain what the number is representing, as well as convert it to the two other forms.

I have the students complete this in their scrapbooks as well, but it would also make great posters for a bulletin board.
If there is time, have a discussion about why it is sometimes more beneficial to use a decimal instead of a fraction (or other combination) in certain situations. Keep the math dialogue flowing...

I hope you found some useful tips and tricks, Thanks so much for stopping by.

Make sure to head on over to see what Donna has to say about fraction misconceptions over at Math Coach's Corner.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Reading in Math - Book 1

As promised, I wanted to share with you a few activities I do in my classroom that involve reading in Math class.

Today's book is Sir Cumference and the Knights of the Round Table by Cindy Neuschwander.

* Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links*

I LOVE all the Sir Cumference books! If you have yet to check them out, make sure you do! They cover a range of math concepts - mainly geometry, but also a few others.

I think the theme of this particular book is best used as a review of perimeter, and an introduction to circles, but I'm sure it could easily be integrated in more ways.

Quick summary - The king is upset because the rectangular table he uses to discuss matters of great importance with his knights is not very accommodating. He requests that Sir Cumference build a new table that will meet all his needs.

For this activity I only read up to page 7 on the first day. At this point I ask the students to identify the problem Sir Cumference is dealing with, and tell them that they need to help him find a solution. 

I provide each student with 3 pieces of brown construction paper that I have cut into rectangles (5 cm x 20 cm OR 1 x 4) to represent the 5 x 20 wood table from the book. 

They need to cut and paste the paper any way they can think of, to make a new shape that will be better suited to the knights’ discussions.  They are only allowed to use the amount of paper they have for each table (i.e.  no taking from one table to add to another), but they do not necessarily need to use it all. I tell the students that we know how the story will likely end, given the title, so they are not allowed to make a circular table. Their table must have edges that they can measure, to determine the perimeter. If possible, students could also determine the area of their tables.

I have the students complete this activity in their Math Scrapbooks.

Here are just a few tables my students came up with...


Once the students have finished creating their new tables I read the rest of the book (usually the next day/class). After each new shape is revealed I stop to ask how many students created the same one in the activity the previous day. At the end I also invite students to share ones that were not mentioned in the book and the class votes on the most creative table.

Like this activity? You can grab it here.

Interested in reading in Math class, but not sure how to get started? Check out my list of must have books for Grades 1-5, and Grades 6 and up.