Figure Me Out:
Here is a cool math project popular on the Pinterest board. This particular version was shared by “Beyond Traditional Math” and the author praises the activity for its ability to automatically differentiate to fit the level of all students and for its simple way of introducing algebra concepts to younger students. It can be changed to fit all types of operations and pushes students to create the problems they are usually told to solve in order to achieve a real/relevant goal. For more examples and information about this project, click the link below:
Want to kick it up a notch?: turn this activity into a game. Instead of having students describe themselves with numbers, have them describe a ‘mystery’ person of your own invention. You can make 4-5+ different profiles of made up people students can work with, but do not reveal their names. Later on, pose a ‘mystery’ that students will have to solve using a random, student made profile (the ones they created before, nobody should get their own). Once they have solved for the information on their given profile, they can match that information to a list of suspects (your mystery people with their names) to solve the mystery. This activity is more time consuming and requires a little more work to prepare, but it allows students to both create and solve the math problems for extra practice in addition to having a fun ‘theme’. This activity can be done individually, as partners, or in groups and can be changed to reflect real students in the class instead of fake characters. Another variation can have students creating their own mystery people for others to figure out. There are many ways to play around with it, so give it a go!
Here is a fun, easy tool students can use to learn and practice the metric system. This “staircase” walks students up and down the system to help them decide which unit to use or how to convert a given measurement. At the top of each step (not shown here), is the unit abbreviation in addition part of a mnemonic device used to remember the different units of measurements. Starting from the top, they are: King, Henry, Doesn’t, Usually, Drink, Chocolate, Milk. Teachers can also add numbers/equations to the top for additional guidance if necessary. To learn how to make this staircase and for some ideas on how to use it, click the link below:
Want to kick it up a notch?: Ok, so maybe not ‘kicking it up’ so much as expanding our horizons with this project. A tool like this can be used to walk students through a number of math concepts and processes aside from measurements. For example, a similar system can be used to show students how to convert a number from a fraction, to a decimal, to a percentage. Each step would have what kind of number it is and an example at the top (i.e. “Fraction”: 1/2). On the left side, students can write the symbol for the equation leading ‘up’ the stairs and the symbols leading ‘down’ the stairs on the right. This project can also be enlarged so the finished products are poster-sized and can be displayed in the room. This further expands the potential content for these stairs to more general problem solving steps and classroom rules/procedures.
This may look like a simple deck of cards, but it is actually part of a whole system of learning math! This system is karate themed and as students master each level of material, they move up a belt (i.e. White moves to Yellow). Kelly (the creator) hands out belt tags students can wear as they complete each level and students can watch themselves grow on the class bulletin board. This system allows students to work at their own pace and provides a method of differentiation and data collecting. For more examples about how this system is used and access pre-made materials, click the link below: (Disclaimer: Pre-made materials are made and distributed by Kelly Malloy and are not free. FUTD is not partnered with Kelly and does not profit from any sale made as a result of this post. The provided link is connected to Kelly’s blog and not the sale page for materials it advertises)
Want to kick it up a notch?:
This system screams gamification and demonstrates a great way to use it that does not necessarily involve technology. Where the materials and advice Kelly provides are fantastic and well done, it is definitely possible to do this on your own and change up the theme. Looking at the graphics of the material, it would likely be difficult to adapt that exact material to an older group of students. Changing up the theme can be as easy as taking an electronic program like “Class Dojo” or “Classcraft” and expanding the themes they already provide into the physical classroom. Another option is to use the structure Kelly provides but change theme and/or reward system to best fit the interests of your class. I consider these things ‘kicking it up’ because re-theming/restructuring an entire system can be difficult and time consuming. Here are some things to consider when implementing a system like this:
- Level System: How do you move up and what does that mean? Does it make sense with the theme?
- Reward System: What happens when students master a task/reach a new ‘level’? It can be something simple, but how will you make them meaningful? How will rewards reflect the theme?
- Flexible Theme: The theme should be something the teacher is able to incorporate as much or as little as they see fit. It should also be something the teacher is comfortable integrating into multiple types of activities in a way that makes sense.
3 Ways to Tackle Story Problems:
Many students struggle with story problems for various reasons. Kady Dupre has been working to tackle this story problem brain freeze and has shared three pieces of advice to build students’ skill and confidence when tackling these problems. These are: teach a problem solving routine (see pic), differentiating word problems, and compare problems side-by-side. For examples of these methods and advice on how to implement them, click the link below:
The Wonderful Pi:
Here is a wonderful and informative graphic about Pi you can use in your classroom. For the original source, click the link below:
Here is a post by José Vilson about teaching students how to factor polynomials using the area of rectangles/cubes. Vilson praises this method for its ability to help students visualize the math and for introducing a complex topic using concepts students have already learned (calculating area). For a description of how José uses this method and why he believes it works, click the link below:
Coordinate Plane Foldable:
Here is a foldable model of a coordinate plane students can make on paper or in their notebook. This particular figure was made to help students remember the elements of the coordinate plane and when they are looking at positive and negative numbers. Sarah Hagen has written a blog post featuring this foldable as well as many others she has used to create her interactive math journal. For instructions on how to make these foldable a and for more interactive journal ideas, click the link below:
Here is a collection of stories created to help guide students through various math concepts. These stories work like “choose your own path” books, the students’ answers leading them to different parts of the ‘mystery’. If they get an answer wrong, the story will stop them and turn them back. In order to solve the mystery, the students need to have mastered the math skills in the story. Math Mystery creator Hilary Lewis has created a number of mysteries for grades 1-3 that are aligned with CCSS. Each mystery is labeled with a grade level and Hilary provides a list of skills each mystery covers in her product description. To seem Hilary’s blog and connect to Math Mysteries, click the link below: (Disclaimer: Math Mysteries is the property of Hilary Lewis and most of the material is not free. FUTD is not a partner of the creator and does not profit from any sales made as a result of this post.The link provided leads to a personal blog discussing Math Mysteries, not the Math Mysteries purchasing page)
Want to kick it up a notch?
Hilary Lewis does a wonderful job bringing together math and literature in a clever and engaging way. Whether you use her pre-made materials or not, the ‘mystery’ can be expanded to engage all elements of the lesson and classroom. Teachers can theme a unit based on the mystery and each lesson/activity can bring students closer to solving it. For example, the answer to each question on a worksheet could be associated with a letter. When the worksheet is completed correctly, the letters spell out the next clue. This along with other ‘clue finding’ activities can provide a fun and engaging atmosphere over multiple lessons and pushes students to practice their skills (rework to get the correct answers) in a positive way. For collaboration (and maybe competition), students can also work in teams to solve the mystery.
Here is a big sheet with everything math formula. The creator recommends use of this chart from grades 4-8. This sheet can be used as cards or handouts for students or as a poster in your room. It is also easy to crop in order to focus on one particular section. The sheet comes in three different color schemes and can be downloaded for free. To download this useful tool, click the link below:
Math With Legos:
Looking for some hands-on math ideas? Why not use Legos! Erin Bittman has provided this wonderful graphic as well as a plethora of ideas on how to use Legos to create hands-on lessons in your classroom. To see all of Erin’s ideas, click the link below:
Differentiation has become the theme of curriculum for all subjects, including math. Teachers are constantly being pushed to meet the varied needs of their students whether that means providing a challenging curriculum for advanced students or spending extra time with struggling students. Though most teachers would agree that differentiation is extremely beneficial, many struggle with its implementation as traditionally, our classroom structure, expectations, etc. were not created with differentiation in mind. In her classroom, Anna has tried to meet the demands of differentiation through the use of guided math stations. These stations allow students to work their way through math concepts while allowing Anna to spend time with each student to ensure understanding. To see how Anna is using these guided math stations in her classroom, click the link below:
Along with new standards has come a new emphasis on the importance of discussion in math classes. Many math teachers would likely say that they have always found discussion to be important and have tried to implement it with mixed success. However, discussion is a skill that needs to be taught and practiced in order to be a beneficial tool for students. Unlike other academic areas, math does not ‘naturally’ lend itself to discussion (from a student standpoint). So how do we talk about math? What are the skills and understandings students need to have to discuss math successfully? Genia Connell is exploring the educational theory of “Math Talk” and has found interesting ways to implement it in her classroom. In her post, Genia provides a lot of information about “Math Talk” and provides her step-by-step process of introducing and developing “Math Talk” in her classroom (including examples!). To learn about “Math Talk” and learn about Genia’s experience, click the link below:
Melissa Taylor has chosen 23 of her favorite applications that focus on developing and practicing multiplication skills. Melissa has provided a description of each app and has labeled which of the apps she recommends the most. This list contains both free and pay-for applications. To access the full list, click the link below:
Here are some simple tricks you can teach your students to help solve various math problems. Some of these tricks are better than others and may go along with some tricks you already use. Where these may not be exactly how we would like students to solve math problems on paper, they do present a different way for students to approach a math problem. For the list of tricks, click the link below: