Thursday, January 31, 2013

Math Sing-a-longs

For the last few years, I have done a sing-a-long project with my math class.

I give them the option of singing the song live in class, or pre-recording it and bringing in a video.  Most of the videos I receive are the kids standing and dancing to the song they made.  I love it when students go above and beyond the criteria.

This year, I had two really good videos.  They both had great original songs with a great video. The kids have voted in the classroom for the favorite video.  Since I created a class facebook this year, I have put the videos to a vote on there, as well.  I love seeing the parents promote and share the videos on their pages.  This has turned out to be a wholesome, family project with the voting.

Go to my facebook page and check them out:

Video 1:  Click here 
Video 2:  Click here 

Math in action

I am going to give both groups a prize, but the group with the most overall votes will get a special prize.  The next project is a commercial, and I have already heard different students say they were really going to work hard on it!  Cha-Ching!!!  Excited about math..... WooHoo!!!

The objectives of this project are:
(1) help students retain frequently used mathematical procedures by setting them to music/verse
(2) integrate math with music/verse/dance, providing students with the opportunity to utilize both their cognitive and creative abilities
(3) provide a motivational strategy that will encourage an appreciation for mathematics

Students will present an original song/rap and dance.
The song/rap must:
  •  have a catchy title
  • have a music accompaniment that will be played during the presentation 
    • music of any kind can be used (preexisting or your own creation)
    • preexisting songs can be used but the lyrics must be dubbed out
  •      be less than 2 minutes but more than one minute in duration
  •      consist of acceptable lyrics that cover any math topic (approved list)

Happy singing!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Nets of 3D figures

Nets are always a great way to help the students see what the 3D figure looks like.  The most difficult thing for them to grasp is that the base is not always what the figure is sittting on.  With this hands on activity, the kids are able to see the 2D form and then actually fold it into the 3D figure.

I gave the kids 5 nets:

  • rectangular prism
  • Triangular prism
  • Triangular Pyramid
  • Square Pyramid
  • Cylinder

I have copies from an old textbook, but I have found some on the internet that work, as well.
Here is one site:

This year, I had the kids follow these steps:

  1. Sketch the net
  2. Identify the figure
  3. Identify the shape of the base
  4. Calculate the area of each base and face (use the actual net; NOT your sketch)
  5. Measure in cm
  6. Round to the nearest half cm
  7. You may use a calculator
  8. For the cylinder net, the rectangle part does not stay a rectangle; therefore, you cannot use lw for that part. It curves around, so for that part, you use: 2(pi)(r)(h)
  9. Calculate the height of the figure
We made 2d and 3d books, so they include the sketches and the information above in the back of that book.

After writing the above information, I also had the kids do the following to the actual net:
  • Color the base(s) of the figure
  • Cut the net out - Do NOT cut the tabs off
  • Fold the net and create the figure
  • Use GLUE
  • Create a mobile, by taping yarn to each figure

We hung the models from the ceiling.

As I was walking around the room, I would talk to them about what the base was.  Many of them still wanted to say the rectangle was the base of the triangular prism.  After I stood the prism up on the triangle, they were able to see that you could put it on any of the sides.  I hope it helped!

I had the kids in cooperative learning groups.  Phew!  I am worn out from all the same questions.  It is amazing since I:
  • Verbally gave instructions
  • Posted the instructions on the screen
  • Printed out instructions for each group

They don't take the time to READ.  Tomorrow, I have printed off a following directions test.  I cannot handle another day like Friday and today!  It is exhausting to say the same thing over and over.

I want to keep group work with the hands-on activities, so hopefully, the kids will learn better habits.

Here is a FREE copy of the posted and printed instructions I gave the kids.  

Happy net folding!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Let's ALL raise our expectations!

I tried something different this past week at school.  Wednesday - Friday, I had my desks set up for cooperative learning.  We were working on review concepts: area, perimeter, 2d and 3d figures.  I know all of these concepts have been taught to them, but I am once again faced with the question as to HOW our students are taught.  

From the first day of school, I make it clear to my students that I am here to help them, but I will not hold their hands.  When they ask me a question, I expect it to take place AFTER they have pondered the question.  I NEVER accept "I don't know" or "I can't".  The biggest hurdle is teaching the students HOW to ask a question.  

When a student raises his/her hand, I go to them and ask them what they need.  In the beginning, many of them tell me they don't understand the question.  I then proceed with, "Okay. What is YOUR question."  The student will then proceed to read the question to me.  I then ask again, "What is YOUR question."  I tell them that I can read the problem written, but I need to know what they are confused about.  Once we get through that, I continue asking them various questions about the concept.  By the time, I am finished, the student has usually answered the question they had.  I see the lightbulb.  

Now, this concept is not well liked by many of my students. Most of my kids tell me that they have heard how hard I am.  I always take that as a compliment.  This past week, my kids conducted a survey in which they created a question and then had to do different things with the data.  One group asked who the favorite teacher was.  He thought it would hurt my feelings that I had only received a few votes.  I told him that I was not here to be the favorite teacher.  Most students do not like how hard I am and that I have high expectations.  I told him my feelings would be hurt if they said I was the easiest teacher.  I know that when students walk out of my classroom, I have done the best job I can to not only teach them math but provide them with tools they can use anywhere. 

We are NEVER finished in my class.  We have numerous projects going on in and out of the classroom.  The kids are given many opportunities to express and use math in many different ways.  I always see such a difference by the end of the year.  My kids learn many skills, and that is what they should learn in all classes.

As they were working in groups this week, I was shocked as to how many of them had no concept as to what perimeter and area really meant.  Most could tell me what the formula meant, but they had no idea what the concept meant. It just made me realize that not all teachers push the students like they could be pushed.  Self-discovery is a wonderful teaching tool.  I am always there to let the student know if what they discovered is correct, but they figured it out on their own.  That is powerful.  As teachers, we must realize that we need to let the students take control of their learning.  Let them find out the answers on their own, and we are there to offer support and help keep them on the path to learning.  Through life, we will make mistakes, and there are many times in which students arrive at a thought that is not correct.  Through effective questioning, we can easily get them back on the right track.   

Although it has been disheartening to see how unprepared some of these students are in the self-discovery path, it has also been wonderful to see what happens when they finally get it!  I am not saying that every student did not understand these concepts, but many of the students did not. I teach my students as if they were my own child.  I can only hope that my son's teachers push him to his highest potential.  

Imagine how wonderful our schools would be if we all set and kept our high expectations!  It is easy to just go over and tell a student how to find something out, but tomorrow that same student will have the same question.  Many students won't be happy about it at the time, but in a few years, the students will look back and appreciate what was done for them.  Let's give them the best we have, so they can be the best they can be!

Happy High Expectation Setting! 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

2D and 3D Figures Book

With 8th grade, Two-dimensional and Three-dimensional figures are review, so I spend two days going over both topics.  In the past, I have done the normal... take notes in a graphic organizer. This year, I decided to go with a hands on approach.  I created a book in which the kids will review all concepts about 2D and 3D figures.  We have worked on this the past two days, and it has been GREAT!

For this week, I have my desks set up in groups of 4 for cooperative learning.  I have 3 instruction sheets per group. They include:

  • Details of what should be on each page of the book
  • Details  for 2D figures
  • Details for 3D figures

I gave each student 5 pieces of paper that they used to create a booklet.  They also received a set of 2D figures, and on the second day, I gave them the 3D figures.

2D Figures Section:

  • Write the name on the figure
  • Under the figure write:
  • –Congruent sides
  • –Types of Angles
  • –Total # degrees d = 180(n-2) n is the # of sides
  • –Formula for Area
  • –Formula for Perimeter or Circumference

With this section, we spent about 10 minutes with a full class discussion over how to find the congruent sides, classify angles, and calculate the degrees.  We also discussed how to find perimeter when a formula is not given.  I gave everyone a formula chart, so they were able to refer to that for the area calculations.  We talked about how to find the area of pentagons, hexagons, etc.  With an illustration on the SMARTboard, the kids were able to see how to find these.  Complex figures can be tricky!!!

It nevers fails to amaze me that although these kids are in 8th grade, some of them have forgotten some if not all these facts.

3D Figures Section:

  • Cut the figure out and tape one side to the paper.
  • Write the name on the figure.
  • Under the figure, write:
  • •Name of base (all have a base except one)
  • •Number of edges (if any)
  • •Number of vertices (if any)
  • •Shape and number of

With this section we spent about 5 minutes with a full class discussion over the difference between prisms and pyramids.  We discussed that the base is not always what the figure is sitting on.

Throughout both days, I walked around the room talking with each group. I told them to raise their hand before they shaded in the bases to make sure they were correct.

Of course, since the first day of school, I have talked to them about how to ask a question.  NEVER just say, "how do I do this" or "I don't know".  Once they begin with what they do know and what they think they should do, I am there to ask them questions which helps them arrive at the answer.  When they find the answer, it always provides for better understanding.

Tomorrow, we are reviewing over nets, so they will be adding in measurements and characteristics on the last few pages of their book.

Over the next few weeks, we will go over Volume and Surface Area, so I have a 3d figures part 2.  In this section, we will go back and add the formulas for each figure.

I am very pleased with how this turned out!  I am glad that I turned this into a hands-on activity.

Go to my store to get the full activity complete with figures!

Happy Figure Reviewing!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

All About Circles

I created this activity my first year teaching.  It has been one that I have shelved for the last few years, but I am dusting it off and bringing it back.  I even made a few changes.

In class this week, I am really hitting the cooperative learning aspect.  I have arranged my desks in groups of 4, so the entire class period will be spent with a group.  I hope they will be able to take away that group work is not about one person doing the work.  It is about being there to help someone else out.

With 8th grade, we do a quick review over 2d figures.  With this, I include a review over circles. With each group of desks, I have placed these items in a storage box:

  • scissors
  • bottle of glue
  • roll of tape
  • crayons or map colors
  • ruler

Each group will have an information sheet (one for the group), that details the parts of a circle.  They will each use a paper plate to create the same circle.  Each person will be responsible for his/her own circle.  Here are the materials:

  • paper plate
  • plastic straws
  • yarn 
  • glitter
I will manage these supplies and distribute as needed.  I don't like to waste, so these kids will learn how to recyle the left over glitter!

The students will follow these steps:

  • Outline the smaller circle within the plate
  • Use glitter to illustrate each radius (there are three)
  • Use a straw to illustrate the diameter
  • Use yarn to illustrate the chords
  • Shade each central angle one color
  • Shade the inscribed angle one color
  • Label the points

Of course, the diameter will have a straw, glitter and yarn.  In my example, I have them placed on top of each other to show each one.  On the back of the plate, they will create a key.  We will hang a few of them from the ceiling.  On Thursday, they will create a 3d mobile, as well, so my ceiling is about to leak geometry!

Go to my Store for the FREE downloadable activity.

I think the kids will enjoy the hands on activity, and I believe the parts of a circle will sink in a little more than if they just wrote it on paper.

They will also be modeling solids with blocks and beginning the 2d/3d book (I will post this tomorrow).  They are going to be busy little cubs tomorrow, but I find many of them work much better knowing they have a lot to do.

Happy circling!!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Cootie Catchers AKA fortune Tellers

How many of you remember making cootie catchers or fortune tellers as a kid?  I remember making a ton of them!  I decided to bring the concept into my classroom.

Identifying which equation could be used to solve a problem is a weak area.  In today's lesson, I had the kids answer 10 multiple choice problems out of Motivation Math.  All of the problems I selected asked them to find which equation could be used to solve the problem.  Here is what I had them do:

  • Read the problem
  • Analyze the problem (find the facts)
  • Solve the problem
  • Write the equation (the solution to the problem) 
  • If necessary, use a calculator and determine if the equation selected is reasonable.
  • Create another problem in which the same equations would need to be used.

The last part created a lot of discussion with many of the kids.  We went through this example as a class.
I can make $8 per hour babysitting.  If I work15 hours, which equation could be used to find t, the total amount of money earned?
a.  t = 15/8
b.  t = 8(15)
c.  t = 8/15
d.  t = 8+15
We agreed that equation b is what we would need.  I told them that they needed to create a brand new problem in which the equation, t = 8(15) would be used.  We came up with this.
There are 8 students in the class.  Each student has 15 pencils.  How many pencils are there in all?  Once we did this, a lightbulb went off for many of them.

Okay, now here is where the cootie catchers come into play.  I gave all the kids a white piece of paper in which I trimmed off the excess to make it a square (a big paper cutter is a time saver for this).
Here are the steps to make it:

  • Fold the paper and create a diagonal.
  • Unfold
  • Fold the paper again and create the other diagonal.
  • Unfold
  • Take each corner and fold it where the end meets the center of the paper.  Do this for all four corners.
  • Turn the paper over.
  • Take each corner and fold it where the end meets the center of the paper.  Do this for all four corners.
  • On the side with the squares, we put colors.  Some of the kids got creative and used highlighters, etc.
  • On each of the 8 triangles, we wrote the page number and problem to one of the problems I had assigned.  I assigned 10, so they chose 8.
  • Under the problem number flap, the kids wrote the equation they believe can be used to solve the problem.

We will finish this assignment up tomorrow.  I will have the kids go around the room with the cootie catcher they created, and they will play the game.  They will get to see if the equation they selected is the same as the other person.  If it is not, they will have a discussion as to why they selected the equation.
Outside part of the cootie catcher
Page number and problems listed on each triangle

Equation that can be used to solve the problem

The kids were really excited about making these.  Many of them had made them before and could not believe we were doing this in the math class.  They are anxious to go around the room tomorrow and actually play.

I am in the process of making some that can be used for measurement, formulas, etc.  That will be another post!

Happy Cootie Catching!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

FACEing Math

At a math conference two years ago, I came upon the booth FACEing Math.  The concept is to use problems and create a particular face.  Problems are designed for various topics and grade levels.  You give the students a paper with the intial outline of the head and a sheet with the problems.  If the answer is a, then they draw this.  If the answer is b, then they draw that.  There is even a book without problems, so you could design your own.

The kids really enjoy doing these.  I use these in math stations, and I also leave them when a substitute will be there.  A picture of what the finished product should look like, is also included in the book.  The kids are able to look at the correct picture and see where the mistakes (if any) were made.  Although, all of the faces should somewhat resemble the same thing, they are all still different.

We lost our art class this year, so I have tried to incorporate as much drawing, coloring, etc as I can.  Even though I teach 8th grade, the majority of them love to color!  It is fun to watch them try and sketch out some of the aspects.  I show them what my sketches look like, so they don't feel so bad!  An artist I am NOT!!!

Here is an example of what the sheet with the problems looks like.
This student highlighted the choice of the answer she selected.

When I left this for the sub, I only printed the first page.  There should have been two.  I am not really sure what happened there.  If I had printed the other page, all the colors would have been the same.  Since, I left it off, the kids chose what color they wanted to use.

Here are a few of the ones that are hanging up in the hall.
As you can tell, this one was an Egyptian face.

You can find more information about using FACEing math at her website:

I hope you are able to incorporate this into your classroom.  The kids really do enjoy it!

Happy FACEing!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Reindeer Activity

Wow!  The school year is flying by.  Do you dislike early release days?  Those are the most difficult days in which to keep the kids busy and in line!

A few years ago, I came up with this math reindeer activity.  I do this on the early release before Christmas break.  Of course, this project can be used at any time.  This project incorporates a hands-on activity with Pythagorean Theorem, sequences, expressions, and measurement (diameter and length).  I have questions for the kids to answer, but I am really just happy to make it through the day.  I take up the work, but it is one of those things that if they don't finish or if someone is absent, oh well.  

Items Needed:
            2 Popsicle sticks                                        Glue
            2 Pipe cleaners                                          Scissors
            1 sheet black construction paper                Ruler
            1 sheet red construction paper
            1 sheet white paper

Teacher’s Note: 
The jumbo Popsicle sticks allow for a wider faced reindeer, but regular Popsicle sticks work just fine. 
To glue the Popsicle sticks together, hot glue is the fastest way.  Hot glue is also useful when gluing the pipe cleaners to the sticks.  For safety, it is best for the teacher to operate the glue gun.  Remind the students that the reason it is called hot glue is because the glue is hot.  A helpful tool is the eraser on the pencil to push the items down once the hot glue is in place.
A time saver is to have stacks of white, red and black construction paper already cut.  Since the students will only need a small amount of paper, a regular piece of paper can get 8-10 square pieces of paper.
If perfect circles are desired (and time allows), a compass will be needed.  If a compass is not used, approximation is needed; therefore, all circles will be slightly unique.
The back of the information sheet is a great place to answer the questions.
For step 12, the glue, scissors and ruler may or may not be included in the # of items needed.  This may be specified or left to the student’s discretion.
Play some Christmas music to set the tone, and the students are able to leave the room with a great present for a loved one!

Reindeer created by a student

You can go to my tpt store for a student information sheet that is ready to be passed out.  

I know Christmas has already come and gone, but you can make a reindeer any time of the year!!

Happy Reindeer making!