Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Amazing Math Race

I always have a six weeks project.  Four years ago, I was thinking of what project I could do for the fifth six weeks.  I had shown a few clips for CBS' Amazing Race during the year.  Of course these clips held mathematical content.  The class said it would be fun to do an Amazing Race, so the project was created.

The race has five questions with five events/obstacles.  It even has a detour and a roadblock.    The race features one question from the five categories:

Pythagorean Theorem

We go outside during the class and they perform my race (in groups of 3-4).  They have a blast!  They are answering math questions, being outside, and performing tasks.  They don't even look at is as being work.

Only one member can use his/her legs to go to the question.

Blowing bubbles

Measuring diameter

Pythagorean Theorem
I allow each group to have:
dry erase board with a marker
formula chart

Once they solve the question, they bring me the answer on the board.  I must be able to see the work, and the label (if any) must be correct.  I have flags set up for each question.  They must go to that flag to work or rework the problem.  Once they are correct, they get to complete the event.  It always goes very smoothly, and the competitive nature comes out.

I have each question printed on cardstock and laminated.  I have used the same questions since I started this four years ago!  I have enough questions for each group.  For my race, here are the items you will need in addition to the questions.
dowel rods, string and tape measure
hula hoops and measuring stick

Event flags (laminated and hot glued)

bubbles and bubble gum

After they complete my race, I give them the information sheet they need in order to create their own race.  They may work in groups of 3-4.  They must have five questions and five events.  It takes about two days to make it through all the groups. By the time we are done, the kids have answered 30-42 questions.  It is great, and we get to spend some time outside!

Here is the criteria:

The objectives of this project are to:
(1) help students better understand mathematical concepts and formulas by applying them in a fun and dramatic setting
(2) integrate math with competition and kinesthetics, 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

The obstacle course must:

have 5 events and questions

feature the following mathematical concepts

  • Measurement
  • Probability/Statistics
  • Percent
  • Pythagorean Theorem
  • Proportions

feature the following obstacles

  • Road Block: A task in which only one team member can complete
  • Detour: A choice between two tasks, relating to the same concept
  • be contained to the “race area” and able to be performed

The questions must:

  • Be written one per page (enough pages for each group)
  • Have a solution provided to your teacher
  • Feature the mathematical concepts listed above

Here are some pictures from student created races.

If you would like the complete race, you can get it at my store.

The kids will enjoy it, and they are learning!

Happy racing!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Teacher Appreciation

Testing is OVER!!!  Well, we have two weeks until some of our 8th graders test again, but for the most part, we are done!!!

I must say that I am very proud of our 8th grade math students.  88% passed the STAAR math on the first try.  We will see in a few weeks how the other grades did.

I always try and do a little something for my math teachers for the test day.  I came up with this.

I got a little bottle of hand sanitizer from Bath and Body Works.  I picked out the Apple Blossoms scent.
I used my cricut and cut out an apple.
On the front of the apple I wrote, "SANITYzer".  We all know we need a little bit of sanity, especially during testing time!
I glued the apple to the bottle.
It brought a smile to the teachers, so I was happy!
At the time, Bath and Body Works was having a sale, so each bottle was $1.00.  I already had the paper and the cricut, so the other cost was just a little bit of time.
I made enough for all my math teachers, plus a few extra.

I will be giving one to my son's Kindergarten teacher.  These would make great gifts during Teacher Appreciation Week.  By the way, Teacher Appreciation Week is the week of May 6 - May 10.  As a teacher, I can safely say we love getting little gifts.  Gifts don't need to cost a lot of money, so any thoughtful token is always appreciated!

Happy SANITYzing!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Testing Time oh my!!!

Today was the 8th grade math test for the State of Texas.  I really do not like testing time.  I don't like the kids feeling like one test determines if they have learned or not.  That is just NOT the case.  I have explained to my kids the way I would test them if I were in charge.  The kids liked it, so maybe one day, I can help have a say in how we test our kids.

Our math department always puts together goody bags for our kids.  We are able to pay for these through fundraisers.  The bags include:
peppermint gum
motivational pencil
little note of encouragement

I love seeing the kids put his/her note on the corner of the desk, so they can look at it throughout the test.  It makes the time spent putting the bags together so worth it!

The kids have 4 hours to take the test, and that means 4 hours for teachers to watch and actively monitor.  Nothing can be more boring!  I would rather take the test 50 times as opposed to staring at the kids.

As I was watching the kids, you could start to see the energy running out.  I made up little inspirational notes on a sticky note.  I walked around and put it on the desks.  Many of the kids lined it up right beside the other one. I did this every 30 minutes.  I would alternate between a note and a sticker.  I have a pile of sticker pads I have picked up at Dollar Tree.  You never know when you might need them, and they are only $1.  (Of course, I never think about putting the stickers on papers).  The kids love the stickers!  This sure helped pass the 4 hour watching period, and it made the kids feel good.

Here are two of the desks after the test was over!

Whenever your testing time comes around, remember to tell the kids that one test does not define them.  Let them know that regardless of what this one test says, they have learned so much throughout the year, and one test could not possibly ever measure how much they have learned.

Happy test taking!