Tuesday, November 20, 2012

#Made4Math - Systems of Equations with 3 variables and 3 equations

It has been a long while since I have blogged. I started in the summer, when I had plenty of free time. I don't know how everyone finds time during the school year. I am posting today because I have the week off and I am planning.

When I was teaching Algebra 2 last year, we hit systems of equations, and I noticed how my students struggled. So when we got to 3 variables, 3 equations, I came up with a "cheat sheet," or a problem already solved, and we worked it together. The students found this very helpful, as they could digest the information without worrying about getting everything written down and not having time to process. This year I am taking it one step further.

Front page of booklet. Students will follow along with this problem.

These two problems will be worked together as a fill in.

I borrowed the booklet idea from @druinok, and I love using it!

Get booklet here.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Beautiful Dance Moves

I know, right? Well, the pic will explain:

When I started teaching, I found myself using my arms - and not for writing on the whiteboard. I started teaching Geometry, but found myself teaching solving equations with the embedded Algebra. I would make my arms look like a teeter totter (see saw) and talk about taking away from one side, what happens when if you don't take away from the other side? We reminisce about playing on one, and inevitably someone departing the teeter totter and us falling on our butts.

It wasn't until I started teaching Algebra 2 that I found myself using my arms to show end behavior. Positive even functions are "Dance" (2 arms up, fingers pointed), negative even functions are "Bernie" (like from Weekend at Bernies-it's a dance my students have taught me recently) and odd functions (positive and negative) are "Disco" (like John Travolta)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Interactive Notebooks - Week 1

I just finished my first week of school using interactive notebooks. I am on a block schedule, so I see students every other day except for one daily class (to split for lunches).

I feel like I am barely treading water. Everything is taking so much longer than normal. I am taking a cue from @mathequalslove and using the frayer model for vocab.


I have the vocab on the LHS, folded for students to use as a study guide. Our school is focusing on vocabulary, so I thought that this would integrate well with our focus. The students like how the model is folded, and that they can study with it.

I start with the "Bell Ringer" (warm up) and go right into vocab. The first day I did this, I gave them the sheet with the models, and students had to cut out the models. This took forever. After school, I found the paper cutter and cut about 100 sheets, and have since made 300 more copies (6 to a page). I still need to cut those. The 2nd day went better, time-wise. However, placement of the vocab was a nightmare. Did I tell them to put the vocab on the LHS? Some students heard it, and others didn't. So on the 2nd day, I made sure to emphasize where the vocab should go.

We didn't take notes the first day. I had them doing some classwork on dry-erase folders (Smart Pals). We went over the answers together. The second day, I used our interactive textbook feature, and had students write down specific problems. Again, confusion as to which problems to write down. I made sure to stress whish side I wanted them to write on (RHS for notes).

Here's my notebook, with just the problems written out. I didn't have a lot of room. I feel like I need a month to prepare exactly how I want my notebook to look, so I am ready to show them how theirs should look.

We did do a foldable as well for this day. We worked on the words of basic math operations. I printed this template and had students fold and cut, and then using color markers, write the words they knew for different operations. I told them that as we find more words, we will continue to add them to this foldable. I didn't have a LHS to put it on, as the vocab took up too much room, so I had them past it on the previous RHS.


We finally got to some practice after this. I did hear a student say how they liked how we were doing hands on stuff (and my blog's name earned it's wings).

My Favorite Friday - The Number Devil

I want to share a book my husband purchased for me back when I was getting my Math Ed degree. It's a quick read, and I would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in math. The story is of a boy who hates math, and is plagued by nightime visits from The Number Devil. Each night, the boy learns something new about math.



 If you like @vihartvihart, you will enjoy this book.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Why I Blog

As part of a new blogger initiative by some people I have recently e-met on Twitter, I am posting to a prompt about blogging; Why I blog.

Here is my very first blog post.

I want to be a better teacher. I want to engage my students. I felt like I was not doing well enough in my classroom, and I was listening to teachers outside of my discipline talking about projects and presentations and wonderful things, and all I could think about was my boring math lessons. I tried to make it interesting. I noticed that when students had things in their hands, they were more interested in what was going on. I was also lucky, as I was teaching Geometry at the time, and I could have lots of manipulatives with shapes, solids, nets, etc.

Now I am teaching Algebra 2. I am trying to figure out how to incorporate more hands on math (hence the name of my blog). Everything I find on the internet is elementary math related. Very frustrating. At what point did we begin thinking that students can't benefit from manipulatives?

So this year, I want to work on my practice. I am starting the year using interactive notebooks. I am using foldables with them. I am adding in vocab, as one of 3 main focuses for my school is vocabulary. And I am looking for hands on ideas. Here is a sample shot from my Algebra 2 interactive notebook. (you may note that there have been edits on the paper-thank you for the pencil and eraser!)

The learning goal will be on the left with the vocab (frayer model foldable courtesy of @mathequalslove)

On the right, I will have notecards printed with the patters. Students will be able to look for the next figure in a pattern by using movement. What I have written will be for notes for students and absent students.

So, if you have any hands on math ideas, please share!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Interactive Notebooks - My Journey

I am embarking on a new journey this school year. Interactive Notebooks.

I have always liked the idea of students creating a book of knowledge that they can take with them to their next math class. I liked the idea that they could go back and refer to their notes, or look over examples of their own work.

I have never been successful in the production, however.

When I started following some wonderful, inspiring people on Twitter, I learnerd about these interactive notebooks. Here is a great post about INB:

Interactive notebooks from @mgolding. Her posts are what started me on this path.

That led me to this blog:

The $1 textbook.html from @ultrarawr. After looking at the pics, I realized I was already doing some of the things in this format.
Interactive Notebook Planning Page from @mathequalslove gave me a great planning sheet for my INB

AND some great ideas to start my own Order of operations-pemdas foldable

I found this wiki after #tmc12 (PD held by teachers for teachers-unfortunatly I was not able to attend)

Interactive Notebooks Like A Pro

This wiki helped me understand the why's of Left Hand Side (LHS) vs. Right Hand Side (RHS) It is important to grasp the idea behind the INB. Here is some great brain research info from the wiki above that helped me understand why it was important to be specific about what items and info goes on the LHS.

Why Use Interactive Student Notebooks as a Form of Brain-Based Teaching

I would recommend taking the  Hemispheric Dominance Quiz quiz to see which side of your brain is more dominant. I plan on having my students take this quiz as well, so they can understand characteristics in their own thinking and learning.

All that being said, here is a rough sketch of my "flow" for my INB.

Here are some of the reasons for my set up:

1 - I hate random loose leaf paper. So I want homework contained - and I don't like sprial notebooks as it lends itself to tearing pages out. I am a comp notebook girl all the way (plus they are so cute)
2 - My school has requirements about Math Routines. We MUST have a warm up (Bell Ringer in our case) and I use it as a review from previous lesson.
3 - I teach in a Title 1 school, and my students don't have access to some basic school supplies. I felt that requiring 2 to 3 comp notebooks for the year wouldn't be too much of a burden on my students' families.

Friday, August 10, 2012

My Favorite Friday - Graph paper

I am piggy-backing off of my post last week on My Favorite Friday. I found this item sometime last year, and I was lucky enough to find it again last week. My students loved using them in their notebooks, too.

Staples makes 3" x 5" graph journals. They come in a 2 pack. They are awesome.

The pages are perforated (I know!!) so you can pass it out and students can just tear out a page.

They work great when you need a graph, but don't have any graph paper cut up,

and students can create their own axies depending on their graph.

These cost $0.50 for a 2 pack at Staples. I bought about 10 of them, and am thinking of clearing them out.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Made4Math Monday - Magnetic Dry Erase Sentence Strips

This Made4 project has been in my head for two weeks, and I am finally able to post completed! I have two white boards in my classroom, and I feel as if I am always looking for more room to write things (I do have 2 magnetic chalkboards, but don't like chalk).

I came across these Wipe Off Sentence Strips last year (Staples maybe?) and didn't really do anything with them. We are required to have a word wall, so towards the end of the year, I was using them for vocabubulary.

Then I found these magnetic strips at Walmart for about $1.

There are 6 strips to a page, and 3 pages. I cut the pages in half.

Then I attached the magnetic strips to the back of the sentence strips.

For my final product, you get to see my fridge. Hubby didn't want to hang around school (I have no idea why, it's only the coolest place to be!)

So, what are my plans for this? Well, here goes:

Thinking Maps - Tree Map
Steps in solving equations
System of Equations
Word Wall
......(any other ideas?)

I had a classroom that had a soft wall (to make 2 classrooms into 1) and you could put velcro on the back if you have that option in your classroom.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

My Favorite Friday - Coordinate Grid Stamp

In an effort  to conserve resources, I am going to try to use this gem more often this year. My Favortie Friday is my coordinate grid stamp. The knob broke off (first time used), but it works fine.

I was gifted with one a few years ago, but you can get your own. I have included a link to Amazon below:
Coordinate Grid Stamp on Amazon

Monday, July 30, 2012

Made4Math #3 - Literal Equations

As I was lesson planning today, I came across "literal equations," and remembered how difficult it was for my students to understand what they were supposed to do (especially when there were no numbers involved, only variables). I was thinking of how to get my "hands on math" going, and thought that if students could actually move the variables around and "flip" the operations, they might get a better idea for solving literal equations.

Using an equation like d = rt, create cards for each item, variable, equal sign and operators. On the back of the operator card, put the inverse operation (hopefully you will have had that lesson with your students already)

Choose a variable to solve for. I chose to solve for r. Remember, the back of the operator has it's inverse operation, so you would have this:

And finally:

So I thought, maybe this is too easy. So I tried it with converting Celcius to Farenheit.

For fractions, use reciprocals on the back:

You can create the cards in Word and print onto 3 x 5 notecards (somthing I just discovered!)

Friday, July 27, 2012

My Favorite Friday - Pinterest Crock Pot Recipes

I started this blog because I wanted to connect with people out there that also teach math. Luckily, @druinok found my blog and mentioned twitter and a group of people that collaborated for better math instruction. As I sit here, I truly feel like my alter ego, "Tangent Girl,"  taking in all of the information that these wonderful people are putting out there.

I have talked about #Made4Math Mondays, and I have recently read about #MyFavFriday. This is another sharing about what's done in the math classroom.

My Favorite Friday is actually NOT about math, the classroom, or anything to do with school....sort of....

When I moved back to Florida, I took a pay cut. My husband has Meniers Disease, and it makes full time work for him difficult. So we have had to cut back. Gone are the days when we could just go out and get dinner. Now we cook at home. In an effort to create more time for myself, I have scoured the internet for crock pot meals that are easy, and more importantly, taste good. I am attaching my link to my Pinterest Board with Crock Pot recipes, as we can all use a good meal at some time or another.


Something I have read during my research about crock pot recipes is that you can do your prep work ahead of time. Use large sealable freezer bags and put all ingredients that you would put in your crock pot in those bags. Freeze them, and the night before you want to make the meal, put the bag in the refrigerator. You can cook meat frozen, so no worries that you have to defrost.

Tex-Mex Chicken

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips (4 breasts)
2 Tbsp. Taco Seasoning Mix
2 Tbsp. flour
1 each: green and red pepper, cut into 1-inch wide strips
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 Onion
1-1/2 cups Chunky Salsa (or 1 large jar)
1 cup Shredded Four Cheese
Toss chicken with seasoning and flour in slow cooker. Stir in vegetables and salsa; cover.

Cook on LOW 6 to 8 hours (or on HIGH 3 to 4 hours); stir. Top with cheese.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Made4Math Geometry Proofs

Well, it's really Tuesday, but I was visiting friends in Atlanta, so I didn't get this ready in time for Monday.

I have taught Geometry for 5 years. One of the more difficult concepts to teach, I found, was the geometric proof. My textbooks never gave enough practice, and I students struggled with "the next step," or forming their logical argument.

So I came up with the following series of pages.

The first one is a fill in the blank. In order to cut down on paper usage, I plan on using the clear sheet pockets our school has and have students fill in the blanks. This allows students to concentrate on providing a reason for a step, but taking the pressure off of doing a proof on their own.

Geo Begining Proof

I then use a hands on activity to help students sort through their thinking by literally sorting through statements and reasons. You can chunk this by having students start just by sorting the statements from the reasons, justifying why for each choice. I do this in groups of 2, and make 2 sets of these on different color cardstock. This can also allow students to see how a proof doesn't have to be done in a precise order sometimes (I relate this to baking, and how I can mix the eggs, sugar and butter first, or I can mix the flour, baking powder and salt first, but I can't bake the cookies until I mix the two sets of mixtures together.)

Here is a picture of one of the proofs cut out. Please note, they are not in order, as I just put them out there for the picture:


The next series of sheets I use are individual proofs for students. They are fill in the blank, but they are missing either the statement or the reason. As they progress to #3, they are creating their own proof, but they are given the number of steps it may take.



Monday, July 16, 2012

Scheduling a Task in Windows

If you get in the middle of things during class time, and tend to forget that the bell is about to ring, or worse yet, students start packing up before they should, I found a great notification process in Windows to help. This is courtesy of Pinterest and

There is a video how to, but it is a little outdated. I have included simple step by step instructions. I plan to use this for each of my classes. The blogger also provides short clips of music, like Mission Impossible, Bill Nye the Science Guy and The Jeopardy Theme.
Here is my step by step guide:
How to create a scheduled task in Windows that plays music.
Press the “Start” button
Type “Task Scheduler”    A window should show up.
Click on “Create Basic Task”
Give your task a name. Description is optional.
Click “Next”
How often do you want the task to occur?
Click “Next”
What date and time do you want the task to start? How often to recur?
Click “Next”
Choose “Start a Program” and click “Next”
Browse for song you want to play. And click “Next”
This last page is to verify everything. Click “Finish”
You can now create more tasks. The song will play to the end. If you chose something from itunes, the next song will play after the task song.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Made4Math #1 Toolbox Formulas

I found this wonderful blogger who started a challenge a few weeks ago. She noticed that elementary teachers had all of these great visuals and organizationtion skills, and she wanted to apply this to her high school math class. She started the Made4Math Mondays.

My Made4Math submission is inspired by some tutoring I did before our End of Course Exams for Algebra 1. We had students working on an online practice test, and they struggled when it came to a problem where a formula could be used. I found I kept saying "Use the right tool for the job." When I get back to school and have access to the butcher paper, I will making these much larger.

These are the rough sketches. I will have a toolbox at the top, and each time we cover a new concept (or review one).