SBAC Testing Craziness

Testing is almost here and I am grappling with two questions:

  1.  How do I review with the kids to make it meaningful and engaging?
  2. What do I have the kids do on the days we are testing math and I have a substitute in the room?

Here are my solutions so far, let me know what you are doing to solve these two problems.

  1.  I have found a variety of game based review activities.  Many of them are on tpt.  Here is the list:
    • Bingo Chip Review using problems from Kuta Software.  I love that I can turn on the multiple choice feature to make as many multiple choice problems as I need.  The game directions are from Math=Love blog here:  Place Your Bets
    • 8th grade Bingo review based on strand:  8th Grade Math Review Bingo  Made by Free to Discover.
    • I will use a few of the ideas from this site:  8 Student Approved Ways to Review from Jennifer Findley at Teach to Inspire.
      • I think I will use the gallery walk idea as well as the dress-up activity.
  2. I am going to try to use coloring page notes.   I found them on tpt by Math Giraffe.  I think this will help them review material while still relaxing after taking the high stakes tests.

What are your solutions for this crazy end of year testing?


Minecraft Birthday Party

I know this is a blog about my experiences teaching math but I had a birthday party for my thirteen year old and I just wanted to share what I did in case anyone else wants to do a similar party.  First of all, I scoured the web for ideas.  Everything I did was not an original thought but an adaptation from someone else’s wonderful idea.


We created 3D models of some of the characters from minecraft.  I found the printables and great directions at this website:  I had my 13 year old make them himself which saved me some time and he had fun doing it.


I used cake, rice crispy treats, and jello for the cake.  I made the jello like jigglers with very little water so it would stay together.



For the food table I created cards to label the food with minecraft names.  I used pictures from this website:

Here are the cards that I made:
Food 1 Food 2 Food 3
I just printed them out on cardstock, cut them vertically, and folded them so that they would stand.
Food Table

Here is the food we used:
Cookies:  Cookies
Bread:  Croissants
TNT:  Twizzlers
Carrots:  Carrots (with ranch dip)
Sticks:  Pretzels (with nutella to dip)
Raw Salmon:  Swedish Fish
Gold:  Rolo’s (could also use the hershey’s chocolate that is wrapped as gold nuggets)
Spiders Eyes:  Red Hots
Spawn Eggs:  Egg shaped candy (I forget the actual type but any kind would do)
Drinks:  Sprite because it was green, if I had more time I would have labeled it with a creeper face.

For the thank you gifts we printed a treasure chest and filled it with m&m’s.  Here is the file:
Treasure Chest Goodie Bag

The kids had fun running around and playing with nerf guns.  They had to be dragged in to eat the cake.  Overall, I thought it was a good party for a 13 year old who is torn between being “grown-up” and enjoying childhood.


Halloween Costumes?

Friday is our Halloween Dress-up day.  We are competing against the 6th and 7th grade for the most spirited class and every day we have a different theme and a chance to earn points based on how many people participate.  Today was mustache day and yes, I wore a mustache (for ten minutes- and yes, I know it is upside down).
Mustache Day

The kids loved it and that is what matters.   When a teacher participates they get 5 points for the class whereas students are worth 1 point.  This means I HAVE to dress-up for Friday.  What could I wear that is fun but not too “weird”?  Does anyone else dress-up for Halloween at school?

Adding and Subtracting Fractions & Multiplying and Dividing Fractions Foldables

I made these foldables into booklets to paste into the notebook.  I only paste things on the right side of each page.  The first two pages of the interactive notebook contain the table of contents.  We update this table of contents whenever we add in a new entry.  I save the left side of each page for relevant vocabulary they may need to understand the foldable.  For example, on these pages, we added the vocabulary for denominator, numerator, mixed number, and improper fraction.  My students are very good at simplifying fractions so I felt it was enough just to write, “simplify” on the foldable instead of going into details.

I created a few examples and the students filled in the pages with the examples as we did them together on the smartboard.  Then the students practiced on their own.  When they would ask me a question, I would just refer them to the correct spot on the foldable.  After a few times, the students started using them to answer their own questions.  It was amazing.

Day 1- Review Adding and Subtracting Fractions Foldable

Review Multiplying and Dividing Fractions Foldable

Since these are powerpoint presentations, I just made the words right side up when presenting to the kids.  That way they could see exactly where to write the notes on their own foldable.

Here is an example of one of my students notes:

Image - Oct 11, 2013 14.06.58      Image - Oct 11, 2013 14.07.09       Image - Oct 11, 2013 14.07.15


Next post……. Operations with Integers

Sometimes magic just happens

The kids in my algebra class have been struggling with simplifying radicals.We just had a test on it and while most kids did okay there were a few who really did poorly. I let them retake tests if they stay after school to study the material with me and then come another day to take the test. I had about eight students after school today and we were going over problems together. At one point I ran out of practice problems for simplifying radicals and I told the kids, “wait a minute while I make one up”. One kid said, “Can I make one up?”. He made one up, wrote it right on the SmartBoard, and the students all tried it. I even got to sit back and be the student for a little while. After the first student made one up all the rest of the students took turns making up problems until the late bus was called. I think they finally understand the concept.

Interactive Notebooks

I took the plunge into interactive notebooks this year and I am so thankful that I have.  It has allowed my lower students to reach new heights and helped my higher students to focus more on the problem solving then the actual rules.  Parents are also happy to see these because the rules help them to support their students learning at home.

The notebooks are also helping me to bridge the gab between current knowledge and the new rigor of the Common Core.  Our new common core textbooks are substantially more rigorous then our past books.  I have not even been able to use them because the first chapter assumes a lot of pre-knowledge that my students do not have.  It assumes that my students can solve multi-step equations, use fractions and integers with fluency, and write an equation from a word problem.  These are areas that my students are very weak in.  I am trying to support this with foldables.  So far in regular 8th grade math, we have made 5 foldables.  They are:

1.  Adding and Subtracting Fractions

2.  Multiplying and Dividing Fractions

3.  Operations with Integers

4.  Word Problems

5.  Solving Multi-Step Equations

In algebra we have made 1 other foldable:  Exponent Rules.

My goal for this week is to write about each of these foldables in a blog post.  Most of them are combinations of ideas from other places and I will try to add links and my own files so you can make the foldable.

What are your favorite math foldables?

Bungee Barbie

I know many people have talked about this activity for algebra 1 students.  I have done it for two years and I absolutely love it.  The ultimate goal is to figure out how many elastic bands it will take to drop barbie from the top of the stairs in our back hallway without hurting barbie and yet still giving her a fun ride.  I have modified several different worksheets that people have made, including the one from illuminations to make it fit what I want to teach the kids.  The goal of the activity is for students to see how linear regression can be applied in a real life situation.  I want the students to understand what the y-intercept and slope mean in the context of the problem.  Most importantly, I love that the students see that learning can be fun.  It is neat that the students from previous years come into my class excited for this one particular activity.  Here are some of the links that explain this activity:
This is the worksheet that I use for the project.  It is a compilation of worksheets from the above sites:    Barbie Bungee Activity

Who am I and Why am I Blogging?

My Family

My Family

I teach 8th grade math and I am the mother of five amazing children.  I teach at a small school and I am the only 8th grade math teacher there.  I miss the ability to collaborate with other teachers who are teaching the same material that I am.  So, I read a lot of blogs and spend a lot of time on-line looking up ideas.  During this quest I found the MTBoS challenge and decided to try it.  Challenge number one is to start a blog and here I am.

I currently teach six classes a day.  Three are regular 8th grade math.  We just started using the Carnegie Learning materials (just the textbook, we couldn’t afford the computer software).  The other three are a honors algebra class, a remediation class of eleven students (both 7th and 8th graders), and one small group class of five students.  I would love to hear from other teachers who teach from Carnegie Learning materials.

At home I have five children ages 7, 10, 12, 13, and 14.  Although I am a middle school teacher and deal with teenagers all the time, I am finding with my own children, the teenage years are sometimes tricky.