Spring Math Resources Round Up!

Looking for ways to survive Spring with your students? They're probably already squirming in their chairs, wishing recess lasted longer... and maybe you are too! Add in standardized testing and oh boy... no one wants to learn!   Grab these Spring Math Resources to help save your sanity and keep your students engaged – they're all fun, and a nice break from your usual routine.

Looking for ways to survive Spring with your students? They’re probably already squirming in their chairs, wishing recess lasted longer… and maybe you are too! Add in standardized testing and oh boy… no one wants to learn!

Grab these Spring Math Resources to help save your sanity and keep your students engaged – they’re all fun, and a nice break from your usual routine.

Scale Up a Picture Project

I love this class project to work together scaling up a picture – piece by piece! It comes together at random, surprising everyone with the result!

A quick paced group math activity that requires them to work together!

This project can be easily adapted to any grade level – students work together in groups to add up a math problem as fast as they can…. on balloons! They have to think fast while keeping the balloon steady enough for them to write on!

Spring themed math problems for sixth and seventh grades!

In the Spring Word Problems Solve and Snip students will read a word problem and then solve the problem by showing work in the show work area. All the problems are spring themed and fun!

Another great example of math meets art – but in 3D! Have students use proportions to scale up their favorite candies.

Another great example of math meets art – but in 3D! Have students use proportions to scale up their favorite candies.

This page has ALL SORTS of great middle school math center ideas that are creative and engaging!

This page has ALL SORTS of great middle school math center ideas that are creative and engaging!

Grudgeball is a fun review game that students actually beg to play! Even if they've mastered whatever concepts you're currently covering, this game helps get the cabin fever epidemic under control.

Grudgeball is a fun review game that students actually beg to play! Even if they’ve mastered whatever concepts you’re currently covering, this game helps get the cabin fever epidemic under control.

This hands-on measuring activity involves 3-d objects in different sizes, kids love it!

This hands-on measuring activity involves 3-d objects in different sizes, kids love it!

In this activity, students cut out 24 puzzle pieces with different representations of slope (graphs, tables, equations, coordinate pairs, right triangles) and fit same-slope pieces together.

In this activity, students cut out 24 puzzle pieces with different representations of slope (graphs, tables, equations, coordinate pairs, right triangles) and fit same-slope pieces together.

This game LOOKS so much like an average game from Target that kids wont realizing they're learning while having fun! Sumoku is like a crossword game, but with numbers.

This game LOOKS so much like an average game from Target that kids wont realizing they’re learning while having fun! Sumoku is like a crossword game, but with numbers.

Kids LOVE hands-on activities, which is why interactive notebooks are so awesome for the classroom! But need something outside of the notebooks? Try this collection of hands-on math activities.

Kids LOVE hands-on activities, which is why interactive notebooks are so awesome for the classroom! But need something outside of the notebooks? Try this collection of hands-on math activities.

The Sir Cumference books are popular with all grade levels – they introduce geometric math problems in a real life application!

The Sir Cumference books are popular with all grade levels – they introduce geometric math problems in a real life application!

Kids tend to dislike word problems for good reason, but with this book – word problems are more engaging! It's done in a way that students get excited to solve a mystery... they just have to use math to solve it!

Kids tend to dislike word problems for good reason, but with this book – word problems are more engaging! It’s done in a way that students get excited to solve a mystery… they just have to use math to solve it!

Want more? Check out my Pinterest board for more spring math resources!

Follow 4mulaFun’s board Spring Math Resources on Pinterest.

Data Collection in Middle School

Data collection in middle school can be a hard thing as teachers are moving from class to class. Check out these different methods to use today.As you are teaching each year there are always various reasons that we have to collect data on our students. What types of data do you collect? Do you vary them from student to student and year to year? Do you collect a wide variety of data to make sure that you have a well rounded picture from each student?

There are four major areas of data collection. These areas include Student Artifacts, Student Interviews, Classroom Observations and Classroom Videos. Each of these types of data collection involve many different methods that you can use to collect information from your students formally as well as informally.

Student Artifacts

The easiest type of data collection has to be Student Artifacts. An artifact is defined as “something created by humans usually for a practical purpose.” In the classroom the different types of student artifacts that can be gathered are (but definitely not limited to) student portfolios, observations, performance tasks, journals, surveys, formative or summative testing, family history and demographics.

Ins And Outs of Exit TicketsEach of these different student artifacts can provide different information about the knowledge base of your students. As a teacher I know that I was constantly pulling work samples from students to determine where my students were on different skills. I tried to limite the use of summative assessment as student artifacts because I know the amount of test anxiety my students have. Thankfully with the use of Interactive Notebooks it is really easy to have a portfolio of student work. Interactive Notebooks also allow me to quickly have access to perfomance tasks, journals, student observations and even formative testing. Another great method of formative testing is Exit Tickets. Like I said, this is the easiest data collection method but also one that must be extremely organized. Keeping tracking of student performance is easy with my Formative Assessment Data Trackers that are organized easily by each strand for math (Common Core and TEKS).

Student Interviews

The next type of data collection is Student Interviews. The key to getting the most out of student interviews is building a relationship that fosters a positive environment and allows for student learning. When talking with our students we can tell a lot by their body language, vocabulary usage (formal and informal), depth of knowledge about a topic, feelings portrayed  and connecting themselves to the subject matter.

When we listen to the vocabulary our students use and they choose to use formal words they show us whether they understand the material to use it correctly or are attempting and not succeeding. This is a great teaching moment. The depth of students knowledge is easily discovered within their conversations with peers as well as interaction in the lesson because the details they provide directly connect with their understanding. When students are discussing a topic and they take time to relate it to themselves and talk about a relationship with something they enjoy they will definitely remember the learning experience.

Student Observations

Data collection in middle school can be a hard thing as teachers are moving from class to class. Check out these different methods to use today.Another regularly used data collection method we use in the classroom is Student Observations. With student observations you are tracking their behaviors, social interactions, on task time, work habits, classroom participation, performance success, vocabulary usage, strategy usage, and student interests.

Several of these methods go hand in hand with methods from the student interviews approach for data collection and that is okay, in fact it is a benefit. Student behavior is an important thing for all teachers to track because you never know when you are going to need the documentation for actions you have taken to prevent such behaviors in your classroom. Having the documentation can save your butt more than you know.

Social interactions with peers and visitors in the classroom can tell you a lot about your students. Monitoring students on task time and work habits is a critical component for many. I know that my students who had 504 plans and even some with IEPs had accomodations and modification that tied into their on task time and work habits and it was important for me as a teacher to take note of what they were and were not doing.

When it comes to students using strategies in class this is an important area to document. We have all had the students who were anti-strategy use and I’ve been the teacher who was a hard-ass about it but then I have also been the teacher who was understanding and allowed students ot not use them as long as they could explain to me their thinking at any time. You as a teacher have to determine where you want to be on that spectrum.

Classroom Videos

Finally the last area of data collection is Classroom Videos. This is defintiely a more difficult way of gathering data because you must have the materials. When I was teaching second grade I wrote a project for Donors Choose to get a Flip Camera for my classroom (I know, old school now). Since I was teaching all subjects at that time I used it to document fluency of my students. I also used it during small group time and filmed students working with manipulatives and reflecting on their learning.

Other ways you can use classroom videos is to film instructional videos for your classroom. This is not only great for flipped classrooms but also to provide a different way of learning for students. They can watch a video in class and complete “preacher notes” in their Interactive Notebook based on what you have taught in the video. “Preacher Notes” are what I call fill-in-the-blank notes. I give some of the information but it requires students to actively listen to what is going on so they can complete their notes. I started calling them this because that is exactly what my preacher hands out on Sunday’s in our worship programs as he wants all of the congregation to pay attention to what he is saying.

While there are many other methods of data collection in middle school, I hope that these have sparked some ideas for you to use in your classroom as the year continues or even to start to mull over as you are organizing for next school year. When it all comes down it remember, “If you don’t record it somewhere, it did not happen.” So document, document, document!

5 Math Books to Enjoy for DEAR

Here are five great math themed books to enjoy for Drop Everything And Read!

Did you know that today is DEAR Day? It’s time to Drop Everything And Read! Here’s five math books that are great reads to enjoy any day!

Math CurseMath Curse by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith – “Did you ever wake up to one of those days where everything is a problem? You have 10 things to do, but only 30 minutes till the bus leaves. Is there enough time? You have 3 shirts and 2 pairs of pants — can you make 1 good outfit? Don’t worry — it’s just the Math Curse striking! An amusing book about dealing with numbers in everyday life.”

Math Doesn't SuckMath Doesn’t Suck: How to Survive Middle School Math Without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail Paperback
by Danica McKellar – “From a well-known actress, math genius and popular contestant on “Dancing With The Stars”—a groundbreaking guide to mathematics for middle school girls, their parents, and educators

As the math education crisis in this country continues to make headlines, research continues to prove that it is in middle school when math scores begin to drop—especially for girls—in large part due to the relentless social conditioning that tells girls they “can’t do” math, and that math is “uncool.” Young girls today need strong female role models to embrace the idea that it’s okay to be smart—in fact, it’s sexy to be smart!”

Edgar Allan Poe's Pie: Math Puzzlers in Classic Poems by J. Patrick Lewis

Edgar Allan Poe’s Pie: Math Puzzlers in Classic Poems by J. Patrick Lewis – “Is this poetry? Math? A brainteaser? Yes! It’s all that and more. The poet J. Patrick Lewis has reimagined classic poems—such as Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” and Langston Hughes’s “April Rain Song”—and added a dash of math. Between the silly parodies and the wonderfully wacky art, kids will have so much fun figuring out the puzzles, they won’t guess they’re learning! Answers appear unobtrusively on each page, and engaging information about the original poets is included. Math games and concepts, poetry and poet biographies—it’s all so cleverly put together. This funny book is a treat for fans of words and numbers alike.”

Sir Cumference and the Roundabout Battle by Cindy Neuschwander and Wayne GeehanSir Cumference and the Roundabout Battle by Cindy Neuschwander and Wayne Geehan – “When Steward Edmund Rounds and Sir Cumference notice that there are strangers camped nearby, Rounds II decides to investigate despite being involved with the task of learning how to make accurate counts of the castle’s stores of food, supplies, and weaponry. When he reports back that an enemy is lying in wait, everyone moves quickly to defend the castle. But wait! Will Rounds II be able to figure out how many bows and arrows they have to create an appropriate battle plan? Using rounding techniques to figure out the totals more quickly, Rounds II is just in time to help stave off a potentially disastrous attack.”

Why Pi? (Big Questions) by Johnny Ball

Why Pi? (Big Questions) by Johnny Ball – “This entertaining follow-up to DK’s popular Go Figure!, Why Pi? presents even more mind-bending ways to think about numbers. This time, author Johnny Ball focuses on how people have used numbers to measure things through the ages, from the ways the ancient Egyptians measured the pyramids to how modern scientists measure time and space.”

I hope you and your students enjoy these books! Happy DEAR Day!

Comprehension of Math Skills with Interactive Notebooks

If we spend all the time creating our Interactive Notebooks and our students asemble them, can we guarantee they understand the content?

Recently I received a question from a follower; “Is the assumption that if kids glue the stuff in and follow the directions, they understand?” This is a great question that I can see as something that not only concerns teachers but also parents and administration.

With interactive notebooks our students are spending time in the classroom taking notes about a specific topic as well as reflecting on what they have learned (output) in some way. Just as with any other form of taking notes there is no guarantee that comprehension is taking place. Granted with the interactive nature of Interactive Notebooks it does create a depth of knowledge when students are actively engaged but that alone doesn’t guarantee they understand the material.

As with any other lesson that you teach in your classroom you must follow up what you have taught with activities and assessments to determine understanding. Typically in my class each lesson was followed up with an exit ticket. Exit Tickets allowed me to immediately determine the level of mastery based on the learning that day. Each of my students were able to use their notes from that day and therefore they were reading over the material once again. With the follow up on output activities for each lesson it allowed students to connect with their learning. These output activities were regularly changed and allowed students to build their personal connections to the learning.

Exit Tickets and Output Activities aren’t the end to determining student’s understanding. Spending time to incorporate interactive learning (interactivities) within your classroom allows you to monitor and assess informally the learning of students. These interactivities can span from task cards, learning games, project based learning, and more.

Some resources for Project Based Learning can be found via the links below:

 Project Based Learning TasksPBL Starter Kit

Hoppy Easter with Upper Grade Memoirs Blog Hop

Are you looking for some fun Spring activities for Elementary classrooms? Jump in on the blog hop to find some great freebies and more!Spring has sprung down in here in Texas and not only has it brought the random weather but also the pollen count with it! Despite all of that we are all looking forward to being outside each day and soaking up the great weather. With the Spring season there is a sense of rebirth but also a sense of “ants in your pants” as students want to be anywhere but in the four walls of your classroom. So today, my ideas for spring activities for elementary are to help you with just that… getting kids moving and grooving so you don’t feel like pulling your hair out at 9am.

So what can you do to help to settle Springitus in your classroom? Well first off there are amazing Brain Break videos available all over YouTube.

Music Notes OnlineOne that I totally have in my head right now is “Electric City” with Wyclef Jean. Then of course there are my AMAZING friends over at Music Notes that have some awesome songs and videos for math, language arts and motivation. Seriously, check them out because you will LOVE them!

million-dollarsThis is also a great time of year for Project Based Learning. Allow students time to show off the skills they have learned about all year by being able to put them to the test. One project I always did during this time of the year (which is coming to a store near you SOON) is the Million Dollar Project. I gave each of my students a MILLION DOLLARS and they had to spend it in a certain way. Now this taught them a bit about financial responsibility to go along with our Financial Literacy TEKS in Texas but it also showed them how expensive things can truly be in real life.

Class Field Trip to SpaceA fellow Upper Grades Memoirs collaborator, Performing in Education, has some awesome projects available as well. She has one called Field Trip to Space that is defintiely looking like a winner in my book!

Whatever you decide to do with your students remember it is Spring, they have been testing and they are just as tired as you are. They are ready for summer and while we should expect the same out of them as we always should we should also understand that we all slip up.

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Are you looking for a SUPER CUTE Spring Wreath to add to your home? Check out our giveaway over at Upper Grade Memoirs!

 

 

Math in Real Life- Heart Rates

It’s the first Wednesday of April which means it’s time for our monthly linky – Math IS Real Life!! If you want to see how the linky works, or just want other real world math ideas, check out our Pinterest Board of all the posts so that you can look back and find some great ideas and REAL pictures to use in your classroom!

If you are linking up, please include the below picture AND a link back to all four of our blogs – feel free to use the 2nd image and the links listed below!

mirl-2014-300

#MiRL

A monthly REAL WORLD math blog link-up hosted by

4mulaFun, The Teacher Studio, Teaching to Inspire in 5th, AND MissMathDork,

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So unless you have been living under a rock you know that in January I had weight loss surgery. Yep, 2 1/2 months and I’m doing great, really I am.

So this month when I was thinking about how I have been using math in my life lately I immediately started thinking about my workouts. Recently I invested in a Polar H7 Bluetooth Heart Rate Monitor that I have become IN LOVE with! I was worried in the beginning if it woudl do anything to transform my workouts that I was starting and boy has it!

Basically I wear this band around my chest and the heart rate monitor sits right on my heart while I workout for a VERY accurate reading. Now during my workouts since I am trying to do the most for fat burning that I can I need to stay in Zone 2 or lower. When I hit Zone 3 I start improving fitness and burning sugar rather than fat. As you can see in the first part of the picture below I was doing a High Intensity workout that got my hear rate up way to high. This was before I learned more about my new tool.

Heart Rates- MIRL

Now that I am using this tool regularly I am able to see my heart rate for Zone 2 increase. Originally I had to keep my heart rate under 118 for it stay in that zone and now I’m up to about 126 bpm. In a course of a couple of weeks this is a great improvement. Not only has this helped my heart during my workouts but I really am seeing the weight loss once again.

I’m asked quite regularly where I am at on the weight loss and since that is more math, I am down 45 lbs since I started the pre-op in December and am ready to hit that 50 mark! Right now I’ve also started a walking goal for 100 miles by the time I go to Vegas! I started on Saturday and have raked up 2.5 miles so far. As of Saturday it was 100 days away so I know this is possible!

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Don’t forget to check out the other MIRL posts below! Check back over the next few days – more will be added!!


Here, There, Everywhere… well Arkansas!

OurMis_Arkansas

While I know many of you are within the throws of standardized testing, Spring Fever and truly just ready for a sanity break I have been busy working on new material and some revamping of some older material that I know you will be excited for when they are released this summer.

Today I will be heading to Little Rock, Arkansas for the Arkansas Association of Middle Level Educators. This conference for middle school teachers is on Monday and Tuesday and will defintiely be excited to see these teachers again after speaking there last summer as well.

After this conference I am happy to say that I have a dedicated time before the round of summer conferences and will be working like mad on products! Not only will I be updating some products that have been there for awhile (I know you will enjoy the updates) but I also have some great new ones coming your way.

What are you looking for to use next year? Any specific things you want more of? I’m starting my list and checking it twice!