I am excited to bring Desmos to other disciplines because it is not only an amazing engagement software, but it is also FREE for teachers. I presented it to non-math teachers at my school last week. They loved it and one teacher even created a card sort before she left my session!

I created a self-paced Desmos Activity Builder for non-math teachers. This activity showcases the Desmos screens and includes tutorials on how to get started with Desmos. Please share the Desmos love with non-math teachers in your school!

Stephanie Blair, another Desmos Fellow, created a Google Doc to share other non-math Desmos Activity Builder.

The FIRST DAY is SO EXCITING! Even though I am not ready to go back to school yet (I still have so much I wanted to get done and …. SUMMER), I love thinking about the first day back. I can’t wait to actually meet and interact with the amazing young learners that I will get to work with this year. Their enthusiasm for learning is at a high the first days of school and I am excited to harness that and turn it into amazing math!

I do not go over my course guidelines the first day. I would rather spend that day getting to know my kids, having them get to know each other, and playing with math! I have found that it is better to go over one guideline every day or so in the first few weeks, as they naturally come up. I usually say, “Refer to this place in your syllabus.” in response to a student question. This reminds students that the syllabus taped in their notebooks is a great place to look for important information that they may need.

Sarah Vanderwerf is a thoughtful educator and you should definitely follow her blog if you don’t already. Basically my entire first day is coming from her! Last year I did Sarah’s name tents and I loved them! I think my students liked them as well because later in the year I learned that some students had shared part of their name tent on Snapchat. I also noticed some of them kept their name tents in their notebooks. Even though replying to name tents took a lot of work the first week, getting to know each of my students better was worth it, especially if they appreciated it as well. I also did Sarah’s 100’s Task later in the week last year. But I loved it so much I am doing it on the first day this year!

Our first day has very short class periods, only 25 minutes long, so I don’t have time for much. We still have almost two weeks until school starts so my first day plans aren’t firmed up completely yet, but this is what I am thinking.

Greet students at the door with a Hi-Five and instruct them to look for their seat.

I always have a seating chart the first day to help ease student anxiety. I will have their names on their tables and may even project it.

Name tents will be waiting at their tables to give them something to start on before class starts. I am a die hard “bell to bell” teacher and there is no better time to start this than the first day! I will have an example name tent for them on each table.

Display what they need for my class this year and briefly talk about it while they finish their name tents.

Have student introduce themselves to the other students at their table.

Have each student write down their favorite movie, ice cream, and vacation spot. Then each table group compares answers to determine the favorite move, ice cream and vacation spot of the group. After they finish, they will share their group answers with the class. We did this in our CPM training and it was a fun and low stress ice breaker activity. (I may not have time for this, and may have to push it to day 2). I will pass out textbooks during this time.

Discuss 100’s Task and share the pics I took to show them what great group work looks like! I’m not sure how I will record this yet. I will either write it on the white board or type their responses into a google doc so I can print it out and share it with them. (I may do this on day 2 so I have time for the ice breaker above).

Closing. I’m terrible at class closure. I’m going to set a 5 minute timer on my watch so I can remind myself daily to close the lesson. Not sure what this looks like yet. They will need to clean up their tables and turn in their name tents. I don’t know if I will have time for an additional closing activity! This may just be a time for me to say goodbye and have a great day!

Math Survivor! Which team will be eliminated first? Which team can survive?

After reading about Grudgeball on Elissa’s site and then here, I couldn’t wait to try it. I decided to call it Math Survivorsince we were “voting teams out of the competition”, and I didn’t have them shoot a nerf ball. I’m glad I eliminated the nerf ball, because the voting people off took forever by itself!

I love jumping right in and trying new things. However, sometimes this means I fail. And fail I did at first! I must have misread the instructions. I thought that ALL teams got to erase x’s each time. That made sense to me, as why else would they work hard to get the question correct? However, it became obvious during my first class, when ALL teams were quickly eliminated, that my game had a flaw. I adjusted it for the next class, letting them add points back more easily, but then everyone was just tied. Finally, for my third class, I decided to let only one team at a time take off x’s. DUH. To keep kids active, I told them that if the team voting x’s off missed the question, I would roll dice to see which team got to take their turn. This keep everyone motivated for every question.

The game I made is for Piecewise Functions and Transformations, but I also made a blank template. Here are my rules, templates are below.

Goal: To be the last team standing (still have x’s)

Rules:

Every team starts with 10 x’s.

Every team works on every question. Only one team at a time gets to eliminate x’s for each question. I just rotated around the room.

One team at a time gets to erase 2 x’s, if they get the question correct. They can erase 2 x’s from one team, or erase one x from two teams. They cannot commit suicide (erase their own x’s).

If the designated team misses the question, then another team gets to erase the two x’s. I rolled dice to decide which team. You could also pick popsicle sticks.

Once a team is eliminated, they cannot add x’s back, but they can still vote other teams out! (Some teachers let teams add points back or eliminate x’s).

I let kids make alliances. It almost never works out! Just like in the real Survivor, alliances quickly crumble. lol!

TIP: Only let one person per group erase and make them decide BEFORE coming up to the board who they are going to eliminate. Otherwise, peers from the other teams can influence them once they are at the board. I even do a 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… count down. You can also ask them (have them write it on a white board, and erase the x’s yourself if you have a very enthusiastic or overly competitive class).

I just made my first Marbleslides in Desmos! It was incredibly easy, and the students said it was a really fun way to learn.

This Marbleslides activity introduces students to transformation form and lets them practice moving graphs around with Marbleslides (SUCCESS!!) using the new parent graphs they just learned. My students know transformation form with linears, y = a(x – h) + k, but have not moved any other graphs around yet. (For this activity I used the absolute value, quadratic, square root, and cube root functions.)

I have two goals with Desmos this year.

Shorten my Desmos Activity Builders, so that I have time in class to practice with the students outside of Desmos.

Make worksheets to accompany my Desmos Activity Builders, so the students can have notes to look back on.

I felt this activity accomplished both, and my students really seemed to enjoy it. I have provided the activity and the worksheet for you to try. I would love feedback!

There are thousands of public Kahoots! made by teachers to chose from. Kahoot! has a search feature that allows you to search by title, subject, tag, or username. You can also share a Kahoot! that you have made with another teacher if you know their username.

Since my Kahoot! post, I have found that many math teachers that I know also use Kahoot! and are using it in ways that I have not even thought of. For instance, Laura Wheeler uses Kahoot! a few times a week as a warm up for a fun way to do spiraling reviews. I would love to easily find and see her reviews, since we both teach high school math.

Then, as is often the case, an amazing idea was born on Twitter. Wouldn’t it be GREAT if we knew our math teacher friends Kahoot! user names? Then, we could search and share with teachers that we know. Additionally, if teachers would tag the Kahoots! they use with MTBoS, we could also search that way.

Sharing your Kahoot!

So, please fill out this form if you are interested in easily sharing the Kahoots! that you create and use with other math teachers. I asked for the subjects you teach so that other teachers can more easily find teachers that have similar needs. And don’t worry if you don’t make your own Kahoots! I rarely make Kahoots! from scratch. But, I do go through each Kahoot! I use carefully, and often edit them, so other teachers would probably benefit from the Kahoots! that I use. If you are not already using Kahoot!, you need to sign up for a free Kahoot! account here to get your username.

It took me FOUR YEARS to get these Trashketball directions down to a science. My kids can just read them and we are ready to go. Plus, I have never seen my afternoon class of freshmen boys work so hard, on FRIDAY. It almost made me cry from joy. I seriously wish I could play Trashketball everyday. Every. Day.

I have included my Trashketball Powerpoint instructions for you to show your students. It is crucial that they all pick a letter, M A T H or O, and that you randomly call them up by this letter to show you their answer and thus get to shoot. This way ALL students are actively working out the problem on their own paper. Then they work as a team to make sure everyone understands and gets the same answer. It is amazing. I use popsicle sticks to call out the letter. They get one point for the correct answer. If they get the correct answer, they get to shoot from the 2-pt or 3-pt line. Also, I hung it from the wall with a Command hook, but the students want it higher. lol!

Fun stuff: I play “Are You Ready To Rumble” from Jock Jams while they are reading the directions. I have this COOL trashket I found a couple of years ago. I have a 2-pt line and a 3-pt line. It is a blast! But best of all, they are so focused and work so hard! Games for the win again! I made dry-erase index card necklaces to write their letter on for middle schoolers, but my high school students wanted to wear them as well. I really love freshmen.

Barbie Bungee is the most anticipated and talked about activity that I do in my 7th grade Pre-Algebra class. Sadly, I will not get to teach next year’s 7th graders since I am changing schools. So, my 6th grade students asked me if we could do Barbie Bungee THIS year! Barbie Bungee is such a great learning experience, and what other time do students actually BEG for a math lesson? Of course I said yes! I had a blast, and I hope that they gained experience in scatterplots, lines of best fit, and linear equations.

“I feel so accomplished!” is what I overheard a student say after doing the Noah’s Ark problem solving activity in my class today. I also heard, “You will REALLY like math class today! It was so hard, but so much fun!”

Give them all their own copy of the problem. (And a sheet of animals to cut out if they wanted it). Noah’s Arc PS

Let them read it silently

Let one of them read it aloud while other students read along silently.

Let them work silently for a few minutes.

Let them work together.

Discuss solutions.

While working silently, many students came up with a solution. However, once they started working with others, they realized that their solutions may not be correct. I loved how they were explaining their solutions to their classmates, and their classmates would say, “Oh, but then you would have too many zebras.” and I would hear the, “Ohhhhh…” My favorite had to be “But WHAT is kangaroo? WHAT ARE YOU?” Several students asked for another copy because they had written all over theirs and wanted to start again.

Giant Whiteboards are great for group work and presenting.

Working together.

They loved the animals cut-outs.

Rebuilding the problem.

“I can’t stop until I figure this out!”

Some students let the animals equal animal values.

Most students had to work together to come up with the correct solution. A cluster of my students decided to assign point values to some of the animals, and variables for others.

This was an altered version of substitution, and so interesting for me to see. I loved how they molded the problem to fit their level of understanding. Their minds work in fascinating ways!

Student Solutions:

Here the animal cut-outs are used to visually show the substitution. This was helpful for the students who were not convinced by the algebraic solution.

I got this amazing idea from Bruno Reddy, @MrReddyMaths. Go and read his post here. I love his discussion about mean and deciding who should win! When I saw his post I knew it would be fun. I planned on using the data to calculate mean, median, and mode. However, I did not realize how much mileage I would get out of this one activity! I pretty much teach the entire data chapter using just the data from this one activity.

I have my students watch the “How to Make a Paper Airplane” video and give them the template. I do not give them any instructions and do not allow them to help each other. Following directions is always a skill I am trying to teach 6th graders.

After we make the airplanes, we get to fly them! Of course, I make it a competition. And of course, I video it!

Everyone gets a partner, to help with measuring, and three attempts at the best flight! Student’s whose planes fly backward get to record NEGATIVE flights. All three flights are recorded and then entered into a Google Form. For homework that night, they had to find the mean of their three flights.

Line Plots and Scale:

I have students make a line plot out of all three entries. This year, I only had 21 students, so this is 63 entries. This is a great time to talk about scale. I have them record their distances in inches, but then they quickly realize that it is a much better idea to make the line plot using feet. We find the mean, median, and mode of our data using our line plot.

Range:

Range is one of my favorites here, especially with the inclusion of the negative flights. This year, our flights ranged from about -300″ to 600″. Predictably, almost all students told me that the range was 300″. Students love plugging values into formulas incorrectly. To help correct this misunderstanding, I had my -300″ flight student and my 600″ flight student come to the front of the room. I stood at the starting point (the edge of the blacktop for us, also known as 0) and had them stand where their respective planes had landed. Students immediately not only saw that 300″ was way off, but they saw why. This was a wonderful opportunity to show them that 600 – (-300) was indeed 900″, not 300″. My analogy to help deepen understanding was, “You leave from Charlotte to fly to New York, but you have a layover in Atlanta first”! Nothing is ever better than visual learning and real life examples.

Box Plots:

The next day we learned about box plots. I project the line plot of our flight data and as a class we make it into a box plot. They loved seeing that a box plot can helpfully catagorize their data. Outliers are visual here, as well as where 50% of their flights landed. Next year I am going to take a picture of their airplanes laying on the blacktop to back this statistic up visually.

I also had the students create a box plot of their mean flight data. They wrote their mean flight length (in feet) on a sheet of 8×11.5 paper. Then, they organized themselves into a human box and whiskers plot. The students who were the lower and upper extremes, Q1, Q3, and median all held index cards with the name on them. We also decided who was in our interquartile range.

Histograms:

The line plot looks very much like a bar graph. After a very brief explanation about histograms, we turn our line graph into a histogram. The students love seeing their data grouped and of course ask why we didn’t do this in the FIRST place instead of making the tedious line plot. It’s all for the sake of learning. (Insert evil teacher smile.)

Google Doc Data:

I shared the data with the students and we then all made bar graphs and histograms on Google Spreadsheets. The students like the histograms better as it condensed the data into groups. They also learned how to sort the data and find the mean using a formula. Again, they love finding the mean using spreadsheet formulas, find it less “mean” than calculating it by hand, and call me a “mean” teacher for not showing them this in the first place! Practice makes perfect.

You know a lesson is awesome when the Goldfish that the kids get to eat aren’t even their favorite part of the lesson! I had done the Capture Recapture lesson a few years ago and it didn’t go very well, so I abandoned it. However, after seeing a video about the concept (thanks to Alisan’s presentation at NCCTM), I decided to revisit it.

I introduced the concept with a question from NRich, then we watched this video on YouTube. It is imperative that you show your students the video. If a picture is worth a 1,000 words, a good video can be worth 1,000 explanations. The video starts with ping pong balls, then moves on to black cabs. I only showed my student the ping pong portion with my students, and then stopped it before he showed the math. I had them calculate the estimated number of balls, and then showed them the result. They were hooked!

We moved on to Goldfish. I gave each pair of two their own “pond” full of about 150 yellow Goldfish crackers in a container. I also gave them a small sample of colored Goldfish in a dixie cup. I first had them estimate the number of fish in their pond. I would not let them dump the fish out for the estimation as biologist do not dump the fish out of the pond. We then counted the colored fish (our tagged sample) and replaced Goldfish with the tagged colored Goldfish. I let them eat the fish they replaced. After mixing the tagged fish into their pond, they took a sample and calculated the proportion. To have accurate results, we repeated this 4 total times and then took an average. After they calculated their average, they counted their fish and we compared results. This was the best part! They were shocked to see how close their calculated proportions were to the actual number! Most groups were only off the actual count by 10 or less Goldfish! I even had groups come within 1, 2, and 3 of the actual number of fish in their pond!

Procedure:

Estimate number of Goldfish in pond and record.

Count the number of tagged fish, record.

Replace Goldfish with tagged fish.

Mix tagged fish into pond.

Take a new sample. Count total sample and tagged fish, record.

Calculate proportion to find estimated number of fish in pond.