I am presenting “Do More With Desmos Activity Builder” for ALL disciplines at the annual NCAIS Conference (North Carolina Association for Independent Schools) October 27th.
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.
I’m teaching high school now, but here are the lessons that I miss the very most. These are my “Must Do” lessons. I have a few friends who will teach middle school math (or Algebra 1) for the first time this year. Thanks to Jami for the inspiration for organizing these lessons. It’s been a walk down memory lane for me. I really miss middle school.
My All Time Favorite Lessons
These lessons really kicked ass. Not only did I love teaching them, but students had a blast. Best of all, these are the lessons that students learned the most from. They were totally engaged and the ideas stuck. Of course my number one lesson of all time is Barbie Bungee. And, I just realized that I never blogged about some of my all time favorite lessons! Goals!
- Barbie Bungee (Linear equations), 2 – 4 days. I can never, ever say enough about this lesson. It is my students favorite every year. The last year, I even bought cheap tiaras for the winning group. YES, the boys wore them. My only regret was not dressing up like Barbie after seeing Matt and Fawn do it.
- The Black Death (Ratio and proportions), 1 day. This is great for a cross-curricular activity if your students are learning about the middle ages as well. Be sure to play the turn off the lights and play scary medieval music during the lesson! Also, you will find out years later that your students memorized every word to the “Fleas On Rats” YouTube video you showed them and will sing it everytime “Hollar Back Girl” comes on. Epic.
- Monster Math (Introduction to solving equations), 2 days and ongoing. There is NOTHING worse in the world than trying to make 6th graders (read boys) write down every step when they are solving equations on paper for the first time, nothing. This makes equation solving so fun and helps them understand what is happening. Be sure to do the “Pass the paper” activity in the lesson so your students have no choice but to write their steps down. But don’t worry, they will WANT to so they can draw extra monsters! Protip: Wear the hat!
- Army Men and Circle Stickers for Learning Integer Operations (Negative Numbers), 2 – 3 days and ongoing. So, I know that army men killing each other is not “PC”. BUT, it’s such a fun way to illustrate a zero pair that it has to be done. I start with Army Men (days 1-2), then move onto Circle Stickers for a few days. Let them use the men and the stickers on the first few assessments! They won’t always need them, I promise!
- Paper Airplanes for Measures of Central Tendencies (Mean, Median, and Mode, and negative numbers), 2 days. AND following directions, and negative numbers. When students throw their plane and it goes backwards you get bonus math. What is the furthest distance from the negative distance minus the longest distance? Subtraction of a negative!! This is the a very visual way to see subtract of a negative.
- Mathemagic (More advanced simplifying equations and equation solving), 2 days. I love this because even beginner can do very advanced equations very quickly. Plus, who doesn’t love magic? The hook is when you guess their numbers, so don’t forget to do that first!
- The Pattern Function Connection (learning the connection between patterns, tables, and graphs and how to write a function from a pattern). 2 days or 2 weeks, however much you want to use it. It goes great with Fawn’s Visual Patterns. I used this in 6th grade, and this year I will use it in Honors Algebra 2. Classic.
- Square Root Cheez-Its (Square roots, perfect squares), 1 day. I used this in MS and in 9th grade geometry.
- Playdoh and Cheerios for Volume (Discovering volume formulas), 1 – 2 days. Students know many of the formulas, but slicing playdoh helps them discover what the formulas mean. You can also use marshmallows instead of cheerios.
- Algebra Tiles, Ongoing.
- The CLAW (Distributive Property), 1 day then ongoing. Thank you Sean for introducing me to the CLAW!! It’s so much fun and when we factor, we are retracting the claw!
- Ski Slopes and Slope Guy (Slope – Puff, puff positive), 1 day. Don’t write off the video, I promise your students will love it. And, it will help them!
- Equation of a Line Song (y = mx + b), 1 day then ongoing. My students still sing this song and will never ever forget what a 0 slope or undefined slope look like. I miss it!!
- Fraction Song, 2 days then ongoing FOREVER. I have hs students who see me out and tell me they sing it all of the time. Songs are a fantastic way to access their memory! (I just read “Make It Stick”).
- Geometry Booklets, 1 unit. This made the 1 million Geometry terms you have to go over in MS fun. And they can keep it for later classes.
- M&M Percents (need to blog), 1 day. Paper plates, M&M’s and percents. I did this activity the first day of our percent unit. I found the somewhere and loved it. I can’t believe I never blogged about it.
- Kinesthetic Algebra (Introducing Variables), 1 day. I still use this with HS students. It is a short activity that gets a lot of ah-ha! moments.
- Turning Words into Math (Translating Algebraic Expressions), 2 days.
- Fibonacci Rabbits (need to blog), 1 day
- Factor Craze and Pascal’s Triangle (Factors and Exponents), 1 – 2 days
- Solving for Y with Cups and Kisses (Solving equations for a variable), 1 day
- Goldfish – Capture Recapture (Ratios and Proportions), 1 day
- Dominoes Pizza (Linear equations), 2 – 4 days. This is a free Mathalicious lesson.
My Favorite Activities
- White Boards – Individual and Mega
- Problem Solving – Fawn is the queen, and her site will help you! Kids love it!
- Math Stations – Great for review days. I also did this with proof writing in Geometry.
- Trasketball – Awesome review game. Kids can get too competitive.
- Speed Dating – Great to get kids working with different people all period. HS students will be embarrassed bc of the name and work quietly. lol!
- Flyswatter Game – Protip: Buy sturdy flyswatters, and have extras!
- Draw It!
- Dry Erase Necklaces
- Mathalicious Lessons – my students loved these and they were very structured so they were easy for me to implement.
My Favorite Technology
What are you interested in blogging (or learning) about? Please fill out the form below to help generate ideas for future Sunday Funday blog posts! I would love to include High School in addition to Middle School bloggers. There are many topic overlaps so this is a great idea (thanks Reilly)!
I’ve had some new ideas lately. One of the things I would like to explore is posting our creative lessons around a topic or even a software program. For instance, one week we could post lessons where we used Desmos , Geogebra, or another favorite software. One week we could all post how we teach solving one-step equations (or any other topic). We could post about success we have had using lessons currently available on the internet, like from Dan Meyer’s 3-acts or Mathalicious.
We could also take on challenges, like creating our own 3-acts or creating a new lesson where we used Desmos. We could all create a Virtual Filing Cabinet like Sam’s on our own blogs one week.
Following in the Global Math Format, the first Sunday of each month could be where we post a list of our most recent “Favorites”, whether it be new things we have tried and loved in our classroom or even a collection of blog posts we have enjoyed reading the past month.
I feel that as a “team” we could create some amazing resources. If you like any of these ideas or have new ones, fill out the form and/or throw them in the comments section. Happy Sunday!
Get ready for MS Sunday Fundays! #msSunFun
I’m calling on all middle school math teachers to blog about a certain topic. (The list of topics will be published here in advance.) Then, I will publish the compilation of all blog posts for us to read every Sunday! The first topic will be 1st Day / 1st Week Activities and I will post them THIS Sunday, August 5th. Exciting! Fill out the survey here to let me know of topics you would be interested in blogging about (or seeing).
We have no “logo” as of yet. If you are a logo person, feel free to create something and email it to me.
If you think MS Sunday Funday is too long or the hashtag isn’t great, then I’m open to suggestions. These are ideas that we developed together on Twitter, but I’m always open to new and better ideas, especially if they are easier to remember or more catchy!
It’s ON so BRING IT! 🙂