Friday, September 28, 2012

Favorite Find Friday: Algebra v The Cockroaches

We played one of #MyFavFriday games today, Algebra versus the Cockroaches by Hotmath!!! 
Disgusting? Yes!     Engaging? Uh-huh!     Appropriate level of difficulty? Yup!     Great for practice? Absolutely!  
This has been my go to activity for some years after discussing equations of lines.  The game features cockroaches (I said it was disgusting...) running across a coordinate plane.  Students determine the correct equation of the line formed by bugs running in a set path.  
Level 1 starts off easy, featuring only vertical and horizontal lines, but the seven levels that follow get progressively more difficult.
The crazy music and the celebratory dance when equations are correct adds an element of fun.
Students work in pairs to reach a goal of Level 7. 
Invariably, those who struggle initially master the concept by the game's end.
"Bug Free Zone" signs are hung around the room.
Candy sporting "Smashing Good Job" is awarded to students making it through Level 7.  It is amazing how hard kids will work for a Reese's cup:)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Made 4 Math: Math imPossible

I am excited about this week's project.  In fact, it has been rolling around in my head since I was first introduced to Geocaching at a Discovery Summer Institute by Bridget Belardi.  Hooked by this around-the-globe treasure hunt, I began to toy with the idea of how to create a virtual cache for my students.  Ahem...several years later... I finally figured it out!  This week's #Made4Math project: Math imPossible.
Using my favorite new website creator, Weebly, the project was a cinch and is perfect for our upcoming test's review.  I first created a fictional scenario (the beloved class website was hacked).

And yes...I added a hacked page to the real class website and hid the actual pages from view (just in case the students checked).

I added a play-by-play animation created using Powtoon featuring a rendition of Mission Impossible (recorded by my amazing brother-in-law).

I then developed five webpages with 2-3 problems on each page.  The students can only advance from page to page by entering the hidden code obtained after working each problem correctly.

Here is a close up of the directions the students see on the bottom of each "clue" page:

The "clue" pages were marked as hidden on that only the home page for the math task is visible.  In Weebly, I was able to name the pages; they were named according the the answers generated from the review problems.  I added "t1" in front of each page so that I will remember the activity was for "Test 1".

After students work through all of the review problems, they are able to enter a guess as to who they think may have hacked our site using Rafflecopter.  Whether my Super Sleuths correctly guess the culprit or not, I am more hopeful that this approach to review helps them successfully crack the assessment on test day.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Made 4 Math: Bulletin Board Update

Bulletin boards are a challenge for me! I have tons of them in my room and I am always at a loss as to what to put on them.  For the past 3 or 4 years, I have put one up in August and pretty much left it alone until May.  Today, I am thrilled to say, I put up my 2nd board of the year...that's two in 6 weeks!  It's not math-y, but I am considering it this week's #Made4Math, because it is appropriate for the seniors I math class:)

To make the bulletin baord, I put the logo for the iTunes App Store in the middle of the board with a little "3" in the top right corner (hoping the kids will send out apps to at least 3 of their top college choices in the next few weeks).  I then "googled" the iTunes app logos for colleges and universities around our area and copied and pasted the images to Publisher.  You know I love my QR codes (which you can barely see in the pic, but they are really there in the bottom right corner of each college logo); they direct students to the respective college's undergraduate admissions site.  I figure, I'm good on keeping this bulletin board at least until mid-November, when a majority of early admissions apps are due.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Entering Math Equations into Edmodo

One of my favorite twitter math teachers, @druinok, mentioned Edmodo the other day and one of my favorite companies, Discovery Education, actually uses it to easily facilitate discussions among its leadership council.  I had explored quickly glanced at Edmodo before and didn't see how it would work for my dual enrollment math class that is packed with, at times, ugly equations.  There was no obvious "ENTER YOUR EQUATION HERE" buttons and I didn't readily see how it would be possible to type in problems that were properly formatted for student quizzes.  In desperate need of finding something to help pull my class together, I revisited Edmodo last night. We have been in school for 5 weeks and I have collected many assignments electronically.  In that time I have had students who were absent (and some did not join us until 2 weeks in and now are going back to complete missed work!!!)  This past week, I have attempted to chase down missing assignments stored in numerous locations around the web; while I have my class website with specific assignments on specific dates, I still feel a bit disjointed as I run reports from a plethora of quiz generators.  To further add to my feelings of the class getting away from me,  half of the students I teach are not in my district, so I do not have an online gradebook for the kids to monitor their progress in the course or recognize when they have a missing assignment.  Since my students are from different ends of the state (about 3 1/2 hours apart), the collaborative aspect of Edmodo appealed to me.  I had heard so many great things about the social aspect of Edmodo that I wanted to check it out again and see if I could make it work.
But how do you add equations to Edmodo's quiz???? I worked diligently last night and finally gave up around 3AM this morning, only to wake up with Edmodo still on my mind.  After a leisurely cup of coffee and a late breakfast, I tackled it again.  It is amazing how much clearer one's mind is after a little sleep. about googling it?

Oh yeah, great idea!  There were a few articles:)  After checking out the first result, I quickly had my CAN add equations to the Edmodo quiz!!!
Here's how:

Vision Objects' converter can be used to transform equations written in your own hand writing into a LaTex format that is recognized by Edmodo's Quiz creator; you only need to add [math] at the beginning of the equation and [/math] at the end.  You can see from the video that it is really quite easy!
So, fingers crossed, Edmodo will help me regain order to my class of 40 new friends:)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Favorite Find Friday: Rafflecopter

Okay, I found Rafflecopter a couple of weeks ago and actually incorporated it into a blog post for my first online giveaway.  I loved it!  It allows people to click to enter, answer questions, post to Facebook or Twitter, or whatever else the creator of the raffle can dream up to have entrants do.  I opted to have entrants click to enter (called an "easy entry") and answer a question (mine was related to how the participant was utilizing mobile technology in the classroom).  When I created my giveaway, I noticed that you could award bonus entries and extra entry points for different tasks.  Setting up the online giveaway was a piece of cake and Rafflecopter pulled the winner for me when the raffle expired.
I began to consider how this tool could be used in the classroom to engage students.  In fact, I have fiddled with the idea like one fiddles with a loose tooth until I was able to work out the details in my mind.  I was inspired by several English-teaching friends who employ a "red ticket review" to engage students in discussions; in their classes as students answer review questions, the teacher hands them a red ticket on which they write their name and drop in a fish bowl for random prizes awarded each Friday.  I wanted to use Rafflecopter sort of like the red tickets but on bigger scale (more school wide) to have students complete review questions related to the Math portion of the ACT.  (Our high school math department is working together to create test prep questions to use in class each day in hopes of familiarizing our students with the test:)  As we discussed the project in our department meeting, we agreed that it would be fun to encourage participation and accurate answers by drawing for prizes at the end of each week...enter Rafflecopter.

But how?  The Classroom Cafe Gals (me and Kathleen) and friends (Sonya and Stephanie) hosted a professional development session this past Monday on QR Codes...then, it it me - I can use QR Codes to route students to the online raffle.  When they arrive, they can enter their name and their answer to the test prep question.  Rafflecopter will show not only how many students entered, but also who entered and what they answered.  Everyone will be directed into the same random generator and our winners will be chosen from the group of students participating!

Setting up the raffle was easy with Rafflecopter:

Once I got the code:

I embedded the widget on a webpage (could also be a blog or not at all just use the "share" code (but it didn't work as well for me)):

And then, I created the QR Code to route the students to the entry form:

I'll place the code on the power point slides for the ACT Review Question of the Day and the students will  automatically be entered when they scan the image to answer.  So excited and loving #MyFavFriday, Rafflecopter!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Made 4 Math: Tune into Math

Last week, I found myself in need of a quick and easy way to review EvERyThiNg covered thus far in the semester.  You see, I had been out 6 Sch00l DaYs in a RoW!!!  I am not sure that I have missed much more than 6 days total in my 13 years of teaching, much less so many consecutively, but my sweet, precious boy found himself under the knife 1600 miles from home.  So what does a mom/teacher do?  Post as much as possible on the class website and catch the next plane out!
     The students stayed busy while I was away (The first 2 days they were out of school due to Hurricane Isaac; the last 4 they were on the web).  We have an online component, Math XL, that we utilize in class, so we employed the program as a way to practice previously covered material.  I could tell from the online score reports that not everyone progressed successfully through all of the review and an activity was needed to tie it together.  I pulled out a long time favorite and this week's #Made4Math project, Tune into Math (yes, I just made the name up).
     I love this activity, because it super simple and can be made in a flash (while sitting in an airport waiting for your flight).  Tune into Math is a self-checking multiple choice worksheet in which the answer choices correspond to notes on a piano.  When a student finishes the review sheet, they "play" their answers on an online keyboard or the Virtuouso app.  The tune is always something familiar so that they know immediately if an answer needs rechecking.
     While I hand wrote my multiple choice questions, I could have just as easily used a test generator like Exam View (that came with my textbook) or the Glencoe website chalked full of multiple choice quizzes for every high school subject.  (If I were to use a traditional multiple choice option, I would just need to white out the A, B, C, and D choices and replace them with the notes to a song.)
You don't need to play the piano yourself to know the notes to code.  There are plenty of places online with help for songs like Mary Had a Little Lamb, Jingle Bells, Happy Birthday, or the one I used:

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star (for the Virtuouso app)
C4 G4 G4 A4 A4 G4 F4 F4 E4 E4 D4 D4 C4

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Pinterest-ing Ways to Review

With the 1st test of the school year soon approaching, I am on the look out for new ways to review previously covered material.  Between new blogging friends sharing via #Made4Math, #MyFavFriday, and Pinterest, I have a wealth of ideas to choose from!  On our staff's analog Pinterest board, here is what we are pinning this week:

@Nutterbutter Smith's: Review Games for Students by Students

@Mathtastrophe's: Zap!

Uncommon Teacher to the Core's: Beach Ball Review

@PamJWilson's: Flip 4 Answers

Click for the analog pins' file ready for printing and pinning onto your staff's PD board.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Made 4 Math: Splat!

I love, love, love this week's #Made4Math!  It is a variation of @K8nowak 's Flyswatter game in which students get up and out of their desks for a rowdy math review.
Focus area for me: Factoring, but it can be anything you are studying.
Materials needed:
2 flyswatters per review center ( I ran 2 centers - one on each side of the room, so I used 4 flyswatters in all.)
Tape to mark a starting line and to hold the equations on the wall.
Equations (For this activity, I created equations with 2, 3, and 4 terms.  Some were harder than others, so I put a tiny "1" on the fly's wings to remind me to post those questions first.)  I added the remaining equations after the students had a chance to work through the first set (And since I teach high school...I actually handed the roll of tape to one student at each center and passed out the equations to the rest of the kids.  They placed them on the boards.)

How to play:
Students were divided into two groups; we were running 2 review centers at once.  From the 2 groups, we further divided into teams.  Each team member lined up behind their team captain facing the wall of equations to form a straight line behind the "starting point" marked by the tape on the floor.  I stood in the middle of the room on a desk safe from swinging swatters:)
I called out descriptions like "factor by removing a common factor" and "difference of squares".  As the students became more comfortable with the game, the clues became more specific like "in this equation solved by factoring by grouping 'x + 3' can be factored".  When the students spotted the equation that fit the description, they slapped it with their flyswatter.  At times, there was more than one equation that would fit the description and if each team hit a valid response, both would get a point.  If both teams went for the same equation, the first to hit the correct answer won the point.  Caution: It gets competitive!

After each student had several turns, I passed out 3 markers per group of 5 students.  The students with markers set to work factoring a problem of their choice on their side of the playing board.  As each student completed a problem, they passed their marker to the next person in line.  The first group to finish factoring all of the equations on their side of the board had bragging rights for the day, but as you can see from the video...that didn't stop the rest of the groups from working to solve them all.