The 5×5 Grid Game or FUN on the day before vacation!

I will just start by saying that I did not create this fun math game. I didn’t even find it! A member of my awesome math team emailed everyone a link to a math teacher’s blog, in which she explained the 5×5 game. I’ll sum it up here, but definitely go check out her blog. She has a lot of great ideas! http://saravanderwerf.com/2015/12/13/5×5-most-amazing-just-for-fun-game/ Let’s start by discussing the day before vacation in middle school. Ugh. The kids are either excited or anxious or both. And that doesn’t translate into an excellent learning environment. When I taught in the Catholic schools the day before vacation was very ritualized….we would have church, we would have traditional parties organized by the parents, etc. It was still tiring and the kids were still super amped up, but at least there was some structure provided by the nature of the day. In public school, where Read More →

Teaching with whiteboards

Using “standing” or wall mounted whiteboards has changed my teaching. It’s amazing to me that something so simple could have such an enormous impact. But it has… This is how it happened: a couple years ago I was channel surfing. I never channel surf and I rarely watch TV. But I happened to have some free time and I happened upon a cool documentary about teaching called “Teach”. It followed three teachers and their journey through a school year. All of them had very cool and interesting ideas. One teacher was teaching algebra and had the kids doing something she called a “360 classroom”. She had all the kids on whiteboard around the room. She could turn in a circle, hence the “360”, and see what everyone was doing. I thought that was so cool! I went back to school the next day totally fired up! I emailed my principal Read More →

Teaching area of complex shapes

Today I saw the movie, The Martian. Unbelievable. I had read the book. I knew it was going to be good. But I don’t think I’ve ever been on such a math high before! If you are a math teacher, you are probably among the people in this world who can understand how completely amazing it is to see Math Damon, huge on the big screen, saying (something like), “You’re going to die. You can die or you can do the math. Just solve one problem and then solve the next one. Do the math.” I think he said, “Just do the math” like 6 times in that movie! So great! I think we may start having a Martian math problem of the week…. I’m getting ready to correct my quizzes for last week. I always correct quizzes over the weekend. Probably sounds sort of appalling to many people but Read More →

Teaching Order of Operations

Today we tried something different for teaching Order of Operations and it was GOOD. Here’s the set up: We made 8 1/2×11 laminated number cards, two sets of 0 through 9, as well as operator cards, two sets of +, -, *, division symbol, ( and ). Then I was going to have the kids use scratch paper, which will work just fine, but decided at the last minute to use the mini-whiteboards (and the standing white boards ~ more on these later). I think that was a good choice. The kids really love them and it adds an element of engagement. Do you have those? They’re not that expensive anymore and well worth the investment. That’s it on supplies. Then I started by doing a quick review/overview of Order of Operations. These are 6th graders and they had seen this math in 5th grade. Then I explained that we Read More →