Saturday, July 15, 2017

New Resources for 8th Grade Math

It has been a busy week beginning to prep materials for a second year of 8th grade math! It was a pretty smooth transition from teaching only 6th grade math to having a section of 8th grade math (in addition to 6th!) last school year. However, having gone through a full school year, there are a few additional 8th grade resources I felt my students could use!

Pythagorean Theorem Task Cards
One of the concepts I quickly realized my 8th graders could use a lot of practice with is the Pythagorean Theorem. Since my students enjoyed the "star-level" aspect of these Angle Relationship Task Cards, I decided to create a set related to the Pythagorean Theorem. This new set, linked below, includes 56 task cards related to the Pythagorean Theorem. They are differentiated with four different star levels that correspond to the difficulty. With these cards, students practice determining if a triangle is a right triangle (using the PT), finding they missing hypotenuse of a right triangle, finding the missing leg of a right triangle, and solving challenge problems.

I try to keep my students working on as many hands-on activities as possible, but let's be honest, sometimes you just need a bank of practice problems to help students review! I began creating these 8th grade math review packets last school year and just recently finished up a full set of them. They hit all of the main concepts that we cover in 8th grade math. The bundle includes five different packets and a total of 147 problems. Topics and link are below!

1. Rational Numbers, Monomials, and Percents
2. Equations and Inequalities
3. Angles, Polygons, and the Pythagorean Theorem
4. Volume and Surface Area
5. Statistics and Probability

Hope you can find these resources useful in your back to school prep! I will be continuing to add to my bank of 8th grade math resources, so stay tuned for updates!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

4 Effective Games for Middle School Math Workshop

Those of you that have implemented math workshop in your classroom know the importance of having engaging, easy prep, centers for your students. Math games are an integral part of my classroom and are an important part of creating a "math is fun" attitude in my students. If they are reusable activities... even better! I have found math games to be an effective way to keep students motivated. In this post, I will share the four games that I have found to be the most engaging!

(1) The Product Game about a strategy game! The Product Game is such a fun way to get students thinking ahead while also practicing their basic facts. The goal of the game is to get four in a row. Students determine which number they cover up on the number grid by multiplying the two numbers that are covered on the bottom of the board. A more detailed explanation of the rules is at the link above. I have played this as a class vs. teacher game as well as a partner game during math workshop! This has been a go-to game for my math centers. I usually introduce it early on and then come back to it again towards the end of the school year.

(2) The Factor Game
This is another great strategy game. If you are working on finding the different factors of a number, The Factor Game is perfect for practice. Players take turns circling a number on the game board. For each number circled, the other player gets to circle all of the factors of that number. At the end, students add up their circled numbers to determine the winner!

(3) Connect Four Games all of the games I have created, these games are probably the most engaging and versatile. I use these as small group math centers, as a whole class game, and all the time with my math intervention groups. Doing problems in a game format is just so much more fun than a worksheet! I have a huge range of topics available for both 6th grade math and 8th grade math. Many of these would also work for other grade levels! Check out my 6th Grade Math Connect Four Bundle or my 8th Grade Math Connect Four Bundle, depending on what you need! If you would like to get an idea of the format, grab a free copy of a game from each of these bundles at the following links!

FREE Connect Four: Multiplying Decimals - 6th Grade Math
FREE Connect Four: Area, Volume, and Surface Area - 8th Grade Math

(4) Zap!
I have seen different versions of this floating around the internet. I'm not sure who originally thought of it, but it is great... and never ending. We all know their is nothing better than an engaging and never ending math game for students to play! The idea is basic. Students take turns pulling a stick from the jar. If they solve the problem correctly, they get to keep the stick. If they pull a "Zap!" stick, the have to put all of their sticks back in the jar. The best part about this one (other than the never ending part) is that you can easily create a set for various topics. I have a set of basic facts as well as a solving equations set. Both have worked out great! Click HERE for a full explanation of how the game works!

I'm always on the search for new math games. In the comments below, feel free to share the most effective math games that you use in your classroom!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

3 Ideas to Help Survive the End of the Year in Middle School Math

The end of the school year can be a challenging time of year in middle school math! Students (and teachers!) are ready for summer and it always seems like the number of meetings and things to get done multiplies. In this post, I put together three of my favorite activities for the end of the school year in middle school math. All of them focus on getting kids engaged, out of their seat, and burning off some of that extra energy!

(1) Brain Teaser Challenge
This is one of my favorites. So much so, that I not only did this at the end of this school year, but I also did one earlier in the year. The basic idea is to post 6-7 brain teasers on posters around the room, each with a bucket and some scrap paper next to it. Students can move freely around the room as they try the problems, entering their guesses (with names!) in the corresponding bucket. Once finished, I draw answers out of each bucket until there is a correct answer. That person gets a small prize! If you would like to read my full blog post about it you can click HERE.

(2) Mystery Prize Challenge
This one is similar to the Brain Teaser Challenge, however it is easier to keep this one more focused on academic concepts. I tried out this one for the first time this year and students begged to do it again. I posted six review problems around the room. Each had a mystery brown paper bag that held a prize. This year, I filled them with pencils, mints, Starbursts, candy, and gum... or some combination of those! The rest of the activity works very similar to the Brain Teaser Challenge. Students go around the room, entering answers into a bucket next to each problem. We then drew names out of each bucket... first correct answer from each won the prize! For some more details about this challenge you can click HERE. If you are looking for problems to use, my 6th Grade Math Scavenger Hunt Bundle and 8th Grade Math Scavenger Hunt Bundle provide a wide range of options!

(3) Silent Ball
This one could either be as a quick brain break or you can add an academic twist to it! I'm not sure who came up with this one, but they are a genius! Students stand around the room at a spot. You then begin tossing a ball around the room. In our game, there were four ways you could get out... if you talk, if you drop the ball, if you make a poor throw, or if you throw overhand. The game goes on until there is only one person left. You can also add rules to make it more challenging. We tried throwing/catching with one hand or the opposite hand, standing on one foot, one eye closed, etc. To make it a little more academic, you can also have them say a math fact (we stuck with 9x9 or less) and then whoever they throw it to has to answer it correctly. This is a great one to use as a break if you have long classes!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Easy and Effective Ideas for Teaching Statistics in the Middle School Classroom

Everything has been statistics related in both 6th and 8th grade math over the past few weeks! Of course, we better start with some corny statistics humor first (answer at the bottom of this post). I thought of this one myself, so I will apologize for the terrible joke now. On a side note, I recently began sending out a weekly newsletter every Sunday morning. Each newsletter includes classroom tips, a freebie, and math humor. If you are interested, you can sign up at the link below! Please share with any other teachers you know that might be interested!

Alright, onto the good stuff! Here are a few easy prep, yet effective, ideas to help teach statistics in the middle school math classroom.

1. Data Displays Foldable Notes
This is one of those ideas that came to me in the middle of the night on one of those nights you just can't sleep because your mind is going a million different directions (if you're a teacher, you've surely been there before...). I have used foldable notes before with other concepts. For whatever reason, my students are way more likely to copy down notes if you fold them first. Weird, I know. We had been learning about various data displays. In 6th grade, we had covered finding the measures of central tendency, box-and-whisker plots, frequency tables, and stem-and-leaf plots. We also later added histograms to this foldable. In the activity, students each got two dice. They rolled the dice and multiplied the two numbers to get each number in their data set. I set a minimum of twelve rolls, so that they would have at least twelve pieces of data. After getting their set of numbers, they had to find or create each the measures/displays pictured. This was a fun, hands-on way to review and I also allowed students to use these notes on their mid-chapter quiz.

2. Mean, Median, Mode, and Range Math Sort
These sorts are one of the more engaging resources that I have created. I usually use these as a math workshop center, but I have also had students work on them individually or in small groups. For each set, students must sort the cards under the correct answer. Eventually, each of the four answer cards should have five problem cards sorted underneath. Once sorted, the students flip over the cards and must unscramble the funny phrases on the back! You can click HERE to get a copy of this resource. This particular sort focuses on finding the mean, median, mode, and range... other topics are also available in my TpT store!

3. Class Survey Circle Graph
When it comes time to learn about statistics, we do a lot of class surveys. This year we did number of pets, states traveled to, number of siblings, and in the example pictured we voted for a celebrity president. As you can see, we had some interesting candidates. We used the results from our class election to create a circle graph. It was a great way to get students engaged in our lesson!

I hope you all have found some useful ideas for teaching statistics and have a great rest of the school year!

Answer to the Math Joke of the Week: Histo-gram :)

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Hands-on Volume of Composite Figures Activity

As we began to wrap up our unit on volumes in 6th grade math, I started trying to think of some fun ideas to help my students review how to find the volume of the figures we had studied. In 6th grade, we cover the volume of rectangular prisms, triangular prisms, pyramids, cylinders, cones, and then finally work up to finding the volume of composite figures.

In past years we had constructed these shapes from their nets, so I decided to add on to that by letting the students come up with their own 3D creations from these nets. These free 3D figure nets from Math Geek Mama worked out perfectly for this project! The rules were simple... students could use 3-5 of the available nets to create their own 3D creation! Here are a few that they came up with.

Day one was all about creating the figures. Students really liked the freedom of picking their own nets and designing their figures however they liked. They could use tape or glue to form their nets and composite figures.

On Day 2, as students finished creating their figures, they started to find the volume of their composite figures. Many of my students had already grasped the idea of finding the volume of composite figures, but for those who hadn't, this project gave a great hands-on opportunity for them to practice these problems! Since I was short on time, I just had students take a piece of loose leaf paper to find their volume on. They turned in their paper and their robot (with names) once they finished!

This is definitely a project I will be doing again!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

All About Angles in Middle School Math (With Freebies and New Task Cards!)

Every year, I enjoy the transition from our algebra units to geometry. It is a nice change of pace for my 6th and 8th grade math students. In past years, I have noticed that students really enjoy angle challenge problems, like the one pictured, where they must find the missing angles without measuring. I have always included these in my Challenge of the Week problems this time of year. If you haven't downloaded these yet, you can find both my 6th Grade Math Challenge of the Week and 8th Grade Challenge of the Week problems for free in my TpT store!

These types of problems have become so popular with my students, that I decided to create an entire set of Angle Relationships Task Cards! To help differentiate, I decided to divide up the problems into four different levels of problems (1-star, 2-star, 3-star, and 4-star). For the first three levels, I created 24 different cards. For the 4-star problems, I currently have two task cards, but plan on adding to this set in the future!

The one-star problems include 24 pretty basic angle relationship problems. Each one has two intersecting lines and students are given one of the angle measures. They must use their knowledge of vertical angles and supplementary angles to find the remaining three angles!

The two-star problems include 24 problems. These are slightly more complicated, since students must use their knowledge of finding missing angles in triangles to find the missing angles. They also use supplementary and vertical angles for these problems.

The three-star problems are one extra step up from the two-star challenges! Not only do students use vertical, supplementary, and triangle angles, but they also must use their understanding of angles in quadrilaterals. This is the level that many of my 6th graders choose to try.

The four-star problems are the ultimate challenge! For these problems, students must find the missing measure of lots of angles, using everything described in the last three levels. In addition, they must know how to find the sum of the angles of other polygons (pentagons, hexagons, etc.) to help find missing angles! These have been great for my high achieving students.

I hope you can find a use for some of these resources in your math classroom and would love to hear what you do to teach angle relationships in your math classroom in the comments below!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

8th Grade Math Mega Bundle!

With it being my first year teaching a section of 8th grade math, I have been spending time creating resources to use with my 8th grade group. I have finally gotten around to putting all of these 8th grade math materials into a mega bundle. Below I highlighted each of the math bundles/resources that are included! The bundle is linked at the bottom of this post, or you can click here to take a look!

8th Grade Math Task Cards Full Year Bundle set of 8th grade math task cards includes problems that are at a more basic level of the concepts we cover. I expect all of my 8th graders (it is a Math 8 class, not Algebra) to be able to do these. This bundle includes a task card for 93 different concepts and includes a total of 276 problems. Since we are all math people, let's do the math... that is an average of 2.97 problems per card! :) Topics include a wide range of 8th grade math concepts, including topics related to rational numbers, proportions, percents, a wide range of algebra concepts, two and three dimensional geometry concepts, statistics, probability, and more!

8th Grade Math Enrichment Task Cards Full Year Bundle

This set is similar to the regular task cards that I described above, however these are much more challenging problems. I don't always expect all of my Math 8 students to be able to get to these, but of course am always pushing them to try! This bundle includes 89 different concepts and 215 total problems (I'll let you do the math this time!). The reason there are fewer problems is because these tend to take much longer to solve. The topics are similar to the other task cards, just more difficult! I have found these to be great to use during math workshop with the small group that I am working with and also for early finishers during whole group work times.

8th Grade Math Exit Slips Full Year Bundle

This set of exit slips is set up the same way as my task cards, however each card includes exactly four problems that increase in difficulty. It ends up being 93 topics and 372 total problems. My district uses grading for learning, so each student earns a beginning, developing, proficient, or advanced grade in each math standard. These exit slips include one problem at each level for every concept. I actually use these as a daily check, which is like a mini-quiz, at the start of each class. It gives me a great chance to see if my students understood the lesson from the previous day!

8th Grade Math Scavenger Hunt Bundle

I have found scavenger hunts to be extremely effective and engaging for both 6th and 8th graders. I put together this scavenger hunt bundle to use throughout the year in 8th grade math. It includes 7 different scavenger hunts for various 8th grade concepts. Each scavenger hunt includes 12 problems/posters that you place around the room. Students travel through the 12 problems and must find their next problem based on their previous answer! These are a great way to get kids up and moving around.

8th Grade Math Sort Bundle

The math sort bundle might be the most effective way to kids working together and talking about math. In small groups, they receive 4 answer cards and 20 problem cards. After solving a problem, they sort the card under the correct answer card. After all 20 problem cards are sorted, they flip over the cards and must unscramble the funny phrases on the back! The bundle includes 4 topics, 16 sorts, and 320 total problem cards.

8th Grade Math Connect Four Bundle

This Connect Four Bundle includes 10 different games, again all related to 8th grade math concepts. After creating a wide range of these for 6th grade math and seeing how engaging they were, I decided to start making them for my Math 8 class. Students must solve problems, cover up their answers on their board, and try to connect four!

8th Grade Math Challenge of the Week Problems set of problems are the problems I post each week as my "Challenge of the Week." As you can see in the picture, I also have a set of these problems for 6th grade math as well. The challenge of the week has been a great opportunity to give my higher students a chance to challenge themselves. Every Monday, I post a new challenge of the week problem on my board. Students have until the end of the day on Thursday to submit an answer. On Friday, we discuss the problem and anybody that got it correct gets a mint or Starburst! Right now, the 8th grade set includes 27 of my 8th grade challenge problems, but I will probably add to this as the year goes!

Hopefully this gives a solid picture of what is all included in this bundle! If you are looking for a wide range of resources for 8th grade math from my TpT store, this bundle is the most discounted way to do that! If you also teach 6th grade math, I have a similar bundle (linked below) that is even more extensive than this 8th grade bundle. If you have any questions about specific resources or topics that are included, please ask in the comments below!

6th Grade Math Mega Bundle
8th Grade Math Mega Bundle