Saturday, March 10, 2018

Pi Day in a Middle School Classroom

It seems like March 14th always comes at a time when students (and teachers!) are in need of a break from the normal routine! Celebrating Pi Day on 3/14 in the middle school classroom can be a great way to take a step back from whatever unit you are in and have some fun! Here are a few ideas to help explore this intriguing number!

1. Read "Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi"
This book, written by Cindy Neuschwander, is such a great introduction to pi each year. It has become tradition to start off the class by reading this book to the class. I love how the book dives into what the number pi is and how it relates to circles.

2. Pi Day Challenge
As you may know, I like making classroom activities into challenges. This free Pi Day Challenge helps students understand that pi is a ratio between circumference and diameter. In this activity, groups must measure these lengths using a ruler and yarn. Once measured, they divide their measurements to see which group can get the closest to 3.1415...!

3. Numberphile Pi Videos
I am so glad I discovered this site. They have some amazing videos that explore a wide range of mathematical concepts. Although some of these go above and beyond middle school math, these two Pi Day videos are great! The "Mile of Pi" follows them stretching out the digits of pi, in fine print, for one mile on an airport runway. The second video I always show is "Calculating Pi with Pies," pi is measured and calculated with actual pies. Students always enjoy watching both of these!

4. Digits of Pi
If you are in need of a time filler on Pi Day, this simple idea is fun for students. Give each student a blank piece of paper. Then give each student a digit of pi, starting at the beginning. For example, the first student gets 3, the second student gets 1, the third student 4, etc. Each student must create, design, and color their number. Once they are all finished, I post them around the room, creating the digits of pi. This is even more fun if you have multiple classes, since each class can pick up where th last class left off!

What are your Pi Day celebrations! I'd love to hear your ideas in the comments below!

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Sunday, February 11, 2018

4 Ways to Use Task Cards in the Middle School Math Classroom

One of the greatest things about task cards is how versatile they are in the classroom! From enrichment to math workshop centers, here are 4 effective ways to utilize task cards in the classroom.

1. Weekly Challenges our geometry units roll around in 6th and 8th grade math, I prefer to use these Angle Relationships Task Cards as a weekly challenge activity. The task cards have four star levels, marking their level of difficulty. I put four corresponding turn-in buckets next to each stack of cards. Throughout the week, students can enter as many of them as they want (without repeating a card). Every Monday, we draw one winner from each bucket. The first correct answer from each of the buckets gets a prize! Having a challenge routine similar to this one is a great option for students who are always finishing early.

2. Warm-up Problems
Task cards can also be great warm-up problems. Personally, I use my exit slips as a warm-up, but task cards can work just as well! Either project the problems at the front of the room or print, cut, and distribute for students to complete and turn in!

3. Exit Slips
Similar to the warm-up, but at the end of class, task cards are a great way to check each students' understanding of the concept you covered that day during class. I've heard so often that the last five minutes are crucial for students to process and think about what they learned that day. Having them complete a task card exit slip is an easy way to do this!

4. Math Workshop Centers
My favorite use for task cards is during math workshop. In my class, I use the task cards with the small group that I am working with. Each of the students begins with a "regular" task card, that includes basic types of problems of the concept we are learning about that day. I use these 6th Grade Task Cards and 8th Grade Task Cards at my front table. The students who show they have a solid understanding of the more basic problems then get an "enrichment" task card. These 6th Grade Enrichment Task Cards and 8th Grade Enrichment Task Cards included the same topics as the first sets, but more challenging problems. I love seeing students problem solve as they work through these difficult challenges!

For more teaching tips, freebies, activities, and more, be sure to sign up for my weekly newsletter at the following link!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

5th/6th Grade Mega Bundle (PART 2) is Ready!

I'm excited to have a "Part 2" mega bundle ready to go for all of my 5th/6th grade resources! A few years ago, I created this Math Mega Bundle (For Upper Elementary/Middle School Math) PART 1, which at the time included all of the resources I had created. With all of my new task cards, math sorts, board games, and other activities created since then, I decided to put them all together (at a big discount!) into a Math Mega Bundle (For Upper Elementary/Middle School Math) PART 2! There is NO overlap between the two bundles! Below, I highlighted a few of the resources included in the new bundle!

*If you would like to see more info about the Part 1 bundle, you can head over to THIS blog post.

This bundle of task cards includes 86 different task cards that each include 1-4 problems related to a specific math concept. Topics cover numbers and operations, ratios, algebra, geometry, statistics, and probability concepts! I find these perfect to use with my "Teacher" group during math workshop. These task cards start with pretty basic problems for each concept. I start each student with this task card. If they complete the problems, I then have an enrichment task card that I have them try. You can find the enrichment task cards HERE, which are a part of the PART 1 bundle. bundle of exit slips covers most of the same concepts as the task card bundle above, however each of the 89 exit slips contains exactly four problems related to that concept. The problems gradually increase in difficulty. Our district grades on a Beginning, Developing, Proficient, or Advanced scale, so the four problems align to those levels. I actually use these as a graded warm-up, or daily check, to start each class. The check assesses student understanding of the concept we covered the previous day. They are easy to project or print out, two per page, and distribute to students.

These math sorts are some of the more engaging activities I have used with my 6th graders! Students sort the cards based on their answer, placing them under the answer cards. Once each answer card has five corresponding cards underneath it, the students flip over the cards and must unscramble the funny phrases on the back! This bundle includes the following topics. Each topic includes multiple sorts.
(1) Multiplying Decimals Sort (80 problems)
(2) Dividing Decimals Sort (80 problems)
(3) Algebra Equation Sort (100 problems)
(4) Area and Perimeter Sort (80 problems)
(5) Mean, Median, Mode, and Range Sort (80 problems)

Angle Relationships Task Cards
This set of Angle Relationships Task Cards included four different difficulty levels, marked by the number of stars in the corner of the card. Students must use their knowledge of complementary angles, supplementary angles, angles in polygons, and vertical angles to find the missing angles on the card!

I started creating board games this year and they have been a huge hit with my middle schoolers! I particularly like using them with my small math intervention groups that I work with. This bundle includes the following 6 board games related to different fraction and decimal operations!

(1) Decimal Derby! An Adding and Subtracting Decimals Board Game
(2) Decimal Dash! A Multiplying Decimals Board Game
(3) Decimal Duel! A Dividing Decimals Board Game
(4) Fraction Fury! An Adding and Subtracting Fractions Board Game
(5) Fraction Fever! A Multiplying Fractions Board Game
(6) Fraction Frenzy! A Dividing Fractions Board Game

This bundle of board games is focused entirely on algebra. A few of these go a bit beyond the 5th/6th grade level, but it never hurts to have something in reserve as enrichment, right? I have already used the Equation Invasion game a ton in math class this year and my 6th graders really responded well to it!

(1) Expressions Frenzy! A Simplifying Expressions Board Game
(2) Equation Invasion! A Solving Equations Board Game
(3) Equation Invasion! A Solving Equations Board Game (Negative Number Edition)
(4) Equation Invasion! A Solving Equations Board Game (Multi-Step Equations Edition)
(5) Inequality Invasion! A Solving Inequalities Board Game
(6) Inequality Invasion! A Solving Inequalities Board Game (Negative Number Edition)

This set of two board games includes Area Invasion and Volume Victory. Area Invasion helps students practice finding the area of rectangles, parallelograms, triangles, trapezoids, and circles. Volume Victory requires students to find the volume of rectangular prisms, triangular prisms, pyramids, cones, and cylinders as they move around the game board!

Probability Panic is a board game where students must find the probability of simple events, independent events, and compound events as they work their way around the board.

Hopefully this provided a good overview of what is included in this "Part 2" Mega Bundle! Feel free to email me at if you have questions!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Area Invasion! A Math Board Game

A new board game is ready to go! This new Area Invasion game is my first game that focuses on a geometry concept. This post explains the rules and how to play! You can get a copy of Area Invasion at the following link.

Materials: The game includes a game board, four different sets of 22 Area Cards (Rectangle, Parallelogram, Triangle, and Trapezoid), 21 Circle Slide Cards, Teacher Instructions and Rules, a Student Worksheet, and an Answer Key.

The game begins with each player on the "START" space. On each player's first turn, they can choose any type of Area Card. If they are able to correctly find the area of the shape on the card, they move ahead as many spaces indicated on the card. Once they are off of the "START" space, they must start each turn by drawing an Area Card that corresponds to the shape of the space that their game piece is on. For example, if they are on a trapezoid space, they start their turn by drawing a Trapezoid Area Card. If they are able to find the area of the trapezoid on that card, they move ahead the number of spaces it says on the card! The picture below shows one of the easier and more difficult problems for each type of shape.
If at any time a player lands on a "Circle Slide" space, they immediately draw a Circle Slide Card. If they are able to find the area of the circle on the card, they get to move ahead on the slide (the arrow on that space). If they get the problem wrong, they stay at the space they are on. On their next turn, they would then take whatever shape is on that space. One of the easier and more difficult Circle Slide Cards are shown below!

First person to reach the Finish space wins the game! I hope your students enjoy playing!

If your students enjoyed this game, they may also like playing the following board games. Each of these sets are at a discount when purchased as the bundle.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Using Games in the Math Classroom

As my teaching career has evolved, so have my classroom procedures, routines, and teaching style. However, one thing that has remained constant is the goal of creating or finding math activities that make math fun for my students. It is only natural then, that math games are a central them in my classroom. Whether it is in partners, small groups, or as a whole class, math games can be a great way to get students learning and practicing math, while also having fun! Below are some of the games that are either new or have become staples in the math classroom.

1. Product Game
This game has A TON of strategy involved. It is a great way for students to practice their basic math facts and is way more fun than just practicing with flash cards. The best part... you can try this one out for free at the NCTM Illuminations website! Click HERE to give it a try!

2. Fractions and Decimals Board Games
Up until this year, I hadn't really tried using board games that often with my students. After introducing these fraction and decimal games earlier this school year, I am wishing I would have done this sooner in my teaching career! Kids have responded really well to these games. This bundle includes a little bit of everything when it comes to fraction and decimal operations. There are six different games included that focus on either adding, subtracting, multiplying, or dividing fractions and decimals. You can click on the link below to check them out!

3. Siega
In my third year of teaching, it was a student that recommended playing this game. He had come from another district, where his teacher had taught his class what he called "Siega." Although it isn't math related, the strategy is great. Students start with three counters on their side of the board. They take turns moving one of their counters to an open spot that is touching (directly or diagonally) its current spot on the board. A player wins by getting their three counters in a straight line (horizontally, vertically, or diagonally). However, the straight line cannot be in the original spot where the counters started. Play this a few times and students will quickly learn how they can "trap" the other player!

4. Math Bingo Games
Who doesn't like to play bingo? Whole group bingo games can be a fun way to practice different math skills. I like using the Squares and Square Roots Bingo game (linked below) in particular when we first cover exponents and square roots. It is a fun way for students to practice these skills and it can help these concepts "stick" that much more!

Whether it is math games or other engaging math activities, making math interesting and fun for students can have a long-lasting effect, helping to shape a positive attitude of students towards math!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Middle School Math Man's Favorite Things Giveaway

1. Favorite Holiday Activity

When it comes to the holidays, spending time battling the family in board games often tops the list of things to do. Whether it means breaking out a classic like Monopoly with the nephews or some Ticket to Ride against the in-laws, there is never a shortage of board game competition! This isn't very surprising, coming from someone who once played himself in Monopoly as a kid because all his friends and family were so sick of playing and more recently, played 17 games of Catan in two days... :)

2. Favorite Math Activity

Sticking with the board game theme, I discovered a new student favorite this year in middle school math. These new Fraction and Decimals Board Games have been a huge hit with students and are a fun way to practice different operation with decimals and fractions. In each of these games, students answer math problems as they work their way around the board. You can click HERE to see a blog post with some more information about how the games work!

3. Favorite Teacher Tool

When it comes to teacher tools, I've got to go with dry-erase paint. The $25 spent on this paint from Home Depot each year is the best $25 I spend in my classroom. I have seen increased engagement (who doesn't want to do math on a table?) and it works perfect as a table for the teacher center of math workshop. If you are interested in trying it out, be sure to click on the blog post below that details the whole process!

Don't miss my giveaway!

For a chance to win a $10 TpT gift card and a pack of Expo Dry Erase Markers, be sure to do the following two things:

1. Comment on this post with your favorite holiday activity! 

2. Follow my weekly newsletter by clicking HERE (and also receive a task card freebie!). If you already follow my newsletter, than you only have to comment on this post to be entered. A winner will be chosen on Monday, December 18th at 8pm EST. Good luck!

Now it's time to hop over to Scaffolded Math and Science's blog to enter another giveaway! 
Giveaway ends Monday December 18, 2017 at 8PM EST!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Expressions, Equations, and Inequalities Board Game Bundle

The popularity of board games in my middle school math classroom has been such a pleasant surprise! After creating these Fractions and Decimals Board Games for my students earlier this year, they soon became a classroom favorite. Students were actually asking if they could play them!

After seeing how students responded to these games, I decided it would be worth it to create similar games with a focus on algebra. This new bundle of games, an Expressions, Equations, and Inequalities Board Game Bundle, includes the following six board games for middle school math! Each of the games includes a similar game board that students must work their way around by solving problems. The board includes "Test Your Luck" spaces that provide an element of luck, either moving the player ahead or backwards. Each game board also includes a "Switch It Up" space. If a player lands here, they must switch their game piece with any other player! First player to make it to the end wins!

1. Expressions Frenzy! A Simplifying Algebraic Expressions Board Game

This game focuses entirely on simplifying algebraic expressions. Students must combine like terms, both positive and negative, to simplify each expression as they work their way around the game board!

2. Equation Invasion! A Solving Equations Board Game

This version of the game requires students to solve equations. This edition only includes positive numbers, but includes all types of equations. They range from simple addition equations to more complicated two-step equations. All of these problems have the variable on only one side of the equation.

3. Equation Invasion! A Solving Equations Board Game (Negative Number Edition)

This Negative Number Edition is similar to the regular Equation Invasion (above) but includes equations that involve negative numbers. These equations range from addition equations to two-step equations, but only have the variable on one side of the equation.

4. Equation Invasion! A Solving Equations Board Game (Multi-Step Equations Edition)
This Multi-Step Equations Edition includes equations that have a variable on both sides of the equation, making it a little more challenging. Students must first isolate the variable to one side and then solve!

5. Inequality Invasion! A Solving Inequalities Board Game

Inequality Invasion requires students to solve one and two-step inequalities as they work their way to the end of the game board! This version only includes positive numbers. Addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and two-step inequalities are all included in the playing cards.

6. Inequality Invasion! A Solving Inequalities Board Game (Negative Number Edition)

This edition is very similar to the Inequality Invasion game above, however it includes negative numbers. This version is great for upper middle school grades!