This is our second year teaching with CPM and last year was good, but this year is even better! I teach 8th grade and only a few of my 130 students are new, so they all know how to do the curriculum from last year. I am having a awesome start to the year!

If you aren’t aware of CPM (College Prep Math) it is a great program that has been around for years. It was Common Core, even before there was a Common Core.

I have to admit, I would not be a fan as a student, because you actually have to think…not just do the same problems over and over again. But that is how our brains grow!

While cleaning my room I found my printouts from when my students did Des-man from Desmos back in November. I have used it the past couple of years. I added in some further exploration for them to do, since you can do some really cool things with graphing. I was going to scan the black and white printouts of their creations, but when I went to log in, all the graphs were still there in my account, in beautiful color. So I saved them to share on the website. If you haven’t done this activity yet, it is really awesome. Great for an intro to Desmos, or more advanced.

THE BEST PART IS THAT I CAN WATCH WHAT EVERY STUDENT, PAIR, OR GROUP IS DOING ON MY SCREEN, LIVE. I can then click on certain screens to show everyone. I know you can do this in other programs, but I haven’t yet found one as easy. So when I want them to do graphing in Desmos, I have them all go to Des-man, and ignore the instructions. I asked Desmos about just making a “classroom” like Des-man, and they said they were working on it. But until then, this is my workaround. Here are some scatter plots we did in February.

Wow! It has been a year since I posted, because the last time I wrote about SBAC Practice! Argh!

I spent a lot of time over spring break, making Kahoot!s out of the online SBAC Practice Tests. I am no fan of the SBAC, or multiple choice tests, and I know some of the questions are ridiculous, but, I have to prepare the students.

So instead of going through each question with them, online, I decided to make Kahoot!s. If you haven’t checked out Kahoot! yet, it is great and FREE!. You may not be able to get any high rigor or DOK levels here, but it can be a lifesaver. When we have a lesson finish quickly, we can quickly review using a Kahoot!. My daughters love playing it on the TV at home! There is a Kahoot! for nearly every topic, or you can make your own.

Kahoot! is a trivia like game online. Students with internet access can play (phones, tablets, computers). Sometimes we play as desk groups, sometimes as pairs, sometimes by themselves.

Students are given a code to enter into the website and then asked for a nickname.

When your students are entered, you begin the game.

Multiple choice questions come up and you choose the correct answer. The quicker you choose the correct answer, the more points you get. You can then go to the next question, or review the previous one. The students love it!

Monday we are going to do my SBAC Practice Kahoot!s. I did them for 6th and 8th grade. Instead of making one big test, I separated the questions for each grade level into 3 smaller Kahoots. I see that some people have already played/favourited my Kahoot!s before I even played it with my class.

Students are given a code to enter into the website and then asked for a nickname. When your students are entered, you begin the game. Multiple choice questions come up and you choose the correct answer. The quicker you choose the correct answer, the more points you get. You can then go to the next question, or review the previous one. The students love it!

Here are the links for the first parts, just search SBAC Math Practice 8 or 6 for the second and third parts.

My Algebra classes, that consist of 7th and 8th graders, will be taken the 7th grade and 8th grade tests. They allow you to do the practice test online, but you don’t get to see how many you missed, what you missed and where did you go wrong. I was thinking I would have to do each of the tests and make answer keys. So I decided to search on the web to see if someone had already done it. Well I found the whole rubric on the Smarter Balance website! They had rubrics for all of the sample/practice tests.

I used the rubrics, which had screen shots of each question, to create an answer sheet that they could fill in as they do the test. Then we could review all of the answers.

I also used the rubrics to print up the performance tasks, so they could do it on paper and I could grade them using the rubric.

So, my 7th and 8th graders worked with their partners to complete the 7th grade online test and we reviewed their answers. They will be doing the 8th grade practice test next week. Deleting stuff on one of the questions is difficult.

6th grade pre-algebra, practiced the 5th grade test with a partner, and tomorrow they will try the 6th grade on their own. We have found that entering fractions are really difficult.

I am going to do the 3rd grade practice tests with my daughter during spring break. Should be interesting!

I decided to try the free Sunken Treasure game. I already have the kids sitting in groups of four. All students took a paper and folded it to 8 rectangles (one per problem). I passed out a Kuta worksheet I had made about factoring polynomials and placed them in sheet protectors. Each person in the group had to write down the first problem and factor on their paper. I wanted to pull up the powerpoint on my IPAD and wander around the classroom, allowing students to click on their choice of location, but the file didn’t transfer properly to keynote or google docs. So instead, I ran it on my desktop pc and used Doceri to control the powerpoint through the Ipad. So as soon as everyone in the group had written their work and answer, they would raise their hand. I quickly check their work and let one of the group members choose a number from Sunken Treasure. If they choose the treasure, the group members each got a candy, and I would choose another board to play. If they didn’t choose the treasure, the group would continue to the next problem. It would get so exciting when there were only a few numbers left.

I have been teaching math support classes for many years and, specifically Algebra Support for the past 3 years. I have been lucky to have volunteers from We Teach Science, a Remote Tutoring and Mentoring program for those past 3 years. They work in technological companies like NVIDIA and AT&T.

The best part of the mentoring program is that the students have the opportunity for free one-on-one tutoring. Although I have them for an additional math period, there are 25 students and it is impossible to give them attention. On mentoring days, I am satisfied that each student is receiving the individual help that they need.

Student- mentor connections last year were especially good (and looking great for this year, too). Some mentors even come routinely to the classroom to support their mentees, and, sometimes even other students! The adults care about the students and want them to be successful. They have both mathematical and non-mathematical conversations.

The confidence of each student has increased, also. They are willing to speak up in class and I believe that it is because of the program. Several mentees and their parents attended a board meeting presentation about the mentoring program. The students (and sometimes the parents) spoke about their mathematical success this year and emphasized that it was because of the Algebra Remote Tutoring Program.

Currently, my favorite resource is the Mathematics Assessment Project website. They have Formative Assessment Lessons, Summative Assessment Tasks (aka MARS Tasks, which we used to give as a district), and Tests. They are all aligned to the Common Core content and Mathematical Practice Standards.

I started using the formative assessment lessons last year. We used them in Common Core training. I found them frustrating because it always took me more time than the instructions said it would. But, I really liked them. Forming Quadratics

This summer I went to an SVMI (Silicon Valley Mathematics Initiative) week-long training with some of my coworkers. It was great! I got some fabulous training on using those lessons and tasks, and others available on the web.

The Formative Assessment Lessons (FALs) usually start with a pre-assessment task, a short class lesson, group work activity, group comparisons, whole class closure, and a post-assessment. They are meant to be done approximate 2/3 through your unit (I didn’t know that last year!)

This year I have already done two of the FALs. The first was in Algebra, and it was a lower level lesson, but I wanted an easy one to start with. Laws of Arithmetic was perfect. It helps with area models and expressions, some with exponents. We also had just reviewed properties and order of operations, which the students used in their explanations. I wanted to make sure to keep it within a short time frame, so I actually eliminated a couple of the cards in the card sort. I think it went really well. I have the post-assessments to look at tomorrow. (My class posters did not looks that nice!)

I also did one this week in 6th grade Pre-Algebra, after finishing the adding and subtracting integers (which was supposed to review for them). They did the lesson Using Positive and Negative Integers in Context, which discusses temperature. Another teacher did the same lesson in Algebra the week before and warned me it would take a longer time than suggested. And then I read Dan, at the Exponential Curve blog (so glad he is back), did the same lesson and it took him 4 days for his high school intensive class. I couldn’t believe it, but, it took my students about 4 lessons, too. And not only that, I decided, for the group comparison, to actually make a giant class version of the card sort. That went well, but would have been better if they really were able to compare as groups to that more students would talk. I have their post-assessments to still read, too.

I am also still a fan of Dan Meyer, too. His resources are great. Friday, I used the Penny Pyramid 3-Act (or Pyramid of Pennies) problem in all of my classes, for the second year. I’m so glad I did…I forgot how engaging the problem can be for the students. I was lucky to actually experience the problem from Dan Meyer, himself, at a class at Stanford in the summer of 2012. The Act I video is perfect. Everyone was asking questions, before I could even tell them to write down some questions. It works so well. I had hoped to finish it up and take a quick simplifying quiz at the end of the period, but they were so involved, I just couldn’t stop.

I kept asking them if there was an easier way to do the problem. They were figuring out each layer and then adding the layers together. A couple of students (mostly the 6th graders) realized you could multiply figure out all of the stacks in the pyramid, and then multiply by 13. One student told us she could write a C++ program to calculate the answer. I was shocked! There was one teacher in the summer class that could do that, too. I pulled up Excel, and she told me she could do it in Excel, too.

So they will have to wait until Monday to close it all up. So wonderful to hear them talking math.

This was my third year doing my Algebra Tiles Project. I changed it a bit, because we haven’t done solving equations, yet. This was my old post: Algebra Tiles for Combining Like Terms. It has all of the links to the documents. This year, they had to have at least one of each of the 6 tiles. In addition, their simplified expression couldn’t be 0, meaning it can’t all cancel out. This year they were much more creative, that is why I had to post it again!

Years ago, when I taught 6th grade math, I would do a decimal names project. When introducing decimals, I would have the students make letters in 100 square grids(Decimal Name Grids), represent them as decimals, sometimes as percents, and find the total. I got the idea from an enrichment worksheet from one our old textbooks. I would show an overhead of the worksheet to give them ideas about what the letters could look like.

As the years went on, I found myself making many of the letters for some of the kids. So I created a paper, that had all of the letters in the alphabet, in a block letter font, and made multiple copies to use as examples. I had fun making it, so then I started making more, in other styles. Some students borrow them, some make their own. It is up to them.

Anyhow, I decided to pull it out of my file cabinet the first week of school to quickly review decimal operations, instead of my regular old worksheet. I created a worksheet they had to fill out and glue to the back of their name. It requires the amount for each letter, the total, largest letter minus the smallest, largest letter times the smallest, and largest letter divided by the smallest (decimal name back).

It worked really well. I was able to see who needed some decimal help. I returned the name to the student to make changes. In fact, I do that for all of my projects. I keep returning the project to the student, until it is perfect.