Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, MTBoS

As 2018 comes to a close and I’ve been thinking about everything that’s happened over the past year, it really stood out to me how many awesome MTBoS people I got to see in real life this year and how much of my improvement as a teacher can be attributed to the MTBoS.

It is such a cool experience to meet people in real life that you’re friends with online and to continue online friendships in person, and I have been so blessed to have so many opportunities to meet up with many of you throughout the year.

I’ve also had the opposite happen this year -people I knew in real life first have been introduced to the MTBoS.  It’s been so fun to see people that I’ve known from high school or my undergrad jump into the MTBoS!

Looking at the pictures below, I am blown away.  When I started teaching I never saw myself doing those things, let alone all of them in one year!  I cannot wait to see what the next year has in store.

I hope you all have a restful break and are able to recharge.  Merry Christmas!


TMC in Cleveland!

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(TMC Posts:  One  Two)


Fawn

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Math on a Stick

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MTBoS in my Classroom

 

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Activities for Before Christmas Break

The week before Christmas break is always crazy, and I tend to have plans A, B, and C ready to go because I never know what to expect.  For the most part, I try to keep things as normal as possible for as long as possible, while at the same time knowing things may not pan out as I hope.  I usually leave the last day before break somewhat open so I have some wiggle room if something else comes up and I would need to push a test to that day or if a student was gone and needs to take a test, etc.

Even on that last day, I usually have several different options ready to go that I could use in case something else would fall through.

Here are a couple of my favorite things to do with students the last day before Christmas break.

1. Sara Van Der Werf’s 5×5 Activity.

I have used this activity for the past 3 years, and it is an absolute favorite.  Read all about it here on Sara’s blog.  It’s not super mathy, but there’s addition involved.  In short, as I call out numbers, students place them in a 5×5 grid with the goal of earning the most points.  You earn points by having the same number in adjacent boxes.  Read all the details in Sara’s post.  I am always amazed at how quiet and into the game students get.  I will intentionally pause extra long sometimes before calling out the next number just to see if students will stay quiet -they do.  🙂

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2.  Flextangles

I stumbled on this last year, and it is a keeper.  I honestly had no idea how this would go over with my 7th grade boys, but they really seemed to enjoy it.  I had students asking if they could work on this in their free time long after the day we did it in class.


I had some extra time with some of my students in a class this week, and on a whim, I decided to try Function Carnival.  I had never used it with students before, but I thought this would be a good group of students to test it out on.  They loved it!

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It was the perfect activity to use a couple days before break because it was fun and engaging for students, and there was still a ton of great math conversations happening amongst my students.

I’ve already used these Desmos activities in a few of my classes, but may pull them out this week again if needed.  (That’s the one downside to teaching students multiple times -I can’t use all my activities the first time I have them, because I will have them again within the next two years and need to save some of my favorites.)

  • Trees and Tents (one and two)
  • Wolves and Sheep
  • Jay Chow creates awesome Desmos Breakout activities.  This is above where my students are at, but if i taught high school, I would definitely consider using this.

I may also pull out several of the different things I’ve put out on my Play Table, or some of the board games I have in my room (Rush Hour and Blokus are some of my students’ favorites).

I also just found out you can play Otrio online!  I have the game, but I honestly hadn’t had a chance to play it until now.

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Game about Squares is another great one!

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I would love to hear your favorite activities to do with middle schoolers in the day or days leading up to Christmas break!

Function Notation Same/Different

I have seen other people use the prompt “What is the same?  What is different?” around Twitter (Check out #samediffmath), but I’d never formally used it in my classroom.  I have asked those questions before on the fly, but I’d never created something to put in front of my students where those questions were the main focus.

As I was driving to school Friday and was thinking about what I was teaching that day, I had this thought to create one for function notation.  Function notation is something that some students struggle with, and it sort of surprises me every year because it is so similar to things they’ve already done.  Here’s what I came up with.

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I printed these out on half sheets of paper and had my students do a Stand and Talk with them.

Here are some of the responses I got for “What is the same?”

  • Both have an answer of 57
  • The last 5 rows are the same.
  • Both replace the x with 4.
  • Both have 3x^2 + 2x + 1

For “What is different?” we talked about how on the right it has f(x) and asks to find f(4), and on the left instead it says “evaluate…for x = 4”

We talked about how so much of the problems are the same, but if I just gave my students the top row, they would know how to do the left one, but would feel completely lost with the right one.

In my second class, I explained how these questions are asking something very, very similar but the notation is different.  I thought of the example of in elementary school if they were given 5 × 3, they would know exactly what to do.  However, if they were given 5 • 3, they wouldn’t, even though it is asking the same thing.  As I was explaining that, I could see some students making the connection to the two problems we were looking at.

I LOVED using these prompts intentionally in my classroom, and I’m looking forward to finding more ways to incorporate this into my classes.

(Here are some of the other things I’ve done with function notation.)