This post is transferred from my old blog - I can't believe it's been nearly three years since
I wrote it (Jan 13 of 2015)! I'm glad to say that I'm just as dedicated to my workouts as I was when I wrote this:-)
I don’t know about you, but I love my workouts. They do so much for me, mentally and physically, and I really miss them when things come up that cause me to skip them. I miss them so much that I often get up at 4:30 am to be sure I get some workout in, just in case my day ends up having other plans for me.
Why is it important for teachers to work out (besides the usual health reasons)? These are my top 5:
1) Exercise is a great stress reliever.
How many days do you come home stressed out over the events of the day? Still thinking about things that kids (or parents, or administrators) did that got you worked up? Do you bring that stress home with you or leave it at school? I know I have trouble leaving it at the door, but when I can go jump on the treadmill or the elliptical and pound that stress out, my mind definitely becomes more free.
2) Working out can renew your energy level for the rest of the day.
This is especially true if you can do it right after school. I usually have some grading (or planning) that I bring home, or I need to help my daughter with homework during the evenings; when I take that exercise time right after school, I get recharged for the evening.
3) It helps you avoid snacking.
I don’t know about you, but when I get home, I feel like eating EVERYTHING
I can get my hands on, (and I'm often tempted to choose foods that aren't very healthy!) When I work out, I don't have the same snacking urges.
Research shows that exercise helps memory and stimulates creativity. It's a great time to run lesson/activity ideas through your mind; somehow that extra physical activity gives your brain the boost to make those lessons more engaging/exciting/interesting!
5) Sleep better!
Extra physical activity helps me sleep better. What teacher doesn't need to get good sleep?
Who else loves their workouts??
Updated August, 2020
Do you believe that one of the best ways to learn is by using a variety of activities, including games? If so, then we agree!
It’s just more fun and students don’t even realize how much they’re learning.
While any game that helps kids learn is a winner in my book, I have some wonderful middle school games and activities I’ve created to use at home or in the classroom.
Truth or Dare Math (and ELA) Games
Do you remember playing Truth or Dare when you were younger? Well, I’ve brought the concept to the classroom by taking math (and ELA) concepts and creating questions that are:
1) true or false and more fact- based (Truth question) or
2) multiple choice or open-ended and more application-based/more challenging math or ELA questions (Dare questions).
To play, students are in groups, and they can choose a Truth or a Dare question. They get one point if they answer the Truth question correctly. If students choose a more challenging Dare question, a correct answer will boost their score faster; Dare questions are worth 2 or 3 points.
I've converted all my paper Math and ELA Truth or Dare Games to Google Slides, so students can have fun with these versions too!
Truth or Dare is one of my favorites middle school games; it really gets the students excited and engaged. AND, it can be used in any subject area!
I’ve always loved the dice game Yahtzee!, so I decided to create my own little spin on it. In this case, middle school math students practice converting fractions to decimals. They love rolling the dice and creating the fraction pairs.
The challenge comes when they have to convert those fractions into decimals or whole numbers. This activity can be a little challenging to start, but it only takes a few turns before students learn the rules and get the hang of this math game. It’s an incredibly engaging math activity for small groups, and could even be played as a whole class, allowing different students to roll the dice and decide which fraction pairs to create. It's also great as a center activity!
Footloose Task Card Games (Math and a couple ELA)
With Footloose Task Cards, students answer various types of questions about math (and ELA) concepts - sometimes they are basic knowledge questions, sometimes they're simple word problems, and sometimes they're quite challenging. It's easy to differentiate using these cards:-)
Students move around to get a new Footloose task card each time they complete one, and they write all their answers and work on their Footloose grids. It's a great way to keep students practicing and moving - and it's amazing how quiet they can be during this time!
For more details about how to play Footloose, check out this blog post.
Math Color By Number
Coloring for adults is a big trends at the moment, and it's become a great activity to incorporate into math class:-) Color by number activities are great as review before a math test, as homework, as assessments, as math center activities, for sub days, and for fast finishers.
Recently, I've created several digital color by number activities! Although these don't offer the same benefits that physical coloring offers, they still provide engaging math practice:-)
A couple other math activities I love arePentomino Exploration and playing Equivalent Fraction Go Fish!
We could list middle school games and activities for days:-) What are some of your favorites?
To Read Next:
Fraction Division in Middle School Math
How often have you taught fraction division to the students in your middle school math classes, only to find them "flipping" the wrong number? You may have taught them to "skip, flip, flip," "invert and multiply," or "multiply by the reciprocal." You may have listed out the steps, or taught them a nifty song, but somehow they still flip the wrong one or they forget to flip at all.
OR they change a mixed number into an improper fraction and seem to subconsciously think that since they did something to that mixed number, the flipping had already occurred...and then they don't flip anything.
Why does this happen? I'm going to say that it happens because they don't see the sense in it - it doesn't mean anything to them.
Fraction Division Using Common Denominators
So, I started using another way to teach fraction division - perhaps you've heard of it, or you use it. I never learned it this way as a student, but I like it and it makes more sense to some students. I learned this method when I had a student teacher a few years back. She was teaching the fraction unit, and when her supervisor came in to observe and discuss, she asked if I had ever taught fraction division using common denominators. Having only learned (and then taught) to multiply by the reciprocal, of course I said no.
The next time she visited, she brought me a page from a textbook that explained dividing fractions using common denominators. These are the steps:
Step 1: Find common denominators, just as when adding and subtracting and then make equivalent fractions (students are already used to doing this - hopefully).
Step 2: Create a new fraction with the numerator of the first fraction over the numerator of the second fraction...this is your answer.
Done (unless you need to reduce)!
I was shocked - it seemed SO simple!
Check out this example - it's a simple one, for starters:
5/6 divided by 2/3.
1) Find the common denominator of 6 and 3, which is 6. This gives you 5/6 divided by 4/6.
2) The first numerator (5) becomes the numerator in the answer. The second numerator (4) becomes the denominator. Then reduce.
Let's look at another one, with mixed numbers:
1 and 4/7 divided by 1 and 3/4.
1) Convert the mixed numbers to improper fractions, which gives you 11/7 divided by 7/4.
2) Find the common denominator of 28 and make equivalent fractions. This gives you 44/28 divided by 49/28.
2) The first numerator (44) becomes the numerator in the answer. The second numerator (49) becomes the denominator. No reducing, in this case.
I've shown both methods to my sixth-graders. Some really like it. Others stick to the flipping method - but I don't know if this is because they like it better or because it was the first way they learned it.....most of them had been taught something about fraction division in 5th grade.
Fraction Division Using the Reciprocal
As far as teaching multiplying by the reciprocal - if students are going to use it, I think it's important that they understand WHY it works. It may be tough for them to understand, but if they learn the common denominator method first, the proof may then make more sense to them. I found a great article on the NCTM website that uses the common denominator method to prove why multiplying by the reciprocal works - check it out!
Fraction Division Math Wheels
Recently I made two math wheels, to use to teach both methods of dividing fractions -taking notes will be more fun!
What do you think? Do you see any advantages or disadvantages to teaching fraction division using common denominators?
Grab this free fraction operations math wheel!
To Read Next:
Three Tips for Teaching Fraction Multiplication
Multiplying Mixed Numbers
How much do your 6th grade math students love multiplying mixed numbers?? If they're like mine, they might not love it at first:-)
I love teaching fraction multiplication in middle school math--and I especially love teaching multiplication of mixed numbers. Why?
Because we have fun exploring why multiplying mixed numbers DOESN'T work a certain way.
Inevitably, when we start multiplying mixed numbers (which students have done in 5th grade math, but we review in 6th grade), some students want to multiply the fractions by the fractions and then multiply the whole numbers by the whole numbers.
And I can see why they might think that's ok - after all, when they add and subtract fractions, they add/subtract the whole numbers and fractions separately.
Multiplying Mixed Numbers Tip #1:
Hey there! I'm Ellie - here to share math fun, best practices, and engaging, challenging, easy-prep activities ideas!