Bingo  an oldie but goodie!
This post is from my old blog (and adjusted some:), sharing how I used algebraic equations bingo in my 6th grade math class. Even in middle school, math students have a great time with bingo! We've used the algebraic equations bingo to practice and review for an upcoming test and to revisit the concept of solving equations before we tackled solving equations with fractions and decimals. The Algebraic Equations Bingo set has 11 different bingo cards (printable sheets). Students solve the onestep equations found on their cards before we play, so they know what numbers they're listening for instead of scrambling to figure out answers once we start calling numbers. When I use this activity, I don't laminate the cards, because I like the fact that students can solve and write their answers right on the cards. This makes the numbers a bit easier for students to find when I call them. However, if you have good dry erase markers so students can solve on the cards and then completely erase the ink, laminating would be great for reusing every year  it would definitely cut down on the copying!
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Back to School Activities
Always looking for new ideas for the beginning of the year? Me too!
I've got a few for you and your students, for when you head back to school!
The Name Game
I used this game for many years.....many times I'd plan not to, but then I couldn't stand not knowing kids' names right away, so we'd play:) Students and I get into a big circle, and I ask students to come up with an adjective that describes them and begins with the same sound as the beginning of their first name, like 'Energetic Ellie." The first student to my left shares his/her name; the 2nd student repeats the 1st student's name and then shares his own. The third student repeats the first two names/adjectives, and adds her own. The activity continues in this way around the circle until we get to me, and I get to repeat all the names. This game helps me to get to know all the students' names during the first class session. It also helps me learn about the students  it tells me who seems to have a good memory and who has more difficulty. I can see who appears to be confident and who is more hesitant; who's willing to accept help (I always prompt if they want/need) and who isn't. And of course, their adjectives usually tell me something about them:)
Getting to Know You Truth or Dare
Truth or Dare  kids are intrigued when they hear the name! “Math Truth or Dare – Getting to Know You” is a set of 30 questions you can use to get to know your students and to help your students get to know each other. There are 15 “Truth” question cards and 15 “Dare” question cards. Most of them do not have a “correct” answer, so if more than 15 students choose to answer a “truth” question or a “dare” question, then the questions can be used again. The Truth questions ask about the students, while the Dare questions ask students to complete math computations (some of the computations are based on facts about the student, so these can also be used again, as students’ answers may be different.) You can grab this freebie on TPT or as part of the free download if you opt in for my email updates. How do you help your math students retain concepts? How do they remember the meanings of certain terms? How do you help them prepare for those standardized tests? Spiral review helps with all of these. I've been using spiral review for a long time, but never wrote about it before  so here we go:)
How does spiral review on a daily basis help students?
I've been usingdaily math with spiral review since 2013. I created my own daily math at that time, because I couldn't find a resource that really helped my students. With this spiral review, I found these benefits:
Ideas for How to Use Daily Math
1) Cut each page into the separate days for students to work on as their bell ringer or warm up. 2) Have students keep the daily math pages in a binder so they always have them available (my favorite). 3) Display the pages for students to see as they enter the class. They can complete the problems in their notebooks. 4) Use the pages as homework. 5) Have a weekly/monthly/quarterly quiz, allowing students to use their daily math pages as a resource  I love doing this because it helps students to make sure they don't lose their pages! Finding the Lowest Common Denominator with the Ladder Method What's the most challenging math topic to teach/most difficult for your students to ‘get'? This was my question in a recent Instagram survey. I got a variety of responses, but the one that came up most often was fractions – remembering the ‘rules;’ students finding common denominators when they were multiplying; students (older students) not being able to find a common denominator; and so on. So, today, I’m going to share how to use the ladder method to find the lowest (least) common denominator, and hopefully, if your students have struggled with this, it will help them (and you!). Before I explain how it works, I want to share that I've used the ladder method for several years, after many years of teaching GCF and LCM the ‘traditional’ way  the way I’d been taught! And during those years, I’d often get frustrated by the fact that students would miss the GCF because they missed factors, or they couldn’t find the LCD because the numbers got too big so they just multiplied the denominators…..or they listed out the multiples, but made a mistake in one list, and so they never found an LCM/LCD. I'm sure you know what I mean! The ladder method took these issues away, and it also added something I didn’t initially expect – it appeared to improve number sense for many students who struggled with their multiplication facts or with the idea of finding factors and multiples. It helped them understand HOW numbers were related to each other by making the breakdown of the #s more visual (using prime factorization does this as well, but the ladder method provides a little more organization to the process, and I think that’s helpful).
Use Task Cards in a New Way, to Provide
SelfDifferentiation and Promote Discussion
If you're like me (and so many other teachers), you know that task cards can be used in sooo many ways. From centers to Footloose (or Scoot) to exit tickets to entrance tickets to miniquizzes  the list is long!
However, if you're like me in other ways, you're always looking for something new and different. This year, my "new and different" was to start using task cards to play Truth or Dare in math and language arts classes! To use them this way, some of the task/question cards need to be written as True or False questions, which can make the questions just a little trickier and lead to more indepth thinking. I allow students to discuss the answers after the "official" answer is given, and depending on the question, students end up having great discussions! The Dare questions are a little harder, require more calculation or perhaps more verbal explanation than the Truth cards, and so they are worth more points. (Truth cards are worth one point while Dare cards are worth 2 or 3  I've even thrown in a 4pointer here and there.) What makes this game fun? Well, it's a little different  with the "dare" part in there. Students also don't always know how many points they're going to get to try, so that offers a little excitement. I like the fact that students can choose the type of question they want, so it allows for some selfdetermined differentiation...the choice gives the more hesitant students the chance to feel a little more confident. After creating several paper and pencil Truth or Dare games, my wonderful friend Leah (Secondary Resources for Social Studies & English) suggested that I make a Google classroom version, and I'm so glad I did! It's so easy to use and there's little to no copying needed! (A little copying if I want students to write their work/answers on paper; no copying if I want to share the Truth or Dare game in Edit mode and have students type their answers.) Check out the 2minute video below  it shows how the game works in Edit mode (there are one or two "slow to refresh" spots in the video, so please don't think it's not working:)
Check out this video to learn more about the way the game is played with paper/pencil  in any subject!
I hope you can use this game ideait can be used in any subject!
I was looking through my middle school math folders on my computer, and came across a document called "The Factor Game," and it occurred to me that in trying to think of some new things to do with my classes, I forgot to play the Factor Game this year when we started talking about factors!
I was so disappointed with myself. Of course, we can play it next week, or any other time, but I just couldn't believe that I had forgotten about it. I'm sure many people know of the Factor Game, or use a version of it, but for those who don't, here it is! Do you use the ladder method in middle school or elementary math, to find GCF, LCM, or for any other math concepts? If you haven't had the chance to use the ladder method (or the upside down birthday cake method, as some call it), I highly recommend it. Uses of the Ladder Method As you can see in the anchor chart, math students can use the ladder method to find greatest common factor (GCF), least common multiple (LCM), for factoring, reducing fractions, finding prime factorization, and for finding the least common denominator (not pictured)! So many uses! And what I really like about this method is that the process is the same for each use; the outside numbers are just used differently. I like the fact that the continued use of the ladder method (for various concepts) leads students to make greater connections between numbers.....and finding factors seems to come more easily. Benefits of Using the Ladder Method In addition to helping math students find GCF and LCM, using the ladder method helps students see the relationships between numbers a little more clearly. It's very easy to see what factors different numbers have in common and how those factors 'contribute' to the LCM or GCF. When I used the ladder method for factoring, students picked up the factoring concept MUCH more quickly than when I hadn't used it. The short video below demonstrates how to factor a simple expression. Ladder Method Resources A while back, I wrote a guest post about the ladder method on Rachel Lynette's blog, so if you're interested in reading more, check it out here. I shared a ladder method folditup in my guest post, but you can also click on the image here, if you'd like to download it. I've also created a fun Doodle Notes page to help students with the Ladder Method! Click on the image, to see it on TPT. If you haven't used the ladder method before, I hope you'll give it a try! If you have, I'm sure you understand why I love it:) To read next: 
AuthorHi, I'm Ellie! My mission here is to support teachers as they work to provide engaging, meaningful experiences for their students. I've been in education for 25 years, teaching all subject areas at both the elementary and middle school levels, and am here to share what I've learned through those years, as well as what I continue to learn. I hope you'll find some ideas or resources here to help you out! Categories
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