This is a repost from 2013, transferred from my previous blog:-)
Some students finally got to play Fraction War today!
We again worked on the group problem solving that we started last week (comparing and ordering fractions), and continued with Footloose...also comparing and ordering fractions (click for description of Footloose game). Students finish Footloose at all different times, so the few that did finish today had the opportunity to play Fraction War with the fraction card decks I've made.
I am loving these fraction cards! I made them during the summer, just with the idea of playing "Go Fish," but I also used them for an equivalent fraction sorting activity, and now they are great for playing "War." The kids who played today did a great job deciding which fraction was larger....I asked them to write their work on paper, so I could be sure they weren't guessing, but after a few turns, I could hear them discussing as they found common denominators and made equivalent fraction to compare, or reduced the fractions to compare. They were definitely thinking!
I'm finding that the use of these cards is really helping students' mental math abilities as well as the math conversations that they are having.
Only a few students got to play today, but several of them asked to play during 9th period today (homework/activity period). I'm looking forward to more students playing tomorrow, as the rest of them finish up their Footloose!
Use Task Cards in a New Way, to Provide
Self-Differentiation 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 mini-quizzes - 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 in-depth 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 4-pointer 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 self-determined 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 2-minute 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 idea-it can be used in any subject!
Using Graphic Organizers in Math Class
We know that graphic organizers are not only helpful for organizing information, but they can also be helpful in creating visual cues that help students remember specific information. Using color patterns and graphics also increases student engagement:-)
This math wheel focuses on the topic of rounding decimals. When I have reviewed rounding decimals with my students in the past, they often remember whatever trick or saying they've been taught, but they often can't explain the math reasoning (therefore, I always save any sayings/tricks until after the math concept is understood, if I use them at all).
When using this math wheel, I start with the number lines - looking at the distance between 1 and 2, where 1.5 is, and visually draw attention to the fact that 1.6-1.9 are closer to 2 and 1.1-1.4 are closer to 1. The students write in the labels and then there's space for you, the teacher, to add several examples of your choosing.
Then I move to the benchmarks. You'll see on the completed version, I drew a small number line to create the visual of the space between 1 and 1.1, labeling 1.05 as the half-way point. The same thing could be done for the others, or examples of rounding can be added (like the one below 0.0005).
Students can then do the practice problems all around the page. Above each number is a T, H, or TH, to indicate the place to round to (tenth, hundredth, thousandth).
I have the students color their problems/answers according to numbers that rounded up (my example uses green) and numbers that rounded down (pink), which gives a quick, easy visual to see that they knew which way to round. A closer check will then tell me if their answers are actually correct:-)
(You can always let them just color the background later, for fun!)
Last, I'll have them add a rule/saying to help them remember.....one that each student creates him/herself would be best.
I hope you're able to use this math wheel! Let me know if you have any questions:-)
Rumors is another great lesson from Mathline! This lesson allows students to explore exponential growth, in the context of spreading a rumor. In addition to the focus on math concepts, this lesson can also help students to understand how quickly rumors can actually spread....an important idea for middle schoolers to consider.
To begin the lesson, students are presented with the following scenario:
"Two students who were both born on December 21st, the date of the winter solstice, decide that it would be great not to have to attend school on that day. Therefore, they start a rumor that schools will be closed to celebrate the winter solstice. So, on December 1st, one of the students told two of her friends that school would be closed. On the next day, each of these students tells 2 students and on consecutive days, each of the new students tells 2 more students and so on. If there are 8,000 students in the school district, the question arises as to whether the rumor was started early enough for everyone to have heard it?"
Students can act out this scenario by having students form a human triangle, with Student A first, then the two students she told (students B and C), then four students representing the two that Student B told and the two that Student C told, etc (as far as possible, depending on how many students in the class). This will help students visualize the problem and understand how this rumor is being spread. The triangle also help students to understand the growth pattern.
The human triangle will only go so far, so students will then need to use their calculators or paper and pencil to find how many days it will take for the rumor to reach 8,000 people. I would recommend providing the students with a blank chart to give some structure to the students' work after they try the human triangle.
The chart below includes the first several days (the numbers for the entire chart can be found in the lesson).
In addition to understanding more about exponential growth, students can be asked to determine the algebraic expression to describe the number of new people to hear the rumor each day (2n), as well as the
expression for the total number of people (2n+1-1).
To read the full lesson and the possible extensions, check out the lesson here.
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 fold-it-up 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:
Hi, 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!