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.
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A Fun Way to Check Multiplication Problems
How often have you gone to a conference and been superimpressed by what a speaker shared? Has it happened often? It happened to me when I went to a conference as a very new teacher (in my second year, I believe), more than 20 years ago. At that conference, I was lucky enough hear Dr. Lola May speak. She was a great presenter, and certainly made an impression on me. I still have the book that was given at that conference and have referred to it many times over the years.
It was at this conference that I first learned how to use "casting out nines" to check the answers to multiplication and division problems. I had never heard of this method when I was a student, but being a new teacher, I kind of assumed it was a method wellknown to other teachers.....
For Teacher Appreciation week, I created two FREE problem solving math wheels (they are in the same PDF file)  they can be used to teach problem solving strategies, be used as a center activity, or be used as a finished early activity. When complete, they can be added to students' binders/interactive notebooks to be used as references all year.
I hope you can use them! Just click the image to download.
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Teaching Percent of Number
When teaching students to find the percent of a number (or the part or whole), I introduce two different ways to find the missing number  using proportions and using equations. Since different students often prefer different methods, I teach both, have them practice both, and then let them choose the one they like better. I've given an example of each method below.
The Percent of a Number Wheel shown here includes both methods. Each section of the wheel includes an equation and two examples, with room to solve using both methods. There's also a little room on the wheel (or around it) to add extra notes or your own examples, if you'd like. Around the wheel are a few practice problems that can be completed together or individually.
Method 1: Proportion
1) Substitute the given values into the %/100 = IS/OF proportion. Use a variable for the missing number. 2) Solve the proportion to find the missing value. Example: What is 15% of 70?
Method 2: Equation
1) When given the percent, change it to a decimal. 2) Substitute the given values into the equation. Use a variable for the missing number. 3) Solve the equation. * If finding the percent, be sure the answer is in percent form (multiply the decimal answer by 100). Example: What is 15% of 70? part = % ∙ whole x = 0.15 ∙ 70 x = 10.5 When we work with the equations, I do manipulate the equations to show students how they are all versions of the same basic equation. For example, if we start with part = % ∙ whole and we're looking for the whole (say the part is 35 and the percent is 25), we end up with 35 = 0.25 ∙ x. From solving algebraic equations, students know that to find x, both sides will be divided by 0.25, which gives them x = 35/0.25 (whole = part/%) If you decide to use the wheel, I hope you and your students like it! If you're looking for more percent of a number resources, check out the Percent of a Number Center Resources on TPT.
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I'm really liking the math wheel idea, so I created a new wheel for fraction, decimal, percent conversions:)
How to use this resource (this information is also in the free download): Around the outside of the wheel are the different conversion headings – you can use the wheel to introduce the conversions, filling in just the ones you are covering each day. Or, you can use it to review all the conversions at once. In either case, the wheel can be kept in students’ notebooks as a reference/study tool. 1) I like to begin with decimal to percent and percent to decimal. In the arrows in these sections, you’ll see x 100 and ÷ 100. It think it’s important that students understand that these are the operations being used for these conversions before giving them a shortcut, so I let them use calculators to complete the examples. Once the examples are complete, I ask the students to look for the pattern – what happens to the decimal point in each of these cases? We decide on the “shortcut” rules together and then write them at the bottom of those sections. 2) The fraction to percent and fraction to decimal sections have the rules written already, so the examples just need to be completed. I always relate fraction to percent to students grades. By the time we get to this topic during the year, students have been figuring out their grades for months (I never write their percentages on their assessments – they need to calculate them). They know how to find their percentage if their quiz grade was 6/8 or their test was 48/52. However, sometimes they need a reminder that this official fraction to percent “rule” is the same thing they’ve been doing for months! I have them write a little reminder in that section  “just like test grades!” 3) For percent to fraction, students need to remember that percent means “out of 100,” so the percent number will always go over 100. Then they must reduce. 4) I find that decimal to fraction is sometimes tricky for students. When they have trouble, I ask them to read the decimal number according to place value (“How do you say this number, using tenths, hundredths, or thousandths, etc.?”). Once they speak it, they know how to write the fraction – 0.27 is 27 hundredths, which is 27/100. After completing the examples, we discuss the idea that the denominator will be whatever the last decimal place is (10, 100, 1000, etc.) and the numerator will be the digits in the decimal number. We write this rule as simply as possible. 5) Students then complete the 10 problems around the page. Above each number is the conversion to complete (F to P, P to D, etc.) They can then color the rest of the wheel background. I had a great time coloring my answer key! These could make a fun decoration as well:) I hope you can use it!!
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