New Review Game: Try it Free and Win the Game of your Choice

Claw Machine Game gif

I love playing games in my math classes! Here are just a few of the many benefits of good review games:

  • they are a great way to practice any type of skill
  • students love them
  • students are engaged
  • games encourage collaboration among students

I have found, though, that the key to keeping students engaged and enjoying games is to switch them up frequently.  No matter how fun a game may be the first few times you play it, the students will eventually get bored with it if it is the ONLY game you ever play with them.  Having a good variety of games to pull from really makes a difference in keeping up student enthusiasm and engagement levels.  Some of my go to games include Bingo, Jeopardy-style games, Attack, and standard whiteboard games, but I am always looking for new ones to add to the mix, which is why I teamed up with my husband again to create some new, fun interactive review games!

We thought it would be fun to bring some arcade-style fun into the classroom so we created a Claw Machine Review Game.  It can be played in teams or non-competitively.  (I tend to teach competitive students so I plan to use the team-mode with my classes).

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There are 5 different categories in a game, which are listed on little cards along the bottom of the claw machine.  The claw (crane?) moves back and forth in the machine.  Have a student either toss a koosh ball at the interactive whiteboard if you have one that supports touch or simply click with a mouse to stop the crane and pick up a card.  It will pull up a random card from the category it is in front of.  Have each group come up with an answer and then reveal the actual answer.  Award points to teams with correct answers and either subtract points or do nothing to teams with incorrect answers.  Once all questions from a category have been asked, the category card will disappear from the machine.

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You can also adjust scores at any time by clicking the little +/- button on the bottom right-hand corner.  (One idea that could add to the competition/excitement would be to subtract points from a team that doesn’t successfully pull up a card when they toss the ball at the screen).

At the end of the game, the final team scores and standings are displayed.

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You can play a full game for FREE to try it out to see if you like the idea & set-up of the game!  Just click on the picture below to play the free Demo Game.  (It should open in a new tab right in your browser).

claw machine demo game

If you try out the free Demo and think that you would like to play a claw machine game with your class this year, simply leave a comment telling me which of the 4 games listed below you would like to win.  On Monday, August 1st a random winner will be selected from everyone who leaves a comment and I will email the winner the game of their choice!  The choices of Claw Machine Games to win are:

  • Algebra Back to School Review (Includes: integer operations, evaluating expressions, simplifying algebraic expressions, properties, and writing expressions)
  • Decimal Operations (Includes: addition, subtraction, multiplication, & division of POSITIVE decimals, along with decimal word problems)
  • Solving Equations (Includes: one-step equations, two-step equations, equations with variables on both sides, multi-step equations, and writing & solving equations)
  • Operations with Negative Fractions (Includes: addition, subtraction, multiplication, & division of positive and negative fractions & mixed numbers, and comparing/ordering negative fractions)

(Click the pictures below for a closer look at each game.)

claw machine algebra back to school cover.160722013228.160725013219  claw machine decimals pic1.160725013220  equations claw machine cover.160722013229  negative fractions claw machine pic1

 

Here is a video preview of the Algebra Back to School Claw Machine Game:

UPDATE 8/1:  This giveaway has ended.  Since there were 9 entries I used a random number generator to select a number between 1 and 9 to choose a winner.  5 came up, so Lisa (the 5th person to comment) is the winner!  

Capture

Thank you so much to everyone who entered and for all the kind comments about the game.  If you’d like to purchase a claw machine game, they are on sale (along with all my other resources) today and tomorrow for 28% off with code BestYear.

Thanks for reading,

Christina

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Idea for a New Classroom Management Plan

Ever since I made my Homework Accountability Form, I have been thinking of a way to use Google Drive for behavior management.   I am still not 100% sure about my new classroom management plan but figured I’d post it here to hopefully get some good feedback on it and then decide from there if I want to use it, tweak it, or go a completely different direction….

So here it is:

I am thinking of setting up a google sheet for each student I teach before school starts.  It will take a bit of time since I teach over 100 students, but once I set them up, any additional time on this will be minimal.  The sheet will list the most common behavior infractions I encounter and also an “other” category.  (Right now I am thinking of using “off task”, “disruptive”, “out of seat”, and “calling out” in addition to “other”.)  I plan to share the sheet with the student (set to “can view” so that they can see it but can’t edit it 🙂 ) and also share the link with their parents (probably include it in my introductory email).

behavior tracker google

I also made a weekly class behavior tracker form that I am going to print out each week for each class.  On it, I have codes for each of the behaviors that are included on the sheet.   I will keep the class behavior tracker handy on a clipboard along with some extra paper in case I need to write additional notes/reminders to myself.  My plan is to give students a warning the first time they commit an infraction.  When I warn them, I will make a diagonal mark on my clipboard tracker to indicate that they were warned.  (The warning might be in the form of a “look” or a simple reminder to get back on task).  If they commit the same infraction in the class period, I will then make a diagonal mark in the opposite direction to turn it into an “x”.  (If you would like to use a similar form, you can download it as an editable PowerPoint file here.)  I am planning to transfer the forms to a binder after each week so that I can refer back to them at a later date if necessary.

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At the end of the day I will look back on my class behavior trackers for each class to see which students got an “x” (meaning that they did not heed the warning they were given).  I will then go into that student’s Google Sheet and write the date (and a description if it is in the “other” category).  That counts as one mark on their tracker sheet.  When they get to 5 marks or more on their sheet, they will need to serve a detention.

pic of google drive student behavior tracker

I will start over with a new sheet each marking period to give students the chance to start with a blank slate.

Like I said, I am still not 100% sold on this idea but here are my thoughts (positive and negative) about it:

  • It’s a really easy way to keep parents informed.  Once I give them the link (and explain the process to them), they have the ability to check up on their children’s behavior anytime and get instant feedback on whether or not their child is doing what they are supposed to be doing in class
  • After the initial setup it should be really easy to maintain.  It’s a matter of making a mark or 2 in class and then writing the date at the end of the day if anyone got an “x”.  Shouldn’t take more than 2 minutes.
  • It would be really easy to use with a team, as well.  You can share it will all of the teachers in your team so that they can all edit it, and then just assign each teacher a different color or have them write their name in addition to the date any time they make a mark on a student’s tracker.
  • I like that I first give students a warning, before their tracker gets a mark, to give them a chance to change their behavior.  I also like that they get multiple chances before getting a detention – although I don’t know if 5 is too many chances, not enough, or just right…
  • I don’t know how I feel about the fact that technically this system would allow a student to be warned 5 times for 5 different behavior infractions without getting a mark on their sheet….is that fair?
  • I also don’t currently have a plan for what to do if a student gets an “x” and then does the same thing again (a 3rd time) that class period.

Bottom line is: I am torn about this idea…in some ways I feel like it could be very effective and at the same time I still have some doubts and questions.  I would definitely welcome any thoughts or suggestions in the comments!

(Click here to make a copy of the Google Sheet if you want to modify it to work for you.)

Thanks for reading,

Christina

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Decorating the Secondary Math Classroom

I won’t actually be able to get into my classroom for a few more weeks but I figured I’d share my plans for classroom decorations now…

math-in-the-middle.com decorating the math classroom

Every year I do the same “theme” if you can even call it that – black bulletin boards with bright pops of color.  I’m a creature of habit so this year’s “theme” will be no different :-).  I do, however, have some new decorations to add to my room this year that I’m pretty excited about…and I have spent only around $15 on it all!

  •  I made a “Mathematicians” acrostic poster that lists some of the mathematical process standards as well as other traits/skills students use in math.  I didn’t want to spend alot on printing, so I looked around and found shortrunposters.com.  I got it printed in 18×24 with 1.5 MIL Glossy Lamination for just $6 plus around $4 for shipping!  It took about a week to get the poster after ordering and it came out awesome – I couldn’t be happier with the quality (or price)!!  If you are interested in purchasing the poster to print yourself or have printed professionally you can buy it from my TpT store for $1.25.  (The download includes the black background version I printed and a white background version of the poster).  Click the picture below to buy the poster.
  • img_20160719_131802.jpg Comics: Most years I hang up some corny math “funnies” in my room.  They are a great source of FREE decorations for the classroom.  This year I am tying them in with my black & brights by printing them out in black & white, mounting them on different brightly colored papers, and putting black construction paper “shadows” behind each one.  I think that will really help tie them into the room decor better this year.  (If you need a good source of math jokes, comics, and puns, you may want to check out my Math/School Humor Pinterest Board – I have well over 100 pins to choose from!)

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  • Target Dollar Spot finds:  I LOVE the dollar spot in Target!!  This year I found some fun bright colorful decorations that will go perfectly in my room!  I got a pack of punch out signs/pictures for $1 that included a welcome sign and some motivational quotes that I will put up.  I also found cute packs of colorful pennants.  (24 per pack, $1 each – I bought 2 so that I’d definitely have enough).  I am writing the names of all of my homeroom students on them and will then punch holes in them, string them, and hang around the room.  The best part is they are dry erase so I can use them year after year! (Not bad for $2!)

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  • I also found cute bulletin borders at the target dollar spot that match the little pennants.  They were packs of 15 for $1, which is great…but I made it an even better deal by cutting them in half lengthwise to make 30 skinny border strips per pack!
  • img_20160719_131420.jpg I wrote about my ABCs of Algebra Math Alphabet last year… It was a big hit so I made a couple of new versions of the math alphabet this year – the ABCs of Middle School Math and the ABCs of Geometry.  Each one has the same fun, bright design and features a vocabulary word for each letter of the alphabet.  I am planning to hang the middle school version this year in my room.  I will be hanging it above my chalkboard on black paper.  I am using the skinny borders I made as the border around the alphabet.

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You can buy my math alphabet sets in my TpT store for $4 each and print them at home for free – I kept the backgrounds white to make them printer friendly.  Click the pictures below to purchase!

abcs alg    abcs geom    abcs mid

I will have a better idea of what, if anything, else I need for my classroom once I get in to look at what I have.  I hope this gave you some budget-friendly ideas for your room! 🙂

 

Thanks for reading,

Christina

 

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Organizing Student Notebooks with Dividers

Today I’m sharing my newest step towards improved organization in the classroom: notebook divider tabs.  (I got the idea from a blog post by Sarah Carter and knew that I wanted to modify them to work for me in the upcoming year).

Notebook Divider Tabs: math-in-the-middle.com

I decided that this year I am going to make notes worth 2 points per day.  Students need to include a summary/explanation and completed worked-out examples for each lesson (which is where the 2 points are coming from).  In the past I made notes worth 20 points per unit, but in reflecting on it, it doesn’t really make sense because some units are 10 lessons long while others are only 6.  I collect and grade notebooks on days that students are taking the unit test.

So, here’s where the divider tabs come in…before each unit I will give students a divider to glue in their notebooks.  A little tab sticks out the side with the name of the unit on it.  On the divider I listed all of the lessons that are included in the unit.  I figure that will be an easy way for students to make sure that they aren’t missing the notes to any lessons (which will be especially useful for students who were absent).  It will also serve as a checklist for me while I’m grading.  Next to each lesson I can write 0, 1, or 2 for however many points students earned for that day’s notes and record their final grade for the unit on the bottom where I left a space for it.

Notebook Divider math-in-the-middle.com

The beauty of the tabs is that I can flip right to the correct unit without wasting time trying to find their notes.  I also think they will be useful to students, as if I ask them to refer back to an earlier topic, they should be able to find the lesson pretty quickly.

I made the dividers small enough that they won’t waste a page of the students’ notebooks.  I think I will have students write the vocabulary for the chapter on the first page (next to the divider) and then start with the first lesson’s notes on the back of that page.  The divider doesn’t cut into any of the useable space on the back of the page at all, which I am really happy about since I hate wasting paper!

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I made my dividers print 3 per page, so I just print them, cut on the two dotted lines, and hand them out to the students.  They fold on the solid line and then put glue on each side and make sure to leave the tab sticking out the side of the notebook when they glue it in, and that’s it!

If you’d like to try out similar dividers for your class, I set up a 3 per page divider template in PowerPoint that you can use.  Just click the image below to download the editable pptx file.

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Other school-related things I have been thinking about/working on recently:

Have you used dividers before with your class?  Are you thinking about trying them out this year?  Please share in the comments below – especially if you have any tips for using them since this will be my first attempt!

Thanks for reading,

Christina

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