Teaching Slope – Fun Activity Idea

Slope is an important topic for pre-algebra, 8th grade math, and algebra.  I was trying to come up with a new idea for practicing slope and I came up with the following:

I made 32 cards with ordered pairs on them.  All of the coordinates of the ordered pairs are between -3 and 3.  I plan to use these cards in a couple of different ways so I am going to print them on card stock and laminate them to keep them nice for future use.

  • Quick Entrance or Exit Activity: Give each student a card.  Have them pair up with another student and calculate the slope of the line that connects their two points.  Have the two students find the slope independently and then compare.  They should work together to identify errors if they got different answers. Then repeat with another partner.
  • “Making Slopes” Activity: Give each student a card and a worksheet (download link is below).   Put the extra cards around the room.  The worksheet specifies different slopes that the students have to make.  Students need to walk around the room and find an ordered pair that, when paired with their ordered pair, makes a line with the given slope.  (They can use other students’ ordered pairs or the extra ones around the room.  It is important that ALL 32 cards are accessible to the students so that they are able to find an ordered pair for each slope.)  Once they find one that works they need to “prove” that they are right by plugging the two ordered pairs into the slope formula (showing their work) AND by graphing the ordered pairs on a coordinate plane to show the rise/run.

Here’s an example for the ordered pair (-1, 1):

Making Slopes Activity

I am excited about the making slopes activity for the following reasons:

  • It gets the kids up, out of their seats, and moving
  • It is more of a challenge and requires higher level thinking than questions that simply ask students to find the slope of the line that passes through two points, so it should be perfect for my Pre-Algebra (advanced) math class
  • It can easily be turned into a game/contest by seeing who can find all 5 ordered pairs first or who can find the most in a given time period

I haven’t actually done the activity yet with my class but I am hoping that it goes over well.  I welcome any thoughts or suggestions for the activity in the comments.

Want to try this activity with your class? 

Download the 32 ordered pairs cards by clicking the picture below.

ordered pairs cards pic

Download the “Making Slopes” activity worksheet by clicking the picture below.

worksheet

I have a bunch of other ideas for ways to use the ordered pair cards for different lessons (not on slope), too, that I will write about in future blog posts.

 

Thanks for reading,

Christina

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A Review Game That Students Love – ATTACK!

attack game

Today I am writing about my absolute favorite (and my students’ favorite) review game: Attack!  Let me start by listing the reasons I love this game:

  • It requires NO PREP
  • It requires NO MATERIALS (other than a chalkboard/whiteboard)
  • It can be used in ANY SUBJECT
  • It is easy to change up for different HOLIDAYS/SEASONS or ANYTIME
  • The students LOVE it!! They get very competitive
  • It’s FREE
  • It can be used with a WIDE RANGE of GRADE LEVELS. I have played with 5th graders – 9th graders and they have all loved it.

Here’s how you play:

Pick something that you want students to “attack”.  Since we are coming up on December, attack the snowman is a good one to play…

Break the class up into groups (any size works, but I usually make groups of 3 or 4).  Have one person from each group go to the chalkboard and draw a snowman.  (I give them exactly 60 seconds to complete their drawing so that we don’t waste a lot of time with this).  Then have them sit back with their group.

Ask the class a review question and have all groups work together to solve the question.  Then choose ONE group at random to answer the question.  If they get the question correct, they get to “attack” 3 different snowmen.  I just have them draw a snowball (circle or x) on the snowmen they are attacking.  If they get the question wrong, you attack their snowman by drawing a snowball on it and then give another group a chance to answer that question.

Then ask another question and pick a different group to answer and repeat…

Once a snowman is attacked 5 times, it is “destroyed” (erased), but that team is still in the game so if they get a question right they can still attack other groups’ snowmen and get revenge. J

When you get to the point where there are only a couple of snowmen remaining, only allow students to attack one snowman when they get a question right.

The last snowman standing is the winner!

attack snowmen.JPG

Try it out with your class – I have never had a class that didn’t love this game!  It’s easy to change up based on the amount of time you have….you can change how many snowmen they attack each time they answer correctly and how many hits until a snowman is out.  Every time I play I change up the “thing” they are attacking, too…I have played attack the turkey, reindeer, boat, castle, etc.

Want a printable version of the rules?  You can download the complete instructions & tips free by clicking on the picture below.

attack pic1

Thanks for reading,

Christina

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A Creative Approach to Grouping in the Middle School Math Classroom

I am a HUGE fan of group work!  I love having students work together in my math classes for practice work, problem solving, review games, etc.  Occasionally I allow my students to pick their own groups, but more often than not I assign them because:

  • No students are ever left out or the last one picked when I assign them
  • I can make sure the groups are either mixed ability levels or homogenous (whatever I need for a particular class period)

I pick new groups every time we do group work because I think it’s important for the students to be able to work successfully with different people and I don’t want students “stuck” with the same people every time.  I have done different things in the past to pick random groups such as having the students count off or handing them playing cards as they walk in the room.  I also have deliberately placed students in groups.  But I was looking for a way to mix things up…

…so I have come up with the following solution:  As the students come into the classroom I will hand them a card with a math problem they need to solve (relating to what they are learning).  This problem will be in place of the typical do now problems I give them on Socrative.  Once they solve the problem, they will need to find the table labeled with the answer to their card, and sit there.  (3 other students’ cards will have that same answer), so those 4 students will be a group for the day.   (I will be walking around to assist any students who struggle with their problem).

math-in-the-middle.com|matching task cards for grouping pic1

I am pretty excited to try this and can think of a bunch of different ways to change this up.  I could have the groups be completely random by just giving each student a random card, or I can make the “random” groups fit my needs based on ability level (without the students even realizing it) by grouping the cards based on difficulty level and giving each student a card from the group that is appropriate for them.  [If I want mixed ability level groups, the 4 cards with matching answers will be 4 different difficulty levels;  If I want homogenous groups, the 4 cards with matching answers will be the same difficulty level.]

Obviously this will require a bit of prep time in advance (since I have to come up with the questions), but I plan to laminate the cards and use them every year.  I can also re-use them as a card-sorting center activity, as task cards, game cards, etc., so I think that it is worth the initial time investment.  (There are soo many different ways that I can use and re-use the cards!!)

I made my first set of these cards on one-step equations and have them set up to create mixed-ability level groups.  I color coded the cards by difficulty level – yellow include only whole numbers, blue include integers, green include fractions, and red include decimals.  As the students walk in the class, I will give the students who struggle with one-step equations yellow cards, and the students who need more of a challenge green or red.  The groups will end up with one of each color card, giving me random, but “equal” mixed-ability level groups.

math-in-the-middle.com| matching task cards for grouping pic2

You can grab this set of 32 matching task cards (to form up to 8 groups of 4) on one-step equations FREE by clicking the download links below.  (I included the color-coded cards and the same cards in black and white…feel free to download and use whichever version you prefer).

match task cards bw

Click the picture above to download the 32 matching cards in black & white (FREE)

match task cards color

Click the picture above to download the 32 matching cards in color (FREE)

Do you have any other ideas of how to use these matching cards?  Please leave me a comment with your thoughts!!

Thanks for reading,

Christina

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