FREE Interactive Review Game for any Grade or Subject

Wow – this year has been crazy!  I have been incredibly busy both in school and out, which is why I haven’t written in sooo long, but since my blog posts about the “Attack” review game I play with my classes continue to be some of my most viewed posts, I thought I’d write a quick post about the new, FREE Interactive version of the game!

For those of you who haven’t read my posts about the old-school version of the game, the premise is simple.  Each team has a castle.  Ask a review question and pick a group to answer.  If they get the question right, they get to attack a couple of the other teams’ castles.  If they get it wrong, I attack their castle.  After 5 attacks, a castle is eliminated, but that team is still in the game – (They can still attack other castles to get revenge!)  The last castle standing is the winner.

The game is a HUGE hit in every class I have ever played in and I have heard from over 100 other teachers that the same is true for their classes….and now it’s even better with the brand new interactive version!

For the interactive version, each team has a sand castle.  You can attack a castle by clicking on the screen when a plane holding a bucket of water is flying above the sand castle you want to attack.  (If you have an interactive whiteboard that supports touch you could even have students throw a koosh ball at the board instead of clicking to carry out the attacks!)  Teams also have the option of rebuilding their castle instead of attacking another sand castle when they get a question right.

The FREE version of the game has all of the features of the full game, but allows only 2 teams.  The full game offers the option to play with up to 5 teams.

If you try out the game with your students, please let me know what you think of it!  I hope your students enjoy it as much as mine do!!

(I am really hoping that I can find the time to blog more regularly this Spring, too, so I hope to be back soon with another post!)

Thanks for reading,

Christina

 

 

 

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Free Banner of the Standards of Mathematical Practice

After I shared a bunch of classroom décor ideas in this post, I ended up making another decoration for my classroom: a banner of the standards of mathematical practice.

math practice standards pennant

It’s a simple black & white design that I printed on colored paper to make it pop and match the other bright colors in my room.  However, I was also thinking it could be cool to print it on white paper and have students work in groups to color the banners & add pictures to them to illustrate the meaning of each standard.  (I might do that next year – this year I’m just going to hang up the colorful version, after I reprint it – my printer is having issues right now causing everything to have streaks 🙁 )

You can download the banner FREE from my Teachers pay Teachers store!  While you’re there be sure to look around at some of the great deals today and tomorrow (August 1st & 2nd) during the big annual Back to School sale!  Everything in my store is 28% off with code BestYear.

Click the picture below to download the banner:

math practice banner cover

Some of the resources from my store that I would recommend checking out this back to school season include:

Capture

Capture2

Capture4

 

Happy shopping!

Thanks for reading,

Christina

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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).

negative fractions claw machine pic2

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.

claw machine decimals pic3.160725013220

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.

claw machine decimals pic4.160725013220

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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Long-Term Planning (Algebra I)

I personally believe that it’s a good idea to start thinking ahead to the next school year around this time of year.  I admit that I don’t normally start planning until August but this year I am getting a head start because I believe it will allow me to be much less stressed come September.

If you are looking to start planning out your year and have no idea where to start (which was me a couple of weeks ago before I just jumped in), I’ll share my process for long-term planning.  The first class I worked on was Algebra I, so I’ll share that one today.

long term planning blog pic

Step 1:  Look over everything you need to teach and break it up into units.  I try to use as few units as possible while keeping each one a manageable size.  For Algebra I, I came up with 11 different units.

Step 2:  Determine the order in which you want to teach those units.  This can be tricky because you need to make sure that students have all the prerequisite skills for each unit and you want the year to have a good flow.

Step 3:  Determine all of the different lessons that will be included in each unit and the order in which you want to teach them.  This is the most time-consuming part, in my opinion, but it will save you a lot of time throughout the year if you get the whole year figured out before school starts.

Step 4:  Determine an approximate length of time it will take you to teach each unit.  Since my Algebra I class is an advanced class for 8th graders, I am able to move fairly quickly.  Therefore, I normally plan to teach a lesson a day.  I plan on 2 days for topics that I know students will find challenging.  I add 3 days to the end of a unit since I typically spend 2 days on review and 1 day for the unit test.

Here is my long-term plan (scope & sequence/curriculum map) for Algebra I.  Feel free to download it and edit/adjust it to meet your needs.

algebra scope

The next thing I did is something I should have done long ago…I organized my Pinterest boards.  I love getting ideas on Pinterest but I previously put all the great teaching ideas I found on my “Math Teaching Ideas” board…and then forgot all about them.  So I setup a separate Pinterest board for each Algebra I unit and moved pins from my (useless) “math teaching ideas” board onto the appropriate boards.  Now when I see great Algebra ideas on pinterest or read about them on blogs, I pin them onto the board that corresponds to that unit.  I forsee this being very valuable when I am actually writing my lesson plans throughout the years – I can glance through the unit Pinterest board to remind myself of all the great ideas I want to implement.

Click the picture below if you want to check out my Algebra I Units Pinterest Boards:

pinterest

Step 5: (I won’t get around to this step until closer to the start of the year when I have my schedule…)  Translate your estimated time frames into calendar dates.  I have a blank school year calendar that is weekdays only.  I write in school holidays/half days, etc. and then write in my approximate start dates for each unit based off the estimated time frames I came up with.  I then adjust as necessary around long breaks like Christmas and Easter.

You can download my calendar FREE from my TpT store by clicking the image below:

calendar pic1

There you have it…my process for writing  long-term plans.  I have had years when I haven’t done detailed year-long plans and years when I have done them and I can say from experience that it really does pay off to do them because it helps you have a smoother, less stressful school year when you have a map to follow.

Do you have any tips or tricks for planning out a school year?  Please feel free to leave a comment sharing your ideas!

Thanks for reading,

Christina

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Planning Ahead for Next Year (and a Free Poster!)

I’m trying something new this year…I’m planning ahead! 🙂  I typically don’t even start thinking about the next school year until August (school starts for me in September), but my goal this year is to have my year pretty much figured out BEFORE August so that I can relax and enjoy my last month of Summer.  I know I will still have things to do in August like setting up my classroom, but I am hoping to have as much done by then as possible.

So far I have brainstormed some classroom policy ideas that I want to change next year, which I will write about in future blog posts, and I have started writing out my curriculum maps/scope and sequences for each of my classes.  To keep me motivated I am breaking up the more “serious” planning with some fun projects for my classroom that I enjoy doing, like making posters & decorations.

Here is the first poster I made for my classroom that you can download FREE from my TpT store!  I made it because I am tired of having students show me “completed” homework that is NOT up to my standards and having them look at me blankly when I tell them it needs to be redone….so I thought it would be helpful to post the components of an acceptable homework assignment.

hw poster

In my next blog post I’ll start sharing my curriculum maps and other plans for the year!

Thanks for reading,

Christina

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Fun (Free) Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day in the Middle School Math Classroom

With my school going from pre-k – 8th grade, I have always felt kind of bad for the “big kids” on Valentine’s Day because it is business for them as usual while the lower grades are having parties.  That’s why I always try to do something a little different than a normal math class, but still academic.  I thought I’d share a couple of the things I have done with my students on Valentine’s Day for other teachers who are looking for easy, free, no-prep ways to bring some holiday fun into their math classes.

valentines day math in the middle

I have shared before that I LOVE problem-solving and give my students word problems daily.  (You can read about my daily problem solving here).  On Valentine’s Day I use a set of Valentine’s word problems on fractions that I made a few years ago instead of the normal problem of the day.  (Download them free from my TpT store by clicking on the picture below).  The word problems are a great challenge because they combine two areas students typically struggle with – fractions and word problems.

valentine freebie pic2

I break the class into groups of 4 and have them work together on the problems.  I make it a contest – either the first group to get all the problems correct wins, or any group that gets at least 5 problems right within a set time limit wins, etc.  Students don’t necessarily love working on word problems (the understatement of the century), but working as a group and making it a contest definitely ups the fun-factor!

After the word problems, play a game of “Attack”, reviewing whatever concept you are currently studying.  On Valentine’s Day I have them draw hearts as the thing they are attacking and have them attack by drawing arrows on the hearts.  (If you missed my post explaining how to play, you can read it here – trust me, it’s worth the read because students absolutely LOVE this game!)

Finally, show your students some love by giving them a homework pass.  You can download mine free by clicking on the picture below.  (Write the student’s name on the 1st line and sign the 2nd line.)  Either give one to every student as a Valentine or use them as a prize for the groups that won the word problem race and “Attack” game.  (I use the point system of grading, and homework counts as 2 points a day in my class, so I personally allow my students to either use the homework pass to get credit on a night where they didn’t do their homework or they can turn it in at the end of the marking period for 2 extra credit points.)

hw pass pic

I hope you are able to use some of these ideas in your class.  Please feel free to share what you do to have fun with your students on Valentine’s Day in the comments below!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

Thanks for reading,

Christina

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Having Fun with Distance and Midpoint

How do you take a topic that isn’t overly exciting and get the kids to have fun with it?  I have found that getting students out of their seats and working with friends usually does the trick! 🙂

If you follow my blog you know that I have been sharing activity ideas (and free downloads) for a set of (free) ordered pair task cards that I posted last week.  Click here for my post on a slope activity and click here for my post on a coordinate plane activity.

Today I am sharing an activity on the distance and midpoint formulas:

  • Give each student an ordered pair card and worksheet (download links are below)
  • Have them grab a partner, find the distance and midpoint between their point and their partner’s point and then “check” their work by graphing the ordered pairs and seeing if their answers make sense.
  • Have them repeat with 2 other partners.
  • Challenge early finishers (or everyone) to then grab another partner. Let their point be an endpoint and their partner’s point be the midpoint.  They need to find the other endpoint.

distance and midpoint example pic

It’s a quick easy-to-implement activity that gets kids moving and working together.  Enjoy!

Click the image below to download the ordered pair task cards:

ordered pairs cards pic

Click the image below to download the Distance and Midpoint Partner Activity worksheet:

distance and midpoint worksheet pic

Thanks for reading,

Christina

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Moving Around the Room with the Coordinate Plane – Activity Idea

Here is activity #2 for the ordered pair cards I posted in my last blog post.  (If you missed my post on a fun, free activity for teaching slope, you can read it here).

This is an activity on graphing in the coordinate plane that gets kids up and moving around the room:

  • Give each student an ordered pair card when they walk in the room (free download link is below)
  • Give each student a worksheet (free download link is below)
  • Have them walk around the room and find someone who has an ordered pair that meets the given description. Once they find someone with an ordered pair that “works”, they need to write down that person’s ordered pair and have them sign their paper.  (The signatures ensure that the students are actually walking around the room to find ordered pairs and not just copying from a friend).  They are only allowed to have a student sign their paper once, so they will need to find 9 different people to sign their paper in order to answer all of the questions.
  • After they have gathered all of their ordered pairs and signatures, they need to plot all of the points they found on the coordinate plane on the bottom of the page, labeling each of them with the given letter and their own ordered pair with a star.

coordinate plane find someone who example

I think that this lesson will be a nice way to break the monotony of simply having students graph points on a coordinate plane and write coordinates for given points.  It also makes students think more about their points than they would if they were just graphing them.  They need to think about their x-coordinate, y-coordinate, and what quadrant/axis it is located in for this activity.

Click the image below to download the ordered pairs cards:

ordered pairs cards pic

Click the image below to download the “Coordinate Plane Find Someone Who…” worksheet:

coordinate plane find someone who

Also, if you are looking for a way to challenge your higher level students with the coordinate plane, you may want to check out my Coordinate Plane Challenge Task Card Activity.  It consists of higher level thinking task cards and a riddle sheet and is a good way to challenge students who find coordinate plane graphing easy.  It’s $2.50 in my Teachers pay Teachers store.

coordinate challenge pic2

Thanks for reading,

Christina

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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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