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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Ideas for Keeping the Math Fresh in Students’ Minds

The end of the year is often a time for reviewing the math learned throughout the year, whether to prepare for state tests, final exams or cumulative projects, or just to fill the days after testing is done.  However, I have come to see how important it is to review all year long and not just wait until the end.

My first year teaching, my students seemed very receptive to my lessons, seemed to grasp the concepts, and did well on the tests I gave them after each chapter.  However, I was surprised and disappointed in the standardized test scores of some of my best students.  I realized that the problem was that once we finished a chapter and moved on to the next chapter, they never saw the material from that first chapter again and so by the time standardized tests came around they had forgotten some of the things that they used to know really well.  I learned from that experience and have since incorporated various ways to keep the math fresh throughout the year:

keeping math fresh

  • I know different teachers have different opinions on calculator usage, but my personal feeling is that once students prove that they can do something by hand, I allow them to use calculators so that they aren’t spending too much time on the computational aspect of a complex problem. However, I don’t want them to forget how to do problems by hand, so once a week I give them a “no calculator review” in place of my traditional “do now” questions.  They usually cover topics like fraction, decimal, integer, & rational number operations.  (You can read more about my No Calculator Reviews in this post).
  • After each chapter test, I give my students a cumulative review that I count as a quiz grade. It covers things from all previous units that we covered.  Students know that the cumulative quiz is coming so they know that they can’t just forget the material after they learn it.  Sometimes I allow students to use their notes for the cumulative quiz or give it as a take-home quiz, but most of the time I give it as a traditional quiz.  Not only does this encourage students to (hopefully) retain the math they are learning, but it shows me if there are particular concepts that a lot of students seem to have forgotten that I may need to revisit.
  • This is, in my opinion, the most important strategy. I give my students problems and ask them questions that require them to use skills learned previously in the year.  It is so important for students to see connections between the different units they learn, so any time I can incorporate an “old” skill/concept into a “new” one is a win in my book!  Here’s an example of a task card I made for a lesson on finding the area & perimeter of irregular figures that requires students to use previously learned skills:

irregular figure

To find the perimeter students need to use the Pythagorean Theorem and to find the area & perimeter students need to perform operations with mixed numbers, so this one problem reinforces a couple of different skills learned throughout the year.  Giving students lots of problems like this makes it virtually impossible for them to forget the math they learned earlier in the year since they are constantly using it.

 

I hope this gave you some ideas for helping students keep the math fresh!  If you are looking for ways to keep it fresh over summer break or just need a good end of year review packet, I have math review packets for students going from 5th to 6th grade, 6th to 7th grade, 7th to 8th grade, and pre-algebra to algebra I in my tpt store for $4 each.    Each packet contains detailed explanations of how to do the various types of problems, worked-out examples (showing each step), and 100 practice problems.  Click the pictures below for more information on each packet.

Slide1 math review packet new cover math review packet for 7th-8th grade pic1 Slide1

 

Thanks for reading,

Christina

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How Parents Can Help their Middle School Children Succeed in Math

I was at a meeting today where we were discussing some of the challenges that we face as math educators and things that we can do to help boost student achievement.  One of the things that was brought up at the meeting was parental involvement in children’s learning of math.  Many of our students’ parents did not learn to do things the same way that we are teaching their children to do them.  Many do not remember the math they learned in 6th-8th grade.  Many struggled with math when they were growing up and therefore do not feel confident helping their children with it.  For all of those reasons (and more), a large number of parents do not know how to help their child be successful in math.

In reflecting on this, I came up with the following list of some of the ways in which I think that parents can help their child succeed in middle school math:

help your child succeed in middle school math

I would love to hear your suggestions, as well, so feel free to leave a comment with your suggestions on how parents can help their children succeed!

 

Thanks for reading,

Christina

 

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Test Prep: Doesn’t Have to Be a Big Deal

test prep

Let me start by stating for the record that I HATE STANDARDIZED TESTS!

Growing up I didn’t mind them at all.  I didn’t find them stressful and I always did extremely well on them.  I didn’t start hating standardized tests until I did my Junior Field Experience at a “struggling” middle school that had to bring up their test scores.  There was a huge emphasis placed on preparing for the tests at that school by taking practice tests and having students begin each class by working on pages from their big test prep packets.  I HATED those test prep packets and swore that I would never “teach to the test” when I became a teacher.

Two years later, when I had my own classroom, I did absolutely nothing to prepare my students for the standardized tests they had to take.  I was convinced that my daily lessons would be enough to prepare the students for the test and that they would do fantastic on the test even without any kind of test prep.  My students did okay on their standardized tests that year.  For the most part, their scores were pretty consistent with their scores from the previous years – some went up slightly and others went down slightly.  They definitely weren’t bad, but they weren’t wonderful, either, which disappointed me.

My second year teaching, my school got a new principal who was obsessed with standardized tests.  We had to give our students practice tests, complete test prep books, and complete online test prep programs.  There had to be some form of test prep in my lesson plans each and every day.  My students did extremely well on the standardized tests that year, but I found the year extremely stressful for me as a teacher and for my students, as well.

My third year teaching, my school got yet another new principal, who did away with the practice tests, online test prep, and book test prep.  I was relieved, but at the same time I didn’t want my students’ scores to go down.  I realized that there needed to be a balance between doing nothing to prepare for tests and focusing solely on the tests.  What I decided to do was spend a little bit of time each week simply reviewing old skills.

I begin every class period with a “do now”.  My “do nows” are typically two questions based on the previous day’s lesson.  What I decided to do my 3rd year in the classroom, was change my Monday “do nows” to review questions.  I call my Monday “do nows” “no calculator reviews” (or NCRs).  I put up 6 questions that review old skills on my interactive whiteboard for the students to complete (obviously) without a calculator.  I let them look back in their notebooks to refresh their memory on how to do the problems and sometimes let them work with a partner.  The idea is just to get the students to remember how to do skills that they learned earlier in the year.  I typically give them about 10 minutes to do the problems and then we review them.  I then move on to the day’s lesson.  Below is an example of one of my 6th grade NCRs.

no calculator review

My students did as well on their standardized tests the year that I started doing NCRs as they did the year that was focused solely on test prep, so I know that they are working.  I am not stressed and my students are not stressed.  In fact, they don’t even realize that their weekly NCRs relate to the standardized tests that they will be taking.  It’s easy, quick, and effective…I love it!

Thanks for reading,

Christina

 

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