I'm in Love with VersaTiles!

At my campus, I am responsible for math intervention provided for students. We have done numerous Saturday Schools and Pull-Out Tutorials. We're in the home stretch of testing and the last pull-out camp had me searching for a different way to do 30 minutes of fraction operations practice.
After digging around the supply room for a while a few weeks ago, I ran across Versa Tiles. I pitched them to a couple of teachers on campus and they used them with great success, but I still had not used them.
So, what a perfect time to test them out?! We have tons of student activity books on campus, but none of them had exactly what I wanted...which was choosing the appropriate operation and solving problems involving addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of fractions. Lucky for me, ETA Hand2Mind offers a free Activity Template & Pattern Codes Document. With this, I was able to create my own problems and choose a pattern  of my choice for the answer boxes.

Okay, I feel like I'm getting ahead of myself...if you've never heard of VersaTiles, check out this video for a little explanation of how they work. (If you want to get to straight to how it works, fast forward to 2:00).
Okay, so now that you know how they work, here's the activity pages I put together for my pull-out lesson.
And the lesson was a hit! Students were engaged for the full 30 minute session. I did the session with 10 different sets of kids throughout the day, and I didn't get bored with it. I enjoyed seeing each set of students engaged with the VersaTiles activity.
It's crazy that I haven't used VersaTiles before now. I think I have seen them at each campus I've worked, but didn't know what they were. Now, I'm thinking of investing in my own set to have so that I can take them with me wherever I teach!
PSA: If anyone from ETA is reading this post, feel free to bestow some answer cases upon me so that I have my own set to take with me wherever I go!!! :)

Reflection Art

Today, we took some time out of our regularly scheduled plan to do a little art. I had a lesson planned on coordinate graphing where students would plot points to make their initials and complete various transformations. While that lesson will still happen (probably on Monday), we did some reflection art instead.

Students started by folding their papers in half (hot dog style).

We then wrote our name with the fold at the bottom. It was amazing how much trouble students had just with writing their name. With that taking a while, I knew I was in for it when we began cutting.

I instructed to start by cutting around the tops of their names.

We then took to the bottom, making sure to leave some pieces of the fold in tact.

Students started to open their reflections, but weren't happy with the designs, so they then went to making more cuts, cutting out any circles or open spaces that they could. We ended up with a beautiful wall of reflection art and some great conversations about geometry, reflections, and symmetry.

After my students saw me taking pictures of their artwork, a few of them decided to jump in for a shot!

Here is the final wall with the artwork of my class as well as Mrs. Trousdale's classes!

(When I have time I will try to add step-by-step pictures.)

Anyway, do you ever deviate from your planned lesson and end up with something wonderful? Don't you love when that happens?! Please share!

Scoot in Action

Recently, I posted this picture and my excitement about trying out the game of "Scoot" in my classroom. I'm a week late with blogging about this activity in my class, but better late than never!

Generally with the game or learning structure of "Scoot," you place a different problem/task card on each desk. Students have a set amount of time at that desk, and then they move on to the next desk/task card and begin work on the new problem. Students use a recording sheet to record their work, and then the problems are reviewed at the end of the exercise.

I love the idea, except for the fact that I don't want students to have to wait to the end to know if their work is correct. This prompted me to make color coded answer keys to go with my task cards. 

I put the desks in groups of four. Student rotated around the desk four times to complete the problems. I was surprised at how many grumbles I got about getting up and moving from one desk to another, but when they heard the music at transition time, the grumbles decreased. After the group finished, they checked their work on the corresponding answer key.

After they checked their work, they moved to a new group of four task cards. I allowed students to change groups if they wanted at this point, which meant they could work with a new group of students if they chose to. They just had to got to a new set of cards so that they were working on a new set of task cards.

Sorry for the blurry picture.
Since the solutions were completed worked out on the answer key, students were able to see where they went wrong on problems. This also gave them the opportunity to have discussions about the problems, since they all worked them individually. Students had great discussion around the answer keys. 

I printed the problems on 2" x 4" Avery address labels and then affixed them to colored index cards. It made the assembly of color coded cards really easy. Here's a link to the files used to make this Rational Number Operations Scoot that we used in my 8th grade math class.

I am so enjoying trying new things in class lately. On next week's list is the Origami Frog Olympics to review 2D geometry and probability. Here's a little peek at what's to come...

Easiest BINGO Ever!

So glad I ran across Sarah @ Everybody is a Genius last week! As I stalked one of my new favorite math teacher blogs, I found the easiest way to do classroom bingo ever! All she suggested is to print a worksheet, any worksheet. Kuta Software is a great resource, but it can seriously be any worksheet and any skill.

Students are given a blank Bingo square with a list of answer choices at the bottom. They use those answer choices to make their own bingo card.
I then used a random number generator to choose a problem from 1 to 24. That number corresponded with the problem we worked from the worksheet. Students were excited to be so close to winning Bingo that they asked for another question even as time was running short.

I promise this is the easiest way ever to transform a worksheet into interactive practice of a math skill. You only need a worksheet of 24 problems with the answer key and to create a bingo square. Thanks so much to Sarah @ Everybody is a Genius for sharing! Go check out her blog for great ideas and lots of interactive notebooking resources.

I Miss the Classroom!

This year, I've been serving as a Master Teacher at a middle school that follows the Teacher Advancement Program. The Master Teacher postion is intended to be a teacher support position in which I evaluate teachers, provide weekly professional development, and offer classroom support as needed/wanted. In addition to being the TAP Master Teacher, I am the math department chair, campus instructional specialist, and teach one section of 8th grade math. Needless to say, I have a lot on my plate....and I miss the classroom.

You're probably thinking "but you are in the classroom." Well, I am, but I'm pulled in so many directions that my classroom suffers. My students don't get the best of me, my teachers don't get the best of me, and my family doesn't get the best of me. I hate that no one is getting my best.

Being in this position has also exposed me to the politics of education...and I'm not so sure I like the politics. I know I don't want to be an administrator. I thought I may want to do something in curriculum and instruction, but I feel like there is still so much I want to do in the classroom.

So, while the leadership experience has been valuable, I think I may be going back to being a classroom teacher next year. We shall see...