Saturday, August 23, 2014

Good Questions: Great Ways to Differentiate Mathematics Book Review

I am so excited to be participating in this Math Book Blog Hop today! I have teamed up with a bunch of awesome math bloggers to bring this to you.

I am a reader. It seems as if I read more for school than I do for me. BUT, when I find something that is good, I want everyone to know about it. My team is probably sick of me talking about this book, but if I could only have one teaching resource in my classroom, this would probably be it!

Let me tell you how this book works. It is divided up by strand according to the Common Core Standards. Being from Texas, this doesn't bother me at all even though we do not follow the common core curriculum. Within each strand, it is broken down in to grade levels. This particular book has content for K-8th grade. If you are looking for high school, you might want to check out the "sequel" that can be found here: More Good Questions: Great Ways to Differentiate Secondary Mathematics Instruction  

Within each grade level, there are two types of questions: open ended questions and parallel tasks. The open -ended questions are exactly what they sound like--open ended. These are great because they not only correlate to the big idea from the standard, but they also have suggested answers, teaching tips, and examples. My favorite question that I asked from this book last year was:

"You divide two fractions and the numerator of the quotient is four. What could the two fractions be?" 
(taken from page 47)

I love this question for so many reasons. The vocabulary used is vocabulary that we want our kids to use. This reinforces the proper academic vocabulary for the content being assessed. Also, it requires students to come up with a strategy that may be different from their classmate's strategy. There is no "right" answer, there is an infinite amount of correct answers. It also allows the kids to all be able to share their solutions instead of one student answering and moving on. 

Starting to ask questions (especially warm-ups or exit tickets) in this way totally transformed my teaching. I was now asking purposeful questions. They were planned. I got excited to get the part of the lesson when we could share responses. We did this every day, and the results were amazing!

The parallel tasks are just as good, if not better. Parallel tasks are based on one topic, but there are two questions. One is sometimes more challenging than the other, but it is always disguised by having what students would refer to as "friendly numbers." The point is that you tell them they only have to answer one question. In my opinion, they end up working out both to see which is easier! Kids are so funny. Here is an example of one of my favorites:

"Lisa's dad was driving 16 miles every 15 minutes. 
Choice 1: How far would he drive in 20 minutes?
Choice 2: How far would he drive in 2.5 hours?"
(taken from page 65)

Both questions involve some analysis before proceeding. Students inherently want to figure out which one is "easier" or will take less time. Many students of mine started out by answering choice 1, but then qiuckly switched to choice 2. 

These are just two examples of types of questions in this wonderful book. I encourage all of you to give it a try! 

Want a chance to win it?? I am raffling off a copy of the book and will send it to you directly. Because I am incurring the cost of shipping as well as the book, please only enter if you live in the contiguous 48 states. I apologize in advance!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Click on the image below to be taken to the next blog: Miss Math Dork!


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Giveaway - 2 Peas and a Dog!

This is just a quick post to let you know about a giveaway from Kristy at 2 Peas and a Dog! She is celebrating her birthday, blogaversary and back to school!

I donated my Integer Operations Seating Cards to the 6-8 Bundle. Look at all of the great stuff you would win!

And, that's not all! She is having giveaways ALL week!

Here is how you can enter today:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Today enter the rest of this week, visit 2 Peas and a Dog.

Good luck!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Loved that Lesson! - Volume of Prisms

Thank goodness for the ability of scheduling posts, am I right? For those of you who have been keeping up with me over the summer, you know that we are building a house and we are actually scheduled to close on MONDAY! So, today we are spending time packing up everything at my parents house so that we are ready to go when we get those keys. This however is not the real purpose of my post...

I am linking up with Meg from The Teacher Studio to share a lesson that I loved! You know the lessons that I am talking about...the one that went better than you ever thought it could. The kids were engaged, asking great questions, helping each other out, not one student was texting under their desk, and IN WALKS THE PRINCIPAL to do an informal walkthrough.

The heavens literally opened up and sang, "Hallelujah!" Things couldn't have been going better. That is the lesson that I am going to share with you today.

Yes, it is a past post, but since it is the summer, I haven't had any kids to teach. I tried to teach my dog how to lay down, but that didn't work so well--so I cannot blog about that. So without further is time for:

Y'all, teaching middle school math can be hard some days! Don't get me wrong, I love my job, but there are some things that kids just have a plain old tough time understanding. One of those things is the difference between volume and surface area. They don't understand conceptually where the formulas come from, therefore can't figure out how to solve the problems. I don't want to be that teacher who just tells them to use the chart and plug in the values, I want them to understand WHY that formula makes sense.

I SO wish that students aren't told to find volume by multiplying length x width x height. It takes me a full day to explain the formula V = Bh is the real formula for prisms. The one that they learn in elementary school only works for rectangular prisms, so that is fine until they get to my class, but most students feel like their whole life was a lie when that is no longer on the formula chart! I feel like I have to start from scratch and tell them that volume is a stack of 2D objects. We need to find the area of the base first. If I had a nickel every time I corrected a student regarding "b" (which is just base) or "B" (which is AREA of the base), I could have retired this week.

Literally, I am emotionally exhausted from saying, "what does big B stand for?"

Students respond with, "BASE!"

Me: "No. You don't get to say base loudly because it is a capital letter."

Students: "Oh, right! AREA of the base!"

My lord. I hope they still remember next week when we have a test.

One thing I wanted to share that they were JUST NOT GETTING was why we multiply by 1/3 for volume of a pyramid (and cones for that matter). I had finally sold them on the formulas for prisms and cylinders and they totally understood it conceptually. YES! But, then we hit a wall with pyramids. They wanted to know why we multiply by 1/3. Or divide by 3. Yes, we had a conversation that those were the same thing. Minds were blown. It wasn't enough for me to tell them that it takes the volume of 3 pyramids to make a prism. I had to show them.

I started with one of these:

Then, we made 2 more and taped them together at their apexes.

And, folded them up!

This TOTALLY helped them to visualize what I was saying. I love being able to let them PROVE things. It's the best. Love being able to use my washi tape too. It's the little things, right?

Here are some foldables that I created to use this week as well and are now in my TPT store! Click the pictures to go to the listing. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Math in Real Life - August 2014

It is the first Wednesday in August, so that means it is time to link up for:

A monthly REAL WORLD math blog link-up hosted by

I have had this in my drafts for a long time, but just haven't had the time to write it! I don't have any pictures, because this is spur of the moment and totally spontaneous and sometimes you just have to live on the edge. So, here goes. Hopefully my train of thought makes total sense!

As soon as we signed off on the contract to build our new house, I thought to myself that I would have TONS of blog posts about how to use math in real life. Seriously, it is ALL math ALL the time. Even being a math nerd, it gives me headaches sometimes. I don't know how normal people do this.

When we started building our house, we had to start packing. We knew we had to get a storage unit. We would have shopped around for the best rate, but since we already had a small storage unit, we wanted to stay in the same complex. We still needed to decide what size we needed. Since we had already started packing, I was able to find the volume of each box, and keep a running total. Storage units are measured by the area of the floor, but you can't forget about the height! Boxes are meant to be stacked! 

So, long story short, I calculated that we would need about 290 square feet of storage to store everything that was in our 2100 square foot house.  Honestly, it didn't seem like we had that much stuff until we crammed it all into one space! We settled on a 10x30 foot unit, and our stuff was stacked about 10 feet high!

This was about 75% full. This is such a big unit that it has two entrances!

The best part of the whole move? We hired movers to move everything! So, naturally, more math was involved.

There were several factors to consider: hourly rate, number of movers, trip charge, insured/bonded, etc. We ended up with 3 movers for $110 per hour with a $45 trip charge. BEST $675 I EVER spent :)

I promise to be more prepared next month--when we are MOVED IN to our new house. Maybe that post will be all about closing costs? UGH. How do YOU use math in real life?

Sunday, August 3, 2014

It's the TPT Back to School Sale!

I am so excited to announce that I am throwing a sale with a bunch of other secondary sellers on TPT this Monday and Tuesday, August 4th and 5th! Back to school only happens once a year, so it is time to stock up on all of the wonderful activities that you have on your wishlists!

Can we stop and talk about how cute this image is!? Danielle Knight of Study All Knight compiled all of our high school pictures and our store logos to make this. I am in awe of her skills!

Can you find me??

I will be putting my entire store on sale for 20% off, and with the Promo Code of BTS14, you can get an ADDITIONAL 10% off. The promo code is important: I can't tell you how many times I have been so excited to get all of my goodies and I FORGOT the Promo Code! So, don't forget.

Anyhow, I would love to stay and chat, but I am off to fill my shopping cart :)

Here are all of the sellers that are putting their store up to 20% off:

Happy shopping!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Currently August!

I know I say this every month. But, I literally cannot believe it is August! Didn't we just end the school year?? Where did the time go? As most of you know, our house is ALMOST finished, and I just cannot wait to get moved in!

I am linking up with Farley for her monthly linky party!

What have you been up to?

Flash Friday Deals! -- Week 3

It is time for week 3 of my Flash Friday Deals!

This week's deal should be a popular one! Many of you have it wishlisted and I thought it would be helpful if any of you have the individual products on your wishlists already. Maybe you teach one grade level, but get moved next year. Or, you want to use one grade level at the beginning of the year and another one at the end of the year. Maybe you teach a regular level class and a Pre-AP level class. This BUNDLE is for you!

This is a bundle of 3 very popular products! Click the image to be taken to the listing. If you go to the individual product listings, you will see each one is $9 a piece. The bundle is normally $21 for all 3, so at 50% off, that brings it down to $10.50! It doesn't get much better than that, y'all!

If you have any questions, please let me know! Have a wonderful Friday!