#Made4Math: Weekly Warm-up Sheet 2.0

I LOVE doing these weekly warm-ups with my students.  They have been great! Check here if you want to read about them in my original post. A few reflections:

*Giving them the weekly sheet on Monday of each week keeps me from forgetting or skipping a day.
*I love that it has all the days of the week on one sheet (front & back)
*The layout was easy to check each Friday.
*I’ve been using these as a way to give feedback without a grade. I check to make sure their warm-ups are completed for each day and I read the weekly reflections on Friday before I leave school.
*I’ve been referencing the math practices when giving feedback…be precise, etc.
*I definitely like the Weekly Reflection on the back. It’s a good gauge on the week’s lessons and activities and let’s me know where they still have questions.
*They were told they had to write one thing that was still circling their mind under threat of death. 🙂 Not really death, but if they did write “Nothing” for that part, I googled random trivia and would write a question there for them.
*This gives them something to do when they walk into my classroom and they are picking up on the routine.
*They have mentioned that they like doing these problems!

*Oh boy do they not like to reflect when doing the Estimation problems. We keep talking about how “I looked at it.” is not an appropriate response for listing your reasoning.
*I didn’t like the layout for Tough Patterns Tuesday because they essentially had to write the equation twice, once in the table and again on the line I made for the equations.
*I need to keep reminding them for the What We’ve Been Doing Wednesday and Flashback Friday boxes to draw all graphics and write the original problem.
*Sometimes it takes more time than I intended, even with my music cues, but that’s because we are having great discussions and THAT’S OKAY.
*Sometimes they are WAY too chatty during this time, but I am okay with it as long as they are completing the problem. (walking around does help this a lot)
*I wish we could fit in Estimation each day because it’s fun when they build on each other faster than once a week.
*Because of the style of warm-up problems, it is not easy to have students go over the answers like I have done in the past.

*I made the line in Tough Patterns Tuesday say Correct Equation. This is where I intend for them to write the correct answer when we share it in class.
*Per a student request, I change Thursday and Friday.  They wanted Throwback Thursday (I agreed once I heard it, so much better than what I had.) and told them I would switch it once I could figure out another name for Friday. Tonight I used the online dictionary to find synonyms for mistake and came across Flub and Faux Pas. Initially I liked Faux Pas Friday, but the true definition of Faux Pas (socially awkward or tactless act) made it seem like the mistake was embarrassing to do. So I changed it to Find the Flub Friday and it’s catchy!
*I added “Draw all pictures/graphics and write the original problem.” to both Wednesday and Thursday.
*There was a Friday a couple of weeks ago where I had a really bad, no good, rotten, very bad day and didn’t want to leave the week on a crabby note.  So when they were writing their weekly reflection, I asked them to share one good thing from the week with me, since I had such a bad one.  To be honest, I enjoyed reading about their week and their one good thing more than I thought.  I liked hearing about what was good or bad…a few students said they had bad weeks too. So the next week I asked them to share one good thing again.  Therefore I changed the line in the Weekly Reflection from “Anything else you want to share” to Share One Good Thing from your week”.

So here is my Weekly Warm-up Sheet version 2.0! Enjoy!

ICTM Presentation 2013

I attended and presented at the Annual Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics conference in Peoria, IL today.  My workshop was on Building and Maintaining Effective Cooperative Groups.  I got a test run this summer at TMC13, but this was a lot longer (90 minutes) and participants needed tickets to attend.  I found out a while back that it was sold out, which made me excited and nervous at the same time.  That means that there are teachers out there that really want to learn about Cooperative Groups and I wanted to make sure that I did it justice.

I had a SMALL room with tiny long tables; we were packed in there! I tried making it a little better for teachers to sit in groups of four, but it didn’t work quite the way I wanted.  However, I had a great group of teachers in my session and we made it work! Everything went pretty much as planned, but I ran out of time at the end to reflect with them more and have them share more ideas because it was going so well and we were sharing.  I need to cut something out somewhere when I present again in February (& maybe in WI in April).

Thank you to all who attended! A lot of great ideas were shared that I plan to implement in my classroom.

Anyways, here is my presentation! And a link to the follow up document I sent the attendees (I collected their email addresses as part of their name tags). https://www.dropbox.com/s/dwsvqau5r3lk2mb/ICTM%20Follow%20up%202013.pdf

SBG Reflections

All you awesome teachers in my blog reader keep writing amazing posts that remind me of things I wanted to reflect on or write about.  Fawn Nyugen wrote a great post about her first year of SBG and it caused me to reflect on my four years of using SBG and how I will apply it to Geometry next year, which I’ve never taught. So, without the elegant writing that Fawn has and copying her headings, here is my reflection! In order to make it easy to read, I am linking to documents rather than embedding them.

What worked

  • Incorporating a Google Form for retakes. I created mine from a mix of those I saw online and even though I waited until 4th Quarter to do so, it helped SO much.  Mainly because I found a script that emails me the form responses when students hit submit…there is NO need for me to check the form daily! It even comes through the email nice and neat.  I then created a folder in my email with a rule that all emails with the Request to Reassess in the subject (set up in the google form), get sent to this specific folder. I liked this because it removed the requests for passes during class time and asked the students to reflect.  And they reflected pretty well seeing as though I added this 4th quarter.
  • Only allowing lunch retakes on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.  This allowed me to have Wednesdays to meet with students who needed help and Fridays because we have treat Friday’s in the 8th grade office and I like spending that time with those awesome teachers.
  • Color coding my PAPER gradebook. Students who earned a 2-1-0 on a skill were highlighted in pink once I posted a note in their online gradebook. The note in the gradebook mentioned that I wanted to see them during lunch to review their missed skill…this was the same thing I wrote on their quiz. I highlighted the students who mastered the skill in green. This allowed me to easily view which skills I needed to reteach and which skills most of the class had mastered.
  • Requiring two 4’s (two mastery scores) in order to fully master (or be completed with) a skill.  I liked this because the questions on the second quiz were a little more difficult in nature, really challenging students to prove their knowledge. I have no idea how I can do this with Geometry when it is all so new to me.
  • Skills Checklist.  It’s amazing how much 8th grade students LOVE stickers! They get a sticker when they master a skill.  This allowed them to know AT ANY TIME, which skills they still needed help with.  I like this because they kept all of their skill quizzes in a folder along with the checklist and they didn’t need technology to log into the gradebook to see what they needed to skill master.  I find the stickers at the dollar store or Target’s $1 section and even got quite  a few packs for Christmas this past year from students.
  • Short Skill quizzes. Most had 1-4 skills being assessed through 4-10 questions, with 2-4 questions per skill. This meant they didn’t take students they entire 45 minute period to take the quiz and they didn’t take me that long to grade. By not losing an entire period to a quiz, I was able to use the time before or the time after for a lesson or activity or review.

What didn’t work (and I won’t reinstate them)

  • Color coded excel gradebook. I found a PDF example online of a SBG excel gradebook that color coded the scores and would automatically tabulate when students had passed a skill twice.  I thought it was the coolest thing, took a good deal of time to make it. Yet I didn’t like having to write the scores down and transfer them to that document and then to the online gradebook.  This didn’t even make it past a few weeks.  Great concept, but too time consuming.
  • Allowing students to take more than two skills during a before school, during lunch or after school reassessment.  Since most come to reassess during lunch anyways, there isn’t enough time for students to take more than two skills.  I tried 1st and 2nd quarter with no limit, but then the end of lunch would come and I would hear “I didn’t finish, can I finish during class?” UGH…no way.

What I know I can improve on

  • Keeping track of which reassessments a student has taken. I have multiple reassessments for each skill, but when a student comes to reassess, I usually ask them if they’ve reassessed before and which skills.  I was *usually* able to provide them with the right skill quiz, but sometimes students did reassess the same skill quiz more than once.  Either I need to try Fawn’s Mailing labels for reassessments or something else.
  • Going over the quizzes when I hand them back.  Students sit in groups, so they learn at the beginning of the year that they need to dialog with each other, but when it comes to quizzes I find that they don’t like to say they didn’t understand a certain problem. I need to find a better way to make sure I am going over the questions on the skill quizzes when they are handed back.
  • Provided more written feedback on their quizzes.  I did a decent job during first quarter, but slowly, slowly it disappeared as the year went on.  I KNOW that it is important, but it was one of the easier things to let slide. No more! I plan to provide helpful, meaningful feedback on skill quizzes this year!
  • Explaining the system better to parents at the start of the year. I am the only one who grades this way in my building, so it is all new to parents whose “child has always gotten A’s in math”. I need to find a better way to explain. I’ve used Angry Birds as an example to help, but I need to improve it a lot.

What I’m still thinking about

  • Allowing those students that mastered ALL skills for the quarter to be exempt from taking my Quarter Skills Final. I allowed this during 3rd and 4th quarters this past year.  I thought there would be more students mastering, but it wasn’t as many students as I thought it would be (maybe 4 per class of 32) and why not reward them for working hard through the quarter and above and beyond class time? But I wonder if it defeats the purpose of the Quarter final to work on retention of material?
  • Do I even do a quarter final this year? (see below as well) The district curriculum committee has written unit tests for each unit, if I have to give those, I don’t see a huge quarter final being able to fit in.  Since this is a sophomore level course, the 8th grade students will take semester finals during 2nd and 4th quarter as it is.
  • Reassessment deadline. It’s usually the last Monday of the quarter for any skills during that quarter, but this sometimes causes students to wait until the last minute to master a skill from the beginning of the quarter.  If I have to give the district created Unit tests, maybe the deadline would be by the next unit test? Or two weeks after a unit test?  Just thinking aloud here…
  • Incorporating the Math Practices and 21st Century Skills into SBG, specifically the gradebook. I want to, I just don’t know how.  I tried 21st Century skills last year and those didn’t make it past the first quarter. What if the students graded themselves on the Math Practices and 21st Century Skills?  That would make it easier to keep track of AND allow discussion between the student and myself. Hmmmmm….
  • Meeting with each student at mid-quarter and end of the quarter to discuss together what grade they think they earned. I have read this in a few different places and I think it would open to some great discussions.  But will they be honest? And is this really preparing them for the rigors of high school? And where will I find the time?

What I’m at a loss on

  • Starting SBG over after 4 years of using it in Algebra and trying to apply it to Geometry.
  • Writing questions for Geometry. Writing the questions for Algebra and Pre-Algebra over the years was easy because I’ve been teaching it for so long I knew the types of questions I wanted them to know.  I want SBG to work in Geometry, but I am scared to mess it up because I don’t know the content well enough to be able to level questions and know what is really important enough to quiz on.
  • Creating a Skill Checklist for Geometry. Same reasons as above.  I have a bunch from online, but I also have to keep up with my district’s curriculum and common core.
  • The district curriculum committee that just finished the Geometry curriculum and rewriting it to Common Core has also created Unit tests.  How do I implement those tests with SBG? I haven’t given a unit or chapter test in years.  Do I give it and grade it as a test in the gradebook? Do I give it and grade it as separate skills?
  • Homework. I haven’t graded it in years, but I also haven’t checked it frequent enough to keep students doing it.  Just like a new post I read from An Old Math Dog Learning New Tricks, I don’t think practice should be a part of their grade, but I am starting to feel as though middle school students need a little more of a push in regards to the importance of practicing their math. Some students get that if they practice they will pass the skill quizzes, but others think they don’t have to do the practice to be successful. And the high school has mentioned that many new freshman struggle with getting assignments in on time (they come from 7 different middle schools).  Do I create a responsibility standard in the gradebook and use that for homework where a percentage done during the quarter equals a 2-1-0? Or like a comment on that same blog post, will my gradebook allow me to continue using weights when grading and make HW a 0% weight, so it doesn’t affect the grade, BUT it is visible in the gradebook for parents, students and myself to see their HW completion?

I really enjoyed putting this reflection together, especially since I will be essentially starting over with SBG next year with Geometry as my new teaching assignment.  This is really going to help me remember what I liked and what I want to change as I forge ahead into new territory!

Thanks again to Fawn for reflecting on her year of SBG and inspiring me to do the same!


Geometry – Looking at it from the right angle

Ha ha ha.  I crack myself up.  I love the title of this post.  🙂

Last week we found out our teams for next year (I teach in a middle school) and there were a lot of changes.  This is my 13th year of teaching with the last 11 of them being 8th grade Algebra and Pre-Algebra. I found out that I am moving to teach 8th grade Geometry.   I LOVE Algebra and I am very sad I will not be teaching it next year. (yes, yes I know there is Algebra in Geometry) The Geometry students are the best of the best; they are two years ahead in math and while I am excited for the change now, my initial reaction was not the most positive.  I did not like Geometry in high school, though I did enjoy it more in college…it was always something that I wasn’t too keen on and I struggled with it.  I do think that will help as I am learning to teach Geometry; I want to strive to make it meaningful to my students so they do not have the same opinion of it that I did.  My district is rewriting the curriculum this summer to become Common Core and I won’t get it until the institute day in August.  THAT freaks me out because I do not know anything about pacing or why certain topics have to come before others.  My Type-A personality wants more information.  So I turned to my Twitter peeps to ask for helpful resources.  I received a fantastic amount of responses and can’t wait to check them out!


I wanted to put together a blog post to document what was shared in case it would assist other teachers.  But in reality I am just blogging about it so I can have all of the links in one spot. 🙂

*Remember these are all just suggestions from the MathTwitterBlogosphere as well as my own findings and additions. And they will be updated as I find more! (Let me know if you have items to add!)

Twitter People (& their blogs) to Follow
Kate Nowak (@k8nowak) – function-of-time.blogspot.com
Tina C. (@crstn85) – drawingonmath.blogspot.com/
Nat Banting (@NatBanting) – musingmathematically.blogspot.com
Soph Germain (@sophgermain) – abrandnewline.wordpress.com
David Peterson (@calcdave) – Longtailsofinterest.blogspot.com
Marsha Foshee (@MarshaFoshee) – math-termind.blogspot.com
Mike Mathews (@mwmathews) – mwmathews.wordpress.com
Elissa Miller (@misscalcul8) – misscalculate.blogspot.com
Elizabeth (@cheesemonkeyst) – cheesemonkeysf.blogspot.com
Fawn Nguyen (@fawnpnguyen) – fawnnguyen.com

Book Resources
John A. Van De Walle (a la @pamjwilson)
Discovering Geometry by Michael Serra  (a la @pamjwilson & @zidaya & @Martianson)
Measurement by Paul Lockhart   (a la @j_lanier)
Symmetry, Shape and Space (@mathhombre & ‏@zidaya)
Geometry – Seeing, Doing, Understanding by Harold Jacobs  (@zidaya & @JJJsally)
CME Project Textbook  (a la @ ‏mathhombre)

Web/Curriculum Resources
Art of Problem Solving  (a la @j_lanier)
investigations1213.blogspot.com  (a la @j_lanier)
Geometry Inquiry Based Curriculum Map
Geometry CCSS PrBL Curriculum Map
Dropbox filled with project ideas
A take on CCSS Geometry pacing
Dan Meyer’s Three-Act Math Tasks
Andrew Stadel 3-Act Math Tasks
Nathan Kraft’s 3-Act Math Tasks
Virtual Filing Cabinet (scroll down to get to Geometry) (@sandramiller_tx)
Virtual Filing Cabinet (scroll down to get to Geometry) (@samjshah)
Virtual Filing Cabinet (@nathankraft1)
Re-thinking Geometry Wiki (a la (@crstn85)

Technology Resources
Geometer’s Sketchpad

Hands-on Resources
Patty Paper & Patty Paper Geometry by Michael Serra (a la @zidaya & @Martianson)
Geometry INB Ideas & foldables

Looking at all of the resources that are online, I am getting more and more excited to work with these special group of students next year.  And I hope to be able to contribute to all of the fantastic resources listed above!

My HUGE goal is to use ISN’s next year with both my Geometry classes and my US History classes.  This was my first year using them in Algebra and 8th CCSS and I loved them.  I can’t see myself going back, but it will be a struggle trying to stay ahead of the game enough to know what I want to go in the ISN! 🙂  But I am never one to walk away from a challenge, so bring on 2013-2014!

#MSSunFun: Teaching Students How to Study for Assessments

#msSunFunYeah! It’s #MSSunFun and I am actually participating! 🙂 It’s been a while since I’ve joined in the weekly blogging, but I wanted to share what I do with my students to teach them how to study AND I am procrastinating doing a few others things right now, so it fits perfectly! And it ties to my earlier post on Failure, read that here.

A while back there was a conversation on Twitter about stamps we want so we  could use them on student work, obviously they were tongue in cheek, but I still had fun creating the graphics for all of them.  This one below was one of the main ones we discussed.  It is SO obvious to us teachers when students study and when they don’t. Our frustration with this comes because we are always looking for our  students to succeed and we also know all of the work we have done in class to practice and help solidify their understanding.  Since I use SBG, reassessments are a real part of my classroom and grading, I dislike grading retakes when they clearly didn’t prepare.  This is why I have added some additional requirements this year in order for them to reassess.Didn't Study

Due to using SBG, I have a lot of small skill quizzes rather than long tests, however I start the beginning of the year teaching my students that the word “quiz” does not mean they don’t have to study because it will be easier.  The math department has used the following handout to help students with studying for math tests.  It provides a list of helpful study strategies.

Additionally, I share the App/website StudyBlue with my students. (www.studyblue.com) It is a tech way to create flashcards, study guides, etc.  Students can even share with their school and classmates.  It remembers which ones you get correct and incorrect and will continue to build study from there.  It’s pretty cool and my students LOVE it.  Check it out!

I have created two documents that I have used since 2010-ish, I have used each at different times and for different reasons.

This document below is what I hand to my students in preparation for their end of quarter final. While we take skill quizzes throughout the quarter, I also want to focus on retention and they take a quarter final that covers all of the skills from that quarter.  They take out their skill folder and skill checklist and use that to help fill out the top part.  They also use their ISN and/or textbook to complete the middle part and they can use old examples from their ISN in the third part.  I do reference a textbook, while they don’t get one to use during the year, they can access it online as necessary. I reference a lot of the online practice quizzes and tests as good study tools because they check automatically while the students take them.

I have used this study plan document a lot with my US History classes, but my math students like it as well.  I make it available on my class website and they can use it as necessary.  At the start of the year we do a study skills unit in Advisory that I put together and this document is part of that unit, which means that all students are familiar with it.

I remember coming across Julie’s Study Guide Kit for Math Tests at the start of this year, http://ispeakmath.wordpress.com/2012/10/23/study-guide-kit-for-math-tests/.  I made a note to try and incorporate that into my ISN’s this year because I liked that there would be a study guide for each Unit/Chapter within their ISN.  I felt that would be useful for the students when it came to studying for the quarter final.  Unfortunately I forgot about it and did not start it this year, but I will be doing something similar next year.  I could see the right side of the ISN page being the folded study guide and the left side of the page being a modified (shortened to fit) study plan….but these are just thoughts right now.  I really like Mary’s Evidence of Study worksheet that she shared for this week’s #MSSunFun, http://teacherleaders.wordpress.com/2013/04/13/preparing-for-assessments/.  I will probably try and work that into my ISN somehow as well.  I like the parent signature for my middle school students.  I was also thinking about adding a Time Spent section so students could note how long they spent studying each night.

I love the sharing of great ideas and I am happy to participate!! Have a great week!

The value of homework

Homework has always been the thorn in my side as a teacher.  I understood it’s importance, but have struggled to get the students to understand the importance. From the beginning of my career, homework was a completion grade, quite often I would “check” it through homework quizzes that had questions from that week’s homework that we had specifically gone over in class. Then I wasn’t happy with that and switched it up to points 2-1-0. I would walk around and check for completion while they were checking with their neighbor. Switching to Standards Based Grading 3-4 years ago has helped my Algebra students understand a little better the importance of practice not points, but it hasn’t helped my Pre-Algebra students. It sounds like I run my homework similar to Andrew Stadel; I don’t collect homework. I don’t check it off that they did it.  I don’t keep track. They do spend the first 5 minutes checking with their table, while I go around and stamp their homework (if it is done) & take attendance, but I just stamp for completion and don’t keep track. Then I will go over any questions they couldn’t agree on at their table or questions they had good discussions about. Recently I have noticed a strong decline in the amount of homework that is being completed and discussed, either that or I am getting more annoyed with the whining “I didn’t understand it”, “It was too hard” or “I forgot” that comes from a multitude of students on a daily basis. I know it isn’t entirely the time of the year because I know I’ve been kind of ignoring the issue for a month or so now, hoping they would turn it around.  Andrew StadelChris Robinson, Hedge, and Fawn Nguyen were discussing the lack of homework completion the other day on Twitter and I shoved jumped right into the conversation.  I need a better focus on my views on homework and how to make it worthwhile in my classroom.  Since I jumped into the conversation a little late, they had already done a decent amount of leg work and came up with a few warm-up questions to pose to the students on Monday.

1. Briefly explain what reason cause you to regularly complete or regularly NOT complete the homework assignments.
2. What incentives would motivate you to complete more homework assignments?

I had students complete the questions on a note card and attempted to give very little direction or any examples. Unfortunately one of my Pre-Algebra classes didn’t understand the word incentive so I tried to explain it with an absurd example, “An incentive…like if having a pony would get you to complete your homework.” Somehow that helped them understand, but as you will see below also prompted them to tell me that a class pet would be a great incentive.  As they were leaving class, students were offering cages and toys for some class pet (I think someone said hamster), while I was mumbling something about it being too hard to have class pets these days due to all the allergies students have.  Just to be clear, we will NOT be getting a class pet.

I was going to tally up all of the results from all four periods together, but as I read through them (Middle School students are the best entertainment.), I realized very quickly that there was a distinct difference between my Pre-Algebra student responses and my Algebra student responses. Algebra for my students is an accelerated class at the 8th grade level, so they do tend to be more studious and responsible.  I wanted to then tally the results by course. Here are the results: (Someone needs to explain to me how to put tables in a blog)

FYI: I do teach about 120 students, I did not record responses that were off topic which is why they don’t add up to the right amount of students. 🙂

My Thoughts: (Reminder I do teach 8th Grade)
Reasons for not doing homework – I wasn’t surprised with Pre-Algebra having more students say they don’t understand or they forgot. Years of teaching have proved that to be the case. The 3 responses for distractions are home were from the students I know take care of siblings many of the hours they aren’t at school. Algebra responses were strongly not having time to do it, outside activities and they were busy, which I probably should have combined.  A lot of students in those classes are heavily involved in multiple sports, music, dance, etc. I am just fine with the response that if they understand it, they don’t do it.  I was happy only two students said they hated math; my goal is to change that.

Reasons for doing homework – I feel as though a lot of the responses from Pre-Algebra stemmed around getting good grades and it will help them, which did surprise me because I don’t feel as though that is what I see in the classroom. The parents would kill me response while morbid, was a little refreshing, I wish more parents were on their students to complete homework or to at least work on school work at home. I LOVE that so many Algebra students said it helps them to understand and to practice the skills, YEAH! They get it.  Why them and not all my students?  I also enjoyed so many of them saying that doing the HW helps them know if they understand the material. I wanted to do a cartwheel, they get it, they really do.  And to be honest, they don’t have the missing homework issue as bad as my Pre-Algebra students…the students that do are the ones who are struggling on skill quizzes.

Incentives – I love middle school students.  They really came up with some good incentives. Just to hit on a few…
Incentive Card Signature – We do have a grade level incentive program that ALWAYS gets tossed to the side as the year goes on. It’s similar to a Caught Ya Being Good system, where we give signatures on a card and full cards get them food, candy and other incentives a few times throughout the year.  It is such a pain to have them take out their cards and then I sign them.  I want to create a stamp, maybe then I would do it more.  It seems like they want me to.
Fun worksheets: Really? I thought the homework was fun or at least interesting.  There are comics and jokes and the homework is almost always self checking with answers provided.  Apparently my version of fun is not their version of fun, the “punny” jokes must need to go.
Extra Credit: I don’t offer it, they know this because THEY ASK ALL THE TIME. Why write it down? Do middle school students ever listen?
Less HW/Less problems: Really? The max is 20 and that is very very rare.  It’s usually 6-10.
STAR Card: My personal incentive system. STAR stands for Students Thinking & Acting Responsibly. I made them through VistaPrint. But again, I just don’t use them enough. I like to hand them out to students when they are on task and so many other students aren’t. It is a little overkill with the grade level system.  I am only still using them because I have so many left. But I do need to find a way to use one incentive or the other.
Stickers: The students love getting stickers when they master a skill. They keep begging me to buy scratch and sniff stickers, but they are expensive to give daily for homework.
Candy: I dislike eating in my classroom and try to avoid it at all costs. I also am not made of money and don’t want to buy candy all of the time.

I loved the student who said if you don’t do homework you need a punishment of some type, like a name on the board or something.  I do like the idea of if they have it all week, maybe they get something.  I have no idea what though. A lot of the Algebra students talked about high school placement, that’s only because we’ve been talking about it and we discussed what an Honors student looked like.  It’s on their minds I guess.

Overall – They really aren’t completely motivated by points, which is good, but I do need to find a way to work something in.  Years ago I did a chart for each class and they would put an sticker (again with the stickers) on the days they had their homework. It was a great visual to see who had it and who didn’t. I have also tried if everyone has their homework the class earns a tally mark, the period with the most tallies at end of week, month, etc. would win a popcorn party. I keep trying things and they don’t stick, I think because everything is too hard to keep up as the year goes on. Plus with the 42 or so minutes I have for class, I dislike spending too much time checking homework.

I guess I have a lot to think about.  Suggestions are welcome.  I want to figure this out so I can come back in January with a solid plan and actually carry it out.

#Made4Math: Sticky Ball Review Game


I am so excited to have something for #Made4Math Monday and that I am actually posting it on the right day.

Sticky Ball I play this game quite often during the year, I tend to use it in my better behaved classes, which usually helps the classes that aren’t the best improve their behavior enough to play. Regardless it is a fun game. The date the powerpoint was created was in 2006, so I have been using it for a while. Being honest, I know I created a few of the slides, but I am not sure if it was originally found online.

This game involves brain, skills and luck. By answering questions correctly, students get the opportunity to throw a sticky ball at a target and earn points for their team.

game board slides, Individual whiteboards for each student, markers & erasers and STICKY BALLS! These came in a pack, I believe from a party store, but it’s been so long I can’t remember.
**You do need to use a regular whiteboard to project the game board on, not a smartboard…the balls won’t stick. I usually use a projector connected to a laptop to display the targets on the side board. And I use my smartboard to display the questions to solve.

1: Compile a list of questions. Can use as a review game or practice

2: Divide the class into two teams, or you can use multiple groups of 4…really whatever works for your classroom. I use groups of 4 and the quietest team will get the first question to answer, BUT all students and all teams should be solving each problem on their board because they can steal points if the question is missed. I continue choosing the quietest team for each question, but to keep in mind which groups have been called on.

3: Put one of the problems on the board to solve. ALL students in the room should be solving on their whiteboard because they don’t know which student I will call on from their group to answer.
If they answer correctly, they get a turn to throw the sticky ball at the target and earn points for their team.
If the ball ticks to the target, assign the corresponding points. If the ball misses or doesn’t stick, no points are awarded.

I tend to change the target AFTER they have solved a question and answered it. I have found if they see the target ahead of time and think it’s too hard, they won’t work to solve the problem.

Check first what is happening on the other side of your whiteboard! Depending on your set up, this game can create an annoying thumping sound in another classroom. (Unfortunately I know this from experience, it sounds even louder when the class next door is taking a test)

This game is a lot of fun and has the tendency to become loud and boisterous. I do remove points from the louder teams as necessary.

If you are unable to find a sticky ball, use another toy that will stick to your white board. If noise is an issue, use a pom-pom or other soft object to throw.
Consider adding “no-go” areas where a poor/ill-considered toss can result in a loss of points (e.g. hitting another student or anything other than the whiteboard).