Friday, March 29, 2013

Kid-friendly Explanation of Common Core Math Practices

As I have been waiting to implement the Common Core in my Classroom, I am realizing that my students are going to need a lot of help transitioning into these new expectations. After Easter Break, I plan to start out doing this by first having students gain a deeper understanding of the Math Practices they will be conscientously using to solve problems. If I simply gave them a copy of the online practices, they would be confused and frustrated. I have created a Flipbook for their notes that will be an easy resource to refer to when using these practices. It includes kid-friendly descriptions of each standard and will also be used as an activity to have students think about 8 different situations and decide which math practice was used in each scenario. Once we have discussed each scenario and where it fits in as a class, they will glue it on the appropriate flipbook page to serve as an example when they refer back to this resource. I will be uploading pictures of the finished products as well as some of our class discussion points once I complete this lesson with my kids next Tuesday, so please visit frequently!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Comparing Fractions, Decimals and Percentages Flipbook

Here is a video showing how to put together the "Relating Fractions, Decimals and Percentages Flipbook. This is a great way for students to review these relationships and serves as a great resource for their notes.

Please view this video to see this Flipbook as a finished product. (My students love making these and since they have time invested in creating them they refer to them more quickly than traditional notes.)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Don't Get Zapped - Integer Operations

This is a really neat idea that I saw on an elementary school teacher's blog at
and I think it could be adapted for my middle school students.

I thought it would be a great way to practice integer operations, fraction operations or any other operational skill and could be used for an independent game idea. I would like to plan to work in a 3 station group next year. As I am planning for the Common Core Curriculum, I am taking a tip from the reading teachers and creating a three groups (Red, Green and Blue). They will be working through rotating stations. One station will always be a skill self-check station... so I believe this game would work perfectly!

Basically, you put problems on popscicle sticks and place 30 of them in a container along with two "Take another Turn" sticks, two "Give Another Player a Stick" sticks and one "Zapped" stick which means you have to put all the sticks you collected back into the container. You keep a stick if you get the problem correct. I think I will number each problem and have an answer key handy so kids can check each others' responses. The student that wins is the student who has the most sticks when their time is up at that station.

I am very excited to start working on these games, but plan to use a PRINGLES container instead since my family devours these on a regular basis.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Megalodon Investigation: Work Samples

Student Work Samples: Megalodon Investigation

Even though this is a 6th Grade Unit, I had some time between State Testing and the students going on Spring Break, so I decided to try this investgation out with my 7th graders. They really did a good job so I decided to display a few of my Top Notch Groups' work with you. You can find this investigation in my Common Core Ratios and Proportions Unit or you can download just the Megalodon Investigation.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Betta Math Common Core Flipbook on Relating Fractions, Decimals and Percentages

Another Betta Math Common Core Flipbook: Relating Fractions, Decimals and Percentages 

This Flipbook helps students to interact with their knowledge of relatin rationals numbers. They can revew this topic it also helps them to think about and apply the concept. I also have noticed that students more wuickly refer to these flipbooks when using their notes than looking back at what they wrote. (The time invested in creating these books make the student more invested in using them.)

If you have downloaded the Betta Math Common Core Geometry Flipbook and thought it was a good resource, than you will like this Betta Math Common Core Flipbook relating Fractions, Decimals and Percentages as well!


Probability Investigation: Sticks and Stones

YES! State testing is finally over and I am able to do some fun activities with my students. This was a neat activity that I found on the Illuminations Website that simulates an Apache Native American Game that was played when indian nations came together during festivals.
I used it as an activity to enrich my 6th graders' knowledge of probability and extend it into probable combinations. I am also working on helping my students begin to transition into the Common Core Curriculum and start helping them with the basics of writing about math. This website is a great resource for activities that are free to teachers, but a lot of times you have to supplement the activities with worksheets or additional supports that will help the students. I have started out using this activity as a review of experimental probability, but will extend this concept tomorrow to including linear combinations.
If you would like to use this resource and would like to have the FREE SUPPLEMENTARY worksheets and game pieces, please visit the following link and download the materials I used in class FREE of charge. Please view the images below to see the game in action. I have also included a video from You Tube showing a modern day Pow Wow to give the students an idea of what a Native American Festival sounded and looked like.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Today I decided to allow my 6th Graders to try-out the game entitled GRIDLOCK. They loved it, but as I played against a couple of my students I did have some ways I felt I could make it more challenging and put it more on a 6th/7th grade level. Here are pictures of the activity from today as I used it in my classes. I have created a more advanced version of this game that can be downloaded on my TpT sight.


Here are some images for the more advanced game FOUR TO SCORE.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Megalodon: How Big Was It? Investigation Applying Proportionate Reasoning

I have recently been thinking about how to motivate my students to want to do the work that Common Core is requiring them to do. Then it hit me, the problems they are working on must be things that interest them. I decided to take a crack at writing something that  think would interest me. I have always been facinated by ancient creatures, the more menacing (as long as I know they are extinct) the more fascinated I was. YES, I was a big fan of Jurassic Park.

While thinking about how to apply this to 6th Grade Math, I came across this interesting video clip on You Tube from Animal Planet's "The Most Extreme: Ancient Ancestors" and I thought it would be a perfect application to the Ratio and Proportions Unit since the Megalodon was juts a much larger version of today's Great White shark.

One of my students actually brought in a REAL Megalodon tooth.
The other students (and also myself) were amazed to be able to see and touch
this rare fossil that is normally only seen behind glass.
From this video, I got the idea to create the following investigation.

Basically, the students are asked to look at a drawing of a Great White shark and based upon an information card about the actual Great White the drawing was in proportion to, determine the scale. Then the students have to create their own drawing of a Megalodon also to the same scale to get an idea of just how much bigger this shark was thought to be compared to the Great White.
This investigation was very fun and was easily applied to the 6th Grade Ratio and Proportions Unit. Please look at the sample portfolio below. If this unit looks like something you might want to use in your class, please visit to download the full investigation with all templates and supplementary materials. Also please check back here for more ideas for the Common Core.

Common Core 6th Grade Ratios and Proporitons Assessments

As we move into the Common Core Curriculum, I plan to take time to Pre-test my students prior to starting a new Unit. I believe this is important because the emphasis of the Common Core is to help students learn more than when they came to you. I have found that in the past some of my biggest behavior problems were students that truly understood the material being taught and were bored. Assessing them at the beginning will help you challenge each student at the appropriate level. Here are some assessments that I have created by looking at the PARCC sample questions online. I am also in the process of using my QUIA site to try to simulate these types of problems online. You can download these assessments here.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Common Core Ratios and Proportions Unit is Almost Finished

Our state testing has kept me very busy the past few weeks. My 7th Graders are testing today and my 6th graders will test later this week. (I am crossing my fingers that they work hard and do their best.) At the same time I am ready to get into the Common Core Curriculum.

I haven't been able to spend near as much time on the Ratios and Proportions Unit that I wanted to, however I have been pluggins along with it. I think it is coming together nicely and I have already tested a couple of the Common Core Investigations to make sure that they will work. One investigation will deal with comparing the ancient shark Megalodon with the Great White Shark of today. I believe that we should start by posing the Big Question in these investigations to spark the interest of our students. Then we can fill in their instructional gaps as we see fit to help them be able to figure out the Big Question on their own. Here is a quick peak of the investigation entitled, "Megalodon: How Big Was It?"

This is one investigation in a comprehensive unit that I am in the process of finishing up. I am very excited to be using this in my class 4th Quarter. Please visit frequently as I will be posting examples of student work, ideas for implementing investigations in math class as well as any ways I intend to improve upon these investigations once they start in the classroom. I promise (if this looks interesting to you) it will be ready very soon. I just do not want to put "junk" out but want to make sure that the investigations are as accurate and practical as possible and that the information is correct and properly aligned with the CCSS standards. Have a great day!