Monthly Archives: September 2012

Recap – this is my first year of implementing standards based grading as well as planning my own lessons for things rather than just “following the book”. Well tonight I was dreading making the lesson I had to plan and grading the concept quizzes that I had given (and procrastinating btw) to where I was second guessing what I had gotten myself into. But now I have renewed energy after grading just one set.

At the end of every concept quiz I have students write down what score they think they earned and why. One kid who has been struggling put a 4 (highest possible) and his reason was “BECAUSE I GOT IT!” and he was right. He got everything correct and he has now proved that he knows what he is doing. I can’t wait to see the smile on his face when I hand back his quiz tomorrow. Things like that are why I do this!

An added bonus – I can actually name off the kids who still can not write an equation of a line. I am ashamed to say that I honestly have never been able to do that with exact certainty that I have now. That is also exciting to be able to provide help to those who truly need it.

What I thought was going to be a bad night turned into a really good one..although I still need to grade 70 more quizzes and develop a bingo game for tomorrow… Oh well…this post will always help me remember why I do it. Maybe I should also take a camera tomorrow and catch that smile!

Leave a comment

Posted by on September 20, 2012 in Uncategorized


Review Game ideas

Just got done with the most amazing professional development opportunity.    Global Math Department (on is basically a weekly professional development opportunity where different presenters discuss different topics this week.  This week was my first experience with it and the topic was math review games (always a good one to have an arsenal of ideas for, so was very excited!)  I was so excited I even set an alarm on my phone for when I forgot about it, but then I actually remembered!  For those of you who don’t know me – IT’S  A MIRACLE!

First presenter (who we could see on the computer btw – very cool) discussed I have, who has.  I have done this game before but I liked the idea of  having the students have more than one card so they don’t think they are “off the hook” once their card has been used.

2nd presenter discussed a bidding review game (my sound went out for a little bit on this one so I don’t know all of the details, but I picked up the gist.  You give the students a set of problems (presenter had 16) and an answer for each problem.  Some of the answers listed are correct, some are not.  At home that night students need to decide which answers are correct and which are incorrect.  They come to class the next day and form teams.  The team decides which they think are right and start with 1000 points.  Teams then bid on questions that they think are right, but they don’t want to “win” the bid on questions that are wrong because they will loose 500 points at the end of the game if they end up with a “lemon” question.  The winning team is the team that ends up with the most correct questions won from the bidding.  If there is a tie, then look at how many points they have left.  Once again if they end up with a lemon question (wrong answer) from a bid, they loose the question and loose 500 points.     I see this as a great way to get kids engaged and also a great way to do error analyses with the wrong answers since you will deliberately make a mistake that students commonly make – just like those nasty standardized tests do (wouldn’t it be great if the answer choices in math were 10, George Washington, verb, and dog – or at least that what my kids think)

3rd presenter was “risk”.  You give the kids a set of questions and they start with 100 points.  After they answer the question they wager some/all/none of their 100 points based on how confident they are with their answer.  If they get it right, they increase their points by their wager amount.  If they get it wrong, they decrease.  Someone in the chat referred it to a lot of rounds of double jeopardy.

4th presenter was very cool and could easily be adapted to a review or a worksheet.  Basically it involves the kids making a clock with only 12, 3, 6, and 9 labeled.  Then you have them take 2 minutes to walk around and make “appointments” with other students. Once they are done making appointments they have a seat (so you know who is left). Then you start by saying it’s time for your 12 o’clock appointment.  They find their partner and you tell them what problems to work, like 12-18.  Then after a certain amount of time – she suggested you use a time – it becomes time for their next “appointment” and they find their next partner.  She also stressed that you should be random with the problems you assign so kids don’t work ahead.  Whatever doesn’t get done in appointment time or doesn’t get assigned becomes homework.  Fun little twist on doing partner review work I thought.

5th presenter was “swat it” – I can just see my 8th graders now!  She used this with vocabulary but could also use math facts, graphs, equations, solving one step equations, words into expressions (wow – the ideas just coming out of my fingers!)  You have choices projected onto the wall and have the word you are trying to find at the top.  Two teams line up behind a certain line (put tape on the floor) and the 2 people in front have fly swatters.  Once they see the word at the top, they need to try and be the first person to “swat” the matching definition or whatever.  What is great about fly swatters – if they were really close, one HAS to be on the bottom (she stresses to kids to leave the swatter on the wall after they have swatted.)  She also stresses that teams will loose a point if they swat something (mainly someone!) with the flyswatter.  I’m just wondering if I could resist swatting the students – jk!  We talked about how she uses a powerpoint and projects onto a wall, could also just write the definitions on the board (but what was nice about the powerpoint is she would change the position of the choices every so often to keep kids paying attention.)  Not for sure what I would do since I project onto a smartboard, but I’ll have to come up with something cuz I’m totally in love with this.  Here is the link given for swat it

6th presenter – smartboard game – basically divide the class into two teams.  Roll a die to see what team goes first and then ask a question.  If the team that is up gets the question right they get a point, if they can explain how they got the answer they get another point.  If they get it wrong the other team can steal the points.

I kind of do a version like this when I play Jeopardy.  2 teams and the kids answer the questions on their clickers (aka Smart response systems).  One team chooses ABCD the other team chooses EFGH.  Let’s say the correct answer is A/E, whichever letter has the higher percentage getting it right gets the points for that question.  Nice thing about this is everyone needs to answer the question and I can see what percentage of the class gets it right immediately!  Love my clickers – I inserted a pic in case you don’t know what I’m talking about!

Holy cow that got long – but I wanted to write a summary before I forgot!  What was really cool is that most of the presenters were bloggers that I have been faithfully stealing ideas from following since I started reading blogs and I actually got to hear their voices and see them as well as steal hear some more great ideas.  Next week is on statistics.  Don’t deal with that as much, but these people are so knowledgeable/helpful I think I’ll hang out anyway and maybe their awesomeness will permeate through the screen!

1 Comment

Posted by on September 12, 2012 in Uncategorized



SBG – 1st 3 week summary

Well I have started SBG (Standards Based Grading) with my three 8th grade sections and I have to say I’m loving it – other than the fact that it is new and requiring a lot of extra work.  But the level of excitement with the kids and my level of excitement has made the hard work worth it so far – oh and the fact that I know with certainty who understands slope and y-intercept and who doesn’t!

So here  is a synopsis of how it works

1)  I devised the year into 30 concepts for 8th grade (mainly algebra in the state of MN)

2) I decided to go with a 5 point scale (kind of) – on any given quiz the students can earn anywhere from a 0 to a 4.  Here is what each means (*borrowed/stole from a teacher friend who I’m getting LOTS of great ideas from about SBG.)

3) Since the scores only go from 1 to 4 on a quiz, in order for students to earn a 5 (A – I’ve mastered it) they need to earn two 4s on a concept.  To me it shows that if a students can get two perfect papers on a concept they know their stuff!

4) In order for a student to be proficient in a concept to where they can stop taking the quizzes – they need a sum of 7+, at least one score of 3 (might change that to two scores of 3 – haven’t decided yet), and they cannot end on a 2 or lower.

5)  Students keep track of their own scores in their concept quiz folder (which I keep in my room).  If they get an A (two 4s) I give them a stamp that says Math Master!  (again, not my idea).  They are loving it.

Things to work on –
1)  I still need to develop a way for kids to let me know they are coming in to reassess on a concept.

2) Haven’t decided if I’m going to record their highest score, an average score, or their last score into the gradebook.

3)  I have done away with homework grades, instead I assign practice!  I don’t grade it, but  I need to come up with a better system for keeping track of who has completed their “practice” and who hasn’t.  Mainly for my own record (and the parents when they ask why so and so hasn’t mastered the concepts.)

4)  Not for sure what I’m going to do with the student that needs to come in to reassess (since they haven’t been proficient in a concept) and doesn’t. Fingers crossed that maybe it won’t happen?!? <wishful thinking font>

So in conclusion – I know I’m not perfect and there isn’t one “right” method for SBG, but to me, it just makes sense.  Everyone learns at different speeds and knowing someone got a 75% on chapter 1 quiz tells me nothing about what they have learned.  Baby steps in the right direction.  Oh – and my baby steps for next year (and probably this year if I continue on this insane path of trying too many new things in one year – but again they make sense) is INB (interactive notebooks) – darn the blogging word for putting these amazing ideas into my head <sarcasm font – or at least I think I’m joking, I’ll let you know if I’m still alive at the end of the year>

1 Comment

Posted by on September 11, 2012 in Uncategorized



So many new things in the classroom

I have been trying so many new things in my 8th grade classroom  because of all of the blog reading I have been doing.  Truly has been fun and most are things that I will continue.  Here is a summary

1) using sheet protectors as dry erase markers.  Today we were working on finding slope and y-intercepts from tables/graphs/equations.  I printed off a copy of my notebook file and they worked individually, discussed as a group, and then we went over the answer as a class.  Again the math discussion was great in groups.

       a)  Bought some dry erase markers with the erasers on the lid for kids to use and going to glue pom poms on the top of the lids that I already had.  Until that gets done I bought some black felt at Michael’s and cut those into squares to use as erasers.

       b)  saw on another blog about how they have students come with sheet protectors (from the school supply list) and then one of the first days they put graph paper in them as well as other commonly used paper so kids will always have access to graph paper

2)  Rather than just have kids do the math problems like a worksheet I made it into a review game – (from misscalcul8 agan).  Balloon pop review.  Each pod has their own sheet of paper (in sheet protectors again – good thing I bought a GIGANTIC box of them at Sam’s club – and the GIGANTIC bag of Mike and Ike’s but that is a whole different topic!)  If their pod/team gets the question right they can come up and “pop” another teams balloon – ie. put an x through it.  The winning team is the team  that has the most balloons left “unpopped” at the end of the game.  Teams definitely teamed up and went against other teams. Made it very interesting/fun

      a)If a team has all of their balloons gone they can “un-pop” one of their balloons. I started the day with the rule that if on a turn a team un-popped one of their balloons another team couldn’t re-pop it that round.  2nd hour I changed it to where that rule wasn’t in affect – let’s just say 6th hour I went back.  During 2nd hour everyone wanted to be the last team to go with the balloons.  I’m so glad I used to smartboard timer so the balloon thing didn’t take too long (they had 10 seconds) and we could focus on the math.  

       b) I was very adamant that students try the problem on their own first, then discuss it with the team during “team talk” (another new thing which i really like).  The problem I was having was the teams kept talking even after they had decided on an answer so I didn’t know who was still working and needed more time.  This led me to the idea of making something to where one side is red “we are still working” and one side is green “we are good to go” and I can have the groups display the color they need. this will prevent me from having to say “what groups need more team talk” 20 million times a day!  

I’m sure there are things that I’m forgetting but it’s late and I have PLC meetings in the morning.  ; )

And now you see why my blog is titled “sum math madness” because truly my writing/thoughts/though process has a certain madness about it!  🙂 


Leave a comment

Posted by on September 5, 2012 in Uncategorized


1st attempt at math stations

Well on Friday I attempted to implement math stations in my classroom.  The topic was Linear equations/graphs/etc.  I stole borrowed some of the stations from another blog (can’t seem to find it right now, but will link it when I do).  And I developed a few of my own.  For the most part it went well.  I would change a few things for next time – so here is my reflection.

Stations L – find the slope, y-intercept, and equation from graphs

Station I – answer 4 questions on whiteboards (figuring out tables from equations, misc)

Station N – find the slope, y-intercept, and equation from tables

Station E – taking a word problem and make a table, equation, graph, etc

Station A – Take an equation and find the slope, y-intercept, and make the graph

Station R – Go over their first concept quiz with me and their group members correcting their mistakes and then recording their scores in their individual folders!

In two of my classes I have 24 students and in 1 section I have 20 students.  I did groups of 4 and there were six tables (groups of desks) of 4 in my classroom


Good –

I liked having station R where I could go over kids mistakes and celebrate triumphs with the kids on a more personal level.  

I liked that I put the answers on the wall (taped into a file folder) that the kids could check once they were done.

I liked the math conversations that were taking place in the groups!  : )

I liked that I thought of putting a few of the station sheets (like the paper with the tables) in a sheet protector and giving the students dry erase markers (1st hour used overhead markers – really hard to get off) so they could mark the change in y and change in x (with the bird’s beak) on the paper. In future I might do that with all of the station paper so no one will write on them with their own pen.

Would change – 

It was hard in my classes of 24 for groups not to have to wait for a station to open up since each table was always full.  In my sixth hour I ended up moving the station around rather than the kids.  Not as fun and definitely was not ready for that as my stations were not labeled well.  Next time I will take a station(s) that takes longer and make sure I have a few extra copies and then have an extra set of desks so one station will always be open. If anyone has a great idea on how to fix this that would be appreciated! 

I didn’t like that some stations took a lot longer than others.  I will have to be more mindful of that.

I didn’t follow up at the end and have the students summarize what they learned, what helped, etc.  

I would be more systematic in how the groups were formed.  

I might do stations in the gym for a change of scenery.  

I didn’t have erasers for everyone to use with their white board markers – problem solved this weekend when I went to a dollar store and bought the markers that have the erasers on the lids (and little pom poms to glue to the tops of the markers I already have.  


So in conclusion – from what I saw I think I liked this a lot and will be looking to do this more often!  


Leave a comment

Posted by on September 4, 2012 in Uncategorized