Monthly Archives: April 2013

MCTM 2013 Spring Conference Session

Here are my slides (hopefully I have linked them correctly) for you to view. Also, here is my livebinders link to all of the things I am going to talk about/demonstrate for your viewing pleasure. Please comment here or email beckyrahm at if you have any questions or comments. Also – please leave a comment of one of your favorite ways to review with students.

For those of you who happen upon this and were not at MCTM – my session title was “Review Activities – Besides a Worksheet” – Students need more practice, ut are bored with worksheets? Come and discover ways for kids to practice besides a worksheet. Presented at 8:15 on Saturday morning (note to self – if I ever decide to present again, send in some money with my application to try and avoid the Saturday morning, 8:15 session! ha)

Update – after the session – thanks to all who came (and didn’t volunteer – note to self, bring calculator along next time so I can use random number generator to pick volunteers and I need to ALWAYS volunteer in a session where one is asked for, so the presenter doesn’t feel awkward – haha). If you weren’t able to attend the session, the PowerPoint probably won’t help as much because it was really just for me to remember what I was going to talk about next (in other words I just didn’t read from the slides), but everything I did talk about is referenced on the livebinder site linked above (with probably an even better explanation than I gave). Also I will keep updating the livebinder when I find other great ideas to steal, use. Or keep checking my blog.

Also could someone post in the comments the game ideas that were shared by attendees, I know there were some great ones that I was excited about, but with it being Saturday morning, my nerves about the session, and me not writing them down, I seem to have forgotten them. My bad. So post a comment if you would please (or if you weren’t there please still just comment on your favorite review activity). Thanks.

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Posted by on April 27, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Best Hand Wins (aka Poker)

I few weeks ago in 8th grade we were working on rules o exponents. The kids had completed an exploration and figured out the rules (and hopefully understanding the why behind the rules) but they needed practice. So I took a worksheet full of practice problems and divided it into six parts. The first sections started off with easier problems and then got harder as the sections went on.

I started the hour by shutting the door (and I never do that) and I said that we were going to do something that I wasn’t sure was legal (boy did I have their attention then) as I heald a deck of cards in my hand. I told them how they were going to practice what they had learned about rules of exponents by playing a little game. I then explained the game.

Students got into groups of four and worked on the problems. Once they had a section done they would send a representative back to me and I would tell them if they were right or not. If they were, that person was to pick a card. If they weren’t, they needed to go back and try again. At the end of the activity they could have up to six cards. I said we would then pick a winner by a predetermined set of rules as to which group had the best card hand. By this time they had figured out it would be by poker rules for best hand. And they were saying “ooh, we are gambling in school.” And the. Of course I would play it up and say no we weren’t and so on and so forth.

Anything to get them a little bit excited about practicing math.

Things I would change – I wouldn’t put as many problems in one section. We actually had to continue this the next day, but it was a pain because I had to collect the cards back for the next hour but then had to give the exact cards back the next day. I would make sure it could be completed in one day.

Exciting things that happened – one group had their first three cards be king, 10 and ace of the same suit. It was flu to see their reaction when their next card wasn’t one that was going to get them the royal flush. Winning hand the entire day was there of a kind (by the rules we were using to determine the best hand – ha ha)

Here are some pictures from the day.

Best hand wins

Best hand wins – 2 aces is looking promising.

Best hand wins

Best hand wins

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Posted by on April 24, 2013 in Uncategorized


Speed dating in the math classroom.

I’m always looking for ways to let kids practice in class without necessarily even realize that is what they are doing because they are having a little fun doing it. We are working on solving systems of equations and started out by solving via graphing. This way they truly understand what they are finding when solving a system.

Next day I wanted them to do the “set equal to method” (aka substitution when both equations are solved for the same variable.). Not necessarily a hard task but it is something they need practice on solving. So I pulled out Kate Nowak’s (one of my math teacher idols) math speed dating activity. Basically the desks were lined up with two desks per pod. I had 12 groups.


Look at them working so hard! Love them all!

I made 12 sets of different equations and numbered each set. I then handed out a set to each group being mindful of the level of difficulty when I initially handed them out. I told the students they needed to solve their problem in their group and become “experts” at their problem. When they were done I checked their answers and helped clear up any mistakes.

After students had become experts at their problem, I had the student sitting In the middle isle change desks behind them so they were sitting with a new person that had a different problem. (After thinking about this I didn’t necessarily have to do this but it worked.). They students then exchanged note cards and solved the new problem. Here is the great part – if they were confused, they had an “expert” sitting across from them to help! Also I knew the correct answer was their as well. After each group was done I made sure the kids had their original problem in hand and had them “speed date” – one person stayed in their spot and the other person switched to the next table and the whole process started over.

Fun things I saw – it was fun seeing students who sometimes struggle helping other students who were stuck on their expert problem. It was fun seeing the confidence level increase in solving these problems after a few dating rotations. It was also fun when I then had the whole class solve the “special” cases of no solution and infinite solutions when they were done and discuss as a class what was happening in those cases.

Will definitely be using this one again.


Posted by on April 17, 2013 in Uncategorized