Add’em Up Collaborative Leanring

Last weeks Global Math Department newsletter that was emailed out had an article, How Do You Review that led me to create my own Add’em Up activity for solving two-step equations. I went and read Sarah VanDerWerf’s blog on how she used Add’em Up and went from there.

I created two-step equations that I put on construction paper and cut apart. I then put 4 problems in each group and solved them creating my answer key and sum that would go in the middle of each circle. I then went and got large paper for students to write on.

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I modeled for students how to draw the placemat with the circle in the middle and 4 boxes around for students to write in. Students were informed that they would all need to solve the problem given to them by any of the 3 methods we had talked about (cloud, ladder, or step). I have blogged about these three methods sometime last year. Then when everyone was done I explained that they would need to add up their answers to see if they got the sum I wrote in the middle circle. If they did they were to let me know and I would give them another group of problems. If they didn’t get the sum they needed to look at everyone’s work and see where there was a mistake.

Students were totally engaged in this activity and it went over very well. This is something that I will do again.



Rally Coach – Cooperative Learning

Today, I implemented a new strategy for cooperative learning from Kagan called, Rally Coach.

I created a Google Slide Show and this was the first slide I used when presenting Rally Coach to students.


I began my lesson by telling students that this was a new strategy for me and I’d never done this before. We had just taken some short notes on the distributive property and I thought this would be a good way to practice what they had learned and review order of operations with integers, a lesson we did the day before.

For the questions over the distributive property students struggled and it was very quiet in class. While they were working I was walking around trying to model what the other partner should be doing if students were just sitting lost.

After that, problems were over order of operations with integers and I heard a lot more coaching and discussion over what the answer should be. I also witnessed students learning from their peers by hearing it another way than just by Mrs. Martin.

This is what I learned from using this strategy:

  1. Have pairs sit away from other pairs.
  2. Label my slides Partner A Partner B so that we don’t get confused on who is the one answering or coaching/praising.
  3. It was suggested that you fold a piece of paper in half and label one side A, the other side B and that is where students worked.
  4. Use as practice work in the classroom instead of assigning homework over a topic.

I will definitely use this cooperative learning strategy again.


Math Groups 

I recently attended TMC17 and presented on setting up groups in a math classroom along with collaboration strategies. School starts back August 23 with students and I want to be prepared right from the start for group work.

I have groups of 4 desks placed together. On each desk is a Class Dojo monster with a letter. I will be using these as a way for students to know what job they will hold in their group for a week. These jobs will be posted on the board that will correspond with a monster at the desks. I am also going to use the monsters and letters as ways of having students talk and speak about problems with a partner. Lastly, the monsters will also tell students who have the exercise ball for the day.

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On each group of 4, I have a basket that has the following items in it: (pencils, pens, highlighters, erasers, notecards, cards explaining each job that a student will have for the week, and yellow cards for telling the teacher where their groups are on their learning for the day).

The yellow cards are cards that as students are working in their groups they can put up a card for when they need help, that they are done and have moved on, that they are stuck and so forth.

The orange cards inform students about their jobs (roles) for that day.

Here is a link to my job (task cards) for students. Job Cards

Here is the link for the yellow cards (I call them stand cards). Stand Cards

Now on to writing lesson plans for the first week of school.




I’ve been debating about writing this short blog for awhile. Do any of you feel guilty once school is out for the summer? You may ask what do I mean by that. 

Once school is out I feel really guilty if I just sit down and watch a TV show or do absolutely nothing. I feel like I have to be doing something all the time. It’s just this odd feeling and this summer it has been really bad and won’t leave. I feel if I sit down to work on school work or my presentation for TMC17 that I should be doing something outside or working on something in the house (since that gets put to the side during the school year and it’s nice out). Usually this feeling goes away after a few weeks in the summer but its been over a month and I am still feeling guilty! 

I know that to help the issue I could do a little of both each day but that is not even helping. 

Well, I better go find something else to do and get some kind of work done now. 


Fidget Spinner Activity

The school year ended with classes finishing our last unit with only a few days left and I couldn’t really start new material so, I thought why not try to find something that would incorporate fidget spinners.

I know that Teachers Pay Teachers is not the best place to find materials for the classroom but I found this activity, Fidget Spinner Spin-Off that sounded pretty good. I thought it would be a great hook for students in that they got to use fidget spinners and their phones as a stopwatch all in one class period.

I used this as a group activity of 3-4 students. I had the following roles for each group (spinner, timer, recorder, and keep on task). Students had to decide on one spinner to use and remember to use that spinner on both days (ended up that our first day of this activity was a shortened class day).

Students were recording how long their spinner would spin. Students first had to record information about their spinner and decide on how they were going to spin the spinner. They then had to decide on how many trials they were going to do. I learned real quickly in the first class that 20 trials would take way to long as we were seeing that some spinner spun for 3-4 minutes. (I was really surprised by this.) I also learned from the first class that I really needed to talk to students about what could and could not be done when spinning a spinner, like flicking it once and then flicking it again when it slowed down. Students had to only flick the spinner once when starting or twice right away, no flicks after that or blowing on the spinner to make it last longer. We talked about variables and how that could affect our data.

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In the end, we decided on 10 trials. After the trials were done students had to convert all their time into seconds and then make a bar graph of the data. I assumed students would remember what a bar graph was, don’t do that. We didn’t create bar graphs all year but line graphs so we had to review the difference.

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Students, then found the average/mean of their data, average/mean of their data without human error, and average/mean of their data without outliers. This meant that we needed to talk about what outliers were and what they meant.

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We then had a class discussion on what spinners they thought were the best for spinning the longest and why. We talked about what variables made the spinner spin longer or shorter too.

We were then out of time. I would really like to do this activity again with students but add another few days so that students could work in their groups and design their owe spinners on paper or in a 3D program. Then if I could get the 3D printer have students vote on what spinners should be printed and why and then print those.



Cover Up Activity by Frank Tapson

I love reading Sarah Carter’s blogs and getting wonderful ideas from her. She shared Cover Up by Frank Tapson a short time ago and I decided to use that activity in my classroom on the last day class day with students.

I started by modeling how to play the game with students. I had a board and the class had a board to cover up. We didn’t play a full game but played long enough so that they understood what was expected. Even though I modeled how to play the game and read through the directions with students there were still a few students in each class that said while they were playing, “We can do that?”. (Shaking my head) Thankfully other students around them said, “Yes, she told us that!” Thank you!!!

As students started to play they started asking:

“Can we add three numbers up and cover them up for the total on the dice?”

“Can we subtract numbers to get the total on the dice?”

Can we multiply numbers to get the total on the dice?”

I was so amazed that they were putting this much thought into an activity on the last day of real classes for the year that I was bummed that I didn’t do this activity earlier so that we could have some discussions on strategies and try different ways that we might change the rules to the activity.

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I am going to end this short blog by saying please try some the wonderful activities by Frank Tapson.


Solving Equations – Differentiated 

Student: Mrs. Martin when will the test be over solving equations?

Me: Why?

Student: Because I get this and I want to take the test already!!!

I have heard this from multiple students on multiple occasions in the last two weeks.

Many of us were only taught one way to solve equations. I was lucky enough to have been shown how to solve equations a few other ways a few years ago but a wonderful math consultant. 

One is what I call the cloud method because it looks like a cloud. I have had students call it the lip method because they thought it looked like lips and this year a few students have called it the butt method. (Remember I teach 7th graders) The top part of the cloud is just you re-writing the problem. The bottom part of the cloud is the inverse operation that you will be performing to solve the problem. 

The second method is what I called the ladder method because it reminds me of a ladder. You start by re-writing the problem doing down and then write the inverse operations that you will be performing going up to solve the problem.

The final method is the traditional method that we all learned which I called the step method. 

I find that most like the cloud, second is the ladder and a few will go with the traditional step method. 

We are just getting done with students having a 4 day weekend so I have made exit tickets to see what students remember for the coming week before we finally test over solving equations and inequalities. There is an exit ticket for each method so students just need to select the ticket with the method they use. 



middle school math


middle school math

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