I that I posted this project a few months ago, but now is actually the time to try it with your class. It is quite a fun project and builds a nice understanding of how much the Christmas season costs for parents. I am not sure that students truly understand it. I am actually doing this project myself this year and will be taking the students to the local mall so that they can do some research on prices for things that they want that are not actually in flyers. The students are very excited about this and we couldn't have a better energy going into a math assignment. Anyway here is the link back to my original post.

http://underbutover.blogspot.ca/2013/04/supporting-family-middle-school-math.html

and here is the link to the assignment at my tpt store:

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Helping-a-needy-Family-Math-Project-980311

I hope a few people try out the project because it is definitely worthwhile.

## Saturday, 16 November 2013

## Saturday, 9 November 2013

### Math Project - Designing your Backyard

When working on Measurement, project ideas are abundant. There are so many things you can do with it to make it real for the students. Here is an idea that fits right in. This may have been one of the first math projects I ever did and the students really enjoyed it. I basically had the kids design what they would like their backyard to look like. There of course are certain criteria that the students had to put in but I also allowed them to add whatever they wanted into it. You could extend this and have them try to figure out the cost, in fact I did it once but my students had a difficult time with it. Now with more and more access to online research in the class the students can find information on cost a lot easier.

In this I had the students work on graph paper to make my marking a lot easier and I have seen other teachers have them do it on graph style chart paper which really brought the design out. Here is the criteria that I set out for them.

You can have the word document here if you don't want to copy and paste.

In this I had the students work on graph paper to make my marking a lot easier and I have seen other teachers have them do it on graph style chart paper which really brought the design out. Here is the criteria that I set out for them.

You can have the word document here if you don't want to copy and paste.

## Thursday, 17 October 2013

### Cribbage in the Class

I am lucky enough to have a lot of freedom with the students that I teach. I teach a group of gifted students all day long. I am supposed to try to challenge the students in a variety of ways. Students bring in laptops, tablets and Ipods and they try to stay connected to them all day long. My partner and I decided that we want our students to learn about things that are not necessarily technology based. We have started with gaming in the class. Our original goal was to have the kids learn a game and make them communicate with each other. We started by asking how many students knew how to play the game. Out of the 53 students we teach, we had 2 students who even heard of it before. In our mind , it is a good start because when teaching gifted students it is often hard to find things that they have not investigated. I quickly put together an research investigation so that they could begin to learn terminology, rules and strategy. The students started with a bit of a groan! I also went out and started buying crib boards so that we had enough for the students. I found a dollar store that sold them for $5 and bought enough for the class to play partner cribbage. Decks of cards from the local casino also helped keep the cost down as well. Once the students understood the basic rules and I had some boards, it was time to play. Observing became quite interesting in the class once they started. Here is what I noticed:

## Friday, 13 September 2013

### Revamping Science Class

Another year has started and it is time to take a look at what I do in the class. I have taught grade 6/7 Science for the last few years and have dutifully just followed the text books and topics laid out for me. I have added nice experiments and activities and tried to make the class enjoyable and informative. Last year I was working with a grand total of 8 text books for my 2 classes and students were frustrated by not having the access they wanted to the book. I began straying away from the text more often. Resources in the school for experiments are shared and with our school getting larger it is harder to share. The whole school works on an A/B year system with all the classes separating when you have your chance to use the resources. Unfortuately with my style of teaching I don't always fit in with these types of schedules. This year we are supposed to move on to the grade 7 curriculum. Well I didn't even go to see where the textbooks are. Instead I decided to try something new.

My friend and fellow teacher gave me a book a few years bakc called, "A Beginner's Guide to Constructing the Universe" by Micheal S. Schneider.

My friend and fellow teacher gave me a book a few years bakc called, "A Beginner's Guide to Constructing the Universe" by Micheal S. Schneider.

## Wednesday, 4 September 2013

### Desk organization

Last year I had a student who was very disorganized. We tried different techniques to try to keep his papers in order but was not very successful. He listened to me and tried the techniques that I gave him but nothing seemed to ever get in his binder. His desk was a disaster of papers and materials all stuffed in. Near the end of the year I sat down with him and we discussed how to be better organized. This time though he looked at me and said, I know how to be more organized, just find me the top of a box. The ones that are on top of the photocopy papers and I will be more organized.

I looked at him suspiciously and said okay , I will see what I can find. The next day I brought in the box top and asked him to show me how this will work. He put his binder and materials into the box top and put the box into the desk.

I looked at him suspiciously and said okay , I will see what I can find. The next day I brought in the box top and asked him to show me how this will work. He put his binder and materials into the box top and put the box into the desk.

## Monday, 19 August 2013

### Superstars - Role Models and traits

With September near I guess I must start thinking about school again. So here we go. A nice way to start the year is to have the students think about the type of year they want. With this project I get them to think about role models. Who are the role models in our society and who are their personal role models. I start by have the students think about the role models in society whether it be politicians, or athletes or any other role model. We then brainstorm traits that those people have in common that make them role models. What are some traits that make a good role model?

Next I have them decide who are some of the role models that they personally have (parents, brothers, teachers, actors etc.) I then ask them to write down the traits that those people have that they admire. The students are asked to have reasons why that person is a role model. For example I had a male student who named Megan Fox as his role model because she is "hot". He then had to come up with other reasons and prepare for a paragraph and discovered that Megan Fox was not really his role model. Through some discovery though he found out about some of the charity work that she does which opened his eyes a bit. I also had a student who chose a celebrity from a show he liked and after some research he found out the person wasn't as good of a role model as his grandfather who demonstrated many of the traits he found important.

There are many character traits lists online but here is one that I have used : http://www.readwritethink.org/files/resources/lesson_images/lesson175/traits.pdf

For fun I have the students then get a picture of their role model and they will use it to become that person. At the beginning of each year I take pictures of all my students and so they combine the two pictures using their head and the persons body. If you enlarge the head a bit you can make it look like a bobblehead and the effect is quite fun. The student design a background that would be suitable and write a paragraph about why this person is a superstar in their mind. I display this on the wall of the classroom and the students really enjoy it.

I have also extended this project by adding a goal setting component where the students use the traits that they think are important to make short term and long term goals.

If I can find some previous examples in my room I will post them. Hope you enjoy.

Next I have them decide who are some of the role models that they personally have (parents, brothers, teachers, actors etc.) I then ask them to write down the traits that those people have that they admire. The students are asked to have reasons why that person is a role model. For example I had a male student who named Megan Fox as his role model because she is "hot". He then had to come up with other reasons and prepare for a paragraph and discovered that Megan Fox was not really his role model. Through some discovery though he found out about some of the charity work that she does which opened his eyes a bit. I also had a student who chose a celebrity from a show he liked and after some research he found out the person wasn't as good of a role model as his grandfather who demonstrated many of the traits he found important.

There are many character traits lists online but here is one that I have used : http://www.readwritethink.org/files/resources/lesson_images/lesson175/traits.pdf

For fun I have the students then get a picture of their role model and they will use it to become that person. At the beginning of each year I take pictures of all my students and so they combine the two pictures using their head and the persons body. If you enlarge the head a bit you can make it look like a bobblehead and the effect is quite fun. The student design a background that would be suitable and write a paragraph about why this person is a superstar in their mind. I display this on the wall of the classroom and the students really enjoy it.

I have also extended this project by adding a goal setting component where the students use the traits that they think are important to make short term and long term goals.

If I can find some previous examples in my room I will post them. Hope you enjoy.

## Tuesday, 4 June 2013

### Fun Fair Probability - Middle School Math Project

The basic concept is that the students work in partners and create a game that is probability based. This automatically rules out many games that are skill based (throwing darts or basketball tosses) unless they can prove its probability based. Next the students brainstorm ideas from games they have already seen from fairs and generate their own ideas.

**I almost always make students generate their own ideas and proposals before I put them in partners or groups.**They have to come to the table with something or they work alone. (This creates accountability and those students who just can't complete assignments and now won't be another student's problem but I can work with them in a smaller group with other similar students). While they come up with their game concept, I begin teaching probability of single and two events. The criteria I give them has them create a game where they have a minor prize and a major prize. I usually give them a general rule of minor prize should be around 1 in 5 and a major prize around 1 in 20. This gives them a sense of how they need to create the game. Many games have 2 stages (or events like a plinko board they may have to hit the winner twice for a major once for a minor) while others just make one event with different options (for example the classic choose a rubber duck from the pond. only 1 of the 20 is major while 4 have minor). The figure out the theoretical probability of their game and build it. It helps to have many decks of cards and lots of dice around because students use them. The creativity of the games can be quite amazing just as much as it can be underwhelming. I have had the students bring in prized that they will give away, or I have collected money and bought the prizes myself so that all prizes are equal (therefore people don't choose a game to get a better prize), or one year I had some PAC money that I was allowed to spend and put it towards the prizes.

## Thursday, 23 May 2013

### Building a business and leadership in the class: Year middle school long project

Well this year I wanted to give my class the opportunity to start something that could possibly carry on. This is my first year at the school and I teach a group of students who travel from various locations outside of the catchment of the area. Coming from a different Middle School I was able to use some of the ideas that were successful their and try to incorporate them in my class. One thing that was quite successful in my former school was when a teacher started up a leadership group who focused on creating different food themed events (ie. smokie BBQ, Turkey Sandwich). The events became quite popular throughout the school. After moving I asked him about using the idea in my new school and he encouraged me to try it. He was working with students as an extracurriculur group.

I decided to take this idea but incorporate it into my Career Education class. It started in November and has been going on all year but the results are something I am quite proud of even though the process was tough at times. Here is how it went.

We started by discussing what the concept was. Creating a business that will make money and be enjoyable for the whole school. The question was : What is something we could ourselves and create ourselves that students will want to purchase and take part in. We did our first brainstorming session for a first possible event: The ideas were : cupcake sale, cookie sale, popsicles or freezies. I was underwhelmed by the ideas my students were coming up with. They were having a tough time coming up with something original that could get a school excited. Since we were just starting , I took the leadership role and acted as a "boss" of the business. I told them that we are trying to create something unique, something that they would want, trying to build up a name for ourselves but they always wanted to go back to what they knew; basically have a Bake Sale. I told my class they had a week to come up with a simple idea that was unique.

I decided to take this idea but incorporate it into my Career Education class. It started in November and has been going on all year but the results are something I am quite proud of even though the process was tough at times. Here is how it went.

We started by discussing what the concept was. Creating a business that will make money and be enjoyable for the whole school. The question was : What is something we could ourselves and create ourselves that students will want to purchase and take part in. We did our first brainstorming session for a first possible event: The ideas were : cupcake sale, cookie sale, popsicles or freezies. I was underwhelmed by the ideas my students were coming up with. They were having a tough time coming up with something original that could get a school excited. Since we were just starting , I took the leadership role and acted as a "boss" of the business. I told them that we are trying to create something unique, something that they would want, trying to build up a name for ourselves but they always wanted to go back to what they knew; basically have a Bake Sale. I told my class they had a week to come up with a simple idea that was unique.

## Sunday, 12 May 2013

### Flip Book - Middle School Math Project

Ok so flip, turn, slide or reflection, rotation, translation can be one of those items that gets skipped when other items take a bit longer. It is one of those things that seems to be put on the backburner. Well I started doing this project part way through the year to make sure it wouldn't get missed. We start just after integers and begin learning about the Cartesian Plane and coordinate systems. This then lends itself to the transformations that can occur on the plane. I have had a lot of success with the flip book by have students create motion with their transformations. I have the students work on how to rotate and translate as well as reflect. Rotations need to start with easy 90 degrees, 180 degrees or 270 degrees. More advances students can start trying other degrees but they usually have some difficulty with it.

Here are the sheets in one file: Flipbook project sheets on my TPT site if you dont want to just recreate from this page.

Have the students use very simple characters or elements of nature. Stick men running or the sun setting are just fine to start especially in the rough copy version. Simple movements end up looking better in a flipbook. I have had boats moving into the sunset and people on trampolines as easy examples.

Here are the sheets in one file: Flipbook project sheets on my TPT site if you dont want to just recreate from this page.

Have the students use very simple characters or elements of nature. Stick men running or the sun setting are just fine to start especially in the rough copy version. Simple movements end up looking better in a flipbook. I have had boats moving into the sunset and people on trampolines as easy examples.

## Wednesday, 1 May 2013

### Alien Numbering System

In this era of education it is important to have work that is going to challenge all students. I teach grades 6 and 7 and began going over the basics of numeration with properly understandign the base 10 system and how to read and write large and small numbers. Many of the students in my class didn't need the practice and showed mastery of the material immediately.

Anyway, I had my students mastery group begin to study other numbering systems and eventually create their own. I received many thank you's at the end because these students were excited about learning this. Easy correlation to computer programming which use different base systems. I had them pretend they were inventing it for an alien group so that they would describe themselves fully. I allowed them to present their material however they wanted and received a youtube video, a poster and a few text book style projects. The students then began to appreciate the base 10 system and even months after the completion I still have students come to me as they are trying to learn more about different bases.

*By the way having students read decimal numbers properly sure helps later on. Make them use the words tenths and hundredths all year long and your life will be easier when working with the relation of fractions and decimals later.*Anyway, I had my students mastery group begin to study other numbering systems and eventually create their own. I received many thank you's at the end because these students were excited about learning this. Easy correlation to computer programming which use different base systems. I had them pretend they were inventing it for an alien group so that they would describe themselves fully. I allowed them to present their material however they wanted and received a youtube video, a poster and a few text book style projects. The students then began to appreciate the base 10 system and even months after the completion I still have students come to me as they are trying to learn more about different bases.

## Thursday, 25 April 2013

### Smarties / Skittles - Data Analysis and Graphing Project

This idea didn't come from me. It has been borrowed from a teacher I worked with years ago. I took her idea and changed it a bit. I have also adapted it based on whatever I want to teach that year, which makes it great.

So even though this project may be difficult to connect to the real world and the question math teacher get the most "Why are we doing this", it is a lot of fun for the students. Yes , it is based on candy which immediately gets their attention.

I have used this to teach bar graphs, circle graphs, central tendenciesExcel, theoretical and experimental probability and even stem and leaf plots. The kids really seem to enjoy it and are generally interested in the results.

Here are the basics - bring in a box of Smarties or a bag of skittles. Some students bring in huge family size bags but only an individual package is necessary. There job is to graph the different colours that occur in the candy package. Using probability I will ask them the chances of reaching in and grabbing a red one. Or have them experiment on how often a red one comes out. Yes it is silly but the kids get into it and learn because of the candy. The display that they put together will have four graphs. The graphs open up and underneath the student explains the style of graph on top. The can explain the data or explain the purpose of that style of graph.

Examples: I have done this a few times and so there are different styles here

## Monday, 22 April 2013

### Fraction Know it All - Math Resource

One of the concepts I truly believe in is that you must continue working on important elements of the curriculum all year around. Working on a unit in math such as fractions at the beginning of the year and then not really focusing on it again until the next year can really bring about difficulties for the students. That instant recall after not seeing it for a long time is almost impossible for many students. One of the things that I have tried to bring to my math class is responsibility for all math concepts at any time. Even though we go through units with specific math themes we also try to work on all the math concepts all year as well. The way I accomplish this is through the opening minutes of the class. The warm-up or sponge activity when the students come through the door. Each day has some kind of different theme. The following is what my students get every Monday morning when they enter the class. It is the Fraction Know-It-All and it basically goes over many of the important elements of understanding fractions, decimals and percents and how they are connected.

Here is the downloadable copy. Fraction Know It All

At the beginning of the year it takes a little bit of time to teach but because I know that we are going to continue this all year I don't feel the pressure to explain everything all at once. I have the students show 3 equivalent fractions, the decimal, the percent, draw a diagram of what it should look like and place it on a number line. I put a student's example below so that you can see the basic results. I have them do 2 different fractions at a time.

Here is the downloadable copy. Fraction Know It All

At the beginning of the year it takes a little bit of time to teach but because I know that we are going to continue this all year I don't feel the pressure to explain everything all at once. I have the students show 3 equivalent fractions, the decimal, the percent, draw a diagram of what it should look like and place it on a number line. I put a student's example below so that you can see the basic results. I have them do 2 different fractions at a time.

## Wednesday, 17 April 2013

### Videos for my math class

Every now and then I come across some Youtube videos that work really well with my class. These add to the culture and the excitment of learning for the students. We have a lot of fun with them. Some of my favourites are below. I would love to add to them so any sharing here would be great.

Circles: The best one is here, the students actually now sing this song every time that I even talk about circles. They love it. My neighbouring teachers may not like it as much.

This one I can't get to upload nto the page but it is worth clicking on. I even had a former student email me because they couldn't find this video and wanted the link. Her email was: I hate math but that song helped me remember.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FbUPyUi5YtM&list=FLb3QBPNaCFvuf1dE-FddGdA

Second best and was a favourite for a long time. The kids in my class used to actually sing this one without me even asking them. They loved the Pi is 3.14 approximately part for some reason.

http://youtu.be/eiHWHT_8WrE

Drawing the perfect circle: For some reason my students are just amazed by this and then want to try it.

http://youtu.be/eAhfZUZiwSE

From one of my favourite math blogs: http://mindfull.wordpress.com , she posted this animation that I have used a few times to demonstrate the area of a circle. The students can visually see why Area is 3.14 * radius squared.

http://therese.eveilleau.pagesperso-orange.fr/pages/hist_mat/textes/mirliton.html

and a second one

http://therese.eveilleau.pagesperso-orange.fr/pages/hist_mat/textes/mirliton_arch.html

Circles: The best one is here, the students actually now sing this song every time that I even talk about circles. They love it. My neighbouring teachers may not like it as much.

This one I can't get to upload nto the page but it is worth clicking on. I even had a former student email me because they couldn't find this video and wanted the link. Her email was: I hate math but that song helped me remember.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FbUPyUi5YtM&list=FLb3QBPNaCFvuf1dE-FddGdA

Second best and was a favourite for a long time. The kids in my class used to actually sing this one without me even asking them. They loved the Pi is 3.14 approximately part for some reason.

http://youtu.be/eiHWHT_8WrE

Drawing the perfect circle: For some reason my students are just amazed by this and then want to try it.

http://youtu.be/eAhfZUZiwSE

From one of my favourite math blogs: http://mindfull.wordpress.com , she posted this animation that I have used a few times to demonstrate the area of a circle. The students can visually see why Area is 3.14 * radius squared.

http://therese.eveilleau.pagesperso-orange.fr/pages/hist_mat/textes/mirliton.html

and a second one

http://therese.eveilleau.pagesperso-orange.fr/pages/hist_mat/textes/mirliton_arch.html

## Sunday, 14 April 2013

### Investing in the Stock Market - Middle School Math Project

This year I finally went for it and jumped into the stock market. I know nothing about the stock market and so I told my students I wanted to learn. We made a project out of it and after consulting friends about how to start we went for the competitve option. The students had no idea about investing or business so we started by bringing in a guest speaker who talked about what people think about when they are going to invest. The speaker was actually just a parent of a student in the class and she gave some excellent background information.

At the time we were also learning about integers and graphing and took some time with the students who already had demonstrated that they understood those concepts and brought them to the computer lab to begin researching websites, key terms and tips on how to invest. They basically became the investment "experts" in our class. After the others completed their math work on integers we had all the students enter the computer lab and paired them up with the experts. Students then began teaching students on how to invest. It was a very good starting point.

I had all the students join onto www.howthemarketworks.com which allowed them to not have to give away personal information. They all practiced how to buy stocks and about the rise and fall of the market.

Through the website I started a contest for the class where they got $10,000 and could invest it however then wanted with the restrictions of the contest and my own criteria where must have bought stocks in at least 3 different companies.

And it was on! Students were checking there stocks constantly, at nutrition break and lunch times you could hear students talking about their investments. We continued going to the computer lab to do more research and students were eager to see how they could make more money. I included at $5 dollar transaction fee and the students were angry with me because they thought it unfair but I told them that we are trying to make it as real as we could. Some students held onto investments while others became day traders and were constantly updating their account. It was pretty cool to watch students so eager. Some of the students were quite funny in that they were refreshing their portfolio every couple of minutes for the update of their account.

The students learned about graphing, net gain and loss, percent gain and loss, and how hard it is to make money on the stock market. Some students learned that you have to spend money to make it as they had $10,000 but only spent a small portion of it and couldn't keep up with the others. Some spent all the money on some big name companies while others threw darts. It was very interesting but in the end the one who did the most research actually made the most by investing in companies that were trending up as well as short selling stocks too. In a month she made over $1500 which was pretty impressive.

Here is the criteria I gave them, please post comments on how it worked for you or if you changed what I did. I would love to know.

At the time we were also learning about integers and graphing and took some time with the students who already had demonstrated that they understood those concepts and brought them to the computer lab to begin researching websites, key terms and tips on how to invest. They basically became the investment "experts" in our class. After the others completed their math work on integers we had all the students enter the computer lab and paired them up with the experts. Students then began teaching students on how to invest. It was a very good starting point.

I had all the students join onto www.howthemarketworks.com which allowed them to not have to give away personal information. They all practiced how to buy stocks and about the rise and fall of the market.

Through the website I started a contest for the class where they got $10,000 and could invest it however then wanted with the restrictions of the contest and my own criteria where must have bought stocks in at least 3 different companies.

And it was on! Students were checking there stocks constantly, at nutrition break and lunch times you could hear students talking about their investments. We continued going to the computer lab to do more research and students were eager to see how they could make more money. I included at $5 dollar transaction fee and the students were angry with me because they thought it unfair but I told them that we are trying to make it as real as we could. Some students held onto investments while others became day traders and were constantly updating their account. It was pretty cool to watch students so eager. Some of the students were quite funny in that they were refreshing their portfolio every couple of minutes for the update of their account.

The students learned about graphing, net gain and loss, percent gain and loss, and how hard it is to make money on the stock market. Some students learned that you have to spend money to make it as they had $10,000 but only spent a small portion of it and couldn't keep up with the others. Some spent all the money on some big name companies while others threw darts. It was very interesting but in the end the one who did the most research actually made the most by investing in companies that were trending up as well as short selling stocks too. In a month she made over $1500 which was pretty impressive.

Here is the criteria I gave them, please post comments on how it worked for you or if you changed what I did. I would love to know.

**If you want to just download the criteria sheets I made go here:**Market Research## Friday, 12 April 2013

### Mandala - Middle School Math Project

When trying to have my students work with circles and understand them one of the challenges that comes up is how to use the tools in the geometry kit. The compass especially is challenging for the students as many of them have cheap ones and don't really have an idea how to use it. I decided to create something that made them use the compass. Enter the mandala. This project brings in patterns, circles and creativity. They make an excellent display and can be done in Art class if you want even though I did it in Math. They link into Tibetan culture for a Social Studies aspect as well.

The Mandala is supposed to be meditative and so I also try to have the students relax while they create. Having the students practice drawing circles on a blank page is a good way to start because they need the practice in making the circles as perfect as they can.

The mandala is supposed to start from the center so I get the student to start by drawing smaller circles and then just try to get them to create from there. Even though they are supposed to flow I try to have my students use the tools from their geometry set as part of the process. This video definitely helps them visualize.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g16B64myG-E&feature=share&list=FLb3QBPNaCFvuf1dE-FddGdA

Here are a couple of examples that I have:

I had the students also try to name the mandala and explain what it means to them. The students enjoyed this, especially the ones who are not so fond of math because it is more of an Art project in their mind. It did though begin to bring them into math a bit and find some strengths in the math class.

Here is the criteria sheet that I gave them which also has a great website on how to draw mandalas. I used some of their resources while making adaptations for some of my special needs students.

The Mandala is supposed to be meditative and so I also try to have the students relax while they create. Having the students practice drawing circles on a blank page is a good way to start because they need the practice in making the circles as perfect as they can.

The mandala is supposed to start from the center so I get the student to start by drawing smaller circles and then just try to get them to create from there. Even though they are supposed to flow I try to have my students use the tools from their geometry set as part of the process. This video definitely helps them visualize.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g16B64myG-E&feature=share&list=FLb3QBPNaCFvuf1dE-FddGdA

Here are a couple of examples that I have:

I had the students also try to name the mandala and explain what it means to them. The students enjoyed this, especially the ones who are not so fond of math because it is more of an Art project in their mind. It did though begin to bring them into math a bit and find some strengths in the math class.

Here is the criteria sheet that I gave them which also has a great website on how to draw mandalas. I used some of their resources while making adaptations for some of my special needs students.

## Wednesday, 10 April 2013

### Student Led Conference - Community Dinner

I am straying away from the usual math ideas I have put on here and putting a comment about one of the hilights of this year.

We are told every year that we have a night where we put on Student Led Conferences. Over the years I have watched students guide their parents through their work. Many of the parents have already seen their work and are a part of the process of completing it and others see the work and either congratulate or criticize their child on it and then they all walk out together. Many of the families are in a rush because there are sports or other events to get to. Usually the Student Led Conference ends up being a forgettable event in the school year.

This year we (there are two classrooms joined together) decided to make this more of an event for our class. We asked the parents to come and stay for dinner as part of the conference. It was a potluck that we asked for parents to either send in the food in the morning or just show up with the food. We really didn't know what to expect but this turned into a great and memorable night. Our organization for this was no more than a note home a few days before the conference night and buying some food to get the event started. We had a general idea that a few parents to going to take part and were actually worried for a while that it was going to be a flop. Instead here is what happened quite organically.

Parents began bringing in food and adding to our table. Not only parents came in but generally the whole family came as well. We didn't organize this but suddenly my room became the conference room while my partners class became the eating and play area. Parents sat and chatted with other parents , students played different games with each other and their siblings. Some families stayed for over an hour and just talked about current events or common interests. They casually would go through their child's work and then go back to eat some more or to just relax. Dinner plans were done so parents were far more relaxed. Even the families that had sporting events and had to leave appreciated that they didn't have to worry about dinner for their family and could now go off to the activity. We actually had parents from other classes in the school coming by and asking about what we were doing. When the conference time was up it was actually a bit disappointing to leave instead of the "glad this is over" feeling that can happen.

The overall feeling of this was one that I will always remember and the food that arrived was diverse and delicious. For the amount of effort that we put in (minimal) it was a great night. I am not sure if I would do it any other way from now on and I see it getting better every year and a tradition gets started.

Just an idea that may not be inivative but interesting anyway.

We are told every year that we have a night where we put on Student Led Conferences. Over the years I have watched students guide their parents through their work. Many of the parents have already seen their work and are a part of the process of completing it and others see the work and either congratulate or criticize their child on it and then they all walk out together. Many of the families are in a rush because there are sports or other events to get to. Usually the Student Led Conference ends up being a forgettable event in the school year.

This year we (there are two classrooms joined together) decided to make this more of an event for our class. We asked the parents to come and stay for dinner as part of the conference. It was a potluck that we asked for parents to either send in the food in the morning or just show up with the food. We really didn't know what to expect but this turned into a great and memorable night. Our organization for this was no more than a note home a few days before the conference night and buying some food to get the event started. We had a general idea that a few parents to going to take part and were actually worried for a while that it was going to be a flop. Instead here is what happened quite organically.

Parents began bringing in food and adding to our table. Not only parents came in but generally the whole family came as well. We didn't organize this but suddenly my room became the conference room while my partners class became the eating and play area. Parents sat and chatted with other parents , students played different games with each other and their siblings. Some families stayed for over an hour and just talked about current events or common interests. They casually would go through their child's work and then go back to eat some more or to just relax. Dinner plans were done so parents were far more relaxed. Even the families that had sporting events and had to leave appreciated that they didn't have to worry about dinner for their family and could now go off to the activity. We actually had parents from other classes in the school coming by and asking about what we were doing. When the conference time was up it was actually a bit disappointing to leave instead of the "glad this is over" feeling that can happen.

The overall feeling of this was one that I will always remember and the food that arrived was diverse and delicious. For the amount of effort that we put in (minimal) it was a great night. I am not sure if I would do it any other way from now on and I see it getting better every year and a tradition gets started.

Just an idea that may not be inivative but interesting anyway.

## Tuesday, 9 April 2013

### Designing a hotel Update - Middle school math project

Working on projects with students is always a lot of fun but you have to be prepared to change things as you go. The class that I am working with is doing the Design a Hotel project that I posted. As I stated in that post that this is a new project for me and so I have already come across some difficulty. I updated that post already but want to make a new post so that anyone who has already looked at it will get the update.

We originally told the students that they would be making a 3D model of the hotel and I was really excited by the prospect of what this would look like. Unfortunately after working with my students I found that the idea of this limited their creativity. The prospect of building became overwhelming for them and they were deciding to make their ideas simple so that they could easily build it. So instead we decided to take that part away (actually made it optional or some students are making a 3D rendering on the computer instead) and the ideas of what could be in this hotel exploded. We also gave the students a chance to work with a partner after they generated their original ideas and the project has become that much better. Here is the new updated sheet I gave them so that they could split the work evenly.

We originally told the students that they would be making a 3D model of the hotel and I was really excited by the prospect of what this would look like. Unfortunately after working with my students I found that the idea of this limited their creativity. The prospect of building became overwhelming for them and they were deciding to make their ideas simple so that they could easily build it. So instead we decided to take that part away (actually made it optional or some students are making a 3D rendering on the computer instead) and the ideas of what could be in this hotel exploded. We also gave the students a chance to work with a partner after they generated their original ideas and the project has become that much better. Here is the new updated sheet I gave them so that they could split the work evenly.

## Saturday, 6 April 2013

### Becoming an Abacist - Middle School Math Project

I start the most years with numeration and understanding the number system. I found that they enjoy starting the year with a project and get right into it. I thought of this one summer and shared the idea with a few teachers (strangely a friend of mine thought of the same idea and planned the same project without us sharing it). The idea is that we build an abacus or actually we made a soroban and learned out to use it properly.

We used some youtube videos to help understand the sorobans and the students went to work making the abacus.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Px_hvzYS3_Y&feature=share&list=FLb3QBPNaCFvuf1dE-FddGdA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CvsnftXXKdw&feature=share&list=FLb3QBPNaCFvuf1dE-FddGdA

We used beads and thread and different shoeboxes but many of them turned out to be too big to use well. The successful ones were made from box tops or lids and a few students used wooden skewers instead of thread. I will post pictures of examples soon.

My friend used a popsicle stick method and was happy with those.

In designing and creating them the students were suddenly also using some measurement as well to put it together. It was quite fun watching how the students built there own.

The biggest benefit of using this project was that the students started to understand what base 10 measnt because of the nature of the abacus. We also worked on adding and subtracting with an abacus and the students began naturally understanding why we line up the columns when using these operations.

Here is the criteria sheet that I gave the students: It is also free at my TPT link:

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We used some youtube videos to help understand the sorobans and the students went to work making the abacus.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Px_hvzYS3_Y&feature=share&list=FLb3QBPNaCFvuf1dE-FddGdA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CvsnftXXKdw&feature=share&list=FLb3QBPNaCFvuf1dE-FddGdA

We used beads and thread and different shoeboxes but many of them turned out to be too big to use well. The successful ones were made from box tops or lids and a few students used wooden skewers instead of thread. I will post pictures of examples soon.

My friend used a popsicle stick method and was happy with those.

In designing and creating them the students were suddenly also using some measurement as well to put it together. It was quite fun watching how the students built there own.

The biggest benefit of using this project was that the students started to understand what base 10 measnt because of the nature of the abacus. We also worked on adding and subtracting with an abacus and the students began naturally understanding why we line up the columns when using these operations.

Here is the criteria sheet that I gave the students: It is also free at my TPT link:

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## Friday, 5 April 2013

### Problem solving instructions with cartoons

Every year in problem solving I begin with this sheet on how to problem solve and my general expectations. We go over the sheet and have fun doing it. I get the kids to interpret the cartoons and how they relate to problem solving. They always enjoy them. I found the comics on the internet quite a few years ago and tried to find them again but couldn't. I wish I could give credit to the sources but at least the signature of the artists are on the comics.

We then do a problem together so that they can see my expectations but in general I want to understand their thinking. I ask them to let me know the strategy or strategies that they used, show the work (which sometimes means reorganizing it so that I understand it), and then give a proper answer. Strategy, Work , Answer are my expectations and the kids don't find it too hard or onerous that they won't do it.

We also add to the strategies list as we work through problems throughout the year but these strategies are a good starting point and allow me to demonstrate how they are used.

## Wednesday, 3 April 2013

### Supporting a Family - Middle School Math project

This project idea came out of trying to have awareness for needy families. I have tried different versions of this project many times and have had success in every way with it. The students really love this project. They get the chance to bring in advertisements, catalogs and flyers as well as shopping online. They really enjoy the challenge of trying to shop for a family and helping them out. I have done this around Christmas time with a lot of success. The students learn about adding, subtracting and multiplying with decimals, staying within a budget and about how much presents cost during the holiday season. We also added in pricing out all the materials for Christmas dinner and this year actually took our classes to the local grocery store to price it all out. The people working there were awesome and taught our kids about what gets taxed and what doesn't. What I genreally do is create many different types of needy families and make some more challenging than others and then selectively distribute them to the kids.

The displays and creativity of the procjects coming in have been amazing. Christmas trees, stockings, prezis, powerpoints, posters, mock presents have all been parts of projects recieved during this project. I have also been amazed at how seriously most students take this and often have them come to me with coupons and deals that they have found. I usually accept all of them but the students have to show the calculations on how much savings there are.

Here is one of the criteria sheets I give. All the criteria sheets are here.

The displays and creativity of the procjects coming in have been amazing. Christmas trees, stockings, prezis, powerpoints, posters, mock presents have all been parts of projects recieved during this project. I have also been amazed at how seriously most students take this and often have them come to me with coupons and deals that they have found. I usually accept all of them but the students have to show the calculations on how much savings there are.

Here is one of the criteria sheets I give. All the criteria sheets are here.

## Monday, 1 April 2013

### Middle School Math Project - Geometric Robot

I was looking for a way to build things with my kids because I had a few students who were quite skilled at it. I don't remember if I made this one up or if I got the idea from somewhere but I know for sure that if I did borrow this idea I changed some things for the kids in my class. The general idea is that we are sending up a robot to a different planet and need to build something with storage. I had the students build robots by either giving them some nets or they designed it themselves. Paper or cardboard was used by most of the students but a few also went to the school's shop and built their ideas with wood. They learned about different geometric solids, area and volume. They had to draw out their plans and then try to build it. The students really enjoyed this project and it was pretty easily adaptable for advanced learners as well as struggling learners.

Here is the criteria sheet that I gave them:

Here is the criteria sheet that I gave them:

## Saturday, 30 March 2013

### Middle School Math resource - Problem Solving

Working in a classroom with many different levels can be quite challenging. Finding resources that motivate all students is something that we strive for. One of the resources that I use is the Problem of the Week from the University of Waterloo. These have been great for my class. Each week they send out problems at different grade levels. I print out copies of all the levels and give the students the choice of which ones they want to try. The levels are grade based with Grade 5/6, 7/8, 9/10, and 11/12. I have some students who work at the 5/6 while others attempt the 11/12. The great thing for my problem solving class is that I don't have the answers for the problems and so I am able to work through some of the problems with the class. They get to see an authentic attempt at problem solving by me and see how I go about trying to figure it out with them. They also give their input when they see my thinking is wrong or question when something doesn't make sense. Waterloo gives you a week to figure it out before they put out their detailed answers. These have been great for the class as they get excited to see the answers and see if their thinking was correct and they are able to work at a level that is comfortable for them.

Here is the link: http://www.cemc.uwaterloo.ca/resources/potw.php

If you have a great problem solving website , please share.

Here is the link: http://www.cemc.uwaterloo.ca/resources/potw.php

If you have a great problem solving website , please share.

## Tuesday, 26 March 2013

### Middle School Math Project - Mystery Number

I have always tried teaching students about Number Theory near the beginning of the year so that we can all have an understanding of the vocabulary that we will all need for the rest of the year. I put some mystery number challenges in with some of the problem solving that I do with my students and they all enjoyed them. We started creating our own and voila a new project was born. Students have found this project fun just because they can make a puzzle with it and challenge others. I have also had students put these on the display board outside of the room (another teacher's idea: not mine) and they attract quite an interest from other students. The general idea is to learn things like prime, factors, multiples, but you could challenge students to put many other concepts in. The criteria that I give them is below.

## Monday, 25 March 2013

### Middle School Math Projects - Treasure Island

This project came to me while trying to cover a few topics at the same time near the end of the year.

**Angles, probablity, measurement and I fit in ratios as well.**This project has been borrowed by quite a few people and adapted in many different ways. The idea is that the student are pirates and need to bury their treasure. The must make a treasure map and give directions on where the treasure is buried. There are many things you can do with it. Here is my original criteria sheet that I handed out to students. The possibilites of what can be done here are endless.## Saturday, 23 March 2013

### Math projects for Middle School - Designing a hotel

As an educator in Middle school for over a decade I have been actively creating math projects. I also at times run out of ideas and am always looking for collaboration. I figured this out a few years ago when on a learning team about Math and again recently when I changed jobs and now have the chance to discuss ideas with my partner. Through the discussion new projects are created.

My first post is a new idea that my partner and I recently put together. The idea revolves around students designing a Las Vegas style hotel. See the Criteria Sheet I put together and make comments if you wish. If you use the idea, it would be great to see the results of what you did. We have not used this idea yet but it is going to be our next project. Feel free to change anything in the project, we are hoping to have the students build there hotels with either foam board or cardboard and then have a Vegas type day where the students have a chance to go to the hotel and play some of the games there. We will hopefully make a miniature Vegas Strip for kids. I will try to post some pictures when the project is done.

Please also see my update post at: http://underbutover.blogspot.ca/2013/04/designing-hotel-update-middle-school.html

__My idea here is to post different projects that I have created but hope that others will post there ideas as well.__My first post is a new idea that my partner and I recently put together. The idea revolves around students designing a Las Vegas style hotel. See the Criteria Sheet I put together and make comments if you wish. If you use the idea, it would be great to see the results of what you did. We have not used this idea yet but it is going to be our next project. Feel free to change anything in the project, we are hoping to have the students build there hotels with either foam board or cardboard and then have a Vegas type day where the students have a chance to go to the hotel and play some of the games there. We will hopefully make a miniature Vegas Strip for kids. I will try to post some pictures when the project is done.

Please also see my update post at: http://underbutover.blogspot.ca/2013/04/designing-hotel-update-middle-school.html

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