Absolute Best Ways to Teach Absolute Value

    Like most people, I begin my lesson on absolute value with a story about distance. I love telling stories in class. Stories are a way to lessen stress in class and provide a way to have some fun. In my story, I drew a number line. I placed the school at zero and told the students that I live 10 blocks from the school.  I then asked where if they could determine where I live. Of, course the first answer was at positive 10. Most students were happy with that answer.  When I pressed for another answer, they caught on quick […]

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    Review Graphing Online Resources

    The winter break is coming to a close and it is time to think about lesson planning and review activities (review graphing in particular ) to use in the classroom.  The last topic my Algebra students covered (notice I did not say learned) was solving systems of linear equations. This important topic came at the very end of the semester when they were tired, overwhelmed and counting the days. Review Graphing Often Since the new semester continues the unit with graphing systems of inequalities, some review is necessary.  Specifically, I need to review graphing, equations in both slope-intercept form, standard […]

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    Effective Student Goal Setting

    Goal setting is one of the activities I use in January when students return to school after the winter break. It begins a new semester and gives us a fresh start. In the past, I used the goal setting tools provided by the administration. But last year, after my winter reading, I realized students need more than to just “set goals”. Students need strategies to help implement and follow up on goals as well. It was so successful that we are going to continue with this practice. Students Need More than Goal Setting In a study of Harvard MBAs, it […]

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    Puzzling Holiday Fun

    With the holiday break, I made countless lists about cleaning and organizing. I added lesson planning and making some fun new projects for the classroom. I am teaching my Consumer Math class using the Stock Market Game and I have some preliminary lessons about investing that need to be created before February. However, I got sidetracked. Why? First I finished up a pair of socks I was knitting and then before the unit for investments and mutual funds could be started, I did a puzzle. Puzzles Help Mathematical Thinking I really like puzzles of all types. Puzzles get the credit […]

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    The Crucial First Five Minutes

    Every veteran teacher understands that the first few minutes of a class set the tone for the rest of the period. This is why most schools insist on some form of the warm-up (also called bellringer or do-now) for students to complete at the beginning of the period. New teachers may have experienced this during student teaching, but do not understand all the reasons why it becomes an important part of the classroom routine.   Why is a Warm-Up So Important? A daily warm-up for the first crucial five minutes actually serves several purposes: It sets the tone for the […]

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    Grades: The Impossible Mission

    It is that time of the year when students are nicer, teachers are cranky and parents (who have never called) are now questioning the grades.  No, it’s not holiday cheer, it is the end of the semester. Are grades important?  I am not sure anymore.  I know that much of a teachers’ time is spent preparing grades, communicating about grades, posting grades and defending grades.  And the difficulty is that there are no correct answers—for anyone, especially the students. In recent years, a lot of focus has been placed on grading practices–and no one can agree on fair grading practices […]

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    Paper Chains—Not Just for Christmas Trees

    When I was a child we made paper chains for the Christmas Tree. They were fun, very colorful and a holiday event each year. Many years ago I was desperate for some type of activity to use in the classroom. I was tired of worksheets, the kids were tired, and we were both bored.  It is difficult to remember the specific content I was trying to practice, but someone offered me a paper chain activity they had used. The other teacher was not that enthusiastic but when he gave it to me said: “you can probably do something with it”.  I […]

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    Awesome Ideas for Linear Systems

    Review Graphing Before Teaching Linear Systems The week before Thanksgiving we finished our unit on writing linear equations in all its forms.  After a week off, I know I will need to review these concepts before plunging ahead to begin our unit on Linear Systems. Monday we will review graphing linear systems written in Slope-Intercept form.  I plan to use an idea from a recent training. It focuses on multiple representations (my interpretation) and having students work in pairs to match up graphs to equations, except that there is an uneven match.   Group Review Activity for Linear Systems For […]

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    Holiday Reading/Listening List

    I am a compulsive reader. Or at least I used to be. People were amazed that I could read 200-300 books a year. I didn’t get much else done, I was in college at the time and aside from my college work, I did little else but read.      When Life Get Hectic–Use Audible Then work and life became complicated and most of my reading time was taken up with other things. I still read, but mostly on vacations or long weekends when there was nothing else going on that needed my attention. I tried Kindle as well, it helped […]

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    Writing Linear Equations Thanksgiving Style

    Students have problems writing equations.  It seems to be because there are so many ways to do it.  If they could have just one way of writing an equation, they could be successful. I embrace a variety of ways to solve problems, but this confuses my students. They like things simple.    They can write an equation in slope-intercept form. But only if given the slope and the y-intercept. Well, some of them can.  A few students are mixing up the two things.  We have reviewed and practiced. We did some dice rolls as well.  They need more practice and […]

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