Saturday, September 28, 2013

Finding the best deal is harder than it looks...

I had another reminder this week about how different my childhood was from the students that I teach in my classroom today.  I realized it this week while studying unit rates and watching my students try and find information in advertisements.  I began to be very thankful that my parents taught me a lot about unit rates through very authentic and natural experiences.

My mom is a huge bargain hunter.  When I was younger, she would scour the grocery store ads and compare prices.  She had the calculator out and would go down to the unit prices to get the best deal.  Even standing in the grocery store, she would estimate the unit cost of the generic peanut butter and the big brand name on sale.  I remember whining many times about what was taking so long and my mother, ever so patiently each time, explained that you have to figure out the best deal to make your money go farther.  She explained how she was figuring out the unit cost and often times asked me or my brother to get the next item on her list, but to get the best deal.  Sometimes she even handed us a coupon and asked us to figure out if it was a better deal with the coupon or not.  So much great mathematical conversation and mental math work was going on during those trips to the grocery store.  I guess now I am thankful for always being dragged along with my mom.  She taught lifelong skills that I still use every time I stand in the grocery store aisle trying to save a few pennies.

My kiddos aren't growing up like this today.  This week, after defining unit rates, discussing them, giving practice problems, and my kiddos appearing ready to take on the world of unit rates, I was so wrong.  The application of this skill is trickier than I anticipated.  I gave my students free reign to find three products to compare by finding the unit rate and determining the best deal.  I thought that this would be a great real world experience for them.  I realized that they have a lot of trouble just reading a grocery store advertisement (which can be a completely separate lesson on ratios).  The ad was 4 boxes of cereal for $8 and the kiddos were comparing ounces to $8, not $2.  The kiddos also brought up items that were on sale for 25% off, but no price for the specific item was given.  They wanted to know how to figure out the price.  There were also lots of questions about how to calculate the unit rate, too!  I thought that they were so prepared to handle this!!

So, it is regrouping from here.  I have learned that this is not a life experience for them as it was for me.  I assumed when I shouldn't have and I am regretting not building more background for my activity.  My first plan is to reteach and practice again.  I made a scavenger hunt for them to do.  The Powerpoint is embedded below for you to use.  I used free clip art from a Google search and I did use names from kiddos in the class.  You can totally change that up. 

Each student will will in the answer sheet and I can buzz around to answer questions and just listen to their thinking.

After they finish the scavenger hunt, they can return to finding products to do their comparisons.  I am hoping that it is just a matter of some more practice and experience. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Classifying Real Numbers is a Cakewalk?

I was totally inspired by a conversation I was having with my dad last Saturday.  We were talking about a local grocery store chain's 45th anniversary celebration.  One of the many events that they were having was a cake walk.  Numbers were placed around the store and an announcement was made that the cake walk would be beginning and if you were near a number to please go and stand on it.  Then a number was called and whoever was standing on that number won a cake.  I thought it was a really cute gimmick.

In the conversation, I was telling my dad that they should make it more of a challenge to win.  They should announce something like, "If you are standing on an irrational number and know why it is irrational, you win!"  or "If your number is a natural number, you win!"  My dad just laughed at me and told me "I'm such a math teacher."  But, I really started thinking about it.  What a fun way to review and move while doing it!  So after some thought, I came up with a way to modify the traditional cake walk and have a fun review game too!

I first of all made the traditional numbers for people to walk around and stand by when the music stops.  Since space is limited, I am going to have the kiddos clear their desks and put the paper plates on top of them.  Then they will walk around the desks until the music stops.  Whatever desk they are in front of is their number.

Next, I made numbers to pull out of a bucket that matched those on the paper plates.  With each number, I have a question that the student must answer.  I've embedded the questions as a Word document, so it can be edited. 

If the student answers it correctly, they can choose a "cupcake" from the board and win a prize.  I am going to give coupons for bonus points, sitting by a friend, no homework, etc.  I did a Google search for free clip art and cupcakes and found some cute ones!  I enlarged them on my computer, printed, and cut them out.  I then glued them to the backside of a paper plate.  I am going to just stand them along my chalk ledge.  When the cupcake is chosen, I'll flip it over.

Also, there are only 12 cupcakes.  Not everyone wins at this game and I know some kiddos will be disappointed.  My reason for this is to make it easier to just draw another number if the student is wrong or doesn't know.  I don't like having to chose another student when prizes are involved.

I want to use the cupcakes for other review games.  So I decided to make my coupons have the cupcake that was chosen on it.  Here is a picture of what I've done.

I'll update after I try it with my 8th grade Algebra students.  I think they will have a blast!

I did this activity with my Algebra class on Friday and we played for about 20 minutes.  I think that we could have gone longer, but I had other things to accomplish in the class period as well.  So, yes, I had to be the mean teacher and stop the fun. :(  

It was totally engaging and they were starting to think about where they wanted to be when the music stopped.  There was more than just fun happening.  I enjoyed watching them play and I started thinking about how more of them could play at once.  One thing that I though of was to pull two or three numbers and have some type of face off.  Maybe there could be red and blue numbers.  The teams could get points for correctly answering but they still have to change places between rounds.  I'm just brainstorming right now.  I just know that I was pleased with the activity and engagement.   

Friday, September 6, 2013

What I love about this week...

My first week came to an end and I can say I had a very good week.  I have found that some of the changes I have made from years past, I am totally loving!

I am loving... 7th grades willingness to embrace the new ideas in the classroom and the fact that they pick up on my dry sense of humor better. :)

... trash bowls!  I know how weird that sounds, but I briefly used them at the end of the year (after seeing them on a first  grade blog) with positive results.  This year, every table has a deep, plastic bowl that I picked up in May at Walmart for like $2.  The kiddos have really embraced them.  When we make things, they put them out in the center of their tables and put their scraps in them.  At the end, one person empties it and there is no complaining about emptying it either.  They are awesome and my floor has never been cleaner!

... table supply boxes. The kiddos are embracing these as well. When we do projects, one person gets the box and at the end they go back. It's almost like magic! They are respecting the supplies and being careful that everything makes it back into the bin, which makes for a very happy teacher! :)

... dismissing by table groups.  A simple thing to do and I am able to see if everything is put away properly and don't get surprises.  After doing it a couple of days this week, I had that "duh!" moment.  I could have done this a long time ago.

These are just a few things that I am loving about this school year so far.  What are you loving so far this school year?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Update: Classifying Real Numbers Foldable

By far, my most popular post had been the classifying real numbers foldable.  Tomorrow I will be taking my Algebra students through the process to make it.  I did a couple of things to hopefully make the process smoother and I thought I would share them.

First of all, I changed the shape of the nesting number sets.  I did this just speed up the cutting process.  I then used the new shapes to make templates for each table group.  I've included the word document for anyone that wants it.  I would just print it out onto card stock and cut them out to make templates for the students to trace.

I also made a "how to" sheet for the students to follow.  This is more for my sanity.  Those who get lost or a step behind can look at the directions sheet and catch up.  This is only for the assembly of the nesting number sets.  If you would like it, it is below.  There are a lot of pictures, so it might take
some time to download.

I hope that these will help those of you thinking of using the foldable with your classes.  I am excited to try it with my kiddos tomorrow!

Update to the Update:
I tried this with my kiddos today.  The directions sheet with the pictures was amazingly helpful.  I explained what to do and then I saw several kids check the directions again.  I didn't have one goof up or have to give out another piece of paper! :)  I was very pleased.  The other thing that the kiddos latched onto was the smiley face stickers.  It really helped them to line up the template correctly and I wasn't asked at all if it was lined up right.  That is a trick I will definitely use again!

It did take time to assemble, so we filled in everything for the rational numbers and it's subsets.  Tomorrow we'll finish.  Next year, I am thinking of making the foldable a homework assignment to make it and then the next day we will fill it in and discuss.  We'll next year I might change my mind altogether! :)