Thursday, April 24, 2014

Logic Links - Math Problem Solving

I recently broke out the Logic Links Puzzles for my kids again. And as usual, they love them!  I am using them in my Morning Work Folders for 4th quarter (which I encourage you to read about as they save me so much time) but this year I am do an app smash (combining multiple apps) to have the students hand them into me.
First, they start off with getting their morning work folder.  Inside, I have work for each day of the week for the entire quarter.  So on Thursdays, the students do Logic Links.  They look to see which color chips they need and then grab them from my chip organizer.  I got this organizer from Amazon - it's perfect for keeping the different colors separate and it allows the students to easily grab what they need.

White storage container holds the chips.
Logic Links

I always go over the first puzzle with my students and we work on it together.  My rules for them is they need to: 
  1. Read over all the clues first.  
  2. Place the dots where they go BUT before they color them in, they must read over each clue AGAIN and put a check mark next to it saying that it is true.  
After my students have completed the puzzle they then take out their iPad.  Using the Camera App, they snap a photo of their completed puzzle (complete with the clues so I can see the check marks) and then they upload it onto Edmodo using the Edmodo app.  I always create an assignment for each Logic Link which allows my students to simply attach the photo for me to grade. I can quickly open each one, see if it's correct and issue a grade.  This is perfect for me to grade their work, without them having to take the activity out of their Morning Work Folder.

I can see and grade student's work in Edmodo.
If you haven't used these puzzles, I really encourage you to do so. The students LOVE them!

What's your favorite brain puzzle?


Friday, April 18, 2014

Review of Laura Candler's Math Stations for Middle Grades

Awhile ago, I was given the opportunity to review Laura Candler's Math Stations for Middle Grades.  And I must say, I'm glad I did!  It is a resource that I go back to often when I have the opportunity to do math stations.

This book is packed with over 20 different stations you can use with your students.  The first time I did them I did the following:
Students enjoyed working together in
Pair Decimal Writing.

  • Pair Decimal Writing
  • Geoboard Quadrilaterals (which was a great lead into my Quadrilateral project that I do each year.)
  • Concentration
The great thing about these activities, is everything you need is pretty much right there. All I had to do was print and go.  My students enjoyed it because they were different from the traditional stations I usually do with them.

The Pair Decimal Writing was perfect because we have been working all year long on how to properly say decimals without saying the word "decimal" or "point".  This exercise was easy enough for the kids to get then hang of without me having to spend a lot of time on what they needed to do.  

The Geoboard Quadrilaterals station was a hit.  
My students love to use the Geoboard app on their iPads and this provided them the perfect excuse to do so.  I remember having the same level of excitement when my teacher use to pull out the old fashion geoboards. It is great seeing they still have that still provide that level of enthusiasm for my own kids. :-)  This station also provided the lead into my quadrilateral project that I have my students do each year.  It was a win - win situation. 

"Concentration" was happening!
Concentration was probably the favorite station of the day.  Laura provides two different versions - Triangles and Geometry.  I simply combined them both into one large game.  Because the sizing on the pieces between the two games was slightly different, I did have to trim some of the pieces down so it was obvious which piece belong to the geometry version and which piece to the triangle version.

Overall, I would say that it took me ten minutes to print and set-up the stations I wanted.  That's roughly 3.5 minutes per station, which isn't bad at all!  I really encourage you to check this resource out. They are great to have in your back pocket all year long. 


Thursday, April 17, 2014

QR Code Easter Egg Hunt

As a Catholic School Teacher I am able to incorporate in our Catholic holidays within the curriculum and Easter is no exception.  One of my favorite activities that I do with my kids is our QR Code Easter Egg Hunt.  However, if you aren't able to celebrate "Easter" this could easily be adapted without using that word. :-)

Making the QR Codes with riddles and the final prizes.
I begin the day by grouping my students into groups of four.  After that, they are given a puzzle or activity of some sort that they need to solve.  Once they have figured out the answer, they bring it up for me to check.  If the answer is correct, I give them a QR Code that I created.  When they scan the QR Code, they are given a riddle of sorts which will lead them to another teacher's room.  When they get to that room, one student goes in and tells the teacher what the password is that they were given on the riddle.  If the password matches what I told that particular teacher, they are given their groups colored egg (each group is assigned a color so they only get their eggs). If it doesn't the teacher tells them they have the wrong teacher.  Within the plastic egg are letters which they will use for the final puzzle.  After getting their egg, the group comes back to me for the next puzzle.  Once they solve that, they get another QR Code from me with a riddle and it continues through six puzzles or activities.  They collect six eggs total (some contain more than one letter).  The final puzzle requires them to unscramble the letters they got in the eggs, which spell out the final location of the prize - PRINCIPAL. :-)

The students truly enjoy this activity and it's pretty simple to set up.
Here is what you will need:
My clues - each leads to a different teacher
and the final to the Principal

  • 6 plastic colored eggs in 4-5 different colors (depending on how many groups you want. I usually do groups of 4 or 5 kids)
  • Letters to put in the eggs which will spell out the final location of the prize when unscrambled. 
  • 7 different riddles - the last one should lead them to the prize.
  • 7 QR Codes (I color code mine) that when scanned give the students the riddle
  • 7 different puzzles or worksheets that need to be completed accurately
  • Prizes for the winners (I do class cash, free homework pass, and fun pencils. Depending on the place the group comes in, it gets less and less for each one)  
  • I do 4-5 new QR Codes that when scanned tell the group what their prize is.  So one code is for 1st place, 2nd place, 3rd place and so on. 

QR Codes for the riddles
My favorite activities are usually freebies from Teachers Pay Teachers.  However, rule of thumb - if you grab a freebie from TpT, be kind and leave some feedback. :-)  My all time puzzles that I do are the Hink Pinks and Hinky Pinkys.  I particularly loved these ones:

I used them for three of my puzzles and the students would solve four at a time.  They are challenging but fun!  For the other activities I would usually do an unscramble of sorts, a brain puzzle, and a math worksheet.

Leave me a comment if you give this a try. I would love to hear how you adapted it for your classroom.


Monday, April 14, 2014

FREEBIE Floor Plan Fun Activity

Today I did a great little activity that I created for my kids for our review

math stations.  It was designed to have students practice finding area and perimeter in a simple format. And the best part about this?  I made it FREE for you to grab for your class too!

In a nutshell, the idea is for students to create seven rooms for their house floor plan.  Each room has a specific color attached to it, which is there to let students know what color they should draw the room on the graph paper.  In order to determine the dimensions of each room, the students draw chips.  I got these chips from an old board game, Rummikub, which I didn't have all the pieces for, but in typical teacher fashion I couldn't bear to throw it out in case I needed them for something.  Well thank goodness for my teacher hoarding intuition. I now found a reason to use them.  However, if you don't have a set of these chips you can easily use those fancy dice that have numbers that range higher than 6 or even a set of playing cards and you pull out two sets of numbers 2-10.  Worse case scenario, you can print out the set of cards I provide in here. I just like to save paper where I can. :-)

The students choose two of the numbers randomly and put them down for the dimensions of that particular room.  After doing that, they find the perimeter and area of the room as well.  (Sometimes that room dimensions don't necessarily make sense, for example a kitchen that is 2x2 ft but this provides a great extension activity for students to identify and discuss which ones are and aren't realistic.

After that, they draw the floor plan using the dimensions they had picked for each room on the graph paper.  Inside the rooms, they write the dimensions as well.  I tell students I want them to logically think about the layout of the house and try to create it as realistically as possible.

This activity is quick but a great review for area and perimeter.  It took about 25 minutes for them to complete from start to finish.

Head on over to my TpT store and pick up your copy.  Please don't forget to leave me some feedback love. :-) I hope you enjoy it!


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Going Paperless in the Classroom

Now that my class and I have 1:1 iPads, I have slowly begun the process of going paperless in my classroom.  This has been a slow process for me, as it is a major change from what we (students, parents, and I) know as "normal".  However, the more I have played around with Google Drive, the more I am finding just how easy it is.

For years, I have used Google Docs and Forms in my classroom. But for this week's part of Google Bootcamp for Teachers, I have decided to focus my efforts on the many ways you can use the Docs and Spreadsheets portion of Google in the classroom.  But be sure to check out all the posts that relate to Google Drive below.  I know that Jen, from Tech with Jen, did a fabulous post on creating quizzes using Google Forms so be sure to look at that!  She geared it towards primary teachers but trust me, you can easily adapt it to the older grades too.

Let's cover the basics on what Google Docs and Spreadsheets does allow you to do:

  • You can create Microsoft Word like documents (complete with images, tables, etc).
  • You can share these documents with other teachers, students, parents, etc.
  • You can choose to allow others to just view the documents, edit them, or allow them to comment on them.  
  • You can share these documents without email address but with a URL.
There is a lot of different things you can do but those are the basics of it.  :-)  

I'm huge in creating rubrics right now and one of my favorite ways of doing it is through spreadsheets.  I input all the information I want into the form and then in the last few columns I create a way for the student to self-assess themselves (I'm starting to do this on all my newer rubrics and slowly switching over my older ones to include it) and another column for me to assess them.  Depending on how I weighted the specific component, I may have another column with a formula to calculate it all.  Below is an example of the science fair rubric. 

You can see how whatever I input in the orange column is then multiplied by the weight I've decided on and computed into the blue column.  It is then calculated into a total score and percentage at the bottom.

The students like when I do the rubrics on Spreadsheets and share them with them so they always have a record of how they scored (parents like it too). And I like it since it is calculated up for me, saving me that step.

Now with Google Docs, I have used them in a variety of ways, but one of my favorites is with my students writing.  My students will complete a writing assignment and share the document with me, giving me the ability to either edit.  By doing this, I am able to read over their work, highlight certain parts of it and add a comment on the side as your can see below.

Doing this is quite simple.  I made a quick video tutorial to show you exactly how to do it.  :-)  

Hopefully you found some ways to add Google Spreadsheet and Docs within your classroom.  


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