This has been a CRAZY week. Two nights of parent teacher conferences. A trip to the airport. Blood Drive. Mix this with the natural craziness of the week before spring break, and I realize that the only blog posts I've written this week have been Monday Must Reads and Five Things Friday. Oops. Given that next week is spring break, I can't promise that next week will be any better in the posting department.

Here's a peek into some of what I've been up to this week.

1. We broke out the algebra tiles in Algebra 1 this week to learn how to multiply polynomials. My students had never seen algebra tiles, so first I had to teach them how they work. I tried four different ways of introducing algebra tiles, and I'm really happy with the fourth iteration of my intro to algebra tiles lesson. I handed each student a bowl of algebra tiles (I find that the flat square bowls at Dollar Tree with the green lids are perfect for storing sets of Algebra tiles in the classroom) and asked them what they noticed. It was a beautiful scene to witness. Students were noticing that there were different sizes and colors. They noticed that each size of shape featured a red side. When I asked why that might be, one student suggested that the red side probably meant negative.

After we had listed other things we noticed such as "they make a cool sound if you hit two of them together," I asked for a student volunteer to come to the board and make a picture using some of my jumbo magnetic algebra tiles. Then, I wrote the polynomial that represented this picture beside it. I challenged my class to figure out how I was determining the polynomial. After the first picture (the butterfly on the right), my students were stumped.

So I invited another student to make a picture. This led to the flower beside the butterfly. They were still stumped.

Then, another student made a picture that consisted of only a red square. I thought this was brilliant because when I wrote -x^2 next to the large red square, there was no denying what the large square meant. The next student's picture was a single large blue square. When I wrote x^2 next to this picture, there were oohs and aahs as students started to figure out why I hadn't written an x^2 in the polynomial for the butterfly despite it having two large squares.

After students had started to grasp the meaning of the tiles, I started having them tell me what a picture would equal before I wrote down the polynomial. This was a lot of fun, and I think it will now be my go-to method for introducing algebra tiles in the future.

2. We had a student council meeting this week, and my dry erase board ended up being taken over by speed drawn pigs. Who knew that you could turn a capital E, two W's, one M, and one cursive l into a pig?!?

3. We're working on polynomials in Algebra 1. I made several question stack activities for this topic last year, so it's been nice to just go over to my filing cabinet and pull out the day's activity without having to do any prep! Here's the link to the blog post with this adding/subtracting polynomials in function notation question stack.

4. I think our blood drive was a success! My student council kids did a great job of trying to make sure everyone's blood donation was a great experience. They recruited extra donors on the day of the drive, and I'm incredibly proud of them. Even though I was technically the blood drive coordinator, they did almost all of the work. I was a big fan of the blood drive sign up poster they made!

5. My principal bought everyone tacos for dinner for the first night of parent/teacher conferences. Since I'm vegetarian, they special ordered me a quesadilla. Having a yummy dinner made it much easier to stay positive while spending 3 hours after school for conferences. I love meeting with students and parents, but it makes for SUCH a long day!

## Friday, March 16, 2018

## Monday, March 12, 2018

### Monday Must Reads: Volume 34

Happy Monday! Today is the first of two days where we have to stay after school three hours for parent teacher conferences. Given that I'm still dealing with the craziness that Daylight Saving Time has done on my body, it's been a LONG day. In three hours, I've only talked to four parents, so it does mean that I've had plenty of time to put together this week's volume of Monday Must Reads. Given how exhausted I was yesterday evening (I normally write my Monday Must Reads post on Sunday afternoons), I was starting to think that we weren't going to have a Monday Must Reads post this week. But, here it is! I hope you enjoy this peek into my favorite tweets from this week.

Jae Ess impresses with her latest Find the Error activity.

I also love this colorful Pi Day display from Jae Ess!

You probably already know that I'm a huge fan of using puzzles in the classroom. So, I was super excited when I saw that rupeleMX held a puzzle day in his classroom in Mexico!

Jeff MacInnis shares a fun white-board routine for practicing order of operations.

Craig Barton recently introduced the concept of SSDD problems. SSDD stands for "Same Surface, Different Deep." The idea is to use the same visual question stem to ask different questions at different levels. Check out Andy Lutwyche's attempt at some SSDD problems.

James Welham's classroom is a must-see.

I also love this Christmas themed mathematics display that James created with his students!

EJMaths shares a photo of some sequences puzzles from #mathsconf14

Mr Knowles shares two tasks that involve the same diagrams, similar to the SSDD problems mentioned before. This makes me wonder how often we waste time creating new problems when we could just extend problems that we have already created.

Rose Dray shares another photo from #mathsconf14. I love this idea of exploring equations in standard form with counters!

Geometry/Trigonometry teachers will appreciate Nick Waldron's attempt at creating a set of SSDD problems.

Isabel Buckles has also written a set of SSDD problems. These involve a petrol gauge (gasoline for my American audience).

Ben Gordon shares several more SSDD problems that he created.

I especially like these circle-based problems.

Mark Kaercher shares an awesome teacher hack involving an old mouse pad.

If you're on the lookout for thought-provoking questions to ask your students, be sure to check out the Illustrative Math twitter account!

Preparing to celebrate Pi Day this week? Check out this awesome Pi-Day themed WODB from Zach Armstrong.

Texas Math Teacher shares a fun twist on Tenzi (one of my favorite dice games ever!) that is perfect for Pi Day.

Alexia DeLuca shares a fun variation on a breakout box by having her students complete missions to rescue her kidnapped cat!

I also love this fun, almost no-prep practice activity that Alexia shared for determining if three legs can form a triangle.

Calculus teachers! Check out this idea from Randi Munchanitis for visualizing volumes of revolution.

Jackie Prestegard shares a yummy way to practice lewis structures.

Lisa Richardson created a bunch of math-themed Double Letter Puzzles, and the results have been hilarious!

You can find the mathy double letter puzzles that Lisa created on her blog!

Will found an awesome alternate use for Plickers cards - finding area and perimeter!

Allison Nelson offers up a tasty problem for calculating arc length.

Rachael Gorsuch shares an inspiring lesson for finding the foci of a parabola.

I ABSOLUTELY love this name the mistake game from Robyn Nicole. I can see myself creating at least one of these for every single unit!

Shanna Meyer shares an arc length lesson involving a different but equally tasty food: M&M's.

Preet Dhillon shares an interesting task for fractions. How would your students respond?

I love this question posed by the dailySTEM twitter account.

Until next week, keep up the awesome sharing!

Jae Ess impresses with her latest Find the Error activity.

Image Source: https://twitter.com/jaegetsreal/status/973272299339173894 |

Image Source: https://twitter.com/jaegetsreal/status/971126941142147072 |

Image Source: https://twitter.com/rupeleMX/status/973190515712671744 |

Image Source: https://twitter.com/mrmacinnis/status/908501634124337152 |

Image Source: https://twitter.com/andylutwyche/status/972853576014983168 |

Image Source: https://twitter.com/andylutwyche/status/972853576014983168 |

Image Source: https://twitter.com/jwelham/status/844146518735175681 |

Image Source: https://twitter.com/jwelham/status/936148881741680640 |

Image Source: https://twitter.com/EJmaths/status/972495847471624197 |

Image Soruce: https://twitter.com/SK18Maths/status/972207086368063488 |

Image Source: https://twitter.com/SK18Maths/status/972207089039958017 |

Image Source: https://twitter.com/SK18Maths/status/972207091485159424 |

Image Source: https://twitter.com/LPmaths/status/972471287804235776 |

Image Source: https://twitter.com/w4ldo/status/972874890767425536 |

Image Source: https://twitter.com/missmaths26/status/972801072405385216 |

Image Source: https://twitter.com/mathsmrgordon/status/972611726544965632 |

Image Source: https://twitter.com/mathsmrgordon/status/972750961226797056 |

Image Source: https://twitter.com/shskaercher/status/972927832501424128 |

Image Source: https://twitter.com/IllustrateMath/status/972925253369315329 |

Image Source: https://twitter.com/IllustrateMath/status/971841788834131970 |

Image Source: https://twitter.com/aethirv/status/972888574780674049 |

Image Source: https://twitter.com/wendytiedt/status/972610881753370624 |

Image Source: https://twitter.com/mathmrsdeluca/status/957044257839345667 |

Image Source: https://twitter.com/mathmrsdeluca/status/967129263865548800 |

Image Source: https://twitter.com/Munchanitis1133/status/971798131443564544 |

Image Source: https://twitter.com/JPprestegard/status/971817231633002498 |

Image Source: https://twitter.com/CBHSRichMath/status/971811655922409473 |

Image Source: https://twitter.com/CBHSRichMath/status/971088146820751360 |

Image Source: https://twitter.com/Mathopoly/status/971788009724145669 |

Image Source: https://twitter.com/Missbergermath/status/829824532479373312 |

Image Source: https://twitter.com/rachaelhgorsuch/status/971471012134096896 |

Image Source: https://twitter.com/MathRobyn/status/971446359881478144 |

Image Source: https://twitter.com/MeyerMathWO/status/971088498718642177 |

Image Source: https://twitter.com/Preet_sd36/status/970506139669446656 |

Image Source: https://twitter.com/dailystem/status/970845133896855552 |

## Sunday, March 11, 2018

### No Tissue Is No Longer An Issue!

I don't blog about it very often, but I have been the student council advisor at my high school for the past six years. This year, with the terrible cold and flu season and the already-started allergy season, my student council students decided to hold a bake sale to purchase boxes of Kleenex for every single classroom.

This resulted in me dragging my husband to Walmart last week on a mission of buying Kleenex and only Kleenex. 51 boxes of Kleenex. In our combined middle school/high school, we have 17 different classrooms, so this worked out to 3 boxes/classroom.

I thought this would be a relatively simple shopping trip. I had planned on filling our cart with the Kleenex multi-packs that feature 3 or 4 boxes bundled together. There were a grand total of 3 multi-packs on the shelf. This meant that we had to fill the rest of our cart with individual boxes. As we were filling up our cart, one of our school board members stopped to say hi when she saw us. Then, she saw our cart. The conversation went a little like this: "How are you guys? Oh, I see you need a lot of toilet paper." I quickly explained that we were purchasing it for a student council project. Then, she insisted on taking a photo of us so that we could remember this shopping trip forever.

Before we got away from the Kleenex aisle, we started getting questions from another shopper. This lady had assumed that we were store employees who were taking the Kleenex off the shelf because Walmart was no longer going to be selling it.

Luckily, the cashier didn't blink an eye when we she saw our purchase. We made a comment about getting weird looks, and she said that we actually weren't here weirdest purchase of the day. Earlier, a lady came through her checkout line with an entire cart full of children's underwear. It turned out that the underwear was on clearance for $1/package, and she was going to send it to Haiti.

One of my student council kids came up with the slogan "No Tissue Is No Longer An Issue!"

I typed up the slogan with a little message at the top that says that DHS Student Council is behind the project, and I printed them 2 to a page. After grabbing some colorful paper and spending a short amount of time at the paper chopper, we assembled the tissue boxes in stacks of three and taped a sign to each one.

Here's a shot of almost all of the tissues waiting to be delivered.

Shout out to my student council kids for coming up with a creative way to serve our school!

This resulted in me dragging my husband to Walmart last week on a mission of buying Kleenex and only Kleenex. 51 boxes of Kleenex. In our combined middle school/high school, we have 17 different classrooms, so this worked out to 3 boxes/classroom.

I thought this would be a relatively simple shopping trip. I had planned on filling our cart with the Kleenex multi-packs that feature 3 or 4 boxes bundled together. There were a grand total of 3 multi-packs on the shelf. This meant that we had to fill the rest of our cart with individual boxes. As we were filling up our cart, one of our school board members stopped to say hi when she saw us. Then, she saw our cart. The conversation went a little like this: "How are you guys? Oh, I see you need a lot of toilet paper." I quickly explained that we were purchasing it for a student council project. Then, she insisted on taking a photo of us so that we could remember this shopping trip forever.

Before we got away from the Kleenex aisle, we started getting questions from another shopper. This lady had assumed that we were store employees who were taking the Kleenex off the shelf because Walmart was no longer going to be selling it.

Luckily, the cashier didn't blink an eye when we she saw our purchase. We made a comment about getting weird looks, and she said that we actually weren't here weirdest purchase of the day. Earlier, a lady came through her checkout line with an entire cart full of children's underwear. It turned out that the underwear was on clearance for $1/package, and she was going to send it to Haiti.

One of my student council kids came up with the slogan "No Tissue Is No Longer An Issue!"

I typed up the slogan with a little message at the top that says that DHS Student Council is behind the project, and I printed them 2 to a page. After grabbing some colorful paper and spending a short amount of time at the paper chopper, we assembled the tissue boxes in stacks of three and taped a sign to each one.

Here's a shot of almost all of the tissues waiting to be delivered.

Shout out to my student council kids for coming up with a creative way to serve our school!

## Saturday, March 10, 2018

### Building Polynomials Activity

This lesson idea started out like many of my ideas do. I start thinking about the topic I'm teaching, and I ask myself "What if...?" This week, the topic was polynomials, and the question I asked myself was "What if I could create some sort of open-middle style puzzle for polynomials?" I tried running the idea by my husband, but he seemed terribly confused.

So, I went ahead anyway. I typed up my idea, cut out all the pieces, laid them in the living room floor, and asked my husband to solve the puzzle. The puzzle involves the names of eight different polynomials (such as 6th degree trinomial, quartic monomial, or linear binomial) and twenty different terms which must be arranged to form these eight polynomials.

All twenty of the term cards MUST be used.

It was interesting to watch my math teacher husband tackle this puzzle. He ended up placing some cards in such a way that he later ran out of the cards he needed and had to do some shuffling to make sure that he could properly make all eight of the polynomials with the given terms.

I asked him what he thought of the difficulty level of this puzzle, and he said it was just tricky enough to be at the right level for my Algebra 1 students. After watching my students tackle this activity for the last three days (my classes are in all different places due to a talent show we had this past week), I agree that this puzzle has enough different solutions to not be too challenging but requires enough rethinking and reshuffling pieces to still engage students and get them thinking.

I printed the polynomial names on orange paper and laminated each set. Then, I printed the polynomial term cards on a different color of paper for each set. One thing I didn't think of when designing my cards was that the orange polynomial pieces were too big for my snack bags!

I loved listening to students discuss where to start. Many of my groups decided to start with the monomials and work their way up to the longer polynomials.

The biggest issue students ran into was trying to make a linear binomial with cards like 9x and 2x. Whenever I saw this while circulating the classroom, I would stack these two cards on top of one another and remind students that we need to always combine our like terms. 9x and 2x are the same as 11 x which meant they only had a linear monomial.

Another issue my students ran into was ending up with term cards that couldn't fit in the polynomials they had left to create.

One of the cards students are given is "+7x^8." The students are asked to create a 10th degree polynomial and a 6th degree trinomial as well as a host of lesser degree polynomials. This means that there is only one polynomial that could possibly hold a term with an exponent of 8.

Many of my students did not realize this until late into the activity. I had several groups try to place 7x^8 in a linear binomial. Almost every time this happened, the other partner would speak up and say why that wasn't allowed.

This meant my students often had to take one term from one polynomial and then another term from another polynomial to fill that spot and so on in order to make everything work.

I'm super proud of how this activity turned out. I think that my students had a much better understanding of how we name polynomials after taking a turn at creating their own.

Want to try this activity with your own students? I've uploaded the file for it here.

So, I went ahead anyway. I typed up my idea, cut out all the pieces, laid them in the living room floor, and asked my husband to solve the puzzle. The puzzle involves the names of eight different polynomials (such as 6th degree trinomial, quartic monomial, or linear binomial) and twenty different terms which must be arranged to form these eight polynomials.

All twenty of the term cards MUST be used.

It was interesting to watch my math teacher husband tackle this puzzle. He ended up placing some cards in such a way that he later ran out of the cards he needed and had to do some shuffling to make sure that he could properly make all eight of the polynomials with the given terms.

I asked him what he thought of the difficulty level of this puzzle, and he said it was just tricky enough to be at the right level for my Algebra 1 students. After watching my students tackle this activity for the last three days (my classes are in all different places due to a talent show we had this past week), I agree that this puzzle has enough different solutions to not be too challenging but requires enough rethinking and reshuffling pieces to still engage students and get them thinking.

I printed the polynomial names on orange paper and laminated each set. Then, I printed the polynomial term cards on a different color of paper for each set. One thing I didn't think of when designing my cards was that the orange polynomial pieces were too big for my snack bags!

The biggest issue students ran into was trying to make a linear binomial with cards like 9x and 2x. Whenever I saw this while circulating the classroom, I would stack these two cards on top of one another and remind students that we need to always combine our like terms. 9x and 2x are the same as 11 x which meant they only had a linear monomial.

One of the cards students are given is "+7x^8." The students are asked to create a 10th degree polynomial and a 6th degree trinomial as well as a host of lesser degree polynomials. This means that there is only one polynomial that could possibly hold a term with an exponent of 8.

Many of my students did not realize this until late into the activity. I had several groups try to place 7x^8 in a linear binomial. Almost every time this happened, the other partner would speak up and say why that wasn't allowed.

This meant my students often had to take one term from one polynomial and then another term from another polynomial to fill that spot and so on in order to make everything work.

I'm super proud of how this activity turned out. I think that my students had a much better understanding of how we name polynomials after taking a turn at creating their own.

I believe that having to build polynomials with a pre-determined set of terms (in this case, a deck of polynomial term cards) made this a much more powerful and engaging activity than just asking students to create polynomials with the terms of their choosing.

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