I Have… Who Has…

Basic Algebra I Have/Who Has Game from Thatmathlady

Looking for a way to review your basic algebra with your class? Use this “I Have…Who Has…” game.
Want to make it easier? Group your students into pairs for each card.
Need to make it harder? Give each student TWO cards and take turns.
Want to make it more involved? Get the students to write the problems/answers on the board!

Reasons Why Students Should Blog

First, I would like to thank Popplet.com for giving me the inspiration for this blog post. I used their free Popplet service to create a small brainstorming bubble map (above). Of course, I couldn’t just leave my thoughts limited to the bubbles, so I decided to blog about it!

I recently read a blog on edudemic’s website titled “How To Integrate Blogging Into Math Classes.” Wow, that seems like a no-brainer, but why hadn’t I ever thought about that before? What a great idea!

As you’ll see in edudemic’s blog (added by Felicia Young), sites such as Kidblog.org provide a safe environment for students and teachers to blog. I think this is a fabulous tool to get students involved in the blogging forum. While I’m not endorsing this website, I just want to share it with other educators out there who may not have heard of it and want to do something similar for their students.

Weblogs have become one of the greatest avenues of communication these days. Students need to be – and want to be – involved in this part of our virtual culture. Blogging will allow them to express their own ideas, discuss various viewpoints on a variety of topics, and, most importantly, practice their reading and writing skills. (Shh…don’t tell them the last part or they may not want to do it!) Also, blogs can be used across the curriculum. Here are some sample blogging prompts:

Math: Reflect on a math concept that was really difficult for you to fully understand. Why do you think it was so difficult to learn? What could have made it easier to learn? 150 word minimum.

Science: We just learned about the three states of matter. What would life be like if there were only two states of matter? Pick one to eliminate and reflect on how life would be different without it. 200 word minimum.

Music: What is your favorite genre or style of music? How do you feel when you hear that style of music being played?

Art: What is your favorite van Gogh painting? What makes that piece your favorite? Color, texture, movement, feeling, etc.

Language Arts: Reflect on some of the books you have read and the characters in them. Which character can you relate to the most? Why?

As you can see, some of the examples have length requirements, and others do not. I believe that should be left up to teacher discretion; some students may need that type of requirement to push them outside of their “comfort zone.”

I see my students blogging in our future. How about you?

Valentine’s Day Math Activities

I know it is only mid-January, but I feel like I am already acting late in the game in posting a Valentine’s Day activity. I can’t believe I started to see red and pink displays of candy and cards as early as December 27th!

Here are a few fun math problems for 4th-5th graders to try on this Valentine’s Day (Click on the picture to open the PDF):








Although they may not be free like mine, here are a few other cute Valentine math activities I found as I was perusing Pinterest (they are great if you don’t mind spending a few dollars here and there) :




NBA Dream Team Math Activity

With all of the hoop-lah (no pun intended) surrounding the NBA these days, I thought I would create an NBA activity for students who are motivated by the mere mention of the word ‘sports,’ and who are possibly considering joining the realm of professional sports after they graduate. This project-based, math-inquiry activity is designed for students to research and compare simple statistics.

At the end of the day, who has what it takes to make a team with the best basketball players out there? Let’s find out in the Fantasy NBA Dream Team Challenge!

Slideshare.net has the pdf file of this activity which can be saved or emailed directly to you!

Great Math Blogs

One of my hobbies is seeking out great math blogs on the Internet. I have come across hundreds of blogs since I began my search. Some are great and others are not. What defines a “great blog” in my opinion?

Great math blogs…

…are user-friendly and attractive in appearance.

…are updated frequently (at least once per 1-2 weeks).

…include multimedia (pictures, diagrams, videos, slides, etc.).

…and illustrate best practices or lessons that teach math!

Here are some examples (listed in random order) of what I’m talking about. They just so happen to be some of my favorites. Enjoy!

1. Math Techniques and Strategies

Math Techniques and Strategies has a lot to offer to teachers of mathematics. This site’s blogger, Trevor Reeh, writes posts about a range of math topics, including lesson plans and fun math trivia. The links at the top of the page lead to a variety of additional resources, including interactive math notebook ideas, instructional videos, best practices, and fun uses for math QR codes!

2. I Speak Math

I have to give huge props to Julie Reulbach, the math blogger at I Speak Math. Julie (@jreulbach) was one of the first educators I started to follow on Twitter. Julie  encourages her fellow educators to blog about popular education topics via forums such as the New Blogger Initiation and the MS Sunday Funday blog forum on her site. And when she isn’t helping other educators with their blogging, she is blogging about the lessons that her sixth graders are currently doing or her best practices involving math & technology. Awesome!

3. Yummy Math

I retweet Brian Marks (@YummyMath) on Twitter a lot, so if you follow me on Twitter, I’m sure you’ve heard of this site. Current events + creative math application + fun learning opportunities for all students = Yummy Math. You can search for the lessons by math concept or by post date. Give yourself some time, though, because once you visit it, you could be on this site for a long, long time…

4. Math Coach’s Corner

I really like Math Coach’s Corner for two reasons. First, Donna Boucher blogs about some of the cutest math topics and lessons I have EVER seen! This place is great for elementary teachers who are always looking to make math cute and fun. The second reason I love this blog is for the Blog Hop. The Blog Hop leads to a page that just explodes with hundreds of colorful links to other education blogs. (Again, you could be here for awhile…)

5. Number Loving

I recently discovered Number Loving, thanks to Sharon Derbyshire (@numberloving). Number Loving has existed for a little over a year, and within that year the bloggers have compiled a list of exceptional lesson blogs and great ideas. Looking for math games, puzzles or other teaching tools? Visit this site for some GREAT ideas!


Please comment below with any math blogs that you’ve encountered – or written yourself! – that you believe are GREAT and will help our math teachers out there! Thanks!

Top Ten Reasons I Love Twitter

It was some time in 2009 when I first heard about this new social media site, Twitter. Celebrities were joining left and right to share their thoughts with their thousands of “followers” (i.e. virtual groupies). I wanted to know what all the fuss was about, so I signed up. I lasted one day before I abandoned it….I obviously had better things to do than read updates from the Kardashians.

Flash forward to 2012, I finally realized that at some point in the past 3 years, Twitter became a virtual dynasty for education leadership! All of the experts in my field were on Twitter now and using it as a means to communicate with other teachers! I thought to myself, I’m a teacher! I need to be on Twitter! So, here I am, and here is my list of The Top Ten Reasons Why I Love Twitter:

1. It provides fast and frequent communication. I follow over 150 educators on Twitter. Needless to say, I am constantly receiving the latest news and trends in education from the numerous people I follow. I never worry about missing out on the most popular blogs or news stories because, rest assured, my Twitter feed will update me almost immediately.

2. Twitter is a community-builder. Teachers are all part of a professional community. Within our global community there are various networks which stem from multiple sources, including Twitter. Since re-joining Twitter in 2012, I have become part of several educators’ PLNs (world-wide!!) just by being a part of what is happening on Twitter. My PLN has also grown leaps and bounds!

3. Got free PD? Ever been part of a chat on Twitter? #Edchat, #Satchat, #Elemchat #SSChat are just a few of the many, many Twitter chats that are held each week. In these chats, educators come together to discuss some of the most notorioius and poignant topics in education. It is amazing what people bring to the table! These discussions can be so inspiring and informational, that sometimes (most times) it is better than any prof. development session you’ve ever attended.

4. I can connect with some of the greatest pioneers of my field. Laura Candler (@LauraCandler), Jonathan Bergmann (@jonbergmann) and Erin Klein (@KleinErin) were all names I had heard of many times before from my teacher friends. I have known of them for years as “leaders” in education, but I had never met them, heard them speak, or spoke to them. Now, however, I follow them and learn first-hand from their best practices that they share!

5. Sharing resources has never been easier. My job involves creating math games, activities, and other resources for educators around the globe. While posting them on my websites is easy to do, it doesn’t make teachers aware that they exist. Twitter helps me do that.

6. I am always learning new things! Thanks to the resources that my Twitter PLN share with me, I can safely say I learn something new every time I check my Twitter feed!

7. Hashtags. Thanks in part to Twitter, the cute transformation of the pound symbol (#) has completely altered the way we communicate in pop culture and daily life.

8. Twitter allows us to gain new insights and new ideas. I will be the first to admit that my personal philosophy of education has changed since the first day I connected with Twitter. It wasn’t one tweet or one day that changed my outlook, but the amount of information I have been led to that have opened my eyes.

9. K.I.S.S. (Keep it short & simple.) With only 140 characters allowed per tweet, a person is confined to what he or she can say. Some may think that is very limiting and hard to do. To them I say, “Good!”

10. Easiest way to communicate with students and parents. Twitter is an AH-MAZE-ING tool to use to communicate important news with students and their parents. If we all connect on Twitter, we can easily and efficiently communicate when needed, and create strongly-knit schools!

I still have a lot to learn about Twitter and everything it can provide for me on my professional journey. I hope that you’ll join me (@thatmathlady) on that journey so we can learn together!

The “H” Word – Part II

I’ve noticed during the past several months that “homework” has increasingly become the new educational taboo word on the street. I’m used to students and parents rolling their eyes at the mention of the “H” word. But now we are getting that same kind of response from educators? What’s going on?

Let me start off by admitting to you that I believe in homework. I think the advantages of homework FAR outweigh the disadvantages. Instead of joining the crowd of naysayers, I suggest we place the concept of homework under the microscope for a moment to examine how it has become one of the roots of evil in our nation’s school systems.

The Purpose of Homework

Homework was not originally designed to be a monstrous threat (“You better use your time wisely in class or you’ll have homework…”) or a method to kill trees by using up more paper. No, homework was designed to help students learn more.  There are four main reasons why teachers should assign homework:

  1. Provide additional practice on a skill outside of school hours
  2. Utilize more time (that we just don’t have in a typical school day) to master a skill in creative and inspiring ways
  3. Encourage students to work independently and challenge their cognitive skills
  4. Teach responsibility and accountability

How It Became So Negative

I propose that the negative connotation associated with homework wasn’t created by students or parents, but by educators. I don’t mean we assigned homework with malicious intent; however, homework was assigned with a different intent than the four listed above. Here are some examples:

Teacher: Gee, we aren’t going to be able to finish this lesson today in class due to the school assembly. I’ll just let my students try and finish it on their own at home.

Teacher: I have assigned this same at-home project for the last 15 years, I’m not changing it (well, maybe the part about completing it and saving it to a floppy disk…)

Teacher: They wasted 20 minutes in the beginning of my class talking about the homecoming game/dance/American Idol/Gossip Girl finale. I’ll just give them an extra 20 minutes of work to do during their free time at home tonight.

Teacher: I have ten objectives to cover this week! In an effort to get through them all, I am going to set a quicker pace today to motivate students to work quickly; the slower-moving students will just have to take their unfinished work home and complete it as homework.

As you can see, a trend of time-savers (and alternative forms of punishment) became a common reason for assigning homework. Over time, more and more teachers lost focus on the crucial homework elements, such as the time it would take to complete a task at home, the objective of the assignment or even the expected outcomes of the assignment. Over time, this abuse has led to student, parent and even teacher resentment.

Adjusting Our Outlooks

It is time to regain a clear vision about how homework should be assigned and assessed.  We need to lose the murky, preconceived notion of what we think homework is (boring worksheets, projects with no purpose, and repetitive practice on a skill that was mastered days, weeks or even months ago) and replace it with the idea that homework should always serve as an advantageous support to our students’ education. Homework is supposed to help students excel in the classroom. Period.

Think About It: Have you ever tried to learn how to play a sport or a musical instrument? What would happen if you were given no time to practice off the court or off the stage, and then were expected to perform in a big game or a concert? Would you do as well as if you had practiced some at home?

Is academic homework any different?


Lastly, remember this quote:

“I love grading meaningless assignments and shuffling papers!” – No Teacher Ever