Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Ms. Pac-Man Transformations

I have been trying to talk less and let kids figure out more on their own this year and in searching for a way to introduce transformations found this AMAZING lesson from Robert Kaplinsky. You guys, I didn't even have to teach it! My kids caught on so quickly they were describing multiple transformations like it was nothing!

I followed Robert's plan by using the intro video (you can download it from his blog) that showed translations, rotations, and reflections. Yes, we gather like we are in kindergarten, when I really want their attention!

We watched the video a couple of times and I asked, "How can you describe Ms. Pac-Man's movements?" They answered she is moving right, up, left. I asked for them to be more descriptive and they began to start speaking the transformation language with turning and flipping. I stopped them when they said turning and gave them the mathematician word rotation, the same for reflection when they said flip, and translation when they said go right/left/up/down. It was magical! We continued our math talk for the next two videos that had single transformations, reflections and rotations.

Next, I had them divide up on the vertical whiteboards. I played the next video that showed all three transformations and asked them to write the movements. After a couple of times through the video, I asked them to look around at each other's notation. They noticed how some groups were more descriptive than others. Some groups had just arrows, some had used the words flip and turn, a couple had used translate, reflect, rotate, and my shining stars had added the unit "dots." We talked about how we could be more specific with our notation by using direction and degrees for rotations, lines of reflection, and by using a unit of measure.

At this point I showed them the last video that has a coordinate plane overlay and had them write the movements on their foldy in their interactive notebooks. The video was on our classroom so they could stop and go at their own pace in groups of two or three. I also gave them mini Ms. Pac-Man's to manipulate as they moved around the board. We said Ms. Pac-Man could not be upside down when she ate. I just let them go and answered questions as they came up. When then same question was asked a couple of times, I stopped everyone and we talked about it. It was super fun to watch them be so engaged and use vocabulary to describe the transformations.

The next day we needed to sure up the notation with direction, degrees, reflection lines, and units. I used this extension from mrmillermath because my competitive kids can't resist a game with points!

Just look at that notation after just a day of discovery from Ms. Pac-Man! Another game we love to play is Turkeys in the Oven from everybody's fave (and Teacher of the Year) Math=Love!

I did Footballs in the Helmet for graphing equations and they were so in to it I thought it would be fun to do for Ms. Pac-Man, Ghosts in the Ms. Pac-Man.

They work a challenge on a dry-erase communicator, in this case, writing the transformations that got Ms. Pac-Man from one location to the other. They work so hard to get ghosts which means chances for points...unless you put them all on the one that turns out to be negative!

I made Challenge #5 have a point where she had to flip then rotate like in the video. This group kept missing it so I had them get out their mini Ms. Pac-Man from the day before and manipulate her for each movement. When they got to the sticky part, they were able to think back to the last video where the same thing happened and we had math talked it out.

They get it checked by me and when it is correct, they get a ghost. They put their ghosts on one of the four Ms. Pac-Mans but don't know the point value. After time is up, I write the values on the board and they add up their points.

So much math love for the MTBoS who never cease to amaze me! And make me a better teacher! I can't wait for Twitter Math Camp!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Happy Pi Day, Nerds!

Happy Pi Day! This math teacher's fave day! It was perfect timing because my students were dragging today after the time change! We did the Pi Chain, shared it here, and it did not disappoint. I loved watching 1st and 2nd block kids come back at the end of the day and see how much had been added!

After the first row of numbers, it starts to go really fast! Each class has their own little system of assembly.

We also borrowed Pi-kus from Math = Love. They came up with some really great ones.

Definitely the best thing about the poems was watching the kids clap out the syllables! I also gave them a challenge of reciting the digits of Pi. We are going to do it Friday because they wanted more time to memorize. The winner gets a "real chocolate pie" so they are pretty motivated! To make our day complete, we had a Pi Day Sing Along! Yes, I can get 8th graders to sing Pi songs to the tune of Christmas songs. Yes, they loved it! Here is a sample for your listening pleasure!

The Pi Chain was 1,300 links. It filled our room and had to go into the hallway and they were begging to do it tomorrow. When you leave them wanting more, it feels like success! Hope your Pi Day was super fun!

Monday, February 6, 2017

My Year of Politics

My year of politics started and ended with
this sweet Representative, Steve McMillan
This is my ninth year of teaching and I love it just as much now as I did my first day of school. I hope I have modeled for my kiddos (college freshman and high school freshman) how it feels to be passionate about what you do and they find something they love. I hope my students see my excitement for school supplies and math and it makes them excited to learn. So when the governor said that we "suck" I won't lie, it hurt, a lot. When the legislature makes decisions about my profession without consulting any educators, it feels wrong. It hurts because I give my all everyday for the children. Every teacher around me gives their best for them. We are all in our classrooms teaching our hearts out, closed off from the real world, without a voice.

Matthew Brown, State Board of Education Member showing off his
math skills. Having an engineer do math with my students was amazing.
Last year, I decided to venture out of my classroom and into the world of politics. I joined our 2016 Alabama Teacher of the Year, Jennifer Brown, in an effort to get as many legislators in my classroom as I could before the 2017 session started. We wanted them to see what school looks like.

Harry Shiver, Representative talking football with the guys!
I started last January emailing every legislator in my district asking them to come do math with us. I only heard from one. He came the last week of school. I guess he told all of his legislator friends how fun math was in my class because the next round of emails I sent out got lots of replies! The response was incredible with a State Board of Education member, three Alabama Representatives, and a Congressman coming to our classroom and participating in our learning. They all appreciated the opportunity to be inside a classroom.

Representative Alan Baker knows how to make a teacher feel appreciated!
He even called to congratulate me on receiving Teacher of the Year!
My students were proud to show them our classroom and activities. We felt empowered by building those relationships with the legislators. It was exciting to be part of something bigger than our classroom. My students were the experts and the voice our legislature needs to hear from. 

Congressman Bradley Byrne was a good sport as
we made him walk the football field to find distance!
The 2017 Legislative Session starts tomorrow and I wish all of them good luck! My hope is that these legislators hear our voice from our classroom and do what is best for every teacher and student in our state. Thanks for coming to do math with us, we loved it!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Dance Dance Transversal

This may be my most fave of all time ever! My daughter and I worked on it for days to get the beat just right and it was totally worth it! Remember the Dance Dance Revolution at the movie theater? Or Just Dance on the Wii? That is where the idea came from.

Parallel lines cut by transversals is one of my favorite things to teach. There are so many fun activities to do that are engaging and hands/feet-on. I have put big transversals on the floor with tape for the last few years to practice the special angle pairs. I wanted something bigger and better. I have found that the stronger their vocabulary is with special angles, the easier it is for them to apply them to finding missing measurements. I talked about a couple of other activities we do here.

So without further ado! The real reason for the post! Dance Dance Transversal. I first saw the idea here and loved it. My google-ing led to these videos. I wanted to update it with current hit songs for my kiddos. My vision for this was bigger than my classroom so we took over the cafeteria stage! The big screen made it feel deluxe!

It took each class a couple of rounds of the beginner song to get warmed up.

But when the "elimination round' came up, it was on. I may or may not encourage lots of competition!

We had a lot of fun and they have asked every day since for more! Here are the videos we made if you want to try it out in your classroom! 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

My Teacher Tribe

I work with some pretty amazing teachers! We have a strong 8th grade team...divided into teams. Being in teams has been a fun time as a faculty. We chose 80s TV shows for our teams: Foley Vice, The A-Team, and Animaniacs. Our clever one made us all team pictures and they rock!

It made working in our rooms for two weeks way more fun! Here is a peek at a couple. I love the vinyl albums as group numbers and the storage beside the groups!

We set the tone on the first day of school with a Welcome Back assembly. It was complete with beach muscle men and cartwheeling music teachers! These are my people!

Our Language Arts department started these Mr. Stick drawings as one of the student choices for their vocabulary words.  They also have other fun options like vocabulary characters and hidden pictures. I also have a fellow blogger in that department. Go read his witty ramblings at More Than Testing!

I love how my tribe plays along with me even when I ask them to do a BreakoutEDU box. They had to break out to go to lunch from our PLC meeting. Record time! Thank goodness for our science, robotics, math and FACS teachers! They are clearly the brains of our operation! And my biggest cheerleaders!

The Social Studies department is led by a hometown fave. Words can't be put together to say how valuable she is to our school. When the flooding happened in Louisiana, she had her peer helpers put together a Lids 4 Louisiana campaign to raise money to send. It spread all over the county with many schools participating. What an inspiration she is as she leads our young people!

One of my fave days is Olympic Day. It is the culmination of Greek Week, one of the cross-curricular activities we do. As social studies and language arts talk Greek and science builds catapults, we talk about the Golden Ratio and having a Greek face (more on that to come). On Friday, we stay outside all day doing Olympic "events" like javelin throw, shotput, obstacle courses, armor run, temple building, and TUG of WAR! Those are my babies for the win!

Then there is our fearless leader who says yes to any crazy thing we ask!

My tribe wouldn't be complete without the perfect neighbor...who also twins with me on Twin Day!

Amazing. Tribe. I am lucky to work with people that inspire me to be better every day!