Sunday, December 2, 2018

Function Auction

I love teaching functions! Students have always understood them because of all the work done with rate of change, point-slope equations and relationships prior. I begin functions with some mathematical dating advice. You can imagine 8th graders' reactions when they see dating advice on the agenda! I have students cut out a paper heart for their interactive notebooks to add to the excitement. Then I write this on the board and ask students what they notice.

Students erupt with girls saying oohhhhs and mmhhhmms as they accuse Drake of being a "cheater" or "low down" or a "dirty boy!" The boys argue he is just a player! I ask why they are upset and lead them to say that Drake is cheating with two different girls. I tell them this is NOT a functional relationship. Through the years, I just change the boy and girl to whoever has the most drama that year! The last couple of years I have used (Archie, Veronica) and (Archie, Betty) from Riverdale and they love that too. They seem to never forget how to tell if a relation is a function or not. And the justifications they use to defend their answers, "-2 is not a function because he is cheating with 9 and 0 and that is more than one output," are priceless! 

Once they have practiced with identifying functions from ordered pairs, tables, graphs, and mapping diagrams we are ready for the SUPER awesome FUNCTION AUCTION from Math=Love. Being retweeted by her never gets old! It makes me feel like a math teacher super star! 


The prep for this activity is simple with only a couple of things that need to be printed and laminated. I make one copy of the Function Auction Lot Catalog, a bidding paddle and some monopoly money for each group. I also used my Bitmoji to create cards so that I have something to give them at the end of each item's bidding. It made it a little more exciting, especially when it was the garbage can they received!

Students are given $1,000 and five minutes to look over the catalog and decide which ones they want to bid on and work on a strategy as to how they are going to bid. Some groups bid right away, some hold out until the last item and bid all their money. The group with the most functions at the end of the auction wins. If there is a tie, we look at the group with the most money left. 

I love watching them strategize and listening to their conversations about which ones they will bid on and how. The Function Auction brings a lot of excitement to our classroom as you can see in the video below. 

There is nothing better than a room full of happy kiddos doing math and leaving class talking about how much fun they had in math today!


Monday, November 12, 2018

Equations with SpaceX ZUMA Conspiracy

My students love a good conspiracy theory and I love all things space, which I have pushed on them! So when I saw this event in the news, I knew I had to make it into a math lesson! Luckily, we were starting equations with variables on both sides so it was PERFECT! 

After watching the launch video where it cuts out after separation...adding even more to the conspiracy, I explained the manipulatives we were using with a model on the board. Students knew what CubeSats were because we speak of space often so that was a natural fit. And yes, I take every opportunity I can to wear my Space Camp flight suit! 

I used the missing payload to correlate to finding the unknown value of variables. We have also been using these puzzles every Wednesday as our Do Now so the idea of balancing was familiar to them. The first one we struggled through together. Setting it up and thinking about how we could balance it were the only instructions I gave at first. 

Once we productively struggled, I had a group share their thinking using the big model on the board. 

At this point, I let students work in pairs at their own pace through four other models using algebra tiles and unifix cubes. 

I loved listening to their thinking when they were trying to balance a scale that had CubeSats (unifix cubes, variables) on both sides.


Students were able to explain that the chips represented constants and the block represented the variable which was one of the goals of the lesson. Students learned that adding or removing the same objects from each side is analogous to writing an equation to represent the scale and subtracting the same amount from each side of the equation to find the solution. Once they had the hang of modeling the equations with the manipulatives, I had them write equations for each.

The missing payload was found in the ocean a couple of days later! You have got to love a good secret government conspiracy to teach equations! Go ask Google about the missing payload ZUMA from the Falcon 9 launch!


Sunday, August 26, 2018

Sea Turtle Patrol and Slope

Two of my favorite things are the beach and math. This summer, I was able to enjoy them together with my first season of Turtle Patrol! Share the Beach is an organization of amazing volunteers that patrol the beaches from May until the end of August EVERY morning. Morning patrol, as it is called, looks for tracks or signs of mama sea turtles that have nested overnight. 

These are mama turtle tracks coming in and going back out to sea. Below, you will see tracks of one mama who could not make up her mind and went all over the beach searching for the perfect spot. 

Sea turtles are on the endangered species list partly because of habitat loss. Share the Beach volunteers assess where the turtle left her eggs and will follow guidelines set forth in making the decision to relocate nests to higher ground, if they are in danger of being inundated by storms. Enter Matt Ware, a doctoral candidate from Florida State University, who has spent three turtle seasons on Fort Morgan collecting data for his research. There are concerns with relocating nests to incubating environments different from where the nests were originally placed. His research deals with comparing the two nests' thermal profile, sand characteristics, and exposure to threats. There is SO much data! Volunteers take measurements of all the things when a nest is found. Data for the date, location by GPS, distance to high tide line, and nearest obstruction are recorded when a nest is found. If the decision is made to relocate, based on the Alabama Sea Turtle Conservation Manual's guidelines, more data is taken including new nest GPS location, distance moved, number of eggs, and the reason for relocation.

The research uses beach SLOPE between the nests to analyze all the things! Love this! All the fancy math can be seen with this article and PowerPoint from Hilary Stockdon. Matt Ware's research can be read here


Once the nests reach day 55, volunteers begin nest sitting at night. Stethoscopes are used to listen for movement once an indention starts forming at the center of the nest. Then the boil happens and the babies make their way to the water.

72 hours later, the nest is excavated to collect data on how many eggs were in the nest and their viability. 


And sometimes....there are still babies in the nest waiting to get out!

My morning patrol also had friends that I would rather not have met! And weather that you needed rain gear and your scared sister for! 


Share the Beach shared their turtle patrol with me and I am so thankful for a summer filled with new experiences and MATH LESSONS

Fine print: All photos obtained with permission from the US Fish and Wildlife Service under conditions not harmful to this or other turtles.


Sunday, August 19, 2018

Breakout Boxes for Team Building has a game for anyone and everyone! I love that their games span all content and ages. Two of my tried and true faves for team building are TEAMWORK and Elf.

I have used TEAMWORK the first week of school for the last couple of years. I love how it breaks the ice and makes kids comfortable to persevere right from the start. I have only ran the breakout as a whole class and I love how it is so telling of the class dynamics. Who the leaders are, who will speak up when they have an idea, who will organize the ideas and just have to sit back and observe.

Students learn quickly how to communicate and work together! It makes my teacher heart happy to see every time I do one!

The day before we get out for the holidays is always a great time for the ELF breakout. Students love the movie and are familiar with the locks so there is always high interest. Team building is an everyday thing in my classroom but big activities like these are perfect for end of quarter breaks.


I used's list of supplies and created my own box. Home Depot was super sweet to give me a deal on locks. I love all the different types of locks and had no idea some even existed like a directional lock! I have just kept adding to this collection whenever I see a cool lock.

I created my own breakout for Real Numbers and it was a LOT of work! It was so worth it though to watch my students solve the clues and get excited!


This year, I started a new position as Curriculum Leader and wanted to try a breakout during our back to school in-service with teachers to demonstrate how awesome it is.

They loved it just as much as the students did! They were also just as competitive wanting to know how the other groups did and who broke out the fastest!

AND THEN! The PE Teachers wanted to do one the first week of school and asked for help setting it up. Yesssss! I helped them with the first couple of classes and then they took over and rocked it!

The air conditioning was out in the gym so they were stuck in the cafeteria. A whole cafeteria of Boys' PE is definitely the biggest group I have ever played. But they spread out and got to work on their clues and then helped other groups when they finished. It was amazing!


This post is part of the MTBoS Blaugust Festival of Mathematics Blogging! Click the photo to be taken to some amazing math bloggers! You can still participate so go blog about your awesome classroom!

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