Line Design- Fun End of Year Math Project

I love art even though I’m not very good at it! But I found something that is fun, creative AND math related for my students! It’s a line design project!  Do a quick Google search of String Art Line Design to see a bunch of really creative examples!  This is one of the great ways I end the school year. We have great conversations, but students pretty much work independently as I walk around helping and talking with students.

Check these out:

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What is line design?! It’s math art! It’s a cool way to use math to create art. My students and I are having great conversations about spacing intervals evenly, changing the slope of a line, what happens when you change the angle measurement, and having an authentic learning activity where students get to use math tools (rulers, protractors, compasses, etc…) to create their designs! It makes me feel a little sneaky sneaky. So much math- the students don’t even realize it because they are so into learning about line design. I created the templates to help them learn and project rubric for them to use when they create their final project.  Their final project can be string art, a digital design, poster, or anything that they wish as long as they get it approved by me first! One student is asked to create a dream catcher and use the line designs to create it.

I have this project divided into three states:

Stage 1: Learning about Line Design

Stage 2: Rough Draft of Artwork

Stage 3: Final Artwork (Media of their choice!  Digital, string art, poster, etc…)

Pretty cool huh?!  Make today a great day!



Connect the Dots – Great Game for Problem Solving and Strategy

My school is one of the few who are in class on Memorial day. Out of my 130 students, only about 40 came to school. It was nice to be able to combine classes with my teammates and have extra planning/packing. However, what do you do on a day like this?!

I choose to do a game: connect the dots.

Connect the Dots

I think was an excellent problem solving and strategy learning opportunity for them.

connect the dots 2


I meant to have a Connect the Dots Tournament and create a bracket! However, the game board was way to big! Oops! The kids had fun, but playing one round took the whole 50 minute class period even for those that stayed on task the whole time!

Happy Memorial Day! A huge thank you to all the past, present, and future military men and women who serve our country, specially those that have lost their life while serving.  Also, thank you to the family members of these servicemen.



Checking for Math Vocabulary Misunderstandings

As my classes finished their 20 pointed star projects, I had students create a crossword puzzle for math vocabulary that they learned this year. This was tough for them because their textbooks were already colllected, but this is a good thing for me because I got to see what vocabulary stood out to them and they could remember on their own.  The cross word puzzle was created on regular graph paper and the clues were written on notebook paper. Students were required to make a blank one and an answer key.

This student made me laugh but then cry because I’m not sure if it was a misspelling for if this is what she really thought about slope….


“RICE over run” as her clue for slope is definitely not a correct mathematical definition.  It made me smile though by picturing a bowl of rice on top of a graph.

This shows the importance of students writing and communicating their knowledge through writing so we can check for these misunderstandings!


Stellated Icosahedron {20 Pointed Star} Variations

So my students are wrapping up another successful year of the 20 pointed star project. I thought I’d share a picture of the ‘variations’ that I allow some students to make if time materials allow.


Both look pretty cool, but the one on the left requires smaller straws for the middle part of the project. Other than that, it is the same project. It is pretty cool to hear their conversations about how to create it.

Favorite project ever.


Paper Slide Project

I’m on the road. This is my view:

Don’t worry, I am not driving! We left about 4:30pm so we will either drive through the night or stop some where when we get tired. My grandmother passed away and I am headed to PA for the service on Saturday. Long drive for such a quick trip!

While I am away tomorrow, students are going to work on their paper slide video project. Have you heard of them? It is a neat idea where students create slides on paper and then record a one take video to share with the class. 


For this project, I am having students pick one topic that really stood out to them this year and review the topic through the paper slide project. They have a strict rubric to follow with specific requirements for each slide.  This paper slide video will include background information, real life application, examples, and word problems.

To help them with their planning, they will first complete a storyboard:


I am so excited about the outcome! I’m most excited to see the topics they choose. It’ll be interesting to what their take is on what they learned this year!

Plus, what a great chance to have showcase and brag on themselves about what they learned! Students need more opportunities to brag on themselves for sure!

What a busy week!


Three in a row!

Three times in a row!  I’ve posted three days in a row! Okay, so I feel like I’m back on track with my posting…three times is a pattern right?!

Todays post is short and sweet: I went shopping this afternoon. Not for clothes, shoes, or accessories (who really has $$ for that anyway?). I bought….

For this project:
This is my favorite part of the year. I posted a little mini series on how to complete the icosahedron straw project, it is MY FAVORITE! Students ask about this all year!! This year, I’m going to make sure I take pictures of the variations projects students make, they look very cool!

Today has been the best day for multiple reasons:

First, it’s Cinco De Mayo. Which is fun!

Second, I’m ready for my projects! SUPER FUN!

Third, today should be called national Jack Bauer day. If you don’t know who Jack Bauer is, shame on you! Just kidding. I’m a 24 fan…it’s a TV show that’s main character is Jack Bauer. I just happened to name my dogs Jack and Bauer after this character. A brand new season starts in less than a half hour! The show ended a few years back but starts back up today for a 12 episode season.

Fourth, I got to talk to good friend and colleague today that I haven’t seen in a while.  I miss her and it was so good to hear from her!

That is all for today, wish my students luck on PASS testing this week. I know that they will ROCK THAT PASS!


Preparing to “Rock that PASS”

Our principal’s motto is “Rock that PASS”.  Yeah, it’s a little corny, but that’s why I like it!  PASS is our state’s end of year assessment.   Every year I struggle with how to review the week or two before PASS testing, which is NEXT WEEK! Ahh!

This year, I choose to do something a little different. I choose stars for my stars:



I created a large poster for each class and listed each standard; each time students mastered a standard I gave them a star! How did I know when they mastered each standard? I used a program called mobymax. The PTO (love them!) bought this for our school and I love it! I love all the data tracking! 🙂 The questions are rigorous and standards based, which is great! Unfortunately, I couldn’t be in the computer lab every day-I can’t hog the computer lab every day! So I also had to create small standards based assignments to go along with this program, usually just a handful of questions, anywhere from 5 to 10 on each assignment.

The computer program worked better than the paper based versions because it did a lot of my grading, but both were a great review. I spent sometime going over each of these assignments and helped each student as they worked on these assignments, so I feel confident about PASS testing next week!  The mobymax program created a placement test to find students weaknesses, based on that quick assessment I got to mark students as mastering standards where necessary. Each assignment from there on out were individually based and students could work at their own pace!

The pictures shown of the posters were taken early on(which really depressed me at first – I’m not going to lie!), but now every student has just about all of their stars! Wahoo! Makes me happy and feel A LITTLE (only a little) less stressed about testing. Why is testing always so stressful? I know that I did my best and that the know the material, so I should not be stressed. I can not change anything! It will be what it will be.

Tips: plan on buying TONs of stars a head of time and prepare to spend a lot of time putting them up! 🙂 Also, make sure grading is easy to do so you are not over whelmed in the short-term! The key is quick turn around to make this endeavor successful.

My good company today:
UntitledI love my Saturday morning snuggles! 🙂



Zombie Attack!

Help, the zombies are coming!  Okay, so there aren’t really zombies coming, but I sure feel like a zombie right about now! There is so much to do and I am wiped out! Which is my reason for the lack of blog posts in the last week.  I’m doing everything I can to stay a float right now. Do y’all ever feel drained?

Well, last night I got in a better mood by hanging out at one of my favorite places (Panera Bread! Love that place!) and gave myself a chance to just create what ever my little heart-felt like at the moment. I was inspired by Sarah Hagan and her zombie game. She told me a little about it on my post about a different powerpoint game.

Both of these games use special animations called triggers. These triggers (along with hyperlinks) allow you to create some pretty awesome games. It allows the animations to take place on a specific objects allowing you to choose the order of the animations while presenting rather than general animations that happen in specific order no matter what! As a bonus, if you click an object to perform an animation then move forward a slide then go back to the slide with the animation, the slide will keep the animation where you left off!  This allows you to keep score on one slide, move to a question slide, move to an answer slide, then back to the score slide to add points (or take away brains in this game).

Here are some pictures:

Zombie Attack

Zombie Attack

Each zombie (one for each group) has a stash brains. This is the score board:
Zombie Attack
The zombie’s stash is the two rows directly below the zombie.  Notice the large brain and grave/hand images. These are the icons that will take you to the question pages or back to the score board.

We all know zombies aren’t friendly, so that is where the questions come into play. Questions are listed here:

Zombie Attack

My students had to do the even problems on a particular page from the textbook, so that is why it has #2 for question 1:
Zombie Attack

If a zombie(group of students) answer the question correctly, then they get to attack another zombie who then loses a brain from their stash (the brain disappears when you click on it). If the attacked group also had the correct answer on their dry erase board then they can choose to shield or block the attack in order to not lose the brain, but if then they also forfeit their chance to attack someone else. Groups that got the problem wrong do not get to attack or shield if someone chooses to attack them!

I also have the answers in the Powerpoint so they can check their work easily:
Zombie Attack

The students were VERY competitive, but they were also very sweet. When a group got down to their last brain, other groups didn’t want to attack the group with only one brain left. So sweet!

As a side note, if you plan on creating a powerpoint game using triggers, this feature isn’t available in keynote or powerpoint for mac…trust me, I’ve tried EVERYTHING to get it to work on a mac, but it won’t work on the mac, only pc.

Graphics used are from: TeachesThirdinGeorgia and Moster Wrangler Mike.


Snowball Effect {using task cards}

Don’t you love it when a good idea snowballs? I feel like I had a ‘ah ha’ moment this weekend about my task card sets and then had another great idea about the task card sets when talking to the science teacher on my team.

I’ve been using task cards or card sorts a lot lately in my classes. Right now they are working, so I’m using what works! Well, somethings don’t work with it you have to keep the cards together right? I tried rubber bands and paper clips. Neither work for me. Either they get lost, bent, slung across the room, or popped; none of which is good! SOOO….this is what I came up with this weekend:




I put the cards in a photo album. I picked up several for a $1 at the dollar tree. AWESOME! 🙂  I can’t completely say the idea was mine, I saw a teacher do something similar with 1st day of school information on each card and let the students work in groups to find answers for a scavenger hunt.  This kept the teacher from losing her voice on the 1st day of school. She included her rules, syllabus information, procedures, school rules, etc… It was a while ago that I saw the idea, but it really must have stuck with me because as soon as I saw the photo books I was inspired!

Plus, I can turn it over and use another activity on the other side since it only takes up about half of the album:


I put one at each group and let the students share. For this activity, I had the students work on their own since we have been doing a lot of group stuff lately.  I didn’t do this for this activity, but in the future I may hide the answer key and only tell them about the hidden answer key behind another card once they finish.  I’ll do this for assignments that are practice.

Another idea (for the future!) is to create a couple of riddle or puzzle books or students who finish early.



Sunken Treasure & Other No Prep Games For Any Grade/Subject

Playing games in class are FUN and ENGAGING. It can be tough to make fun/engaging activities all the time because of the amount of prep work and planning it can take, not to mention the time it takes to brainstorm activities!  One area I struggle to make fun and engaging are going over practice tests during class. Mainly because the easiest way to make sure every student sees/hears every type of problem is for me to stand at the front of the room and work out each problem and for them to check their work. It’s nice to have students work them out and explain their answers to the class, but my OCD self has trouble letting go sometimes!

So, today I really made an effort to get best of both worlds because my students have a test tomorrow and I want them to be 100% prepared for it! To help prepare, we played a game:

and used these…

It’s called Sunken Treasure and I found it on The Computer Lab Teacher’s site. There are several other pretty awesome games on that site as well.  My students love using the large dry erase boards. It gives them plenty of room for each person to work their part out and it’s just different!   The game is pretty simple, but instructions are included:


My classes are already divided into groups, so that saved some time. There are several different versions of the board, that way you can play multiple times and the students won’t remember where the treasure is at:

I had my students use the large dry erase boards to put questions/answers. I let every group answer each time. Every group that got a question correct, got to reveal a number to try to find the treasure:


See the treasure in the middle of the ocean:

They had fun + I had fun = success.  Of course there were several students who did not do the homework, therefore had a tough time participating. So I gave them a few minutes to work some problems before we got started with the game and also reminded them to use their time wisely by continuing working on the problems as other groups are guessing where the treasure is located.

I’ve used other games similar to this one (racing, horses, boats, etc…) but haven’t used one of these games in a while. I was reminded of how awesome it is to have a game that does not require any planning ahead of time! 🙂 It was a huge time saver for sure.Signature