Marker Magic – Practice @ The Board

Trying to get back into blogging now that grad school is completely over and I don’t feel like every minute of my life has to be scheduled!

Going off of the MTBOS 2017 Blogging Initiative and talking about a “My Favorite”… the first thing that came to mind is my favorite way to get students up and practicing. Their are days where I just need students to practice some skill (solving inequalities before break comes to mind) and I need to know how they are doing. Their are lots of ways to get this done but one way my students enjoy (and by enjoy I mean they don’t complain and will do it for a reasonably amount of time before they get bored) is standing at the whiteboard. Not just one or two of them, but all of them at the board at once. Thankfully, my rooms have three walls of whiteboards so I can fit a bunch of kids nicely. (In my larger classes I give some of them mini whiteboards and then trade off who is sitting and who is standing).

I usually prepare a bunch of problems ahead of time with their answers on a piece of paper (though I have just made them up off the top of my head before) and I read the first problem out. They all write it down and then begin working. I stand in the middle of the room and get to watch it unfold and see who is struggling immediately and who is flying through the problem. I encourage students standing next to each other to assist as if they were sitting and working together in their groups.  It is a great way for me to see a snapshot of everyone’s abilities. Then, we repeat with another problem. A cool thing I learned throughout the years doing this is that when I say something out loud, students actually have to know how to write it correctly and helps with understanding (less than, log base 2, etc.)

To make my life easier, I always have markers and little erasers sitting around the room before class so we can grab them ahead of time. I also only have the standard color markers (blue, red, black, green) for students to use and use a purple or orange marker for myself in case I need to write something down to show a student something.

It is surprising to me that once a student gets out of their seat and everyone is at the board, they are more willing to try and work on something instead of just another problem on a worksheet. This works especially for my lower-level students. Try it and see how it is different than just using mini-whiteboards!


Krazy Kahoot

I now put it in my calendar to blog with an alarm….I am really going to try and stick with this once a week…

Since it is Summer I figured I should start the blogging thing again and I found this post sitting in my drafts. I also had another teacher ask me when I was going to post something again because they thought I was helpful….CRAZY! Now I have to blog again if it makes a difference only for one person (even if that person is me). Anyways….

Kahoot has been this crazy phenomenon at my school. The world language teachers started this trend and then it seemed like my whole school jumped on the bandwagon. In case you never heard of or used Kahoot, it is an application that the students all sign into on their phones or computers or ipads or whatever. As the teacher, I create multiple choice questions with answers and they have to choose the answer. The questions are projected on the board and they just choose their answers on their phone. The students who answer correct earn points. Here is the craziest thing about it and causes mayhem when playing: the faster you are, the more points you earn. Now, I am usually not about speed in mathematics but their are a few things I can see this being good for but first…

A typical classroom day using this looks like following:

1. Me: We are going to do a Kahoot today. Students: YAYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!

2. Students pull out phones and put in their names. (I make them put their initials and then whatever bizarre name they want. Nothing inappropriate or we don’t play….unfortunately that has happened before.)

3. Question # 1 appears on the screen and the kids all punch in the answer.

4. They see the leaderboard (top 5 people appears after every answer) and get excited and even more competitive.

5. This continues until the end and they ask if we can play it again….which makes no sense since they all know the answers now.


I did this with exponential growth and decay functions with some basic equations and identifying things like percent increase, start value, etc. You can use the quiz if you follow this link: (Note: I have random questions like my favorite pop thrown in so you might want to update that)

If you have never used kahoot you should go to and try it out. Then you can snag mine and use it or make your own. You can also search for lots of other ones teachers have made and modify to your hearts content. It is pretty fun when you are looking for a quick activity and you want to just test if students can recall. Don’t expect to ask hard-hitting questions here or kids will just quickly answer to see if they can be first and not try the problem (learned that the hard way).


Lucky Lottery

One of my favorite go-to activities is to do a lottery in class because it has my favorite elements…

  1. Students have fun and enjoy doing it
  2. Students work at their own pace and it is okay if Susie finishes first…goal is learning
  3. Students get to check their answers and receive feedback
  4. I get to see where their level of understanding is at

Basic Premise: Students complete a worksheet. After they complete x amount of problems, they get it checked by me. If they get it correct, they get an entry into the lottery.

Setup: Before class starts, I put up numbers 1-100 on the board with enough spacing so students can write their names. Before class, I also use some worksheet that has enough problems for students to practice what we are learning. 10 usually seems to be sufficient. I also decide if I want them to go solo or work with a partner.

During The Activity: Students will complete a problem(s) in any order they like. Once they get a set of problems completed, they must come up and show me (I am usually sitting near the board with the numbers but off to the side an out of the way). If they are incorrect, I may simply say “Try again” or provide some guidance…depends on the student of course and whether or not they have a partner, etc. If they get it write, I either stamp it, sign it with my initials, etc. to verify they got it correct. The student gets to go to the board and pick any number they want and put their name next to that number. Students continue doing this for as long as you deem productive. (Make sure you let them know when their are a few minutes left or they will be mad they didn’t get a chance to get one more name down). Then, after time is over, I use a random number generator (ti-nspire on the board so they know I am not cheating) and pick something from 1-100 (if you need more than 100 i tell students to put up 101, then 102, etc. for as many more as we need…but they don’t get to pick anymore just whatever comes next). I usually have some lame prize (eraser) to something amazing (extra credit, high-five from me). Make it whatever you want!

Below is a worksheet I used recently with this when practice exponent notation and some basic function operations with my lower-level Algebra II students. They had a blast and worked really hard. Such an easy thing that doesn’t require much set-up! Also, below is a picture of part of one of my boards with the students names on it. Let me know if you try it and how it goes!



Paper Punchers

I know when you get back from break that it is hard for students to get back in the motion of things (and for me too!). I made this activity for students our first week back and brought in a few helpers to make it successful. Everybody got both punch-out worksheets and I let them choose where to start and which ones to tackle. This was more solo-oriented but students are always sitting in groups of 3-4 so they are free to talk with each other on problems. Here is what they looked like:


Students were busy working away and then running up to either myself or a helper and got the box hole-punched if they got the problem correct. If they did not get it correct, either guidance was given or I asked a question that might lead them to think about how to solve the problem and they would go back and try again. Students thought it was fun, they got to practice, students got to move around which, imo, helps learning, and I got to see who knew what was going on and who didn’t. Win, win, win, and win.

I know they did better on their quadratics test the following class because some of them realized things they “thought they knew” and were able to have a lot of time practicing as well as asking for some 1-on-1 assistance if needed.

Practicing Puzzle Proofs

Last week I worked on writing proofs with my regular geometry students. Some of them have a difficult time coming up with reasons and statements as well as knowing how to proceed to the next step. I wanted something that would help them review for their upcoming quiz as well as help to get them thinking about the logical flow of a two-column proof.

We did the activity below where they had to cut up the pieces and paste/tape them into the appropriate spots. Some of the pieces were not used to add a little bit of a challenge. They were really engaged and loved it.

This is short because I just needed to blog to hopefully get me back into it!

Solving Quadratic Equation Sum Race Activity

Dropping the ball yesterday by getting caught up in things means that this has to be a really good post then right?

I did this the other day with my summer school kids and they loved it. I like this type of activity and have made several for all sorts of subjects/topics as well as for all different types of learners. The possibilities are endless.

The document below is what I used (I don’t know if I got this from someone or made it to be honest) and every group decides who is partner A, B, C, and D (so you need a group of four). Then, each member does their own problems but they find the sum of all their answers and then show it to me. I either tell them that they are correct or incorrect. If they are wrong, these must now go back and help/work with each other to figure out what wrong. This really gets them collaborating and working together to find errors. I got to hear some great discussions about how to fix problems as well as the process to solve the equations. These kids are so good at these discussions by now that this just gave them another opportunity to show how awesome they are.

On this particular one, I just gave them all problems that were of equal difficulty. I have in the past, differentiated by having partner A with easier problems and decided who that was going to be. I just felt like almost everyone in the room was on the same playing field at this point so I did not need to do a whole lot of differentiating.

Let me know if you have any questions!

July Blogging Challenge # 2 + Factoring The Wrong Way

Alright…another blog post! At some point I have other things I do want to blog about but since I am teaching summer school right now, the activities that I am doing in class make most sense right this moment in time (and my brain is a little tired to be creating something insightful).

We have been practicing factoring and today I gave the students mini whiteboards. I threw a trinomial at them to factor and told them to do it wrong. I love the puzzled looks when I first tell them this. Eventually I convince them that it will be fun so try it! They do and then they trade with a partner to see if they can find the mistake. We talked about how we all make mistakes and now that we know how to factor, trying to make a mistake means you have to think about how to do it correctly first. This activated all of those higher order thinking skills that they have and they had lots of fun. Then, I just made up problems on other stuff we have studied for the last 4 weeks and had them do those wrong as well. Again, trade with a partner and try to figure out their errors. I even grabbed a few white boards that I really liked and brought them to the front of the room to talk about.

I sometimes forget to do things like this but I think that after students have studied a topic, this can bring their understanding to a stronger level. I have had a lot of success with things like this and looking for errors. (It also helps that I probably make a mistake on something weekly in class and students point it out and I praise them for it). Try it out for yourself and see what you think! You can easily do this on paper or something too but I think the mini whiteboards encourage that risk-taking since you can erase and change something easily and since it is not on paper students think it is different and view it differently than a worksheet.

2 posts before this I talked about how I had students grade my quiz and that falls under this same concept. You should check that out if you like these types of things!

Also, comment below or let me know on twitter if you are doing this challenge so I can read your blog! I can’t promise I will comment every single time (nor would I expect you to) but I bet I would learn a lot from you (and hopefully you learn something from me!)