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!


So I am still grading these factoring quizzes (because I am procrastinating and writing TONS of feedback) and they are not as amazing as I was hoping for. I am not sure what went wrong so now I have to reevaluate everything and re-think my lessons for tomorrow because I don’t feel like I can move on. I hate it when I think a majority of the class has it down and then it somehow slips away and the opposite happens.

What do you do when you teach a concept and then a majority of students don’t do so well? I think I am going to have students do corrections and students who finish early (or have nothing to correct) can work on a quadratic modeling problem while I run around the room helping everyone.

Sorry for the short blog post but now I must plan for tomorrow and I am just low on time. Hopefully I will have something better for you tomorrow (and will probably bug some of you on twitter tomorrow to see if you have better ideas on what to do when this happens).


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!)

July Blogging Challenge + Factoring Connect Four

Haven’t blogged in such a long time…..ugh. @druinok said she was going to start a blogging challenge and try and blog everyday in July and she has encouraged me to jump on the bandwagon so I cannot disappoint! (Since she is sucking me into the twitter world….so tweet me @jomalleyiv or not.

Anyways, I figured I would blog about what I did today during summer school. I started factoring today and when we did some basic trinomials (where a = 1), I knew the kiddos would need some straight up practice. I gave them today a handwritten sheet (so high-tech cause I am awesome like that) where I created a 6 x 7 grid so I had the same number of spots as the connect four game board. I just randomly filled in some basic trinomials and threw in some that were prime just for fun. (I don’t have a copy with me at the moment so I will try and remember to upload one tomorrow for you to see)

I gave the directions that the tallest person goes first. Just like when you play the real connect four, you can only attempt problems on the bottom row first. Once someone gets a problem on the bottom row, you can then “stack” on top and try those problems. When it is your turn, pick anyone you want and factor it. If you get it right, then you get to claim that spot (I just had kids use highlighters and mark the board since all my cool supplies are at a different school for the summer). If you get it wrong, your partner can claim it if they get it right. Both players must agree but I was around to moderate if necessary. The first person to get four in a row (horizontally, diagonally, vertically) wins.

I assumed that they would get bored with it quickly like they do when practicing on worksheets (I mean who wouldn’t having 2 hours and 20 minutes of summer school math everyday) but they loved it! They kept asking to play again! One group turned their worksheet upside down and started a new game so that way they had new problems so many others followed suit and played twice. I think I will create more versions in the future and maybe do it again in the near future to practice other factoring methods.

Woohoo…day 1 of blogging done. Lets see what the next 30 days brings! If you happen to read this and have a blog, post in the comments what it is so I can check it out!

What I learned from subbing for the last week of Summer School

This week I took over a classroom for one of my cooperating teachers back when I was student teaching! I spent the whole week basically getting them ready for the final today. I taught for 2 classes for about 2 and 1/2 hours each. Teaching for 5 hours straight can be exhausting and you can get bored so easily (well not me since I am always running around the room like a crazy person).

When times were getting bored I would try to mix things up. Have them stand up and do some math aerobics. Pull out mini whiteboards and have them practice. Make the students go to the board to solve a problem. Use large butcher paper and markers and students would work on problems and post them around the room. Go outside and use chalk to make graphs and then walk around and discuss what we liked and what may need some improvement. Play a game to make things more entertaining.

After doing all of this I am wondering at how often do I make my students get up and switch to something different during the regular school year. I know that I try and always plan to shake things up but I don’t think it happens as often as I like. My advice to myself, and anyone reading this, is try something different and get the students up and moving whenever you can. Your students will thank you.