Archive for the 'Intro to Algebra' Category

Keep Change Start Stop 2015

I decided to hand out the Keep Change Start Stop worksheets from Math Equals Love as the last pages in my students’ ISNs this year.  I had them do it twice…the first one said ‘I Should’ at the top for them to self-reflect…the second was ‘Mrs. Skinner Should’.

This was a great idea because we won’t be offering Intro to Algebra again next year.  I’m not quite sure what my math prep will be next year, and I wanted to give students a chance to tell me if they loved/hated the notebooks and the warm ups and all of the things I tried this year that I may or may not try with my new prep next year.


  • Your Personality Score one for me!
  • Teaching
  • Notebooks x 3 Three points for Notebooks…YES!
  • Doing Notes x 4
  • Taking Notes Completely
  • Pushing Us
  • Book Work
  • Small Assignments Everything was labeled as class work this year.
  • Daily Warm-Ups
  • Being Awesome  Score two for me!
  • Quizzes
  • Semesterized Finals I might be the only math teacher who semesterizes my final, but I’m glad someone likes it.
  • Worksheets


  • Nothing x 2 Score four for me!
  • To a Science and Math Teacher This kiddo might be a little confused…I am already a science and math teacher???
  • Creativity
  • Going Outside x 2 I’m not sure if this means they love going outside or hate it.  I’m guessing hate…because we went out three times this year and they were very vocal.
  • Size of Worksheets
  • Desk Arrangements
  • Seating people with others who will fight I wish I was better at this.  Sometimes I look at my seating chart and it feels like no matter how far apart I put the fighters, they’ll just pick a new target.  I am guilty of putting a class into the HappyClass app and seeing nothing but frownie faces…
  • Working Independent
  • The seating chart every month I change it every quarter, or when a new student joins.
  • The seating to rows Tried pods this year so they could share ISN supplies…
  • The Notes -1 for notes.


  • Being the Best You mean I’m not already the best?  Ouch…my ego. -1 for me.
  • More Class Activities x 2  I agree!  I need to work on my class management a little bit so we can have more fun time without me worrying that all of the supplies will get destroyed and that I’ll have to send someone to choices for being disrespectful.
  • Changing your ways of notes. -2 for notes
  • Kicking people out if they don’t try.  You can’t just boot someone out of a core class.  Sadly several of my students stopped participating after they no longer had to worry about being kicked out of sports…I’m working on what to do about that.
  • Being More Strict x 2  I need to get a little more creative with my discipline…because every teacher seems to give detention.  So ‘those students’ that choose not to work at the beginning of the year usually get it piled on so thick that they can no longer visualize how long they have to serve.  By Halloween, they are daring me to give them detention because my half hour would just be another drop in the bucket.  I also have the option to send them to the choices room if they’re a distraction.  But any time I send a student out, they miss notes, they miss homework, and they miss the chance to positively interact with their peers.
  • Punishing Slackers x 2 I give so much ‘Noon Tutoring Detention’ for incomplete classwork…The students who actually turn in their work have NO idea…
  • Having 1 extra credit assignment per quarter I kind of like this idea…
  • Taking away Phones I was a little more lax with phones this year because I know our school goal is to bring tech into the classroom properly.  We played with Socrative and Nearpod and the students loved it.  Physics didn’t have a problem with phones day to day, but my intro students are total addicts…we’ll see what I do with the level of math student I get next year.
  • Working in Class Together
  • Working together for warm-ups Confession:  I make them spend 5 minutes working on the warm-up alone so I can take attendance.  After that we do work through them together…
  • More Worksheets


  • Nothing x 3
  • Letting us go to the lunch room Agreed…
  • Giving Us Slack
  • Book Work x 2
  • Being late to class  Confused by this one.  This student is in 1st hour and usually shows up about 20 minutes early to sit outside the door.  I’ve never been late, but this student always beats me here.  Alternately this class is full of students that show up late.  So either I need to get my butt in gear and show up earlier, or stop the students from coming late?
  • Giving us Finals Sorry…school policy.
  • Playing on Phones  Yes, the phones are ridiculous.
  • Giving out Homework x 2
  • Warm-Ups x 2  Sorry, the school is adopting these as policy next year…you will see them EVERYWHERE!  FWAHAHAHA!
  • Sitting in Pods

This was actually way more useful than my formal staff evaluation this year.  (Hoping this changes when we switch over to the Marshall evaluation method for next year.)  Even then, I will highly recommend this activity!

My intro class dynamic was a little unique this year.  I started with large classes (25-30).  Students have come and gone, but a quick check shows that only 60% of the students who were in my class at the beginning of the year made it to the end.  I’ve also seen more than 80 unique students across my three sections of intro…many of them only staying a week.  One thing that I KNOW that I have to work on is getting these new students included and assimilated so they don’t become behavioral issues.  I haven’t yet found the book on how to get a student to buy in when they show up in remedial algebra with only a month of school left…but I’m trying!

I also think I need to work on a better way to contact parents.  Next year if I have another freshman-level math, I hope to use Remind to send out the classwork assignment every day.  And oddly enough it seems like the parents I need to contact most don’t have updated numbers in PowerSchool.

I’m three years in, and I think I’ve learned how to initially balance a classroom.  I’m still working on rolling with the changes that occur with students constantly coming and going.  I still really fight non-participation.  I think that’s partially because perfectly capable Algebra students are placed in Intro because they were non-participatory in 8th grade.  If you’re in a class that’s not challenging enough…you get bored!  The notebooks were great, and I think I’ll keep them until the school goes more tech-based.  I will definitely try a limited-scale notebook for important Physics stuff next year.

This was a good year!  Next year will be even better!

IHWH Slope-Intercept and Point Slope Form

Necessity is the mother of invention today.  Last Thursday, my projector died.  State testing for my students is today and tomorrow.  (Some classes today…other classes tomorrow…)  It seemed like a good time for a sponge activity.

Enter my variation on the I have… Who has… game.IHWH Intro Equations

My game is a little bit different in that it does not make a loop with the entire class.  I like the idea of having them find their partners, and then doing eliminations each round.


Colorful Cardioids and Star Polygons

So I have this string art Cardioid on the wall of my classroom. Picture it being something like this lovely art featured at ModFrugal, but instead made out of cheap white cotton twine on a grey carpet background.

When I put up the string art, I seriously did not anticipate the questions that I would get every year.  Every class wants to learn how to make ‘the string thing’, ‘the rebel alliance symbol’, ‘the moon’, or…’the butt’.  I knew I didn’t have supplies to bring true string art to my intro classes, but I did have basic art supplies and rulers.  They LOVED it, so I thought I’d share.

Step 1:  Distribute Circles Worksheet.

Step 2:  Have students number the points going around each circle.  (Their starting point changes the final product, so I gave them a choice as to where to start, and whether to go clockwise or counterclockwise.)

Step 3:  Distribute Directions Worksheet and help students follow directions.

Step 4:  Distribute another blank Circles Worksheet…encourage Creativity.

Step 5:  Discuss Cardioids and Star Polygons based on the level of the students.

During my 2nd demo of the day, a student suggested that I record using Stop-Motion and Rainbow colors.  I would have used colored pencils instead of markers, but my IPEVO Point2View camera couldn’t capture the yellows and greens.  Regardless…I LOVE the finished video.  I think I’ll definitely use stop-motion more often.

Post-Thanksgiving Update

I feel kind of guilty because lots of stuff has happened in the past few weeks, and I’ve shared none of it.

I added my newest set of foldables to the master list.  My intro class is in the section on solving linear equations, and I’m going to try to be better about sharing my notes for the rest of the year.  I have to admit that I was pretty lazy about making foldables the past few weeks, mostly because my classroom printer died.  Part of my planning process is printing out rough drafts of my notes and cutting them to make sure that they fit properly in a notebook.  Without a printer, I’ve been sending drafts to the copy room and walking down to pick them up.  It was fine for the first week or so, and then the walking got old, and I got lazy.  The students had quite a few days of traditional notes from last year.  Luckily, the new printer is in the corner of my room just waiting to be installed.  I’m pretty excited!

I’ve been trying new things in Physics.  We did a lab examining the coefficients of friction on different toilet paper brands and various household materials.  I have a pretty limited lab set-up, so we used Pascars with mounted force sensors on a track and tried to pull across the material at a constant velocity.  In a perfect world, I would have presented a more fool-proof method with an inclined plane.  If I’m lucky enough to teach this class again next year (here’s hoping), I would like to have an inclined plane rig set up for demos.  We’re currently talking about work and energy.  The students are requesting an outside lab before Christmas.  It’s pretty cold around here…so we’ll just have to see about that.

I also bought a house!  Well, kind of.  We put an offer in on a house back in August, and three closing dates later, it really looks like December 16th is going to be the day!  It’s an older house from the 1950’s that needs a bit of love.  All of the outlets are two-pronged, so no grounds, and all of the flooring is tile!  When I say tile, I mean old classroom industrial style tile…it’s the weirdest thing.  There is also a bright pink bedroom, and a teal bedroom and all sorts of things that need to be painted.  It’s kind of freeing to get to design my own kitchen and bathroom.  Exciting times for sure!

Solving Equations using Addition and Subtraction


All Notes on a Single Page:

Powerpoint File (Easily Adjusted!)


Click to see the list of All Algebra Notes


Let’s have a fun Friday!

This is the Friday before my birthday.  It’s my personal policy to not assign homework on my birthday.  So what did we do?

Intro:  We played 1, 2, 3 Switch from Tom DeRosa.  I’ve played this game with my students every year, and I always get mixed results.  In the past, students have been really confused about how to handle the K, Q, J, and A cards, so I went ahead and printed number cards for each student.  (This also stops them from trying to play other card games…another problem I’ve encountered.)  I have some changes to the cards that I’d like to make…but when I do, I will share them.

This year, the game execution was flawless and everyone knew how to play.  My 1st hour class loved the game, and I could tell that some of them were going to take it home and play it this weekend.  I brought out my camera and took pictures of them happily playing cards.  This weekend I hope to print out some of the pictures and hang them up in my classroom.  4th hour, however, were not fans.  Some of them whined and asked me to magically conjure a worksheet instead.  My paraprofessional and I had a good laugh over their behavior.  After all…how dare we ask them to play a game?

I asked myself if maybe I’d done a better job ‘selling’ the game to 1st hour…but I really think this one comes down to student attitude…because 7th hour liked the game just fine!

Physics:  I bought inexpensive little stomp rockets from  Whenever I do an activity like this, it’s hard to say whether or not the students will buy-in until we try it.  When the rockets showed up at my place, I used my high-schooler sister as a test subject, and we shot the rockets at my mother’s house.  I had more fun than I thought I would, and I figured that this would be a safe and easy way to play with projectiles in a school setting.  It was about 34 degrees during lab time today and we walked to a park a few blocks away.  I had each student stomp the rocket 3 times, and with the help of their group, they measured the airtime and the horizontal distance traveled.  On Monday, we are going to estimate other properties of the rocket’s flight using algebra.  If this part of the lesson is successful, I will share the lesson here.

I took so many pictures of my two physics classes.  I was trying to capture the actual rocket launch, but I often missed and got a picture of teenagers staring straight up into the sky.  (Which are funny enough to send to the yearbook!)

I still have my usual round of Friday grading to do, but it was a good day!

Translating Words and Mathematical Symbols

 I feel pretty good about this one, because the students LOVED using a corresponding color for each operation.  This took my classes two days to do, but I’m hoping that having the symbols and their definition helps with the vocab troubles that I see in this class each year.

Section 1.5


Section 1.5 Open2


Section 1.5 Open1


Both Printables on One Page

Powerpoint File (Easily Adjusted)



Click to see the list of All Algebra Notes

Equations and Inequalities

Section 1.4



I did realize that it makes more sense to have Less than or Equal to next to Equals…so that is changed in the files below 🙂

Section 1.4 Open

Two Printables per Page

One Printable per Page

Powerpoint File (Easily Adjusted!)


Click to see the list of All Algebra Notes

Order of Operations

Section 1.3 Open


Section 1.3



Two Printables per Page

One Printable per Page

Powerpoint File (Easily Adjusted!)


Click to see the list of All Algebra Notes


Exponents and Powers

Section 1.2

Section 1.2 Open4

Section 1.2 Open3

Section 1.2 Open2

Section 1.2 Open1


Single Page Printable

Powerpoint File (Easily Adjusted!)


Click to see the list of All Algebra Notes