Day 137: Dumbbells

Algebra had a good bit of discussion over this series of estimates from Estimation 180.


After, students practiced factoring GCF from polynomials. They handled factoring by grouping really well also! We are a day ahead now, time for some factoring/distributing BINGO tomorrow to get them ready for factoring trinomials.


Day 95: A bit of everything

Over the last few weeks I have been using openers as more of a tool for review than anything. This time of the year is tough and I get caught up in all the madness of deadlines and content expectations.

I pulled myself together and gave students this opener today:

Day95.1Here is a list of the estimates


All of these make sense to me. What I get crazy for is watching the answer. If you haven’t clicked on the link above here is another opportunity.

The spoon crushed all hopes and dreams across the board in my 5 classes. Watching student’s reactions to the video was the highlight of my week.

What is interesting to me was how much student engagement increased since I started getting back in the swing of openers from visual patterns and estimate180. I believe students come into class expecting an 50 minute chunk of bookwork/lecture, which isn’t fun for anyone. But lowering the entry point of math class by giving students a low-risk opportunity has had a huge impact on my classroom even this far into the year.

Day 33: Compound Candy Corn

Today in Geometry things were insane. We spent most of the day working through a couple proofs, things moved very slow. After class I didn’t feel too great about how things went. The proofs were sloppy (on my end) and it felt like students were taking a 360-nose-dive.

I know exactly why the day took a turn for the worse. I didn’t even buy what I was teaching. The way I worked through one proof followed the textbook’s logic. I would NEVER have worked through it that way. But, with the influence of the textbook (which isn’t a bad way, just different) I convinced myself to teach against my gut. I feel better about things now that I recognize this issue.

Anyways, Algebra was awesome today! Courtesy of Estimation180

I started by throwing this up on the board:

day33.2Students wrote down their two guesses and we recorded ’em.


I asked students to word it as a range of numbers BETWEEN two values; which I would change next year. You can always add more structure later on. I showed them the answer then we moved on to this one:


After their guesses were recorded, we wrote a. and b. as inequalities and recorded guesses.


This was exactly how students worded things. Pretty cool to see the concept emerging without any promoting on my end.

At this point I used Jared’s as an example and introduced a little more structure: 320 < x < 450

We looked at the answer then watched the video on how many scoops it would take to fill the jar. I asked students to write this as “x placed between two numbers”


In every single class there was an inequality that was either < 15 or 15 <, it was fun to see students call each other out for being wrong by not including the 15 and fixing their estimates.

After this point I introduced some more structure and vocabulary, we first talked about what a graph of Aubrey’s estimate would look like then graphed it.


After, students practiced graphing and solving a few and we talked about the difference behind what we mean when we use AND or OR in a normal conversation;

Eric invited me over for dinner tonight, he said that would would be having dinner and dessert, what should I expect to have?”

He also let me in on what we are having; mac and cheese or lasagna, what should I expect to eat”

Kinda cheesy….

Oh gosh….

But it seemed to help in understanding the difference between AND and OR.

Day 10: Crossing The River

Today in Algebra, students started with Estimation180. We have been slowly working our way through the first three days, then this happened:


After students worked through Crossing The River which is out of Mark Droscoll’s Fostering Algebraic Thinking.

What steps do you find yourself repeating over and over and over and over?

For some reason I just can’t get enough of this problem, I have been using it before I was a preservice teacher. The objective of the day was to introduce creating and solving two-step equations but students went well beyond my expectations. Here are some of the scaffolding questions I used to build up to our final equations.

Stretch student's thinking; it is painful to draw out pictures for 100 adults. I told em the next question I was going to ask was 559 adults.
Stretch student’s thinking; it is painful to draw out pictures for 100 adults. I told em the next question I was going to ask was 559 adults.

We talked about how Algebra makes our lives a whole lot easier.

But what does the equation mean...?
But what does the equation mean…?
Has anyone ever seen an equation like this?
Has anyone ever seen an equation like this?
It has more than one solution... why's that?
It has more than one solution… why’s that? Kinda weird.

I was too excited today to take pictures of student’s work, there were some awesome solution methods out there though! Tomorrow I am going to follow up with a quick review of two-step equations then some practice problems.

In Geometry students had a work day and practiced problems on various pairs of angles/angle addition postulate. They were cranking the problems out today. I like to give students one day a week to work through problem sets in class instead of assigning them as homework (more to come on how we do homework in a future post)!

Day 6: Jinx Math & Sticky Notes

In Algebra we started with Day 2 of estimate180, it was fun hearing how students used the knowledge of Andrew’s height to determine his wife’s. I then spent a little time trying (poorly) to talk about how concept tests work (more to come in another post!) We spent the rest of the day on Jinx Math.


Students enjoyed trying to beat the system and find numbers that wouldn’t work. My favorite part was when a student asked “What happens if we skip step 4?” In the end we discovered that if you skip step 4 everyone’s number changes to 13.5. But if you skip step 5, everyone’s number is different.

In Geometry, I asked students to take 4 sticky notes and place them on their desks equal distances apart. I wanted to try and use this activity to lead into line segments and those sort of postulates. Quite a few students found the center of their desk and stuck they sticky notes there, I was not sure how to react to that. Next year I want to try giving them a 8.5 by 11 piece of paper and ask them to create four dots that are an equal distance apart.

All in all it was a good day in both classes.

Day 1: Freshman

Today was freshman only at my school, which means I had almost all my students. The day was used to give the freshman a feel for high school without all the upperclassmen. Each period was 20 minutes and I used the time to introduce students to estimation 180 and find out a little about them.

They walked into the room and filled out the information on a note card.
They were really into this; not too much of an investment. I told them if they were calculating anything that was too much work.
Wrote our estimations up on the board, there were names attached to each of these.
“Does this change anything?”
Closest answer gets 1 clap

Almost every student was on board for the estimation portion. I was really happy with the low entry point this set for students and message; math shouldn’t be intimidating. Great first day!