What I really wanted to title this is “How TpT for Schools Saved my Behind” because that’s exactly what happened.
Our school needed to purchase new math books for grades K-5. We use the Virginia Standards of Learning (VSOL), so it was difficult to find textbooks that covered these standards because most resources are aligned with Common Core. We had to carefully evaluate all of our textbook choices online. Why? Well, we are an international school, so shipping is both expensive and time-consuming. Even if samples could be sent to us, there would not be enough time to evaluate them and order books in time for the new school year. So, yes, evaluating books online was not an easy task. Regardless, we finally decided on one that we thought would work well for our program.
August came and the textbooks arrived. It didn't take long to realize that, not only were the books missing standards, but they were also missing pages that had been in the online version. To top it off, the workbooks were stamped "Common Core," which was also not on the online version. How could this happen? These textbooks were listed as Virginia aligned, so we assumed they were specifically designed around the VSOL and all standards would be included, but they weren't. I was devastated. As our school's curriculum director I felt responsible. I am in charge of leading the team and approving the resources. How could I have let this happen?
Long story short, we were able to get reimbursed for the insufficient resources by the publishers. Yay, problem solved, right?! No, we still had teachers with books that had missing standards and no resources to teach those standards. What were we going to do?
Ordering new books wasn't feasible. We needed an immediate solution. We decided to give each teacher a budget on Teachers Pay Teachers (TpT) where they could find high quality, standard aligned resources. Teachers could purchase resources to cover the standards they were missing. Another yay, right?! Yes and no. In order for our teachers to get the resources they would have to go through a very complicated process which included filling out a Google Form for each resource they wanted, approval of the resource by me, then approval by our financial manager and then finally the resources would be distributed to the teacher via hard copy or thumb drive. Clearly not an ideal process, but it was our best option until I saw that TpT was coming out with something called, TpT for Schools. I immediately applied and was thrilled when I received the email that we had been accepted into their early pilot program. They scheduled a video conference so they could explain the platform. It was exactly what we needed!
TpT for Schools was the perfect solution to all of my problems. The steps are so simple:
This process can happen in five minutes or less. We love this process and we love the wonderful resources we are able to purchase through TpT. This was so well received by the K-5 teachers, that we gave other teachers a budget and added them to our TpT account so they could order resources to supplement our curriculum. What had once been a curriculum catastrophe, turned into a long term victory, thanks to TpT for Schools.
Besides the convenience of TpT for Schools, they also have top-notch customer service! Anytime I have a question or suggestion, they quickly respond via email. They assured me that it is a priority of theirs to help make the platform even better for us. Also, they check in with me every other week to see how we are doing with it and if we have any other suggestions or ideas, etc. You can tell they truly want this to be the best solution for all schools, and it’s a team effort between them and us. The TpT team is outstanding because they are:
Sign up for TpT for Schools NOW
So, as you can see…..TpT for Schools SAVED ME! What does this mean for you?! It means that it can save you too. Maybe your school doesn’t have the same issue as we did, but teachers are ALWAYS in need of more innovative resources that books from publishers do not provide. Therefore, I highly recommend you reach out to your admin and ask them to sign your school up for TpT for Schools so that you can start enjoying the benefits too!
Share TpT for Schools with your administrator to begin the conversation:
Do you remember playing Battleship when you were a kid? How exciting was it to figure out where your friend’s battleships were and sink them?! Well, I’ve brought that fun and excitement into the math classroom. For those of you who have no idea what the game Battleship is, read below to discover a game that will keep your students asking for more!
BATTLE MY MATH SHIP?
Battle My Math Ship is a game for two players who try to guess the location of the ships each player hides on a grid that can't be seen by the opponent. Each player receives a page with two grids and sheets to identify the spaces they choose and show their work. The goal of the game is to sink all of the opponent's ships by correctly guessing their location and solving the problem.
HOW DO YOU PLAY?
Each player secretly marks the battleship grid on the TOP of their sheet with the number of battleships stated. They do this by drawing a ship, marking an X, shading the box, highlighting, etc. in the spaces they choose. The BOTTOM battleship grid is what they use to choose spaces and attack their opponent.
Each player calls out a letter and number that identifies a column and row from the BOTTOM grid in an attempt to name a space that contains an opponent's ship. Each player then solves the problem and states their answer to their opponent.
AFTER each player solves the problem, the opponent checks that space and states whether they “hit” or “missed” a battleship. Each player should cross off the spaces the opponent attacked and answered correctly and write HIT for the spaces that contained a ship. If they did not answer correctly, they can try attacking that space again on a different turn.
The first player to sink all of their opponent’s ships wins the game!
HOW MUCH TIME DOES IT TAKE TO PLAY?
The game can take anywhere from 30-60 minutes, depending on the math concept. I know class time can be limited for games. No problem! Often, I give my students a time limit to play the game. The winner is then determined by the player that sunk the most battleships in that time frame. Not needing a certain amount of time and the fact that my students LOVE sinking ships, is the reason this activity has become the most popular math practice activity I use in my classes.
HOW DID YOU CREATE THE GAME?
The idea came from the original Battleship board game made by Milton and Bradley. This was my favorite game as a kid, so I had to find a way to create an activity for my students that would bring them the same joy I had growing up and of course tie in some math learning! The Battle My Math Ship games cover many math topics from grades 6-12, so your students can play again and again.
DO STUDENTS REALLY ENJOY THIS ACTIVITY?
YES, it has been the biggest hit in my classroom! But you don’t have to take my word for it. Here are some reviews from other math teachers that have used it in their classroom as well:
Math games make math fun and this is no exception. My students loved playing this and repeatedly ask for it. – Sarah O.
Absolutely the most engaging game. My advanced kids were enthralled and asking for more!! – Colleen A.
This is a very creative way to get kids engaged in practice. – Katherine G.
I thought my kids would find this activity confusing, but they LOVED it! – Jennifer M.
My students had so much fun with this! Students who had struggled at the beginning of our linear equations unit, worked hard to master finding slopes to play this game. – Tiara W.
Students had a blast with this activity! – Amy H.
My students loved this! It was a very engaging way to practice slope, all in a self-checking activity! – Emily K.
Hoping you will keep creating more activities for more skills in this series -- my students have loved every one we have played so far! – Diane M.
Love all of the Battleship games and so do my students!! – Nicole Z.
My kids flipped over this! They LOVED it! They asked me to find more for them to do. – Harrison B.
Can’t wait to get your hands on a battleship?! Great! I have one waiting for you for FREE, just CLICK HERE.
OR are you already convinced that your students will LOVE this activity?! Click below on the battleship bundle that fits your classroom needs:
I have spent a lot of time on YouTube looking for videos for warm-ups or even to use as review for my students. Over the years, I've found a lot of quality channels that I subscribe to, so I thought I'd share my favorite ones. They are not in any particular order because they are all mathtastic in their own way. You can click on any of the titles to go right to their home page.
There are over 4,000 videos at your fingertips from this non-profit organization. The videos are mainly for middle and high school math and science. Teachers, professors, NASA scientists, Ph D.’s, and many other experts created the videos. Here is a neat one on Linear Functions.
This is my steady Eddie. Whenever I am having a difficult time finding a video for a specific topic, this is the channel I find myself going to for help. James has created over 5,000 math videos from arithmetic to calculus III and beyond. The videos with the yellow background are mini-lessons and the videos with the graph paper background are examples only. He also has a website with a list of videos for each subject, which is easier to navigate than the YouTube channel.
Clear and concise best describes Derek’s videos. He has over 1,000 videos covering Pre-Algebra to Calculus topics, and even some Physical Science and Physics lessons. He organizes his videos by chapters of study, so it is easy to find what you are looking for. Here is one that uses great visuals for Adding and Subtracting Fractions.
When I first began searching on YouTube for videos for my calculus warm-ups, Patrick was my go to guy. He covers anything and everything calculus. While I mainly use him for calculus videos, he also covers other areas, such as SAT and GED math problems. He just seems like a cool, down to earth guy that loves math. Here is a quote from his bio page: “Trying to empower people with a bit of math know-how. I make straight, to the point videos on how to tackle different math problems. No gimmicks and no distractions. My goal is to make your time as useful and effective as possible when studying. These videos are intended to be a supplement to what a (hopefully) good teacher is providing you with in the classroom.”
The All Around Math Guy
This guy has some really cool real world examples in his videos. Here is one of his real world videos that I particularly enjoyed: Understanding Engine Size – The Volume of a Cylinder. You also can find math examples for Grade 8 to AP Calculus.
Unless you are a math teacher living under a rock, you’ve heard of Khan Academy. While this may be one of the most popular channels for math videos, it is not my all time favorite, nor my students. However, there are tons of topics on this channel that are covered thoroughly. Khan has even expanded to a full website that includes more subjects beyond math where students can work their way through topics that they choose or that are chosen by their teacher.
Firefly Lectures - Calculus
At first, it looks like a Khan Academy video, but then this guy pops up in the bottom right corner of the screen and you’re like woah, who’s this? Well, I actually don’t know his name, but I do like that he added himself to the videos. It’s nice to feel like a person is talking directly to you, as well as clearly seeing the math steps on the screen. If you teach Algebra or Calculus (I, II, and II), his videos will be a great resource for you! Here is one on the Absolute Value Function: Domain and Range.
This channel also has over 4,000 videos and the majority of them cover middle and high school math concepts. The best part is that most of the videos are three minutes or less, so they are great if you want to use it in class or assign it to your students to watch at home for quick review. Here is one on how to Solve Linear Equations with Variables on Both Sides.
Nancy, a MIT graduate, explains Algebra and Calculus topics. Even though she does not have a huge library of videos, she does have over 370,000 subscribers. I don’t use her videos a lot because most of them are over 10 minutes long, and I usually select videos that are 5 minutes or less for my students. However, I know several of my students really like using her videos to review concepts. Here is one on Solving a Quadratic Equation by Factoring.
High tech and fun videos! This is a fairly new channel that was established in 2015, so the library is small with only 139 videos, but it is still growing. This is a perfect channel for primary and middle school math. This one is great for introducing Slope.
Krista King (formerly known as Calc Expert)
She has changed her YouTube channel name so many times, it may even be different by the time I post this! It doesn’t matter what her name is, she has quality videos for Pre-Algebra to Calculus III and has been posting videos since 2010. I find that she is very thorough in her videos, and they don’t take over 10 minutes, which is a plus. Here is one that explains Limits and Continuity.
A hodge podge of lessons, lectures, and examples. You have to dig a little to find what you are looking for, but a lot of them have fun visuals and cool sound effects which students love. There are topics for Pre-Algebra to Algebra 2. Even though the resolution in this video is not perfect, I really like it for a Graphing Quadratics Overview.
I subscribe to many more channels, however I didn't want to overwhelm you with too many channels, so I stuck to my top twelve. Here are some notables you might find helpful as well. They are listed by channel name and subject(s) that their videos cover:
Math Easy Solutions – Calculus
Math Meeting – Algebra to Calculus
My Why U – Pre-Alg and Alg (about 100 videos)
Miller Math – Calculus
Mathman 1024 – Algebra
My Secret Math Tutor – Precalculus to Calculus
Math Gives You Power – Precalculus to Calculus
MSLC Mathematics – Calculus
Rootmath – Calculus
Scott Haselwood – Precalculus to Calculus
Carrie Kyser – Statistics and Calculus
Math Planet Videos – All math levels
Charlie LIndelof – Calculus
Straighter Line – College Algebra, Precalc, Calculus, and Business Statistics
Timothy Kasper – Geometry
Tracey Jensen – Algebra to Calculus
Vividmaths.com by Steve K – Grades 7-12 math
I hope you found some new and helpful YouTube Channels to follow for middle and high school math! Email me or comment below with some of YOUR favorite YouTube Math Channels, so I can check them out!
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I use to despise teaching piecewise functions. You know when it’s raining out and you forgot your umbrella? What do you do? Well, you run as fast as you can to your car, and as soon as you get in you take a deep breath and think, I made it!...but I’m pretty wet. That’s how I use to teach piecewise functions. I wasn’t prepared, I did it fast, and the results were not great.
A couple of years ago I decided to seriously take a look at how I could teach piecewise functions best. I did some research and decided to make sure I covered how to evaluate, graph, and write the functions. In the past, I had just focused on graphing them and assumed that if students could do that, then they could do anything with piecewise functions. Yeah, I know, wishful thinking. Therefore, I created a lesson that clearly covered those three areas. Then I had my kids dive right into piecewise functions with a project. Let’s be honest, after that one lesson they weren't loving piecewise functions yet. This project was just as important as the lesson because it made piecewise functions come alive.
Students create a graph of a roller coaster in regards to time and height using linear, absolute value, and quadratic functions. I tell them they can pretend that their graph is what the roller coaster looks like as well, because it makes it a little more fun for them. However, we know that physics would not necessarily allow this to be true. (Downhill will not be as fast as uphill as you would see in an absolute value or quadratic function).
Students write a function that represents their graph. Some of my students use Desmos to check and see if their function and graph match. This really helps make sure all equations in the piecewise function are correct, and if they don’t, they can adjust their graph accordingly. Another way is to have them check on their graphing calculator. Of course, there will always be some students who don’t do either. I use Desmos when grading the project and this is sometimes what I see...
YIKES! Teacher => face plant into desk.
Hmmmm....something is not quite right.
YAY! You got it!
Let’s go for a ride….
This is a fun way for them to analyze the characteristics of their function.
The students create an answer key for their function that identifies the function attributes, which will be used in the stations activity.
I do not have students present their roller coaster to the class because it’s not only a bore, but also very time-consuming. Instead, students walk around to a few roller coasters and identify the domain, range, intervals of increase/decrease, minima, maxima, and evaluate for x-values. They get a chance to see other roller coasters and get some review.
EXTENSION - FIELD TRIP
And finally, the best part! You can take your students on a field trip to an amusement park. The students video record a roller coaster and sketch the graph relating time and height. They love this aspect of the project….a day away from school! Here is one of the videos from our field trip:
I know what you are thinking…I turned 1-2 days of instruction into 5 days. Right, you may not have that kind of time. No worries! You can use the parts of the project that work best for you. Use the video above instead of going on a field trip. Each year I find a way to get as much in as possible because the results are amazing! The new precalculus teacher this year came to me the other day and said, “Wow, the students from Algebra 2 last year really know piecewise functions.” And I said, “Yes, yes they do,” with a big grin on my face. Some things are just worth it.
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