What are iMath activities?
iMath is a series of activities designed with the intent to engage students in math by putting a fun twist on their favorite phone apps*  Facebook, iMessage, Instagram, and Tumblr. Each iMath activity covers different skills in a unique way. Students add each activity to their phone/tablet template that can be on display in the classroom. Below is a description of iSTEP, which is meant to model iMessage. *None of these activities are actual digital apps or affiliated with the app they are modeling.
What is the purpose?
COMMUNICATION! Often students can solve a math equation, but have a difficult time verbally explaining what they are doing. This activity addresses this problem. Each student is to “text” with a friend who needs help with a math concept. Their classmate asks how to solve an equation and the student has to explain each step needed in order to get a solution. Then their classmate “texts” back showing the algebra they did to complete the step. I LOVE how these activities have transformed how students think and discuss math in class!!! How do I use this in my classroom? The day before an assessment I set up review stations. Each station has an activity that covers a different concept students will see on the assessment. I use iStep at one station and other stations may include Battle My Math Ship, Name That Function, or an activity from some of my favorite TpT friends: Kacie Travis, All Things Algebra, Mrs E Teaches Math, Free to Discover, Scaffolded Math and Science, or Math Giraffe. Which app does this activity model? iStep’s design is similar to texting in iMessage, WhatsApp, or any other form of texting app. Let’s face it, texting is one of the most popular ways people communicate with each other in this day and age. So let’s have students do it with math too!
How do you do this activity?
Each student will… Step 1 – Need one iStep sheet. Step 2 – Read the question in the first bubble on the left, which is meant to be a text from their classmate. Step 3 – Use the first text bubble on the right to write in words the first step needed to solve the problem. Step 4 – Each student then trades sheets with a classmate. The classmate is to follow the student’s written step and use the second text bubble on the left to show their algebra. Step 5 – Students trade sheets back and forth until the math problem is solved. Step 6 – The last two text bubbles are for students to write a positive message and a closing. Step 7 – Add the sheet to the phone/tablet template and hang the activity on the wall or bulletin board. BOOM...students are able to communicate with each other on how to solve math equations! Add more iMath activities to show mathematical growth and use for review at the end of the year.
What’s included in each iStep activity?
Want to learn about the other iMath Activities? You can! I will be blogging about each activity every week for the next few weeks. The next post will be about Doodlr (Tumblr). Check out the last post on Mathbook. If you’d like to try an iMath activity for FREE, you can find the following in my Resource Library, so sign up here:
Click below to go directly to ALL my iMATH activities:
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You know when you give a quiz and students do well on one objective, but almost all of them completely bomb the other objective? That's when I know I did not effectively teach the second objective. So, back to the drawing board I go.
The quiz was on solving exponential and logarithmic equations. Most of the students clearly and easily solved the logarithmic equations. But, WHOA, those exponential equations really threw them for a loop! I had taught the solving exponential equations lesson right before spring break. Normally, I write all of my own lessons, but this time I decided to use a lesson from a textbook (stupid, stupid, stupid!). In this lesson, the textbook had only shown how to solve exponential equations using logarithms as the inverse operation to exponentials. At the time, I didn’t think twice about it. I had already showed them in a previous lesson how to rewrite a logarithmic equation to an exponential equation and vice versa. I assumed they would apply that knowledge too. Ugh…bad assumption. When we did the practice activities the day before the quiz, I also reviewed the property of equality for exponential equations. I think that is when I started to realize that I did not CLEARLY define the three methods to solving exponential equations, which is not like me at all. If you’ve read this post, you’d know I think one of the best ways for students to understand math is to compare and contrast different methods. Anyway, the students seemed to be doing okay in the group activity, so I gave them the quiz the next day. Once I began grading them, I immediately realized they were struggling to solve the exponential equations. They were mixing methods all over the place. That’s when you get that pit in your stomach and think oh man, where did I go wrong with this lesson?! It’s not the textbook’s fault, it’s mine. I so regret not taking a more critical eye to the textbook lesson. Maybe it was me being antsy for spring break or the fact that I had wanted to revamp some of my notes for that unit and I hadn’t had time to do so, so I was wanting an “easy” way out. Whatever the reason, it doesn't matter, I knew I had to fix it with my students. I decided to create a graphic organizer that CLEARLY states each method and the proper steps to solve. I will be using this with my students tomorrow to review solving exponential equations and then giving a mini retake on this objective. I’ll update you all soon on how it goes. I imagine it will be MUCH better!!! In the mean time, I want to share the graphic organizer I created with all of you! Maybe it will prevent you from having an exponential failure like I did. Click on the picture below to download the file. Enjoy! UPDATE: Ummmmm, yeah, went soooooo much better!!!!
I have spent a lot of time on YouTube looking for videos for warmups 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.
CK12 Foundation There are over 4,000 videos at your fingertips from this nonprofit 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. Mathispower4U 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 minilessons 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. Derek Owens Clear and concise best describes Derek’s videos. He has over 1,000 videos covering PreAlgebra 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. PatrickJMT When I first began searching on YouTube for videos for my calculus warmups, 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 knowhow. 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. Khan Academy 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. eHowEducation 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. Mathbff 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. MashUp Math 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 PreAlgebra 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. Bill Witte 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 PreAlgebra 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 – PreAlg 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 712 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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Teachers plan and prepare lessons, attend meetings, help students, create resources, grade assessments, communicate with parents, learn new teaching strategies, learn technology…and the list could go on forever. With so many things to do, I find that thinking of a new way to decorate my room each year can become daunting. Don’t get me wrong, I love decorating my walls and bulletin boards, but it’s the with what that sometimes stumps me. After searching the internet, I discovered some amazing ideas and came up with a few of my own. I divided the ideas up into four main categories – informative, interactive, student work, and motivational. Check out what I found and am using in my classroom this year…
These types of bulletin boards display information that provides students with visual reference throughout the year.
1 – Word Walls Love them! Scaffolded Math and Science has the most amazing ones and she explains why they are so important for high school students on her blog.
2 – Graphing Calculator Reference Sheets
Students constantly forget the steps they need to use on a graphing calculator. These sheets are great for students to put in their interactive notebooks, binder, etc. I hang them up on folders and then place the sheets for my students behind the picture so they are ready to go whenever they need them. Read about them in my blog post or snag them in my store.
3 – Math = Love Blog
All of her ideas are awesome! Her blog is filled with so much creativity, which includes ways to decorate your room with math. I used her Perfect Squares and Perfect Cubes sheets this year and my students were so appreciative, especially for the simplifying radicals quiz. Bulletin boards where students engage with the pieces on the board. There are several types out there, but I found this one to be great for math class. 4 – Boggle Students interact with this vocabulary Boggle bulletin board designed by Math Giraffe. Learn about this idea and how to set up a classroom that works for teens on her blog. This is great for stations, bell ringers, or even early finishers. Lessons with Coffee also has a Boggle bulletin board for math expressions which you can find here.
Show off your student's hard work!!!
5 – Math is Everywhere Every year I use this bulletin board idea from the Middle School Math Man. I have my Algebra 2 and Calculus students think of a place they see or use math in the real world. Then they are to create a sheet that includes one Algebra skill, one Geometry skill, and then one more math skill of their choice (Algebra, Geometry, Statistics, etc.) that ties to the real world setting. I have added a rubric, example, and bulletin board letters for this activity in my FREE Resource Library, so SUBSCRIBE to my email list to get instant access!
6 – iMath resources
A fun spin on student’s favorite iPhone Apps – Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and iMessage. Students add sheets to their phone throughout the school year to show what they know and document their growth. At the end of the year they use it for review before their final exam. Check them out here.
7 – The Fridge
Easy way for student’s to display their hard work! Check out how Scaffolded Math and Science sets it up in her class.
8 – Math Pennants
Scaffolded Math and Science does it again! Her blog is full of fun and witty ideas. These pennants are a way for students to confidently display their knowledge and understanding of math topics.
We can all use some inspiration in life, right?!
9 – Growth Mindset Posters I’m all about GRIT this year, which you can read more about in my blog post on ToDo Lists and True Grit. I used Mrs. E Teaches Math’s growth mindset posters to encourage my students to be gritty. Check them out here.
I hope you found some ideas to use in your classroom! I would love to hear about more cool ways to decorate a math classroom, so send me an email at algebraandbeyond@gmail.com with ideas.
*All photos are from my classroom, unless otherwise noted in the photo caption.
We often talk about SMART goals with our students and make some for ourselves each year. The whole idea and process of organizing your goals and writing them down is fantastic! But then what?
First, it is critical to make a list of what you want to complete each day in order to work towards that goal. Your list also needs to include additional things that you need to complete that affect other areas of your life, career, etc. Including those things on your list will help you budget your time better and stay organized. I have always been a list maker and love crossing off items as I go through the day. It gives me a sense of satisfaction and purpose. Which leads me to my second thought. How many quality tasks am I actually accomplishing every day, week, month, etc.? Thank goodness for sticky notes! I keep a stack handy to write down all my todo's and then throw each one away as the task is completed. Sounds logical, right? This video made me think a little differently. Perhaps I was going about it all wrong. Watch the video and then read about how it helped me.
This video made me really think about true grit. It helped me realize that just writing down tasks, completing them and moving on was only a percentage of what goes into achieving goals. I started to realize that I should be documenting my strides and also reflecting on what I am actually doing to accomplish my goals. In other words how gritty am I?
Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to assess your todo lists and grit:
Did I challenge myself with difficult tasks?
Did I stay focused in order to complete many tasks? Did I problem solve effectively and efficiently?
Let's get out there and not only make SMART goals this year, but also...
Above is the template I will be using this year. It can be used for any area of your life: career, family, home, savings, etc. There are eight bullets for each day. If necessary, you can always add a sticky note on top of a section. Then each completed todo list will go into a binder. How rewarding will it be to reflect on what has been accomplished, not only weekly, but for the entire school year!
Click on the photo below to download the ToDo List sheets and go get gritty!!!
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