Properties of Real Numbers Foldable

26 September 2016
I taught a lesson in Algebra 1 about the properties of real numbers.  It actually wasn’t included in our standards, which I thought was a little weird.  Teaching solving equations without mentioning the symmetric property or teaching factoring without the associative property of multiplication seemed not quite right.

I created this simple hamburger book for the properties.  Students followed along on the front and filled in the properties.  Inside, there are examples for practice.  Sorry the inside picture is so crummy.  I took several and they all turned out terrible!

Properties of Real Numbers foldable for interactive notebooks

Properties of Real Numbers foldable for interactive notebooks


Distributive Property INB Pages

25 September 2016
In Algebra 1, we just finished a unit on rational numbers.  The first four lessons were adding rational numbers (basically adding integers from pre-algebra, except fractions were thrown in), subtracting rational numbers, multiplying rational numbers, and dividing rational numbers.  Yeah, it was as boring as it sounds.  The kids needed the review, but man, it was rough for me.  I am totally not cut out for teaching that stuff (and I kind of sucked at it).

Anyway, at the end of the unit, we learned the distributive property.  I created this foldable pulling ideas from several different places.  It’s nothing fancy, but I like the way it turned out.

Distributive Property Foldable for Algebra 1 Interactive Notebooks | mrseteachesmath.com

My students thought the baby example was stupid.  I like it so they can just deal with it.  I’m still going to use it next year :)

Distributive Property Foldable for Algebra 1 Interactive Notebooks | mrseteachesmath.com

Color-coding the combining like terms example helped so much.  I liked color-coding before, but I’m LOVING it with my algebra kids.  It helps them so much.  I always try to remember to use the little arrows when showing the distributive property.  My students have started calling it “the rainbow”.

Distributive Property Pages for Algebra 1 Interactive Notebooks | mrseteachesmath.com

On the next page, I had the kids put this page from Mrs. Hester as practice of combining like terms and the distributive property.  I didn’t make any changes from the page she shared.  I loved the way it turned out.  My kids nicknamed the combo meals things like “The Hungry Man” and “Hope That’s Not All for You”.  Also, I thought the last question was pretty tricky, but my kids didn’t struggle with it at all.  I guess when there’s food involved, kids are more motivated!

The day after this lesson, I used the Simplifying Expressions Pyramid Sum Puzzle from All Things Algebra.  It was a struggle for my kids, but it was a good struggle.  They had to get every problem correct for the pyramid to work out.  They couldn't just skip a problem because it was hard.  They also made my room pretty.  I'm still working on covering up as much of the paneling as I can!

Distributive Property Pyramid Sum Puzzle
I plan to use these inb pages again next year and won’t make any changes to them!

15+ Math Games to Keep Students Engaged

18 September 2016
I like to use games to review skills because they’re SO much better than worksheets.  Kids whine about worksheets, but put those same problems in a game and suddenly the whining disappears.  I thought I’d share a list of awesome math games.

For the purposes of this post, I’m defining a game as having a winner and a loser.  I know there are lots of fun activities and “games” out there that don’t have winners, but that’s a different post for a different day :)

Lots of math games and ideas to keep kids active and learning during class.

Math Games to Keep Students Engaged

Trashketball - So if you haven’t read my post about Trashketball, you need to.  It’s pretty much the BEST review game I’ve ever played - as a teacher or as a student.  I have former students that are now in college STILL talking about this game.  It gets kids to do lots of practice problems and involves throwing things.  Need I say more?


Which is Largest? - Which is Largest? is a newer game that I’ve created.  Students get a group of problems and they put the answers in order from greatest to least.  You can totally ham it up game show style.  I have a microphone that I use when I play this game.  #NoShame  One of the things that I like is that students get practice ordering numbers on the number line while also practicing another skill.  For Pre-Algebra and Algebra 1 students, this practice is SO necessary!  This can become more challenging if answers are fractions, decimals, and integers.

Old Math Guy - Free to Discover has a whole line of games called Old Math Guy.  They are very similar to Old Maid, and get students to practice math skills in order to match the cards.  She posted on her blog about how she used this game to motivate inner city kids as a math interventionist.  An added bonus: the drawings of the Old Math Guy are pretty funny.

Dang it! - Jameson from Lessons with Coffee created a game called Dang it!, which is similar to Zap!  This particular game practices converting fractions, decimals, and percents, but this idea could be used to practice various topics.  

Grudgeball - Grudgeball is a twist on Jeopardy.  Basically, students can steal points from other teams in order to win.  The nice twist on this game is that the team with the “smart” kids isn’t always going to win!

Bingo - Yes, I’m including bingo on this list.  Bingo played the traditional way is kind of lame.  It’s overdone and let’s be real: kids aren’t very excited to play it.  HOWEVER, Scaffolded Math and Science has a cool twist to this game.  This solving equations bingo game makes bingo un-lame.  There are spinners where kids make their own equations, then they color the corresponding answer on their bingo card.  I also like that this can be played individually or in small groups.  I think small groups makes this much more engaging than whole class bingo, because students can work at their own pace...and I always liked playing with spinners as a student.


Tic Tac Toe - Students can use task cards to play tic tac toe.  If they get their question correct, they can take their turn.  If they are incorrect, they lose their turn.  Not super special, but if you play it on whiteboards, students are way more excited.
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Connect Four - You can play Connect Four using task cards.  Students “draw” a task card, complete the problem on the card, then take their turn.  If you want to play with your whole class and don’t have enough sets of games, then the Connect Four games by Alex O’Connor the Middle School Math Man may be a good option.  He has paper versions of the game for various middle school math skills.

“I Have… Who Has…” - Typically, “I Have…, Who Has…” doesn’t have a winner.  “I Have…, Who Has…” is really just a set of cards like dominos, where students link the cards together.  However, I never play it that way.  I always group my students into three or four teams and give them a deck of cards.  Then I have them race to see which team can put them in order fastest.  Another version of this is to set a timer and see which team got the furthest in the set amount of time.


Taboo - Taboo could be so much fun to practice vocabulary!  It would take quite a bit of prep work to create, but is something that could be re-used year after year.  There are a couple sets of cards already out there on The Roots of the Equation and Mr. Collins Mathematics Blog.

Conquest - Conquest is similar to Risk.  In order to attack their opponent, students must answer math questions.  Correct answers let them advance on the map, while incorrect answers lose the battle.

Pictionary - Pictionary is a great way to practice graphing!  Students could be given equations on cards, then have to graph it.  Students could also be given characteristics of graphs and the kids guessing could have to shout out the equation.  Scaffolded Math and Science has an interesting twist on Pictionary for helping kids practice graphing absolute value, radical, and quadratic functions.

Kahoot! - Have you played Kahoot?  This is the one game on my list that does require each student to have some sort of technology (phone, ipad, laptop, etc).  Kahoot! is a review game where kids race against each other to answer multiple choice questions.  It’s super fun, but I wouldn’t recommend it for classes with a wide variety of ability levels.  Check out my tutorial for Kahoot!


Battleship - I think everyone has played Battleship at least once in their childhood.  All Things Algebra has a fun twist on Battleship that gets students to practice different math skills. This game has students practice factoring.  In this game, students factor quadratics in order to sink their opponents battleships.

Poker Chip Game - This game is super low prep, but does require poker chips.  Students answer multiple choice questions and have to “bet” if they are right or not.  Students are practicing, and you also get to see their confidence level with the material.  This game starts lots of good conversations and also helps kids practice answering multiple choice questions.

Hot Seat - In this game, students sit in rows and the first person in each row is in the "hot seat".  The person in the hot seat has the opportunity to earn the most points for their team.  You can find more details and a scientific notation game here.

What games do you like to play in your class?

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Real Numbers and Functions INB Pages

10 September 2016
This is part three of the interactive notebook pages for my first unit in Algebra 1.  You may want to take a look at part one and part two.

Day 6 - Real Numbers

This is another foldable by Lisa Davenport.  I liked the foldable, but my kids had so much trouble with this!  It stressed them out.  They had a hard time understanding the idea of subsets.  I used Algebra 1 friendly language, but it was a stretch for them.  Once they understood integer and rational number, I just kind of called it good.  Honestly, I think that’s ok for now.  I’ll have these kids again for Geometry and Algebra 2, so we can continue to work on this as they expand their math understanding.

Sets of Real Numbers Foldable
I created this foldable because the textbook had lots of little vocabulary things all thrown into one section.  It felt kind of like a hodgepodge, so I just went with it.  My students had a hard time with the first page, but they hung with me.  My Algebra 1 group doesn’t whine (yet) and I really like that about them.  

Sets of Real Numbers Foldable Notes for Interactive Notebooks

Sets of Real Numbers Foldable Notes for Interactive Notebooks

Sets of Real Numbers Foldable Notes for Interactive Notebooks
My students are starting to call these types of foldable “hamburger books”.  In elementary school, lots of teachers talking about folding paper “like a hamburger” or “like a hotdog”.  We laughed about it one day in class and now the name has stuck.

Day 7 - Function Patterns

This day was a super basic introduction to function patterns.  The top of the page just had some vocabulary and the accordion foldable had examples.  I left a giant space for students to write their own notes as we talked about functions.

Functions and Writing Function Rules Interactive Notebook Page

Functions and Writing Function Rules Interactive Notebook Page

This was the last page for this unit.  It’s mostly vocabulary.  I just wanted to get them used to the vocabulary and looking at tables and graphs.  We color-coded everything.

Functions and Writing Function Rules Interactive Notebook Page

After this we had another quiz, reviewed, then had a test.

Order of Operations and Algebraic Expressions INB Pages

06 September 2016
This is part two of the interactive notebook pages for my first unit in Algebra 1.  You can find part one here.

Day 3 - Order of Operations

In our textbook, order of operations and evaluating algebraic expressions are intertwined into one section.  I thought that was a little much, so I taught them separately.  I planned to use my order of operations foldable, but I changed my mind at the last minute.  I decided to use the foldable by Lisa Davenport and have my students write a little more about grouping symbols at the bottom of the page.

Order of Operations INB Page for Algebra 1

My foldable has room for lots of examples (six actually), but the one I used only has one.  Since I used that one, I added a page of practice on the facing page.  Again with adding pages at the last minute!  I’m going to run out of pages by the end of the year!  I had students complete four examples with me.  Then, they made up their own example, and traded notebooks with a neighbor.  They completed their neighbor’s example and traded back.  When they got their notebooks back, they had to check their neighbor’s work.  I came up with this idea during the lesson and thought it was a constructive way to kill extra time, even though it was kind of lame.  However, the kids kind of liked it.  I let them “grade” their neighbor’s work in red pen.  It’s the little things, I guess…

Order of Operations INB Page for Algebra 1

Day 4 - Evaluating Algebraic Expressions

On this page, I used my foldable.  Under each flap is one example.  Students worked the example, and then on the flap, they were supposed to write hints to themselves.  I made them use parentheses every time they substituted for a variable.  We didn’t do very much with negatives (but we will), however, I want to get them into a good habit.  I also don’t say “plug in”.  It’s not correct mathematical vocabulary.  I always model by saying “substitute” instead.  

Evaluating Expressions Foldable and INB Page for Algebra 1

On the facing page, we did more examples.  I wasn’t planning to, but once I finished the lesson in first period, I felt like I needed an example page since order of operations had one.  I guess I was trying to be fair?  I made the problems up on the fly and the page looks crummy.  My students didn’t really need the extra practice either.  They did a partner worksheet that was sufficient.  I will dump this page next year :)

Evaluating Expressions INB Page for Algebra 1

Day 5 - Quiz

This day I reviewed with them quickly when they got to class, then I had them take a quiz and let them use their notebooks.  They were shocked that it was open note.  However, I’m trying to let them see that their notebooks are useful and it’s important to keep them neat and up-to-date.  I think I will do this periodically.

I’ll post part three with the end of my unit soon!

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