Treading water…barely

During my first year of teaching, a colleague told me the first year was all about keeping your head above water.  Year two, you make notes about what went well, and make modifications to things that didn’t.  Hang in there because year 3 was when you finally felt like you could breathe.

I knew changing schools and content would be challenging, and frankly, I really wanted that.  I’d been teaching Algebra I for 10 years and felt like I needed the challenge as I was in danger of getting burned out.  Well, I asked for it and I GOT it!  I am absolutely loving being at the high school and teaching older students.  It’s great to be thinking of different strategies for rationalizing denominators instead of integer rules for the millionth time, but I do feel like I’m back to year 1 and barely treading water.

The math department at the high school is awesome – we all eat lunch together every day, and since we do not have common planning time this is great.  It’s a supportive group of people and everyone is nice.  Seriously.  EVERYONE.  This is the first year the high school has implemented 1:1 Chromebooks, so I have enjoyed being able to share some resources with them (most had not heard of Desmos and only one was using Google Docs).

It has definitely been overwhelming learning new content and developing materials – I’m creating a lot of foldables (and a HUGE shout out to @mathequalslove‘s Sarah Hagan because her blog has been so helpful for Algebra 2!!).  I anticipated the content development would be time intensive, and knew I’d be putting in more hours at school.  My family has been so supportive.  God bless them for not complaining about me picking up dinner at times (I do fear they are weary of rotisserie chicken).

One aspect though that I really did not anticipate is how these new demands have impacted my time with my online PLC.  I barely have time to read my Twitter feed, much less contribute anything substantial.  I kept up with the #Teach180 Instagram posts pretty well for about five whole minutes (I do plan to do a better job with this – I enjoy the sharing, and really, surely I can find a few minutes a day to do this).  I miss Global Math and I miss math chats.  I miss the camaraderie, and collaborating over strategies and lesson ideas.  In trying not to post “I’m overwhelmed” every day, I haven’t posted a lot – I actually felt guilty today when I saw I had a new blog subscriber and thought how long it had been since I had blogged!!

Soooo, know that this is only temporary.  I’m hoping 2nd nine weeks will be more like year two, and by the third nine weeks I will be breathing more easily and a little more present in the online world.  I miss you all and can’t wait …but first, I need to grade 120 quizzes and figure out what I’m teaching tomorrow…

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Factoring Foldable

My 8th graders really got factoring this year!  Because of all of the time lost due to snow days, I was attempting to compact the curriculum, and decided to teach factoring and solving quadratics at the same time (instead of factoring first, and then solving afterwards).  We also used Desmos to graph the equations as we went.  As a result, students appreciated the point of factoring as a tool to find solutions and graph quadratics.

If you’ve read any of my previous blog posts, you will know I am a huge fan of foldables.  I really believe these teach students how to organize and summarize notes, and most importantly, then refer BACK to their notes as a resource.  So many 8th graders will dutifully take notes and then never look at them again, but I find they will refer to their foldables because they are organized and contain the most important topics.

cover1For factoring we created a “waterfall” foldable using three sheets of paper.  Stack the three sheets of paper and stagger them so there is about a half-inch band of color before the next paper starts.  Fold the top three sheets down and crease (the middle section will have the same color twice).  Staple across the top (make sure you get all three pieces of paper in the stapling).  We wrote Factoring on the front, then labeled the tabs at the bottom, “GCF, 2 terms, 3 terms x^2+bx+c, 3 terms ax^2+bx+c and 4 terms.


We reviewed GCF’s last week and put these notes in the foldable on the GCF tab.  I chose to skip over the 2 terms tab at this point and came back to that after factoring trinomials. We did finish the foldable (pictures at the bottom), but what made this lesson so effective this year was integrating the solving and graphing as I taught factoring.

We started with the x-puzzles that @jreulbach talks about in this post.    Students love these – it usually doesn’t take long for them to get the hang of them, and soon someone says, “well these are fun, but what does it have to do with Algebra?”  Yaaas.

I told students we were going to use their awesome puzzle solving skills to learn how to “undo” multiplying binomials.  They multiplied (x+3)(x+4), and then we talked about how we could possibly go backwards from x^2 +7x + 12 to find (x+3)(x+4).  They brainstormed a bit and then I drew the x for an x-factor and put the 7 and 12 into it.  Immediately there were shouts of “positive 3 and positive 4!!”  We did a few more examples, working some with negative numbers.  Then we talked about what y=(x+3)(x+4) and y=x^2+7x+12 would look like if graphed.  The majority of students believed they would be the same, so we graphed them in Desmos and talked about how graphing this way is a good way to check their factoring.

parabolaNext, I projected two graphs and we did a little, “what do you notice, what do you wonder?”  This was followed by a great discussion about factors versus solutions, and the relationship between the two.  From there we talked about the zero product property, and in one block period students had factored and solved a quadratic, and seen the relationship between factors and intercepts.

For homework they practiced their factoring skills, and the next day we expanded factoring to include quadratics with a leading coefficient greater than 1.  Anyone who has taught Algebra knows this is fairly challenging for some students.  Our district strongly encourages factoring by grouping as the primary method, so students took notes on how to split the middle term, and then factor out the GCF of both groups.  Again, we graphed the expanded quadratic and the factored quadratic in Desmos to ensure we had factored correctly.  Some students in each class noticed that the intercepts were not necessarily integers, which was a lovely tie-in to taking each of the factors, setting them equal to zero and solving for x.  Here are pics of the two pages on trinomials we added to the foldable:


By the next day, I had a few students coming in just grinning that their older siblings had shown them “a much easier” way to factor.  This is always so cute – I just love that A) there is a discussion about MATH going on at home (win! win!), and B) that students are excited to think they’ve outsmarted me (again, win! win!).  At this point we talk about the Divide and Slide method.  I personally do not care which method they use, but am just happy they have found a method they can rally behind and not get to high school pretending they’ve never even heard of factoring.

Here are the final two pages for the foldable.  We went back and revisited factoring 4 terms (they already knew how to do this because of factoring by grouping), but we also talked about how a cubic function can have 3 intercepts, and how they need to look for an x^2 term to potentially factor as a difference of two perfect squares (I include an example of this on the top of that tab).  Finally, we finished with the 2 term tab:


The proof will come when we come back from Spring Break on Monday when I see if they remember how to factor after a week of not doing ANY math!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Foldable – Graphing Inequalities and Solving Systems of Inequalities

ImageHere is a new foldable to help students graph linear inequalities and solve systems of inequalities. I created the foldable using Google Presentation so I could share it with others, and make it easy for them to download and make changes.  Hmph.  I am just not an enthusiastic GD’er yet as some of the smallest things vex me tremendously!  I wanted dotted lines on the front page so students would know where to cut, and no matter what combination of weight or type of dotted line, I could not get these lines to print.  So, the very light lines are the ones that need to be cut (and if you figure out how to do this, let me know!).  I also wanted a smaller margin at the top but again couldn’t get it to print if I made the margin smaller.  I know, first world problems . . .

The foldable is actually two pages copied front to back:


Once they are run front to back, fold in half so “Graphing Inequalities” page is on top.  On the inside, glue the two panels together where it says, “glue here.”  Then fold in half again so Graphing Inequalities is still on top.  Cut on the light lines (these are the ones I wanted to be dotted – grrr).  When you open it, you will see the image on the right.  I have students do the folding, cutting and take the notes.  I took the photo before I did the test for the test point so add that 🙂


Now when you turn the page you’ll see the solving systems portion of the foldable.Image

I chose examples that involve graphing with a dotted line (<) and solid (>).  The second equation will also involve flipping the inequality symbol once the student divides by a negative.  The bottom right system is an example of parallel lines with no solution, but you can easily change this to something else if you prefer.

Here’s a link so you can download this Inequalities Foldable – feel free to modify!



Posted in foldables | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pizza Project

The team at Mathalicious has totally figured out “the hook.” My kids were completely hooked on their “Domino Effect” lesson the minute I showed the opening video snippet which demonstrates how to order a pizza from the Dominos website.  My honors students immediately wanted to go to the Domino’s website themselves to play around with the ordering process, to see how many toppings they could order and if they could split toppings, etc.  One of my on-level students asked how much trouble he would be in if he actually placed an order and it was delivered to our school.  Regardless of level, they all had questions and wanted to investigate the ordering process themselves.  

We first went through Act 1 and Act 2 of the Mathalicious lesson, and the kids did a GREAT job calculating the cost per topping, and then graphing the data and writing an equation for a medium pizza.  Over half of the students ran with the lesson and did the same for the small and large pizzas while I was helping one weaker group.  When I showed them the actual graphs, students had a great discussion about the pricing model.

“If you put too many toppings on, the pizza won’t cook all the way through.”  

“You’d have to put less pepperoni on if you were going to add a bunch of other toppings.”

“I wonder if all pizza places limit you to 10 toppings.”

“I think they should charge more for 5 because you could squeeze in a 5th topping without cutting back on the first four.”

Who knew I had so many pizza experts?

ImageDuring our next class we moved on to the Mathalicious  “Chain Gain” extension lesson.  The night before I had posted a poll on Edmodo and kids voted on their favorite pizza places (our local Bottom’s Up came in first and new restaurant Twisted Tomato tied for second).  They reviewed the results of the poll and then chose two restaurants to explore to determine pricing for small, medium and large pizzas (they could choose restaurants that were not on the list as well).  To save instructional time, I created a Google Spreadsheet as a template for them to record their data (we are just moving over to Google Docs so they have only used Google Spreadsheet one other time).

ImageWe ran out of time quickly so came back later in the week to do some more research.  We narrowed the research to just one restaurant because of time constraints.  Students discovered the Papa John’s website gives a discount when you order a 2nd pizza, so you must empty the cart completely before calculating the price for each number of toppings.  I’m not gonna lie here – I was just a little bit nervous with one of my classes that Papa John’s might just show up in the front office with a pizza, for their class, but luckily that did NOT happen.  Sadly, Bottom’s Up was blocked from school (a student did tell me you have to be careful when googling that at home ha ha) so students had the choice of picking a restaurant that was not blocked or doing the research at home.  One of the students found a local restaurant who offers gluten-free pizza and she was thrilled.  Some pizza places only offer small and large pizzas, and one offers small, large and x-large, so students had a good discussion on how to compare sizes if they do not fit into the standard small, medium, and large categories. 


Back in class we talked about their findings, and how to best include this information in a presentation.  I showed them how to use Desmos to graph their data (they had already determined the equations based on the number of toppings).  We talked about how to take screen shots of the spreadsheet and the graph, and how to include those in a Google Presentation.  We had a great class discussion about what should be included in a presentation about their toppings and we developed a rubric for the presentation. 

Integrating Desmos provided the opportunity for a discussion on how to restrict the domain and range of a graph, as many of the restaurants limit the number of toppings.  Mathalicious+Desmos=Magic.  The discussion about limiting Domain alone made this project worth the instructional time!  I feel like the students totally got WHY the domain could be restricted, and how to use Desmos’s restriction feature to make their graph match their data.  It just doesn’t get any cooler than that.  Here are some sample projects – I am thrilled with how this lesson went!!

Example with limited domain and pricing maxed out with 4 toppings

Example with limited domain and pricing for specialty toppings shown separately

Example without limited domain or pricing


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Productive Struggle vs Struggle Period

One of my professional goals in the classroom is to do a better job with differentiation.  I’ve tried a few strategies, but I seldom feel like I am truly challenging my brightest students while providing the support others need.  Motivated mostly by grades, often the top students do not welcome more challenging work as they want to secure the quick A by blasting through an assignment my lower level students will find challenging.

Enter Mathalicious.  I was really excited about trying out the AppleCare lesson as I was hoping it would be a great platform for differentiating by giving students some choice in what they wanted to research and in how they wanted to present their work.

I began the lesson with the Mathalicious radio clip from Marketplace Money as a reporter describes her experience being offered an extended warranty from Best Buy.  After the clip we had a great discussion as almost everyone had a story they wanted to share about something coming apart the day after the warranty expired, or having a problem their pricey warranty didn’t cover.  The students were highly engaged and totally agreed a warranty is really just an insurance policy.

Next up, students worked in small groups to complete the Student Handout.  They breezed through the calculations and the conversations stayed right on topic (incidentally, typo on the Lesson Guide:  32 gb Ipod Touch with 50% failure rate should be $149.50).  During the full group discussion, we talked about how different people might value AppleCare differently for the same device.  I found it interesting that when I asked them about skateboarding teenager and a grandmother both using iPods, they overwhelmingly felt the grandmother had a greater chance of dropping her iPod Touch ha ha ha.  Oh, these 8th graders think anyone over 30 is just ancient.  The conversation really took off as we delved into what is and what is not actually covered under AppleCare.  This was a natural segue into the extension activities.

As mentioned earlier, I wanted to give students as much choice as possible, so I ran through both the Terms & Conditions and the Warranted Warranties extension assignments and gave students plenty of choices.  They could do either assignment, individually or with a partner, could research any industry that interested them and present their findings in a variety of ways.  I had resisted the urge to do each of the assignments myself and show them an example of what their results could look like, because many students would simply model their work exactly after mine.

google formWe went to the computer lab during the next class so students could work with their partners and decide how they wanted to approach the project.  I created a Google Form for students to complete to make sure they were on track.  I was completely surprised at how much students struggled at this point.

As I walked around the computer lab, many students asked me to explain exactly what they were supposed to be doing.  I had already given students several handouts:  a blank Mathalicious Project Planning sheet,  the Terms & Conditions student handout and the Warranted Warranties student handout.  I redirected students to the handouts as they peppered me with questions.  “Which assignment should I do?”  “What website should I go to” “What do I need to do to get an A?”

I was at a bit of a loss.  I expected a “productive struggle,” knowing students would be a bit uncomfortable with the open-ended nature of the assignment, but honestly had not expected “struggle period.”  They just seemed unable to get started.  I realized that in my efforts to NOT tell them exactly what to do, perhaps I hadn’t given clearly communicated expectations.  That afternoon I flipped through some of the posted rubrics and modeled one after Julie Reulbach’s excellent Pizza Project rubric.  I created rubrics for both of the extension activities and shared these with students during the next class.  This did seem to help, but there was still a lot of “come look at this and see if this is right.”  

Back in the classroom, I spent some time going back through both assignments.  I attempted to answer questions without steering them to choosing one specific topic, and again, did not show them finished examples as I was still hopeful they would choose to research products that interest them.  Two of my stronger students decided they would improve the AppleCare warranty to include things that are important to them and a curious thing happened.  Many of the other groups simply jumped on this bandwagon, and also decided they would improve AppleCare.  When denied a teacher generated “exemplar,” the students just kind of seemed in limbo until a classmate made a choice, and they simply adopted this as the exemplar.

Some students DID research areas of interest (yay!) but found it challenging.  Two girls decided they wanted to create a warranty for stillettos, but they could not find any statistics on how often stilletto heels typically break.  Another group decided to offer a warranty on hockey sticks, but similarly, they had difficulty finding statistics to help them decide on pricing for their warranties.  Most groups did opt to go with a revised AppleCare warranty.  Here are some student projects:

This was definitely a learning experience for me.  In a climate where EVERYTHING seems to hinge on students passing the End of Year Test, I fear my students are indoctrinated to believe there can only be one, correct answer.  Whereas I thought providing a lot of choice would create an environment of freedom that would allow my students to pursue topics that interest them, instead it resulted in an uncomfortable stew of discomfort where my students couldn’t propel themselves in any direction.  Now I realize they need a bit of scaffolding to stretch beyond their current comfort zone.  Like any other skill, it is just going to take a bit of practice.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Mission #7 – A Day in the Life

So my missions are a little out of order….I do intend to go back and post about some of the other missions, but I wanted to get this one down in blog form before I forget the details.  I LOVED reading all of the “A Day in the Life” entries the last time around!  Here’s a day in my life:

5:45  Alarm goes off – normally there’s a fair amount of swatting and snoozing, but Jack (the 9th grader) has a Latin convention this weekend.  The three projects that have consumed our lives for the past week need transportation to school so no time for lazing about this morning as transportation details have not yet been ironed out.

7:00  The hubster (hereafter known as The Saint) agrees to take 9th grader and projects to school.  Flurry of activity:  make lunches, find oldest son’s Rescue Squad shirt (it doesn’t look that wrinkled, does it??), move some $$ into the two older student’s debit card accounts to cover gas expenses (they both commute to Virginia Commonwealth University).  After taking the husky out for a short walk, finally get underway for school.  I’m thankful to get to school a little early as during my most productive mental time (the shower) I’ve decided to make a last minute change to the lesson plan for 1st block today.  

COFFEE, COFFEE, COFFEE, COFFEE.  Judy at WaWa is my best friend.

8:15-8:30  Run out to do hall duty after running quick copies for the aforementioned change in plans.

8:30-10:00 1st period:  I teach 8th grade Algebra and currently we are exploring graphs, slope, intercepts, etc.  1st block is an honors group, and their homework last night was to read a section in the text and watch a two minute clip on you-tube about how to solve an equation graphically.  Then they were to use Desmos to graph an equation and post a screen shot of their graph on Edmodo.  This was definitely not as easy as something like, “p. 100 #1-21 odd” but still, it was not something that I felt would be too difficult for the students to do.  It’s a fairly easy topic, and in addition to the youtube video I also made an EduCreations clip showing how to use Desmos to find a solution.  

In between waking up the household and jumping in the shower, I had checked to see how many students had submitted screen shots of their graphs, and only an appalling 30% had made the effort.  Anticipating a flurry of excuses, I created a quick entrance ticket asking students about the assignment.  Since they had the option of reading the material in the book and then drawing the graph manually and turning that in, there really was no excuse for not doing SOMETHING even if they had computer/internet issues at home.  The last question on the entrance ticket had a problem based on the content, and about half of the students got it right.  

We’ve all been here.  What do you do?  Half of the students did what they needed to do and are ready to move forward.  The other half did not and now you find yourself at the crossroads of “Screw them they should have done it!” and “this will be on the End of Course test and your students need to know it!”  I fire up and have some volunteers show other students how to solve the equations using a graph and looking for the x-intercept.  At this point during the discussion many of the students say they were able to get to this point but did not know how to do a screen shot to post their graph.  I am floored.  These students are the Queens of Instagram and the Kings of Snapchat, but do not know how to take a screen shot, and were not overly resourceful in figuring it out.  This actually turns out to be a GREAT lesson as we segue into all of the different ways students could have captured a screen image to post on Edmodo.  Man 8th graders can be creative when they want to be.

From here students graph y=3x, y=3x -4 and y = -1/3x + 3 on graph paper.  They graph and then compare with a partner.  Discussions are great as I hear them talking about slope being positive and negative, and how the y-intercepts and x-intercepts are different, and a few talk about parallel lines.  A few more volunteers come up and graph the equations using Desmos and we project the results.  Students can clearly see how the two graphs with the same slope are parallel and when I ask for other equations that are parallel they generate things like y=3x + 6,000 and y=3x – 1,000,000.  We talk about how the graph y = -1/3x + 3 is different and all agree the slope is negative.   Someone asks if the lines are perpendicular and we talk about opposites and reciprocals and products being 1.  Students create their own rules about the slopes of parallel and perpendicular lines.  Desmos definitely plays a key role in developing the concept.

Next up is a discussion about domain and range building on their prior knowledge of functions.  I already have a worksheet that has various graphs on it, and I use the FANTASTIC post-it note strategy shared by @mathycathy on her blog  Students use their post-it notes and shade in domain and range with colored pencils.  Then we use Desmos to graph functions and limit the domain and range.  The combination of these two strategies is just so effective – this used to be something students really struggled with, and now it just clicks 🙂

While kids are working with a partner on a domain and range activity, I think about the homework from last night and realize I could have so easily labeled the lack of completion as a lack of work ethic when in reality, they were not prepared to complete the assignment.  All of the students in 1st block have Internet at home, and I’m pretty sure most have computers that are newer than mine.  Over half have smartphones with data packages, but this does not mean they necessarily know how to do things like take a screen shot.  Apparently, they also haven’t developed the resource skills needed to figure out how to do things they don’t know how to do.  I make a mental note to use make one for googling how to make a screen shot.

10:00-11:30  2nd block is an 8th grade Algebra class that is non-honors.  In scheduling terms, it is a class of “on-level” students.  In reality, it is comprised of students who are not identified as special ed, but are not as strong in math (this particular class does have some special ed students, others who are English Language learners and some that have never passed a standardized math test).  Second block is just getting to slope and y-intercept, so our lesson today focuses on slope.  We make a HOY-VUX foldable (horizontal, zero slope, y= and vertical, undefined slope and x=) and then play around with Desmos to see how varying slope impacts the steepness of the graph.  Students explore choosing different points on a line to calculate slope and discover using any two points on the same line will result in the same slope.  For homework, students will use the “School 21” app in Edmodo to practice slope.

11:30-12:30 I have a technology planning block next where I help teachers and students with technology issues.  Today I help a student who is new to the school get logged in and join all of his class groups in Edmodo.  Then I meet with a district Integrator and a member of our Admin team.  Next year our district is implementing 1:1 with Chromebooks, so we are trying to determine ways to best prepare the staff with training and resources.  Lots of work to do here.

12:50  Three students come in during lunch for some extra support.  One needs help organizing a binder, one needs to make up a quiz and one needs to use a computer.  Worried about the student I was expecting who did NOT show.

1:30  Team meeting.  We have a team field trip on Monday so lots of discussion about the trip:  Who has been Epipen trained?  Are students with serious allergies in a group with Epipen trained teachers?  Bus drivers have had an increase in wages – was enough money budgeted to cover this increase?  We have a new student who just started today and his ticket can be covered by one of the students who will not be attending because of the Latin convention (and honestly at this point I zoned out a bit wondering if all of those families had their houses consumed by Latin projects as ours was. . . ). 

2:15  Our department chair had heart surgery earlier this month, so I am serving as interim department chair and have a meeting this afternoon.  Our district math person asked if I would present some technology resources with the other department chairs, so I’m sharing and some of my experiences at Twitter Math Camp.  Since our district blocks Twitter, I leave school to stop at Barnes & Noble so I can pull a couple of screen shots from Twitter to share with the math department.

2:45 Go to department chair meeting at one of our high schools

3:30  Department chair meeting covers a variety of topics with a lot of focus on the year end standardized tests.  I share Desmos with the other department chairs – only one teacher (out of 23) has seen Desmos.  Many seemed impressed and I think several will play around with it, but it’s clear many are not interested.  I go on to talk about Twitter Math Camp, and how it was just a phenomenal professional development opportunity. I talk about how it’s like your PLC but better because there are so many people contributing and sharing resources.  I show them @samjshah’s Virtual File Cabinet and @aanthonya’s contributions to the Algebra portion of the math wiki.  I also talk about Twitter Math Chats and the Global Math Department.  While some of the other teachers maintain eye contact, again it’s like they are just not interested in anything else that will consume their time and effort.  Our fearless district math leaders asks if anyone is interested in additional professional development to learn more about these resources, and only one teacher raises her hand.  She comes up after the meeting and I show her an overview of Desmos and how I use Twitter.  Feeling a little defeated, I take solace in the fact one teacher might be on board.  Maybe it’s because we are all just so weary of the emphasis on standardized testing that we do not have any energy left to learn something new.  I don’t know.  However, I do know every middle school student will have a Chromebook next year, and I’m very, very, VERY thankful for the resources my tweeps share with me on a daily basis..

5:30  Head home from the meeting and stop at the store to pick up a few groceries.

6:30  Cook dinner and visit with the family a bit.

7:30  Head to the movies with DD & DS.  Even though I have a ton of grading to do, Catching Fire is showing as an early release at 8:00 before it opens tomorrow.  It really is all about balance.  You have to balance personal and professional time (and you KNOW the nights you have the most work to do will be the same night your child is sick, or has a Latin project, or wants to attend a movie premier).  You also have to work to balance the demands of the teaching profession.  Right now there is a serious conflict between balancing the pressures of standardized testing with the philosophy of teaching the whole child.  Being able to take a screen shot is not in any of our state standards, but I spent a fair amount of time today teaching students how to do it, and tomorrow we will go to the computer lab and practice that skill.  Then I’ll hone my balancing skills a little further by figuring out how I’m going to cover all I need to cover while losing a day of instruction because of the field trip on Monday. . . but first, I’m going to balance in that personal time and enjoy Catching Fire with my own two students 🙂

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Mission #1: My one thing is a foldable book

Explore the Math Twitter Blogosphere:  Mission#1

I love foldables.  I just love the way 8th graders are engaged when they are folding, cutting gluing and decorating foldables with information.  And I LOVE the way I see them using the foldables as a resource to help them learn challenging content.

Even though I have used foldables for years, I found students would use them during a current topic of study, but then lose them as the year progressed.  A colleague showed me a composition book idea she picked up at a conference and voila, the foldable book was born.  We start the book at the beginning of the year with a table of contents in the front, and simply glue in every foldable that we make.  It is a great way to organize all of the foldables we make throughout the school year.


Here’s a picture of the table of contents from last year’s book:

The GC next to some items indicates it’s a graphing calculator item.  These are “glueables” rather than “foldables” as they are mostly often flat sheets of paper with the graphing calculator steps for a TI-84 (for example, how to create a box and whisker plot).

My all-time favorite foldable is a neat weavable foldable that opens two different ways.  I blogged about it in an earlier post and you can read about it here.  The kids are always so fascinated by this foldable and it is a great foldable for organizing a LOT of information.

Here are a couple of foldables we have made so far this year.  The first one is for Order of Operations.  This year I had them attach a  brad to the middle of the foldable so they could
spin the foldable as they used it to simplify each step in an expression.  The second one is simple but a good way to summarize examples of what constitutes a function (I like the multiple represenations).  The last one is a waterfall type of foldable for solving multi-step equations.  I love watching kids flip through the foldable as they learn the steps 🙂


Lots of teachers use foldables, so I guess this is not necessarily something that’s really all that unique, but the organization of all of our foldables into one place has just been awesome.  In our district students take Algebra 1 in 8th, Geometry in 9th and Algebra 2 in 10th grade.  Some of my previous students have stopped by to tell me they’ve pulled out their old foldable book to help them in Algebra 2 for the things they have forgotten during their year of Geometry.  Students referring back to a resource from previous years?  Now that’s unique 🙂

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments