Review Activity - Showdown

on Monday, January 27, 2014

Showdown is a great review activity that can be adapted to any topic or material. I love it because it allows students to have time to work individually, but also to get help from their group. It starts with each group selecting a team captain who sets the pace of work. Each student needs a handful of answer slips (there are 16 problems in total) and a team answer sheet.


1) The captain helps the team pick which problem they want to begin working on. All team members work individually and silently on the problem, write answers on answer slips, and turn them upside-down when done (or totally stuck).

2) When the captain sees all slips are upside-down, he/she calls “Showdown”. Group members show and compare their answers, explain their work, and come up with a group answer. The captain writes the group answer on the team answer sheet. This is a perfect time to help explain to those who got hopelessly stuck, or to have a small bit of error analysis. 

3) The captain turns the problem card over and compares the given answer to the team’s answer. If the answers are different, discuss. At this point, you can ask the teacher for help if you can’t figure out how to get the answer.
4) Move on to the next problem and repeat.
Thanks once again to the Exponential Curve blog!

Showdown PDF

Ohio Jones and Graphing Systems of Inequalities

on Wednesday, January 22, 2014
So I have been trying to figure out how to make practice problems no so boring. However, that can take a lot of time! So today, I give ALL the credit for this fantastic idea to The Exponential Curve blog! This teacher created an awesome Indiana Jones Themed worksheet for graphing systems of inequalities. You shade the correct path for Indiana Jones' cousin Ohio Jones to escape from The Lost Temple de Los Dulces! Not to mention - it's a self checking activity... if the path doesn't make sense, students know they shaded or graphed incorrectly. A preview of my answer key is below, but you can find all original worksheets at The Exponential Curve!

I am so thankful for other math teachers who are willing to put their resources out there for others to benefit from! Hopefully some of the things I post will help others too!

Complete the Square Stations

on Tuesday, January 21, 2014
This was my third year teaching students to complete the square. The first year I did not do a great job introducing the topic, and it turned out very difficult for students. Last year I had students work on one side of the equation - which resulted in messy math, clearing the fractions, and frustrations for all. This year when I saw this post on The Life of Mrs. Reilly, I noticed the order in which she had her students do steps to complete the square. I must say - it's SO much easier than what I was trying to do.

You know those days were you feel dumb? Yeah, this was one of them.


So the big idea behind her activity was to help students keep the steps in order. I modified her activity just a little bit - here is what I did. In envelopes on the student table I cut up each of the station sheets into slip. The Type A personality in me color coded the paper each station was printed on with the color I wrote the station number onto the envelope. I figured it would help me, and the students, keep things straight! So on each table there were 5 envelopes. Additionally, each student got a page that had an organizational table for each of the examples.

During my first few classes of the day, I had the envelopes on a table and a student picked one to reorder with a partner. When they were done with one, they did another one. It was nice having them work together. However, I got the feeling that many of my students understood the completing the square process and steps, and weren't benefitting from this activity. Therefore, during my last few classes, I changed things up. I told students I wanted them to hold up a "1", "2" or a "3" with their fingers. A "3" means I could do this in my sleep it's so easy. A "2" means I could use some more practice, but I have an okay idea of what's going on. A "1" means Yeah... I'm lost. If students held up a 1, I had them pick up an envelope and try to organize it (without the organizer chart page) on their desk. The rest of the students started on practice problems. This worked out really great because I could focus my attention on my Number 1 kids while the Number 3 kids helped the Number 2 kids on the practice questions.

An interesting thing happened in one of those classes. I had two boys who voted themselves as a "2", but thought they'd still benefit from the activity. They each tried organizing one on their own, and when they had finished, opted to try yet another! I love when students know what they need, and go for it! After these two boys had done a few of the organizing problems, they started on their practice problems for the day. When they finished, one of the boys asked me to come up with more examples that have the number in front of a (where a is not 1). So I wrote a few down on a scrap piece of paper, took a picture of it with the iPad, gave the student the paper, wrote solutions on the picture, and sent the freshly written answer key to the student through Edmodo! (If you aren't using Edmodo at your school already, check it out!)

At the end of the following day, that student had an extra 10 minutes at the end of class. When asked what he should do I said he could always grab the test review if he wanted it early, but he didn't have any extra homework for this class. Comically he said, "Let me try my remedial learning problems...." as he pulled out the page I had given him the day earlier. By the time he left he told me he had them all right and felt much better about them!

Below are the documents I tweak from Mrs. Reilly's blog post. Please use and enjoy!

Student Sheet: pdf

Station Sheets: pdf