Author Archives: Mandi

Break-In Games

Repost from MakeMathNotSuck.wordpress.com

Matt Miller had a guest post on his blog a while back by John Meehan on a game concept called QR BreakIN [*update: John’s book EDrenaline Rush is available]. I love to create BreakOUT games so this idea had me intrigued. John’s graphics were amazing and the game boards looked fun. I pondered how to use it in my math classroom for quite a while until an idea finally surfaced.

A few areas had me stumped.  1. I needed the tasks to be sequential and most games boards where you roll dice are random. 2. I didn’t think, unless it was a review day, I could accomplish much in our 45 minute class period using his format.

I used John’s template but with my own twists. I came up with the Donkey Kong idea because jumping the barrels creates the progression of tasks that I needed. I also made this a unit long game instead of one day. Reading more information on John’s blog, I found a post he had about Power-Ups, so I incorporated that into this game too.

Link to Slide Deck  (All graphics were created in Google Drawing)

7th Donkey Kong Equations (3)          7th Donkey Kong Equations (4)

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Since the game would be completed over 2 weeks, I made my game board and game pieces electronic. I also wanted to use Google Classroom to release the tasks instead of using QR codes, mainly because our student laptops aren’t the best and they don’t play nice with QR readers.

Donkey Kong Equations (3).png  Screen Shot 2019-04-04 at 9.27.11 AM

Here are my takeaways from this unit long game.

Game Board

I like that I can open the slide from day to day and update the progress of the game instead of moving it from the board and putting it back for each class daily (I did this in 3 classes). However, I felt like it took me longer than I wanted to get the board updated because I was checking and releasing tasks.

Narrator Cards

GENIUS! I gave my students 3 for the unit. The cards could be used to ask a content question of the Narrator. You know what happened? They asked each other instead, just as I had hoped. We are nearing the end of the unit and NO ONE has used a card. They have worked together as a team to find solutions.

Google Classroom instead of QR codes

This one was tricky for me because of the time issue. I did load each post ahead of time as a draft and then I could release to each group as they were ready. This still took more time than I wanted to spend. It would be much simpler to have the QR codes, but I also like that the tasks are still in Google Classroom if they want to reference them.

Student motivation

Wow, kids are serious about earning Power-Ups. If a student did not complete their practice, the team was ALL OVER THEM.  I had more practice completed this unit than ever before.  Students were also, mostly, positive in their encouragement of their team.

Would I do this again? YES. This has been a fun way to present a short and mostly review unit for my students. They seem to be enjoying it.

Check out the hashtag #QRBreakIN on Twitter and also lurk around John’s blog. He does some amazing things with students.

Categories: Game Based Learning, Google Slides | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

You should know that!

I was listening to episode #14 of Making Math Moments that Matter. This episode’s guest was Sunil Singh. One, I know I’m super behind on episodes and two, I’m very excited to order Sunil’s book Math Recess.  This post has nothing to do with Sunil, although I’m sure another post will be needed after I read his book.

Either Kyle or Jon (I was using the elliptical so I didn’t back it up to make a note) said they used to tell students “you should know that from previous years.” He went on to say they usually didn’t remember it. I think we can all relate. I know I’ve said that before, or at least thought it. I agree with Kyle and Jon that we shouldn’t use that phrase.

This brought up a thought from my lesson during the last few days, and I think it might be a better way to handle these situations. We introduce the radian circle in Geometry. We don’t assess over it, but we derive it, talking about the components we’ve learned throughout the year. My students always ask WHY are we doing this if it’s not part of our curriculum. I explain to my students about brain research and I tell them about how connections are made in the brain when you encounter new material. While they may not remember everything about the radian circle in the future, the next time they see it, the information they are exposed to can connect to the pathways we have created. Every time we encounter this topic, we strengthen the pathway.

Instead of saying, “you should know this from previous years,” we could say, you have already created pathways in your brain from previous years. Let’s talk about this again and strengthen those pathways. This verbiage empowers students to access previous information without making them feel stupid because they can’t remember it.

Categories: ramblings | Leave a comment

Far Side Expansion

repost from Make Math Not Suck

I have been doing this activity LONG before computers were a staple in the classroom. (We won’t talk about how many years that’s been!) I love this project now as much as I did when I started.

I used to have a Far Side by Gary Larson desk calendar and each year I would keep the images and use it for this project. I don’t buy the desk calendar anymore, but you can find Larson’s comic’s online.

I take the comics and cut them equally into 3-4 congruent parts (depending on my groups). Students must work in groups of 3-4 to decide on a grid size for their original and a scaled paper size and grid size. Once they’ve worked together to draw this in, they start sketching their drawing box-by-box. We spend about 4 -50 minute class periods on this project.

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The students have a lot of fun with this and are proud of their product when finished. It also reinforces teamwork. When one person doesn’t complete their part, a picture is hung up for viewing incomplete. So sad.

Here is the planning guide I use for this project. If you use it, post about about it on Twitter, and tag me @MandiTolenEDU.

Categories: Geometry, Scale Factor | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Bullied to Bully

This isn’t a story about technology. It’s also a long post, but if you stick with me until the end, maybe it will help you see a few of your students in a different light.

I was visiting with my son a few nights ago about social interactions. I decided to share a story with him. It’s not a story I’m proud of, but it explained a point I was making. After sharing the story with him, I realized that maybe others would benefit from the story too.

When I was in elementary school I was the youngest in my class and the smallest child by far. I was also considered gifted. Now, I’m not certain how that label was given to me, but in reflection, I did learn faster and thought differently than others in my class. I am from a small community and my class probably had a total of 15 students. Some years we combined grades in one classroom. When you have that few children in a classroom, a gifted student sometimes sticks out like a sore thumb. I spent a lot of time with my grandparents, without other children, so I interacted with other students more like an adult would. We also didn’t have a lot of money.

So to summarize, I was the small, smart, poor, articulate kid who was an easy target for most students. I was bullied a lot! When I say bullied, I don’t just mean verbally, because that did happen often, but also physically. Once in elementary school, a group of boys took me by the arms and threw me into a concrete wall. I ended up in the emergency room with a concussion. I couldn’t even tell you why it happened. Another time, a student threw a pencil at my head and the lead broke off. I still have the mark under my skin. Another time a student put pins in clay and made clay balls. He would throw them under my seat (and others, he bullied indiscriminately) when I was in the act of sitting down so I would sit on pins. The event that changed everything for me though, happened during my 8th grade year (our school was K-8).

Our teacher left us alone in the room often. One day I had said or done something to upset some boys in my class. I don’t remember what I said or did, but I had angered these boys. When the teacher left the room, 4 boys held me down and set my hair on fire with a lighter. Thankfully only about an inch was singed off, but the event was terrifying for me. To make matter worse, the teacher tried to support these boys instead of me. He would bring up the event often and make fun of me. On the day of our elementary graduation, that teacher made some snarky comment to me about the incident. I decided, at that exact moment, that I would never be bullied again.

Since our building was K-8, we chose which high school to attend. I walked into that high school with a chip on my shoulder and determination. I became the bully! I chose weak people to make fun of because it took the spotlight off of me. I stood up to people, sometimes for good, but sometimes for show. By my sophomore year, people were afraid of me and many didn’t like me. I had a small group of friends, whom I protected with my words as well. I was not bullied in high school. That was my goal. I was also not a nice person in high school. I made others feel like I had felt. That last part wasn’t a conscious outcome; I didn’t set out to hurt others. My goal was to protect myself.

I don’t hold ill feelings against those who bullied me. That hurt has long passed. I hope, for those that I bullied, the hurt has also passed. What I did realize through my experience is that many who bully are trying to protect themselves. What they are doing is wrong, but they need help! Punishment empowers them, builds their image of a badass. I decided in college to be a better person and I was. I found a balance between being stepped on and being a horrible person.

What do I want to you take away from this? Look at the bully. Why are they hurting others? Consequences need to happen for poor actions, but until you know the root of the problem, the bully won’t stop. There are truly cruel and broken people out there who hurt for the pleasure of it. But, I’m convinced that many of our bullies are hurt people protecting themselves and they need someone to help them.

Categories: ramblings | Leave a comment

Apps with Google Slides

I stumbled across this post by @micahshippee on Kasey Bell’s website ShakeUpLearning.com. Micah is part of my Google Innovator Cohort and he is amazing.

Micah created an activity where students use Google Slides to create an “app” that you can load on your phone or tablet. I decided to use this wonderful idea to review area formulas. My students created an app where you could click a button and find the formula and an example for each shape. I love when you create a project that students are excited about! This project fits that description.

Bonuses: Students were VERY ENGAGED. They were still working when the bell rang and didn’t really want to stop. They were helping each other, critiquing without being prompted, and giving great advice. I was MORE THAN excited when students came into class the day the assignment was due with the app already loaded on their phone. They were soooo proud!  I think, as an extension of this activity, we will share our apps with lower grade levels, who are learning about area for the first time, and have them give us feedback through Flipgrid.

Here is the activity I gave the students. My instructions are taken directly from Micah’s post because they are so thorough. He is cited in the activity.

Create an App for AREA (1)

I’ve also included some of the apps created by my students. OMGee, they make my heart happy. You should be able to click on the phone below and it will open a Google Drawing file where the links are active. If you use this activity, please share on Twitter and tag me @MandiTolenEDU and @micahshippee.

Imagine what else you could do with this activity!!!

 

Categories: App, Area, Geometry, Google Slides, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Student Created Trig Word Problem

repost from Make Math Not Suck

For the last 9 years, I’ve had students do a Trig project where they use handmade clinometers to measure the height of an object taller than they are. I love this project because it shows the application of Trig and guides students through a thought process to solve this type of problem.

This year I wanted to shake things up a bit. I wanted them to do the same project, but this time I wanted them to write an angle of elevation word problem. Students struggle with the word problems, and writing them helps them understand the process and required information.

As always, I was blown away by the creativity of some of my students. Their word problems were hilarious! They were problems I would WANT to solve. I took a few and used them on our assessment.

Since we had a recent ice storm, pictures had to be taken inside. It was Homecoming week, so we had some interesting backdrops. Students used the HOCO decorations and wrote their stories around them. Aren’t kids great?

Angle of depression is still giving us issues so maybe next year I’ll have them measure something below them. Maybe from the bleachers or the top of the steps. Hmm… food for thought!

Categories: Geometry, Google Slides, Trig | Tags: | Leave a comment

Create a digital Breakout

I love Breakout games and watching students interact with each other to solve problems. What I don’t like about physical breakout games is students missing out on some of the puzzles. The collaboration is great, but when using it as a review, not all students experience the same things. Digital breakouts can be done in groups of 2 or individually and allow the students to experience all of the puzzles.

I created a tutorial for digital breakouts a few years ago, but with the changes to Google sites, the process is sooooo much easier now.

Here is an image that outlines the basic steps.

Digital Breakout Infographic

  1. I try to write my prompts and story ahead of time. This saves me time when I’m putting everything in a Google Site. For the Christmas Breakout I recently wrote, my story line was kind of lame 😦 but it went along with the 12 days of Techmas I created for my school.

Screen Shot 2018-12-18 at 2.32.28 PM

2 and 3. I create my clues in Google Drawing or Google Slides, and I use outside sources like jigsawplanet.com and Snotes. The more creative you are the more fun your breakout will be. I was provided a document from Charles (I wish I knew your last name) at the EdTech Team Summit in Topeka. His crowd-sourced document is loaded with great ideas for digital breakouts.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Er-YHzLAzezTBliy6OUB9Wq5TqyR15sqx2wKsKbCCME/edit?usp=sharing

This first image of the gnome I uploaded into jigsaw planet and created a puzzle, and the second one has a clue hidden in the music notes. You can also overlay transparent images on a Google Drawing so it makes an area clickable. See the animation below.

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You can add more images for visual appeal or as fake clues. You also want your background and titles to be fun. I created some fun graphics in my TrianglesOnly.com breakout.

4. You will use a Google Form to create your locks. I sometimes embed a countdown timer from youtube. BreakoutEDU has a great one that is free to use.Screen Shot 2018-10-27 at 10.49.18 PM

You can also use images of locks to visually represent what lock they are looking for.  You want to click the 3 dots in the bottom right corner and select response validation. Set the lock code to what you want. Remember, they are case sensitive so tell your audience how to type it.Screen Shot 2018-12-18 at 2.46.05 PM

5. Now we will put it all together. I use Google Sites (sites.google.com) and house everything there. You can pull directly from your Google Drive to embed your Google Drawings (with transparent links), Google Forms, and any images you have stored in your drive. Word of caution, if you plan to use multiple pages (which I sometimes do) have participants open the Google Form in a new tab so they don’t lose the combinations they have already entered when they click on a new link in the site. If you are not familiar with Google Sites, Matt Miller has a walk-through on Ditch That Textbook that will help.

Here is a link to a Christmas Breakout I made to follow-up our 12 Days of Techmas.

And another Breakout for Geometry called TrianglesOnly.com

Hopefully you will find creating Digital Breakouts as fun as I do. I know my students love them.

Categories: BreakoutEDU, Google Drawing, Google Sites, Google Slides | Tags: | 1 Comment

Custom Google Classroom Headers

I love to customize my Google Classroom banners. I mean, the ones provided by Google are super cute, but if you can add a Bitmoji then it’s better I say. I also sometimes include some icons for the content area. I create my own to avoid copyright issues, but noun project is another great resource to use.

Header example

Google Classroom Header.png

You will create these in Google Drawing. Google Drawing is located in your Drive under more Screen Shot 2018-12-04 at 9.55.37 PM  or in your Google waffle.Screen Shot 2018-12-04 at 9.54.00 PM

Now we want to go to page set-up under file, select custom, change inches to pixels and create an 800 x 200 pixel canvas.2018-12-04_21-58-27

Now the fun can begin. If you right click (or control click) on the canvas it will allow you to change the background of the canvas. I like to use the gradient feature so the middle is a little lighter.

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I’ve you know ANYTHING about me, you know I like to use the Bitmoji extension. You can learn about how to use the extension in this blog post. Now remember, you don’t want to put words in the middle of you banner because Google Classroom will put the class label in the middle. You also want to leave a little room on the outside edges so it fits your browser configuration.

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I added the words Happy Holidays too. Word Art is another fun tool to use if you want to play around with it.

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Now you are ready to download your creation. I like .png, but you can also use .jpg

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Now that you have your image in your downloads folder or whatever location you send your downloads. Now let’s put this into Google Classroom. Click on the upload photo link in the bottom right corner. Select or drag your image in. TAH DAH, you have a new custom header.

2018-12-04_22-28-47You can see my previous custom header and the new holiday header I just created. Notice the color does get a little darker when you upload. You might also play around with the location of your images. I move mine more towards the top than centered so it looks centered once inside of Classroom.

Now, let’s take this a step further. How about you let students create custom headers and each week you display a new one? Evan Mosier is having one of his classes do this and he has shared a site will the headers created by his students. They are free for anyone to use.

If you make one of your own, let me know @MandiTolenEDU on Twitter. If you use a banner from one of Evan’s students, give them a shout-out on Twitter.

Categories: Bitmoji, custom headers, Google Classroom, Google Drawing | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Stop Motion Videos

Stop Motion videos in Google Slides is such an easy project for teachers and students. I first learned about Stop Motion from @ericcurts on his blog Control Alt Achieve. @jmattmiller also has some fun stop motion information on his blog too.

I created a super short little stop motion that I turned into an animated gif using Tall Tweets then embedded into a Google slide presentation, even cropping it because it acts as an image.

download (12)

Screen Shot 2018-09-29 at 9.03.02 PM.png

Stop motion videos are super easy to make in Google Slides. For the one above, I created background then I drug in my Bitmoji and placed it at the top.

 

 

Screen Shot 2018-09-29 at 9.04.15 PM

Next you duplicate the slide and using the arrow keys or sliding with your mouse, move your image a little bit.

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2018-09-29 at 9.16.20 PM.png Continue the process until you have moved your object to the end.  This short little movie had 11 slides total.

Now the fun begins. Using the website Tall Tweets, load your Google Slide, this sometimes takes a bit depending on the size. Next, select the duration. Play with this a little until the movie looks like you want. You can check by clicking the create gif button. When you are happy with your movie, you can save it or tweet it.

Screen Shot 2018-09-29 at 9.08.47 PM

Below are some stop motion videos I created for a Triangle Congruence lesson. So yes, you can use stop motion for academic purposes too. Image how much fun it would be for students to create their own!

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If you make stop motion videos, please share and tag me on Twitter @TTmomTT. I would LOVE to see them!

Categories: Bitmoji, Geometry, Google Slides, Stop Motion, Triangle Congruence | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Bullet Journal Teacher Planner

I love to create sketchnotes and have tried my hand at bullet journals.  I love creating sketchnotes on my iPad, but I have always kept a paper journal. This year I discovered a PDF linked electronic bullet journal that you can use in Notability or GoodNotes. I wanted to try it out but not spend a ton of money on it. I discovered a tutorial online that taught me how to make one using Keynote. OH MY GOSH, it was so much fun. I created a teacher planner and I LOVE how it works. I’ve provided the PDF file for you to use if you want to try it out too.

Yes, I know, you can use Google calendar and I do, but there is something about writing on a calendar that works for me.

You click on the tabs on the side to take you to the month you want. You can click on beginning of the week to take you to the week you want.

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You need to store the PDF in Google Drive or Dropbox and import it to Notability. You can also use GoodNotes, but I haven’t personally tried it.

Enjoy the file. Remember this is my first attempt so I can’t promise perfection. You an also go on Etsy and search for electronic bullet journals to find some others have created.

PDF File

Categories: Notability, Planner, sketchnotes | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

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