Posted in Activities, Circles, Geometry, Solving Equations

Choose Your Own Adventure

This has become one of my favorite projects to do. I stole the idea from Matt Miller in his book Ditch That Textbook. As Alice Keeler often says, you shouldn’t have 30 of the exact same thing and with this project, you have 30 unique stories. I’ve done this with Algebra when we review solving equations and in Geometry as an assessment for Segments and Angles in Circles. I love that students have to know common misconceptions to create realistic wrong answers. Great conversations happen when you challenge their wrong answers and why they chose them. I love that they have to peer edit, revise, then peer edit again. I also love that in Geometry we learn how to use Google Drawing. I try to throw Google Apps lessons in whenever I can. We also have a great conversation about Creative Commons licensing and how I can’t publish their adventure to the world if they have used copyrighted material. This year I created a hyperdoc so students would have all of their instructions in one place. I also gave them the scoring guide so they could work through their partners problems and also check for navigation issues.

Here are a couple of exemplary examples from my students.

I love the Wizard’s School because she actually made the circles part of the story. Very well done.

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The second example, Journey to be a Mage, is from Algebra 1. This student wanted to make sure I could share his story so he drew all of his images on notepad on his iPhone. Amazing!

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The last two are just good examples (they may have an error here and there) of stories and images. The one with the dog was my student taking images of her dog. She was so excited.

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I have included a link to the hyperdoc. It is view only but you can make a copy and edit as you wish.

This is a link to the PDF version of the scoring guide I give students to peer edit with.

Please leave enough time to conference with your students through the journey and give them time to peer edit and correct. We want them to do it right so it can be shared with the world.

Posted in Activities, Geometry, Parallel Lines

Geometric Town Project

This is a culminating project that we do in Geometry. It was originally created by a colleague of mine who has since retired. It has gone through many revisions over the past 6 year. I love that it reviews parallel line angle relationships, equations of lines, properties of quadrilaterals, perimeter & area and equations of circles. Not to mention it allows for some student choice and creativity. I’ve posted the most recent update and some examples of student work. Students create the map of a town using the specified guidelines from the town planner.

Project Link


This is a wonderful end of the year project to tie in with previous knowledge. I hope you can use this in your classroom.

Cross posted on

Posted in Activities, Google Sheets, Order of Operations

Order of Operations in Google Sheets

I look for real reasons for why we use math. Students can spot BS from a mile away, probably because it STINKS! A few years ago, I realized that a spreadsheet was a great way to explore order of operations. We have to tell technology how we want it to process numbers. If we don’t, technology defaults to the basic rules of math, order of operations.

While reading Jo Boaler’s book, Mathematical Mindset (if you haven’t read it, get a copy RIGHT NOW!), Alice Keeler and I started chatting on Twitter. Alice was working on a spreadsheet activity and asked me to collaborate with her. I realized it was the perfect platform for a student directed lesson (I used to guide the exploration) on order of ops using Alice’s inspiration. This is what was born.

Students begin with some research on equations and expressions, inserting images or typing their own examples. There is also a place where students draw a conclusion from their research. Communication and collaboration is encouraged.Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 9.18.00 PM

Then it’s time to play a game. One student writes an expression in words. Their partner calculates by hand and enters their guess. Then we teach a spreadsheet skill (Alice would say Computer Apps class isn’t needed, we can embed it in content – I agree!) This is a basic introduction to entering a function using the =. If your partner calculated correctly, they get a point, if not the first person does. The spreadsheet tally’s the points to see who wins. The 2nd person has to figure out how the spreadsheet would calculate and then calculate by hand the same way.

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Feel free to use this but please give me feedback. It makes my day when people use my stuff!

Get your own copy here.

Posted in Activities, Parabolas


#booksnaps came from the incredible Tara Martin who decided to take Snapchat and have student annotate information from books. I loved it! Then I wanted to know how I could use this in math class. I was so excited when I coined the phrase #mathsnaps only to have Tara tell me someone else already beat me to it. That’s ok, it’s still a great idea.

I had my students create math snaps for parabolas after their catapult project. It’s a great (and fun) way for students to demonstrate their understanding of key features of the parabola. AND… you get to use Bitmoji’s so it’s a win-win.

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I have a short tutorial on my Infinitely Teaching blog to help with the creation of #mathsnaps in Google Drawing but I also give students this document in Google Classroom so they can be self-directed learners.

You can do this with any math subject area. Be creative with it. Here is an example from Jacob Mehr who saw my #mathsnaps on Twitter and decided to try them himself. He took the picture then dropped the image in Desmos. From Desmos he screen captured the image and put it in Google Drawing to finish the #mathnsap.

Twitter Parabola.jpg

Posted in Activities, Parabolas

Catapult Activity

While researching for our parabola unit I stumbled upon the project posted by Julie Reulbach on her blog I Speak Math. If you don’t follow her on Twitter, you should! I adapted her activity a little to make it go along with Clash of Clans and carried the theme throughout the activity.

I shot the orange spikey stones (because if you say balls in front of freshmen…) at students as they walked in the door starting about a week out. They were pretty excited to get to shoot the catapults themselves. Many of them also play Clash of Clans or Clash Royale so they enjoyed that part too. The activity is frustrating for some of them who like to have their hand held through each step. We have them work together at tables and only intervene if the productive struggle is no longer productive.

I have attached all of my documents for this project. Remember, this is modified from Julie’s project. You can get all of her originals here.

Activity Document

This is a printable bulls-eye. I feel like I can use the castle image in the middle since it’s a screen-shot I took from the game. If you feel this is questionable, then take the image off.

Desmos activity This is updated from Julie’s as well. I included the Clash of Clans images (possible copyright issues here – sorry) but it makes it more engaging for the students.

Scoring Guide

I plan to update this project for next year with some spreadsheet activities.

Posted in Questioning, Solving Equations

Solving Equations Questions

When we began our first unit in Algebra we wanted to set the stage for good questioning and not just wrote note taking. Here are a few of the questions we used with our table groups so students would talk and form knowledge about what we were learning. We encourage students to debate with each other and provide solid mathematical evidence to support their thoughts.

  • Variable
    • At your table, discuss the variable in the problem and how you would solve for it: 2x-4=10
  • Operations
    • 4x+8=18 How do you use inverse operations to solve this?
  • Coefficient
    • Locate the coefficient(s), what happens to the coefficient when you solve.
      • 5x=3x+2
  • Expression vs equation
    • How could you make this expression an equation? Now solve at your table.
    • 3.5x+12

When are are finished with each section, we ask the students what they think would be important to write down. Some write a lot, some not as much. It’s important for them to learn how much information they need for their own learning.

Posted in Activities

Activities Tab

Activities can make math more relevant and which is important for students to understand the why of math. Activities can also do something just as important. It can make math more fun. At the end of the day, I want to students to love math.

I will be posting activities I’ve used in my classroom. You should be able to search through the activities category or click the activities tab above. If you have an activity that is fun and relevant, please share it under the Submit ideas tab as well.