Making Ends Meet

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Husband who broke his foot + car in the shop all week = missed #MTBos SundayFunday blog deadline

One of my favourite math tasks is a financial planning activity for my grade 8 students titled “Making Ends Meet”. Unfortunately we did not get to complete it last year due to time constraints, and so the version that I am sharing is from the previous year.

In this task, students are given the role of a recent university graduate just entering the work force. Each student is given a job or career (picked randomly out of a jar) and must determine how to pay bills with a starting salary for that job or career. In order to prepare for this assignment, I researched starting salaries for those fields in Canadian dollars. Students begin by calculating take home pay after taxes (my students needed assistance with this step). They then use the net salary to determine a monthly budget for food, housing, utilities, transportation, medical expenses, miscellaneous expenses, and savings. Once students have completed the budget and presented their work in an orderly and logical manner, they are presented with an unexpected problem. I have created a whole list of problems, and they are variations of this:

“You were filling the bath when the phone rang. A friend’s car broke down and she needed you to pick her up. You left immediately to go help her, but you forgot about the bathtub. When you returned, there was water everywhere and the floor was ruined. Unfortunately, insurance does not cover this type of flooding. The repair bills were $750. Calculate and explain how this will affect your budget.”

There are 19 problems of this type on my list, and the students get a random problem by picking one out of a jar. I cannot share the full problem list here, as I don’t want my students to have access to them.

My students have told me that this was one of their favourite assignments and it made them aware about real life expenses. Hopefully I can fit it in this year, as it takes quite some time to complete. You can access the document here. I am happy to hear suggestions as to how to improve this activity.

Posters for the Math Classroom

General Education, Math No Comments »

Once again, I have Sara Carter to thank for many of the wonderful posters that I have put up in my classroom. Two of the posters that I put up were her ‘Types of Errors’ and ‘Always Show Your Thinking’ posters. A few of my math colleagues were in my classroom and we began a discussion about these posters, and as a result of the discussion we made a few changes:

  • We changed the word ‘parentheses’ to ‘brackets’. This is more of a USA vs Canada thing. (Similarly, for order of operations we use BEDMAS instead of PEMDAS.)
  • We decided to take out the word ‘failure’ under Problem Solving and we adjusted some of the descriptors for that section.

We discussed the fact that we like the ‘Types of Errors’ poster and think it is important, and we agreed that it reflects the types of errors that we point out to our students. However, we felt that we also wanted to focus on positive things the students can do to achieve success. We decided to put up a new series of posters under the ‘Types of Errors’ poster. These posters will be framed in the positive, with the heading ‘Aim for Success’. The posters are as follows:

  • Always Show Your Thinking (Sarah already did a fabulous job with this one, no changes were necessary.)
  • Read and Follow Instructions Carefully
  • Show Your Work Vertically
  • Line Up Your Equal Signs
  • Explain Your Understanding
  • Check Your Work
  • Write Neatly
  • Ask Questions
  • Work Collaboratively
  • Solve Using Multiple Strategies

Did we miss anything essential? It may end up being too many posters, but we will live with it for a bit and see how it works. You can download the Word and PDF versions of the posters here.

Videos in the Classroom…Part 2

Math No Comments »

I don’t have as many math YouTube channel suggestions as I had for science. Although I am sure there are many out there, today I am going to stick to the two with which I have been following for a few years.

The first is Numberphile. Here you will find videos on math and other number based problems. It is not a site that teaches all math concepts, rather it looks at interesting connections. The site is run by Brady Haran, and the name of the site means “lover of numbers”. To get a sample of their videos, check out Calculating Pi with Real Pies and The Monty Hall Problem.

The second site is that of Vi Hart. I am not sure if all who watch her videos like her work, but I am a fan. She talks fast and she doodles as she speaks, which is one of the features that draws me to her work. My favourite of her videos is Wind and Mr. Ug, and I also enjoy her Doodling in Math Class playlist.

Enjoy the weekend.

Math Worksheet Mania

Math 2 Comments »

Sometimes I just need my students to practice math concepts, and so I provide worksheets for that purpose. To me, it seems silly to create my own worksheets when there are so many good sources out there. Here are a few of my favourites:

Teachnology

Math-Aids

Mathmaster

Math Worksheets 4 Kids

Math-Drills

HomeSchool Math

Kuta Software (many free worksheets)

Enjoy.

 

March Math Madness

Math No Comments »

March is an awesome month. The snow starts to melt, the temperature outside rises, the number of daylight hours increases, and NCAA March Madness takes place.

Over the last few years I have been incorporating March Madness into my probability lessons, but I haven’t been entirely happy with the outcome. Once again, I have tweaked my lesson. As I still have a few weeks before the competition begins, I may tweak again. I will also update the file to include the teams in the charts before distributing to my students. Until then, here is what I can share, so far:

March Math Madness 2015

Have a great week.

 

Updated File:

March Math Madness 2015

 

 

Interesting Resources

General Science, Math No Comments »

This week I came across two interesting educational resources, the National Stem Centre in the UK and surprisingly, the National Security Agency (who knew?).

I was searching for solubility animations when I came across the National Stem Centre. According to their website, they house  “the UK’s largest collection of STEM and teaching resources”. The e-library is definitely the place to be on that website, where you can search their vast resources by topic, age range, type/format, publisher, or year. If interested, here is the resource I found for solubility (which is actually only a small part of this resource).

The second site was found as I was exploring creative ideas for teaching slope. One of the documents that came up in my search was a pdf from NSA website. I was surprised at the source, and so I went to their main site to see what other type of resources were available. Finding the education section was a bit tricky and wasn’t easily accessible from their main page, but I managed to find the right area. The section is titled “Concept Development Units”, and the right side bar allows you to choose elementary, middle school, or high school. Once on the correct school section, there are a variety of math topics with lesson and unit plans to explore. Here is the resource that I found which uses Geometer’s Sketchpad to help teach slope concepts.

Have a great week.

 

Can It!

Math No Comments »

One of the assignments that my grade 8 students completed is called “Can It”. Our unit mixed both cylinder and angle concepts, and the assignment touched on both.

The premise of the assignment is as follows:

“You are the owner of a food processing company. You have a new product that you want to market, and a major grocery store has agreed to sell your product. You will need to design a can and a label for your product.”

The students are then led through a series of ten different steps to complete, beginning with product ideas, then walking them through the design of the can and label, and ending with pitching the product. It is assessed with an IB Communication rubric.

I have shared it here for anyone to access.

Can It!

Have a fabulous week.

Begin the year with math.

Math No Comments »

I have three math websites to share before school begins again next week.

The first, Mr. P’s Math Page, is suggested based on the Puzzles & Games page.  Explore the other pages as you wish, but make sure to spend some time looking through the variety of puzzles and games that he has shared in this section. The other real treasure on this website is the Problem of the Month archive.

Next, visit the Number Loving Resources site. There are a multitude of games to be found here, searchable by strand, topic, or UK Key Stage Levels. When you are finished there, head over to the Number Loving Blog to find great teaching ideas.

Finally, Mr. Barton’s Maths has a slew of worthwhile resources. You can wander over to the Just for Fun or explore his blog, but I have spent the most time on the Teachers page. While there, be sure to look through the Teaching Resources and then wander over to the Tarsia Jigsaw Bundle.

Have a fabulous new year.

 

Instead of Magic Squares…

Math No Comments »

I was looking for some integer challenges for some of my students, and I came across Dr. Mike’s Math Games for Kids. If the advertisements don’t bother you, then you can find some interesting worksheets for math. The one that peeked my interest was the Magic Hexagon worksheet generator. Magic Hexagons work in the same way as Magic Squares, with the obvious shape change. I liked that this worksheet generator can create Magic Hexagons with positive and negative integers.

Explore the rest of his site to learn about a variety of math games, or head to his worksheet page and you will find worksheet generators for other math puzzles and mazes, as well as for standard review.

Have a great week.

Making Ends Meet

Math No Comments »

I have recently finished a budgeting activity with my grade 8 math class titled, “Making Ends Meet”. (The document is attached below.)

Each student was given a “job” with an entry level salary. The first step was for them to determine their after-tax monthly income. They then needed to determine how they were going to allocate their income to the following categories:

  • Food
  • Housing
  • Utilities
  • Transportation
  • Medical Expenses
  • Entertainment
  • Sports/Fitness
  • Clothing
  • Miscellaneous
  • Savings

Students came into class with a report that outlined the distribution of income in their budget. For the summative task they were then presented with a series of challenges and unexpected problems to consider. These were not shared with the students beforehand.

It was a time consuming task, but well worth the learning experience. My students now have a sense of the value of the dollar, the importance of getting a good job, and the reality that life is more costly then they realized.

Have a great week.

Making Ends Meet 2013

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