A Little Help with Angles

When teaching online, I was on a constant search for interactive websites to use with my students. This became even more important as I was working with my grade 6 students on measuring angles with a protractor. In the classroom, it is easy to walk around and see how students are holding and lining up the protractor, but this is obviously more challenging over Zoom. First, many of many students did not bring home their geometry sets as they were collecting locker supplies before we went online. Second, even if they had, I would not have been able to see how they were holding and using those physical protractors, even with screen sharing options. I found a few good activities on Desmos (this one and this one), but I was looking for additional practice. I then came across this selection of activities from Transum. This first one is from their Starter of the Day selection and involves estimating and then checking. This second one offers more questions of varying types of angles. Using these activities allowed me to model by sharing my screen, and then have students share their screens so I could watch how they were manipulating the online protractor and lining it up with the angle. There are many interactive activities on Transum’s website. I haven’t even begun to explore all of their offerings, but I plan to do so this summer.

Posted by Ilana Cyna in Math

New Puzzle – Foxes and Rabbits

I have been trying to organize my math puzzle folder (which is quite the job). I came across this Hunter and Rabbit puzzle sometime last year and made a (boring and unimpressive) Smartboard file so that my math students could do it together as a class. That didn’t work out as well as I had hoped and the students could have been more engaged. Last week I came across the link and Smartboard file in my puzzle folder and decided to work on this puzzle. I made it into a hand’s on puzzle so that my students could work on it together in small groups. The original puzzle uses hunters and rabbits, but I decided to remove the hunters and use foxes instead. I was searching for a head-on view of the rabbit but couldn’t find one that I liked that was royalty free and labelled for legal reuse. I laminated the puzzle board and pieces and used it last week. All (or almost all) of my students were engaged (in two different classes) and one student asked if we can do a puzzle every week. I have a lot more laminating to do!

Here is the link to download my Foxes and Rabbits puzzle.

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Inspiration from the Twitterverse

I was hoping to write more often in August, but a hand injury has put a crimp in my plans. Typing is slower than normal and a little painful, and so I have been weary of spending too much time on a keyboard. But it is now the middle of the month and my #MTBoSBlaugust posts have been few and far between, so here goes…

For today’s post I am going to share some of my favourite Twitter bookmarks from the last two weeks – the inspiring ideas that I have seen from the creative teachers in the Twitterverse. I won’t get through them all in one post and so I will revisit this another day. There doesn’t seem to be enough time to properly investigate and figure out how to use all of these ideas, but one can dream…..


There is so much to explore on the Transum website. I like the Starter of the Day, Maths on Display, and Fun Maths sections. However you may want to check out Transum’s Twitter post about their Back to School page:


Jake Miller shares so many tech tips, especially related to GoogleEdu. This was my favourite so far this month:


NASA Stem Engagement shares how to make a solar oven. I wanted to do this with my grade 7 students last year but ran out of time.


Gary Rubin shared the new EquatIO Activity Database. I can’t wait to find time to go through the activities!


Paul Andersen (Bozeman Science) shared the Teacher’s Guide to Scientific Inquiry. I really want to explore this site (oh, to find the time).


Everything Sarah Carter. Last week she shared the Mathonyms site, which I proceeded to then explore how different words would look in their math font.


And I think that my new favourite follow is Interesting Engineering. So much fun.


This doesn’t even begin to cover all of the amazing things I have read on Twitter over the last two weeks.

More to come.

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Making Ends Meet…updated yet again

I have previously written about a financial planning project that I do with my grade 8 students called “Making Ends Meet”. You can read about it here and here. In this project the students are given the role of a recent graduate about to start their first post-university job. The students need to create a monthly budget so that they can move out on their own and ensure that they can pay all of their bills. I have always loved this project and thought that it was a good learning experience. The most valuable feedback, though, has been from former students. Over the last year or so I have heard from more and more students about how much of an impact this project had on their way of thinking, and how it opened their eyes to the world beyond their middle school existence. I am sharing the updated version that I did this past year and you can access it here. After the students create the budget they are given two unexpected problems to deal with as well as some other reflection questions. These are not part of the student handout, but I am happy to share with them if you contact me through Twitter.



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Welcome to Blaugust 2019!

In June I was reading Volume 58 of Sarah Carter’s @mathequalslove Monday Must Reads. In it she referenced a task from @MrNiksMathClass on Twitter. I glanced past the task quickly as it was for high school and I teach middle school, and I didn’t find it relevant for my needs. However, I reread her post in July and went to check out Math with P. Nik’s Twitter feed. And I am glad I did.

His feed is full of thoughtful math problems and they are not just for high school. There are many that are very relevant for middle school students. I spent many hours that day in July going through his feed and filing away the problems that are relevant for my units. I will definitely keep my eye on his feed during the next school year.

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Cleave Books Resource Pages


Last year I came upon (or was led to…I can’t remember) a website called Cleave Books. It is a little bit of a hodgepodge, but it has some interesting math resources. The Teacher Resources Online page brings you to a variety of template makers and information sheets. Here you will find templates for grid paper, number lines, digits of Pi, codes and ciphers, searches and cross sums, formula sheets and more, as well as practice booklets and other random activities. The Specialist Calculators Online page is basically what is says, a variety of calculators where each is devoted to a specific task. I like the Calendar Models page where you can create a yearly 3D calendar in varying forms. There is also a Pages of Puzzles section which houses generic problem solving puzzles as well as tangrams, pentominoes, dissection puzzles, and sliding block puzzles. The final area on this website that I will highlight it the MisMaths page. Here you will find math mistakes and misconceptions – could be good for same daily starters.

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Videos for Learning

Today I would like to share my favourite go-to sites for educational videos:


ASAP Science – Go here for the Periodic Table Song

Bozeman Science – Mainly science, one section on statistics and graphing

Crash Course – Science, engineering, history, and literature, also visit Crash Course Kids

Khan Academy – Anything and everything

Minute Physics – Great source of physics videos

Numberphile – Fun math based videos

PatrickJMT – Great compilation of math videos

Veritasium – Videos from many other sources on a range of topics



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Top Trumps in the Classroom

A few years ago I bought my son his first pack of Top Trumps. Neither of us had ever played before, but I saw the game in a store and was intrigued. Since then he has been hooked. We play at home and he plays with his friends at camp.

For those who don’t know, Top Trumps is a competitive card game with attributes similar to war. The main goal is to get all of the cards from your opponents. There are many versions of the game, and each game deck has its own theme. One of the decks we have is volcano themed, and each card is a different volcano from somewhere around the world. Here are a few card samples:


As you can see, the cards have various categories on them and each category has an associated numeric value. The cards are evenly distributed to all players and then players keep their cards in front them in a face down pile. At the beginning of a round each player looks at the top card and the first player calls a category and reads its numeric value. The rest of the players then read the numeric values for that category on their own cards, and the player with the highest value takes all cards from that round. If the numeric values on the cards are the same then those cards are placed in the centre, all players draw a new card from the top of the their piles, and the same player calls out a new category. The player with the highest numeric value on the new category takes all cards, including those in the centre.

I figured that somewhere there were teachers that must have adapted this game for the classroom, and I began to search. I found a few resources, but nothing too extensive. This summer I decided to look again and I found a few new resources to add to the mix.

You can find blank templates here and here. The second site is TES and requires a login to download, but the registration is free. Some documents on TES cost money, but there are many that are free. I have found some amazing resources on TES.

If you search online using key words, there are many resources that pop up. Here are just a few:


JustMaths has a few versions of Top Trumps, a few of which you can see below:

Mean, Median, Mode, and Range Top Trumps

Simultaneous Equations and Equation of the Line Top Trumps

Standard Form/Scientific Notation Top Trumps

Solving Equations Top Trumps


Other Top Trumps from TES (mostly from Laura Rees Hughes)

Integer Review Top Trumps

Order of Operations Top Trumps

Standard From/Scientific Notation Top Trumps

Substituting into Expressions Top Trumps

Solving Equations Top Trumps

Missing Angles Top Trumps

Averages Top Trumps

Fraction of an Amount Top Trumps

Fraction, Decimal, Percent Top Trumps


The Great Math Teaching Ideas blog by William Emeny also has a few versions of the game.

Substitution Top Trumps

Polygon Shape Properties


And of course, if you don’t want to download, print, and cut up your own, someone has made actual decks of cards to sell and changed the name to Math Trumps. You can visit that site here.

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Exploring Virtual Labs


As I prepare for the upcoming school year I have been searching for good virtual lab websites. Here is the best of what I have found:

PhET – Range of physics, biology, chemistry, earth science, and math simulations, search by content or by grade level, teacher notes and activities also available

Glencoe Virtual Labs – Range of life science, physical science, and earth science

ChemCollective – Virtual labs and scenario based learning

Learn Genetics – Small selection of virtual labs

hhmi Biointeractive – Small selection of virtual labs, many other resources on website

Molecular Workbench – Must download each lab

The Physics Classroom – Some good interactives

Earthquake Simulator

Prepmagic – Still trying to figure this one out…unsure if there is pricing involved

Go-Lab – Range of physics, chemistry, life Science, earth science, and math


The following sites have resources beyond virtual labs:

Annenberg Learner

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Puzzles Here, Puzzles There, Puzzles Puzzles Everywhere

I have been reading about Sarah Carter’s puzzle table and I love the idea. She has four posts where she talks about the types of puzzles that she uses, and you can read them here and here and here and here. I am not sure if I have anywhere to set up a table for this and I may have to modify the idea, but I still went ahead and ordered the Puzzle Box books that she mentioned from Amazon. I can’t wait for them to arrive!

In her Puzzle Table: Weeks 7-9 post she wrote about the H and T puzzles which I have seen before. She got them from a website called I think I may have some hard copies of these puzzles in my classroom at school, but I wanted a digital copy and so I started searching online. I didn’t find them on that site, but I did find them on the Puzzle Playground website which has both the H and T puzzles, along with an M puzzle. You can access them here. I know that I also have the F puzzle at school and was looking for a digital copy of that one, as well. Puzzle Playground doesn’t have a copy, but Math is Fun has a version which you can access here. You should also check out the Puzzle Playground Manipulative Puzzles section for some other great options.

In her Puzzle Table: Weeks 1-6 post she mentioned the Four Aces puzzle which she also got from I also could not find this puzzle there nor anywhere else that I searched online. I went back to the website and contacted the website designer and requested a copy. He kindly sent me the pdf of the puzzle and gave me permission to share it here. He also said that other DIY puzzles (manipulative puzzles) will eventually return to his website. also has a variety of other puzzles and games which you can either play online or print, including Mathdoku.

I have also scoured through some of my other resource books and have found a few puzzles that I like from the following books:

I have many more online puzzle sites to search through and I should have quite the collection by the time I am done. I will share those links another day.

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