girls night live

Three of my dearest friends and I had a night out...just moms. :)
We headed to the Walton Arts Center for Girls Night Live after a yummy dinner at Chipotle.
It was great to end my Spring Break chatting with friends and hearing a clear word at the concert.

Laura Story closed with "Blessings"...
And what if trials of this life
The rains, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise?

Mandisa closed with "Stronger"...
When the waves are taking you under
Hold on just a little bit longer
He knows that this is gonna make you stronger, stronger!

I love all things that follow a plan. What teacher doesn't love a solid plan with a few alternatives just in case?!? But tonight I was reminded that my plan isn't always the best plan that God has in store for me...and certainly not according to my time preferences. May I choose patience with a perspective that seeks to find the blessing within the circumstance.

Hope you are having a fabulous weekend...make it count!



simplifying radicals

The Common Core State Standards are filled with number sense. Students engaged in the Common Core aligned curriculum will have a deep understanding of rational and irrational numbers...including a rational approximation of an irrational number (CCSS 8.NS.2).

No. I'm not talking The Hunger Games. (Although that's at the top of our list for this weekend.) I hereby have given you fair warning that this post is me standing jumping up and down on my math soap box. #justsaying

How would you find the rational approximation of this number?

Ummm...without a calculator. ;)

Here's how we approach this one in my classroom...Well. Let's start with square roots that are rational. We know the square root of 20 is somewhere between the square root of 16 and the square root of 25...so something between 4 and 5. Can you be more specific? Hmmm...the list begins to form...
root 16 = 4
root 17 = ?
root 18 = ?
root 19 = ?
root 20 = ?
......................about 4.5
root 21 = ?
root 22 = ?
root 23 = ?
root 24 = ?
root 25 = 5

Since we have 9 numbers to cover an increase of 1 unit, each increase will be a little more than 0.1. Why? Because 1/9 > 1/10. So we can approximate that root 20 is approximately 4.4. {Ish! At this point we discuss if the "little more" is "enough more" to justify rounding.}

But what about simplest radical form?!? We've searched high and low. No sign of "simplest radical form" in our copy of the CCSS document. (If you find it...please put me out of my misery!)

Could we teach our students to simplify radicals and then in turn use that to find the rational approximation of an irrational number? In simplest radical form, the square root of 20 is exactly 2 times the square root of 5. Hmmm...the square root of 5 is some number between the square root of 4 and the square root of 9...between 2 and 3.

root 4 = 2
root 5 = ?
root 6 = ?
..................about 2.5
root 7 = ?
root 8 = ?
root 9 = 3

Since we have 5 numbers to cover an increase of 1 unit, each increase will be more than 0.1. Why? Because 1/5 > 1/10 (some students will automatically go to the fact that 1/5 = 0.2). So we can approximate that root 5 is approximately 2.2 and therefore 2(2.2) = 4.4.

Bottom line. We reach a valid approximation either way. I think it's important for our students to discover both paths...and even more important for them to critique which approach they prefer and under what circumstances they would select that particular method. I'm ready for a viable argument. How about you?!?

Cooperative practice would be crucial for students to have perspective to support their argument. Here's what we did in my algebra class:

This product is available in my TpT store.

I'm curious...is this particular concept new to your junior high math classroom? This concept isn't specifically outlined in our current standards, but it is something we do. I'm just guessing that you have a laundry list of items exactly like that in your lesson plans too. ;)

Have a fabulous weekend...make it count!


my fave posts today

Mandy over at Cooperative Learning 365 is quickly approaching a milestone...a quarter of a million pageviews on her fabulous blog! Hop on over, hoot a little love her way, and enter her amazing celebration giveaway.

Ordered Pairs + BINGO = PAIRO
(My sweet hubby created these bingo cards for me back in the day...like our dating days...ummm...over 15 years ago!)
Grab this fun game of plotting ordered pairs on a coordinate grid. This game packet includes 30 unique PAIRO cards! Click on the picture to find this product in my TpT store.
Common Core. Need I say more?
My PLC continues to divide and conquer.
We are searching high and low for discovery activities.
Or some sort of hands-on activities that align to our new standards.
Our goal is to engage our students in the content without handing every detail to them in advance.

Anyways, for now we are trying to focus on CCSS that are new to our grade level.
Our 7th graders will first be introduced to probability in our classroom.
From likely vs. unlikely all the way to compound events.
I created this theoretical vs. experimental probability lab activity...
Click on the picture to find this product in my TpT store.

My students love using the Twister game spinner! And it's amazing how the basics from this lab activity stick throughout our entire probability unit. I just love an activity that creates a reference point for future learning...how about you?

Kristen over at Secondary Solutions posed a question on facebook this morning: "Do you write along with your students?" She linked to an article by Marjorie Light on the Teacher to Teacher blog. I wonder if the environment of your classroom would change if you shared your own version of the poem below?!?

Be sure to add the freebie to your probability file! This journal prompt allows for creativity and requires students (and teachers!) to put their knowledge in writing. Click on the picture to download.

Have a great week...make it count!


all about lines

Spring Break Day 1
The girls have Easter dresses and shoes.
Oh...and a take out box from Candy Craze.
And my poor laptop is officially broken.
My sweet hubby brought it back to life after a worm.
Then the keyboard did something funky.
I'm trying to survive without my right hand.

Just before Spring Break, I gave my geometry students a Benchmark diagnostic test. They quickly realized the 8th grade math curriculum involves a lot of algebra...particularly lines. So I tweaked an activity that we did last year to meet our review needs.

This deck of cards is so very versatile. I use the table of values and algebraic equation cards in my 7th grade math. And then we move on and use the algebraic equations and the graphs. But in my 7th grade algebra class we use all four sets to analyze graphically, algebraically, numerically, and verbally. Visit my TpT store to add this to your algebra files. Stay tuned for a similar product for exponential functions and quadratic functions...

Hope your week is off to a great start...make it count!



top 10 blogs

The super sweet Jena over at Caught in the Middle gave my blog a "Top 10" award this week. And I would like to share the love with my favorite places to visit.

Caught in the Middle
Caught in the Middle

I have decided Jena and I are soul sisters. We both love to keep our classrooms filled with fun. Hop over and spy the amazing stuff she has been making on her 2-week break!

The Lesson Cloud
I recently started to contribute to this amazing blog. And believe me...I'm the tiny fish in this ocean of awesomeness. The administrators are total super stars! Hop on over and join the fun!

Ashleigh's Education Journey

Education Journey
Ashleigh has a super cute blog! (I often wonder if she would notice if I copied her template exactly. LOL!) And she is a huge fan of math work stations. Hop on over...you will love every ounce of the classroom creations she shares.

Oh' Boy Fourth Grade
Farley is hilarious! I love reading her posts. And I stalk her "Currently" linky party each month. Hop on over and subscribe to her blog so you don't miss the next par-tay!

Science Stuff
Amy is my online teacher hero. Seriously. She makes me dream of teaching science...which I'm not even certified to do. I'm thinking she would be fun to teach down the hall from. Hop on over to her blog and you'll understand what I'm saying!

Math Coach's Corner
Donna continues to post amazing elementary math goodness. And she recently started a grade level linky party. Hop on over and post your teacher blog too!

Runde's Room
I first started following Jen's blog because of her awesome journal prompts. And she also has some amazing foldables incorporated into her math notes. Hop on over and spy the cootie catcher she posted this week!

To The Square Inch
Kate has the most giving heart. Hop on over and check out her bank of science and math activities.

Middle School Math Rules
Sherrie makes me smile! She always has a kind word for everyone. Hop on over and spy her life in 7th grade math.

Pushing Through 6th Grade
Mrs. Piper recently posted some fabulous Pi Day activities. Be sure to hop on over and file away for next year!

Today was my first day of Spring Break! I slept until almost 8:30 am. Fun!
Tomorrow is my Emma's birthday. She has made a request or two. ;)
Hope you're having a fabulous weekend...make it count!



let the fun begin

Happy Pi Day to YOU!
My students are super excited to celebrate Pi Day in the year 2015.
And I love that they made that connection all on their own!

Dr. Seuss' The Lorax
It is officially Spring Break in the Tilmon house!
And not a second too soon. :)
My oldest went to see a movie with friends.
My youngest helped my hubby clean the pool.
Oh. And me?!? Well...I worked to finalize some grant writing. Almost finished.

Although my sweet girlies will be sleeping in tomorrow, I have two days of staff development. I will spend Thursday working on Common Core State Standards for preAP Algebra 1. And we have LTF training on Friday...my favorite recurring training!

I posted a new Inequalities Go Fish Game over on The Lesson Cloud. If you haven't followed this blog...it's a must! Not even kidding...it has something for everyone!

(And per request...I have edited this super fun game to include a black/white version too!)

So what's on deck for your Spring Break?!?
I hope you have a blast...make it count!



science fair results

3rd place
Congrats to my sweet girly!

Don't you love this photo?!? My vote for the photo to be framed and included on the display table was overruled. I still think making the judges smile is always worthwhile. ;)

Our nine weeks ends tomorrow. To all my non-teacher followers...life is just a little bit crazy at the moment. Bwaahahaha! As I said to one of my students recently for his denial to misbehavior, "Is that a gross underestimation?!?" His response, "Probably!"

Agreed. :)

On my agenda for tomorrow...pretest, mentor meeting, grant writing, more pretest, and a HOTS quiz...quickly followed by a forensics tournament and a run to the airport. Saturday involves a full day of judging at the forensics tournament.

Hope to chat again on Sunday!
Enjoy your weekend...make it count!



a formula for caffeine

I'm going to need a venti hot chocolate to jumpstart my tomorrow...and several days to come.
Thursday: science fair
Friday and Saturday: forensics tournament
Let's just say I'm a night owl...and all three of these require crack of dawn shuttles for my beloved daughter. LOL! :)

We are counting down to Spring Break...only 5 more lessons. And I've decided one of those five will be a pretest for state testing. I'm excited to pretest before break so I can get things organized at my own pace. I'll have to come back and give you an explanation as to how I approach Benchmark Bootcamp. Anyone have a state testing review routine? Do share!

One simple change I made last year was to teach my students the five content strands they would encounter during spring testing. I'm not sure I actually did this on purpose. But when it came to the week of testing I realized knowing the test format was a MUST! My algebra students gathered in my room each morning before the test so that they could sharpen pencils and overall just to support each other. They amazed me on the second morning when they said, "Mrs. Tilmon, we're going to have a non-linear function today...can we review the basics of quadratics for a few minutes?" When I asked how they could be certain of their upcoming questions, they rattled off the three areas that had been covered the day before and that they knew which two areas were left for that day's test. Nothing compares to that type of preparation...there is freedom in knowledge. Their anxiety was significantly reduced just from the practice of classifying problems into strand types!

The photo above shows a cover page to a practice set of geometry open-response items. The five strands are listed with a brief description of each one. Needless to say...I've been prepping classification by strand throughout the year! ;)

Chat soon...
Enjoy the end of your week...make it count!



Happy March to YOU!

We love March at our house...Emma's birthday and Spring Break and sometimes Easter. And this year our district added two extra days of professional development prior to Spring Break. My girls are ecstatic two extra days. I think they are just trying to make me jealous! :)

Well...it's that time again! Hop over to Farley's blog and join the "Currently" linky party. Big fun! And I simply cannot wait to read your three words. Each word has to start with the first letter of your last name and describe you from the perspective of your students, friends, and family. Let me konw if you struggle with your letter as much as I did with my "T" options!

It's been a fun week over at TpT. My algebra vocabulary freebie was featured in the "10 Free Downloads" newsletter on Sunday and several new friends have downloaded my creation. I'm honored to share in someone else's teaching journey. If you haven't subscribed to the weekly newsletter, click here to add weekly treasures to your inbox (scroll to the bottom of the screen to find the "newsletter signup" box).

Hope you are off to a great start to your week...make it count!



coming full circle

My 8th grade preAP geometry students are in the middle of their testing cycle on circles. I'm so excited that this unit is complete. I was totally swimming in circles from day to day! The circle content overlaps a lot. So much so that I struggled to find the best option for chunking the content for learning purposes. I actually didn't resolve that issue until the very end when we completed the review summary. (Click on the pic to find this product in my TpT store.)

And these circle properties summary cards are my favorite part of the entire unit. This spin off of the Frayer Model for vocabulary worked to pull everything together. Whew!

All of our core 8th grade teachers use the Frayer Model for vocabulary. Each student has a set of index cards to use in their classes.

Do you use a similar model for vocabulary? Or do you have an alternate plan that works best for math vocabulary?
Hope you have a great week...make it count!


finishing data displays

My 7th graders will be finishing their data display unit this week. We will complete a summary concept map and unit review on Monday with the Test A scheduled for Tuesday. I created an "I have... Who has..." game for our MATHercise tubs.

Click on the picture to find this game in my TpT store. This "I have... Who has..." game assesses student knowledge of interpreting data displays...specifically circle graphs, double line graphs, and scatterplots. We have Stem-and-Leaf Plots to Histograms and Box-and-Whisker Plots games to use in small group while we review this week. We have also been responding to journal prompts that compare and contrast different data displays. It's a lot of information...requires great attention to detail. Did I mention how glad I am that this unit is BEFORE Spring Break?!? LOL!

So...do tell...do you set aside time to review your students for state tests? We run a Benchmark Bootcamp in our classroom for two weeks prior to the BIG test. :) In a nutshell...we give our students a sample multiple choice test that covers all of our content standards. Then based upon their individual results, we set up a review system that concentrates in the areas that they need a refresher. It's awesome and crazy all at the same time! I still need to do the background work for my geometry students and their review time. Yikes!
And meanwhile I'm also looking ahead to Pi Day! It's our last student contact day before Spring Break. Our math department ordered cute t-shirts from our high school math club last year. They have a different shirt this year. They say "I <3 PI"...think of the I heart New York designs. So for sure we will be decked out in Pi Day t-shirts on March 14th. Any fun plans in your math classroom?

Enjoy your weekend...make it count!



tackling testing

I'm out of pocket this week working on rangefinding for the Arkansas End-of-Course Algebra 1 Exam. This is my first experience testing and tweaking rubrics for the open-response items. Let's just say I have learned a lot of valuable information...some that I can discuss and some not so much. It's always nice to join efforts with math teachers from all over the state. We gain just as much knowledge from each other during breaks and lunch as we do from discussing the constructed response items.

Anyone else looking forward to the weekend?!? I'm already counting down. :) Hopefully I will be able to catch up on posting and blog hopping. I really want to browse some Common Core online resources that I learned about today too. And I need to put the final touches on a couple of grants that I'm writing. So what do you have on your teacher "to do" list for this weekend?

My wish list is growing moment by moment. Any guesses as to what's at the very top?!? :) The countdown is on...

Enjoy the rest of your week...make it count!