## Standardized Math Test Prep

How many of us work our tails off to make sure our students have learned all of the math that they are going to encounter come standardized test time but still feel like our students are under-performing despite our best efforts?  I feel this way, and if you do too you are not alone!  I recently went to a training and found that many other educators were feeling the same way.  It is such a struggle but there are some things we can be doing in our classroom for our students to help them get ready for the test.

Spiral review is important.  We need to revisit and practice skills from middle school because the reality of it is that many of the assessed skills on standardized tests are rooted in the math skills our students learned in middle school.  Students need to apply these skills to tackle more in-depth problems on the test but the ability to use those basic skills has to be there.  I like to use bell ringers at the start of class to provide a quick review of previously learned skills.

Students need opportunities to problem solve, make connections, and apply their learning in class so that they can build their confidence in their ability to attempt and tackle tough problems on standardized tests.  Many of the questions require the use of middle school skills (find the average) but also add an ability to problem solve (one of the values is missing) and think critically.

Practice.  Students need the opportunity to learn how to pace themselves and to get comfortable with the types of questions they will encounter on the test.  Having the students complete practice tests in smaller chunks regularly (for me it is 15 questions in 15 minutes) gives the students familiarity with the test and how to pace themselves so they can enter the testing environment a little more confident knowing what to expect.  I tell them every time five minutes has passed during our practice time so that they can see how many problems they have completed and to help them pace themselves better, if needed.

Once you complete the practice, discuss the practice questions and answers that students struggled with.  Have students share how they got the correct answer for questions that very few students got correct.  The conversation that happens after the practice is just as beneficial as the practice problems themselves because students learn how other students approached and solved the problems.  It is awesome hearing students share their unique but accurate approaches to solving these problems and it might just help another student next time they encounter a problem that uses a similar skill.

The last practice I did with my students showed both myself and my students that they were missing important details when they were reading the problems, for example, the answer needed to be feet and they chose the answer in inches.  We learned that in “doing an easy problem quickly” students were reading too fast and missing important details that resulted in getting “quick” problems incorrect.  This will be something that I continue to help my students with, paying attention to detail.

Teaching is tough and teaching all the standards is a challenge, and despite how we may feel about standardized testing it is a reality of our education system and what we do as educators and we need to prep our students for it the best that we can.  I would love to hear what you do to help your students get ready for standardized testing!

## Success in the Math Classroom

Welcome to Math Classroom Resources!  My name is Linsey.  I am a HS math teacher and I currently teach Algebra 1, Algebra 2, PreCalculus, AP Calculus, and AP Statistics.  I have spent nine years in the classroom working with a variety of students and I have had years of success in the classroom.  To me, success in the classroom means students are learning at high levels – my students are doing math, understanding math, and explaining math.  You can have this kind of success in your math classroom too!

I created Math Classroom Resources to provide math teachers with resources, tools, and supports that are often hard to find in our day-to-day routines!  It is so hard to get everything done in a day at school and finding time to collaborate with colleagues about teaching strategies and new ideas can be almost impossible.  If you are the only math teacher in your building that teaches the courses you teach it can be lonely and frustrating at times when you feel stuck or are having a hard time helping students understand a particular topic.  Trust me, I’ve been there!

As the math department chairperson at the first school I taught at in Philadelphia I was trained in math teacher coaching and feedback strategies.  I worked one-on-one with other math teachers providing support to help them become the best teachers that they can be.  Since then I have continued to grow my teaching strategies and practices and I would look forward to sharing that knowledge with you so you too can enjoy the success that these strategies bring to the classroom!

I will be offering curriculum (print and ready to go everything for every day of your school year for Algebra 2) and trainings through my membership website for the math classroom.  I am also big on professional collaboration and would love to discuss your specific situation as we get to know each other and build community in the membership section of the website.  More on all of this coming soon.  Until then, sign up below to stay up-to-date on what’s going on and watch for freebies here on the website.

If you are interested in staying up-to-date on what is going on at Math Classroom Resources sign up here.  I’d love for you to join us!

## Saving Time in the Classroom

One of the things teachers need most is more time.  With meetings and committees and grading and teaching and interventions and (you get the idea) … there is a lot that needs to get done every day.  Here are a few ways that I save time in my classroom.

Organization.  By keeping all of my classes resources in separate manila folders by chapter in a filing cabinet I am able to quickly go through my resources from the previous year to find my originals to make copies of the resources I want to use.  I also keep all assessment retakes and answer keys in a black portable file folder organized by class and assessment type so my students and I can find them quickly.  My students know right where to go and get retakes!

Teacher Aide.  If your school has a teacher’s aide for credit option for students ask students to teacher aide for you.  They can make all your copies and grade daily quizzes for you which are two huge tasks that take up a ton of time!

Google Classroom.  Posting assignments and instructions when there is a sub in google classroom has been a great way to put intentional plans into place when I have had to be gone from school.  Google classroom makes it really easy to provide students with excerpt readings for AP Statistics and homework answer keys for PreCalculus.  I can post a copy of whatever resource they need up on google classroom quickly whenever I have a few minutes to spare.  It saves time and paper (extra bonus)!

What Did I Miss? Board.   Having recent hand outs and assignments from your classes out and available for students that missed class saves a lot of time and energy.  My first few years of teaching I used to have to dig through tons of stacks of papers to find make up work for students … it was time consuming, stressful, and just awful!  I now have a manila folder for each class I teach on a bulletin board by the door where students walk in.  After each lesson I place any unused copies in the folder immediately and then everything they need is right there when they return to class.  When students ask what they missed I send them straight to the board where they can find all resources they need from the day before!

What other strategies and tools do you use to save yourself time?  I’d love to hear what you do!

The joy of delicious food and family time is quickly approaching with the holidays!  It’s a great time of year to share more math classroom resources with fellow Algebra 2 teachers.

I really enjoy teaching Algebra 2!  It can be a challenging class to teach because the students that take the course spans a wide range of levels of interest and levels of understanding.  I often find that Algebra 2 gets its groove right around second quarter when students are back into the swing of school.  My students know it is going to be a rigorous year but a good one.  We’ve overcome some challenges already and they are ready to commit to the work they need to do to learn!   They know I am going to support them and help them learn all that they need to know by the end of the year.

I find it so fun to watch how each Algebra 2 class likes to solve quadratic equations.  Some classes prefer solving quadratic equations by completing the square, while others like factoring.  This year my students have really learned to love the quadratic formula because “it can solve any equation”.  I love that they appreciate this about the quadratic formula and that they are recognizing which methods are appropriate and best to use in different situations.

It’s important to me that my students know that the quadratic formula isn’t just a magical phenomenon that gets us the solutions, but that it is a result of solving ax^2 + bx + c = 0 for x.  It’s a challenging task but working through it together empowers students to better understand mathematics and how it works.  Not only do I want my students to be able to do math, I want them to think and understand it!

You can find everything you need for a FREE lesson on Solving Quadratic Equations by Quadratic Formula here!  Bell-to-bell instruction that is ready to print and use so you can provide your students with a great stress-free lesson.  Bell ringer, introduction activity (quadratic formula proof), examples and notes, defining discriminant exploration activity, exit slip, homework worksheet, lesson plan with common core standards and “I Can” statements.  Enjoy your lesson!

## Review Days in Math Class

Review days can be challenging in the math classroom.  It can be difficult to get all students engaged and practicing to get ready for test day!  Here are three of my favorite ways to get students actively practicing math in the classroom the day before their test:

Bingo: I give my students all of the solutions for the game.  They use them to fill in the squares of their Bingo board.  I give them problems to solve and then they mark off the answer on their Bingo board.  Every student has paper or clear boards out for doing their work to solve problems.  I love this for review because all of the answers are on their boards which serves as a great self check  (if it isn’t on my Bingo board then I need to check my work) and they all want to get the first Bingo so it is a very motivating activity for them.

Task Cards:  Task cards are a great way to get students working together and moving around the classroom.  I circulate constantly while they are working to see if and where students are having a difficult time.  If students are consistently struggling with a particular type of problem I bring the class back together to review that concept.  I also post answers in the last five minutes of class so students can check their work.  Try this set of task cards that I made and use year after year in my own classroom Exponents Task Cards, I’d love to hear how you like them!

Kahoot!:  I like mixing things up and having my students play Kahoot! every once in awhile for review.  I prefer using it for quick problems so that students can work on recall and I can get a good read on their mental math skills.  I find it a little more difficult to use for multistep problems/questions because students get competitive and they rarely take the time to work problems out on paper.

What review day activities do you do with your students?  I would love to hear what activities you do to help your students get ready for their tests!

## 6 Strategies for Developing Conceptual Understanding of Equations

It’s almost Friday!  I hope you had a wonderful week in the classroom.  Today I wanted to share 6 strategies with you that are intentional and successful in helping students develop a conceptual understanding of equations when they are implemented sequentially in the classroom.  When students are ready and comfortable move them to the next step.

I use #1, #4, and #5 a lot in my Algebra 1 classroom on the bell ringers my students take at the beginning of each class period.  These strategies are a great way to reinforce their understanding of equations even if they have already mastered this essential skill!

1.) Begin with problems in written word form.  For example, “Three less than a number is five.  What must the number equal?”  Have them find the solution.  Do this strategy with all operations.

2.) Present equations such as ___ + 6 = 9.  Ask the student(s), “What is the answer?  How do you know?”

3.) Present equations such as ___ – 4 = 11 and ask students to write it out in words.

4.) Change from using lines/spaces to using algebraic representation for variables in equations, like 15 – x = 12, and have students solve without showing the steps.

5.) Solve multi-step equations next such as 5x – 3 = 12.  Ask, the students “what number minus 3 is 12?”  That means 5x = 15 so x = 3.

6.)  Solve multi-step equations in word problem form.  For example, “I bought 4 cookies this morning and 3 more just now.  If each cookie costs 50 cents, how much did I spend in all?  If it cost me \$5.25 to buy the cookies how much did each cookie cost?” or “I ate 1/4 of a pizza.  2 slices were left, how many were there to begin with?”

Have you used any or all of these strategies in your classroom?  Share with us how they have worked for you and your students!

## Solving Quadratic Equations by Graphing Free Worksheet

Hi there!  Friday is right around the corner and we have been working hard in my classroom this week solving quadratic equations by graphing, square roots, and completing the square.

I am finishing up a complete lesson that includes a lesson plan, bell ringer, PowerPoint, exit slip, hand’s on activity, and more.  I am looking forward to sharing that with you!

To get you started here is a free worksheet Solving Quadratic Equations by Graphing Homework.  This homework worksheet includes test prep style questions and spiral review questions to help your students use it so they don’t lose it.  Enjoy!

## Students Want to Learn

I have taught all types of students and all different levels of high school math courses, one thing they all have in commons is that all students want to learn.  They might not attend school every day or they may talk during instruction, these behaviors along with many others give the appearance that they do not want to learn, but they want to learn and we are responsible for figuring out the why behind the behavior and the how for fixing it.  The math classroom needs to be a safe place where students like to go and where they feel empowered to learn.

Great, so how do we help students learn?  Here are three strategies that have been used time and again successfully in the math classroom to create a strong learning environment.

Create an environment where failure is accepted and encouraged.  Have your students do a few practice problems collaboratively at their table and then call on students to share their answers.  By giving that time to work it out with others, students can feel more confident when called on to share their answers.  The more our students talk math the more comfortable they will be with math.  Correct the error problems are also a great resource for the math classroom.  Students see that other students make mistakes and it builds their confidence when they can look at a problem and correct someone else’s mistake!