### Magically Squaring Numbers

My college math students lack confidence (I classify them as mathphobics.); so, I like to show them math "tricks" which they can use to impress their peers.  I encourage them to know their squares through 25. (Yes, I know they can use a calculator, but the mind is so much quicker!)  When we get to solving equations using the Pythagorean Theorem, I introduce this trick. Please note: For the trick to work, it must be a two digit number that ends in 5.
Suppose we have 352.  (This means will be making a square.)
• First, look at the number in the hundred’s place. In this case, it is the “3”.
•  Next think of the number that comes directly after 3. That would be “4”.
• Finally, multiply 5 × 5 which is 25.
•  Place 12 in front of 25 to get the answer. Thirty-five squared is 1,255.
• 3 × 4 = 12      5 × 5 = 25
This means that we can build a square that is 35 by 35, and it will contain 1,225 squares or have an area of 1225 squares.

Now let's try 652
• One more than 6 is 7; so, 6 x 7 is 42.
• Place 42 in front of 25 (5 x 5) and so 65 squared is 4,225.
• 6 × 7 = 42      5 × 5 = 25
How about finding the square root? We begin by looking at the numbers in the thousands and hundreds place. In the answer of 1,225, we would use the 12. Think of the factors of 12 that are consecutive numbers. In this case, they would be 3 and 4. Use the smaller of the two which, in this case, is 3. Now place a five after it. You now know the square root of 1,225 is 35.
Thirty-five represents the length of one of the sides of a square that contains 1,225 squares.

Now, try some numbers on your own. When you get comfortable with the "trick", try it with your students. They will find out that math can be magical!

### Why is 'x' Usually the Unknown in Algebra?

 Ted Talk
Again, it's time for some math information you might have missed in school. (Don't worry, I missed a great deal as well.)  Today's question is: Why is the letter "x" the symbol usually used for an unknown?

Even though the letter "x" is commonly used in mathematics, its use often appears in non-numerical areas within different industries such as The X Files or Project X. Terry Moore clears up this mathematical mystery in a TED Talk presentation at Long Beach, California.  In a short and funny four minute talk, he gives an unexpected answer to "why." Just click under the illustration to find out the reason!

### A Go Figure Debut for a Floridian Who Is New!

 Her TPT Store
Today my blog highlights Kelly Ann who is an elementary teacher from Florida. She started out teaching first grade, but after four years, she “graduated” to fifth which is still her grade level.

Regardless of the present-day hardships most teachers face, Kelly Ann loves her job. Even at a high-socioeconomic school like hers, her fifth graders come to school with a lot of baggage. Not only is she teaching content that they need for real life, but she enjoys helping them learn how to be good human-beings. Because her students spend such a large part of their day with her, she desires to be a caring, loving, authentic role model for them. That is why she describes her classroom as a family environment. She wants her students to take care of each other while they learn as well as to use their strengths to support each other.

Kelly Ann married her high-school sweetheart. (How romantic!) They have two small children - a four year old and a four month old; so, she is quite a busy lady! Generally, her life with a new baby consists of trying to keep everything afloat and trying to do Teachers Pay Teachers whenever she can! In other words, her free time is null and void. Fortunately, she is able to take this next school year off to be with her kiddos thanks to TPT.

Her Teachers Pay Teachers store is called “Created by Kelly Ann.” Right now it contains 101 quality and reasonably priced resources that are generally focused on intermediate science and social studies, with some ELA and test prep items mixed in.

One of her bundles that my husband is interested in (he teaches 8th grade science) is her Variables in Experiments Bundle. (We all love bundles because they save us \$\$\$.) This resource includes three activities to help students practice and review independent and dependent variables, a difficult concept to master. One of her buyers left the following comment about this resource:

“The scavenger hunt was a huge hit in my class. I was also easily able to see the students who needed some additional help.”

 Free Item
Out of the five free resources in her store, I found this one to be well received. It is called Teaching Test-Taking Strategies Posters. These are test-taking strategies posters that her students practice all year long to help them prepare for the inescapable standardized testing. As I looked at the 91 ratings for this item, I discovered that buyers thought these posters were not only useful but just what they needed.

She just launched her new website that incorporates her blog within it. It is entitled Created by Kelly Ann as well. Recently, she has started to create "Quick Tips for Teacher-Authors" that can also be found on this site, Instagram, Facebook in addition to Pinterest.

In everything Kelly Ann does, her teaching, creating her resources, her blog, etc., she has set high expectations for herself!  Check out her store as I know you will love what she has to offer! My husband did, and he is now a Kelly Ann “fan!”

### Sock It Away!

Most of us can't live without our cell phones.  Unfortunately, neither can our students.  I teach on the college level, and my syllabus states that all cell phones are to be put on "silent", "vibrate", or turned off when class is in session.  Sounds good, doesn't it?  Yet, one of the most common sounds in today's classrooms is the ringing of a cell phone, often accompanied by some ridiculous tune or sound effect that broadcasts to everyone a call is coming in.  It’s like “technological terror" has entered the classroom uninvited.  Inevitably, this happens during an important part of a lesson or discussion, just when a significant point is being made, and suddenly that "teachable moment" is gone forever.

What are teachers to do?  Some instructors stare at the offender while others try to use humor to diffuse the tension. Some collect the phone, returning it to the student later.  A few have gone so far as to ask the student to leave class.

In my opinion the use of cell phones during class time is rude and a serious interruption to the learning environment. What is worse is the use of the cell phone as a cheating device.  The college where I teach has seen students take a picture of the test to send to their friends, use the Internet on the phone to look up answers, or have answers on the phone just-in-case.  At our college, this is cause for immediate expulsion without a second chance.  To avoid this problem, I used to have my students turn their cell phones off and place them in a specific spot in the classroom before the test was passed out.  Unfortunately, the students’ major concern during the test was that someone would walk off with their phone.  Not exactly what I had planned!

A couple of years ago, a few of us in our department tried something new.  Each of us has purchased those long, brightly colored socks that seem to be the current fashion statement.  (I purchased mine at the Dollar Tree for \$1.00 a pair.)  Before the test, each student had to turn off their cell phone, place it in the sock, tie the sock into a knot and place the sock in front of them. This way, the student still had control over their cell phone and could concentrate on doing well on the test, and I did not have to constantly monitor for cheating.

At the end of the semester, we compared notes.  Overall, we found that the students LOVED this idea.  Many said their students were laughing and comparing their stylish sock with their neighbor's.  I was surprised that a few of the students even wanted to take their sock home with the matching one – of course.  So here is a possible side benefit....maybe socking that cell phone away caused my students to TOE the line and study!

### How Many Classroom Rules Does A Teacher Really Need?

Now that most of us are getting geared up for a new school year, it's time to think about what classroom rules need to be established. Maybe the ones you had last year just didn’t work, and you are looking for a change. I could recommend many "Do this or this will happen" or "Please don't do this as it will break my heart" statements, but lists can become very long and mind-numbing. Maybe that is why God only gave Ten Commandments. Fewer rules meant less had to be memorized. So, maybe we need to ask ourselves: “How many classroom rules are really needed?”

I would suggest making a few general rules that are clear and understandable since being too specific often leads to complicated, wordy rules that might cover every possible situation. Most of the time, I post six simple classroom rules (only two words each) in my room which encompass my main areas of concern. I find them to be more than sufficient to govern general behaviors, and because alliteration is used, the rules are easy for all of my students to remember.

1.  Be Prompt – In other words, be on time to school/class/group.

2.  Be Prepared – Bring the items you need to class or to a group. Study for upcoming tests. Have your homework completed and ready to turn in.

3.  Be Polite – This rule focuses on how we treat each other. Show respect for your teacher(s) and your fellow students in the classroom, in the school, and on the playground.

4.  Be Persistent - The final rule spotlights the need to stay on task and complete an assignment even though it might be difficult.