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A Go Figure Debut for an Algebra Teacher Who Is New!

Our featured teacher is a math instructor from Humble, Texas. Kristel has been teaching for eleven years in grades 7-12. (Only one year teaching middle school, the rest has been in high school.) Most of her time has been spent teaching Algebra 2.

Kristel began her career in Arizona (7 years) and has since moved to Texas with her husband and two young daughters. Since moving to Texas, they have added a little boy to their family. She enjoys the fall weather because she can spend more time outside with her kids. She also loves dancing (former dancer/cheerleader), drawing, photography, and making digital resources. She confesses that she is a little obsessed with office supplies and candles.

Kristel really enjoys getting to know her students and helping them to feel safe at school. Like most of us, she loves watching students reach their full potential and helping them build their critical thinking skills. Due to COVID, her classroom has evolved into something more individualized, and technology driven.

Every class period, she gives students a warm-up that includes both an academic question and a “Is there anything you want to tell me?” question. Students really enjoy this and love to tell jokes, important things in their lives (dances, upcoming performances, or games), silly facts, or kind words. In addition, she provides students with instructional videos she creates to get the notes they need for a particular topic, and students spend the majority of the class practicing skills and working with their peers. This also allows Kristel to help students in a more individualized way.

Kristel began her TPT journey during the COVID shut down of 2020.  Her store, Kristel’s Math Lab, currently contains 27 products with three freebies and 24 paid items. Most of her resources are geared toward Algebra 2, but many times, they can be used in Algebra 1 or other high school math classes.

Her highlighted free item is a digital worksheet called Multiplying Polynomials. If you are looking for an engaging way to help students practice multiplying a monomial by a monomial, then this will be the perfect way to do so. This no prep activity was created using Google Sheets™ and includes 12 self-checking problems. (two versions included).

Her paid resource is a bundle called Systems of Equations and Inequalities. It includes four digital quizzes made with Google Forms™ and includes systems of equations using the graphing method, systems of equations using the substitution method, systems of equations using the elimination method and solving systems of inequalities. Each quiz contains 20 multiple-choice questions and is self-checking.

Because she is a full-time math teacher and a mother of three, her product creation is not as fast as she would like it to be. She is currently working on a digital interactive notebook (contains lots of student activities) on systems of equations, and she plans to add more digital worksheets (using Google Sheets™) over polynomial operations very soon.

If you teach math like I do, then I recommend visiting Kristel’s store for unique, engaging, and exceptional math resources. I already have!

Skip Counting and Learning How to Multiply Using Pattern Sticks

Most elementary teachers use a Hundreds Board in their classroom.  It can be used for introducing number patterns, sequencing, place value and more. Students can look for counting-by (multiplication) patterns. Colored disks, pinto beans or just coloring the squares with crayons or colored pencils will work for this. Mark the numbers you land on when you count by two. What pattern do they make? Mark the counting-by-3 pattern, or mark the 7's, etc. You may need to print several charts so your students can color in the patterns and compare them. I usually start with the 2's, 5's and 10's since most children have these memorized.

On the other hand, the Hundreds Board can also be confusing when skip counting because there are so many others numbers listed which easily create a distraction.  I have found that Pattern Sticks work much better because the number pattern the student is skip counting by can be isolated. Pattern Sticks are a visual way of showing students the many patterns that occur on a multiplication table.  Illustrated below is the pattern stick for three. As the student skip counts by three, s/he simply goes from one number to the next (left to right).

Martian Fingers
For fun, I purchase those scary, wearable fingers at Halloween time. (buy them in bulk from The Oriental Trading Company - click under the fingers for the link.) Each of my students wears one for skip counting activities. I call them the Awesome Fingers of Math! For some reason, when wearing the fingers, students tend to actually point and follow along when skip counting.

Most students enjoy skip counting when music is played. I have found several CD's on Amazon that lend themselves nicely to this activity.  I especially like Hap Palmer's Multiplication Mountain.  My grandchildren think his songs are catchy, maybe too catchy as sometimes I can't get the songs out of my mind!

Think about this.  As teachers, if we would take the time to skip count daily, our students would know more than just the 2's, 5's and 10's.  They would know all of their multiplication facts by the end of third grade. And wouldn't the fourth grade teacher love you?!?

IMPORTANT:  If you like this finger idea, be sure that each student uses the same finger every time to avoid the spreading of germs. Keeping it in a zip lock bag with the child’s name on the bag works best. (Believe it or not, when I taught fourth grade, the students would paint and
decorate the fingernails!)

To help your students learn their multiplication facts, you might like the resource entitled Pattern Sticks. It is a visual way of showing students the many patterns on a multiplication table.

Glyphs Are Really A Form of Graphing - Completing a Turkey Glyph

Sometimes I think that teachers believe a glyph is just a fun activity, but in reality glyphs are a non-standard way of graphing a variety of information to tell a story. It is a flexible data representation tool that uses symbols to represent different data. Glyphs are an innovative instrument that shows several pieces of data at once and requires a legend/key to understand the glyph. The creation of glyphs requires problem solving, communication as well as data organization.

Remember Paint by Number where you had to paint in each of the numbers or letters using a key to paint with the right color? How about coloring books that were filled with color-by-number pages? Believe it or not, both of these activities were a type of glyph.

For Thanksgiving, I have created a Turkey Glyph. Not only is it a type of graph, but it is also an excellent activity for reading and following directions.

Students are to finish the turkey glyph using the seven categories listed below.
  1. Draw a hat on the turkey (girl or a boy?)
  2. Creating a color pattern for pets or no pets. 
  3. Coloring the wings based on whether or not they wear glasses. 
  4. Writing a Thanksgiving greeting based on how many live in their house. 
  5. Do you like reading or watching TV the best? 
  6. How they get to school. (ride or walk)
  7. Pumpkins (number of letters in first name)
At the end of the activity is a completed Turkey Glyph which the students are to "read" and answer the questions. Reading the completed glyph and interpreting the information represented is a skill that requires deeper thinking by the student. Students must be able to analyze the information presented in visual form. A glyph such as this one is very appropriate to use in the data management strand of mathematics.  If you are interested, just click under the resource cover page..