One Favourite, Two Fixes: Nov 5

I need help! Every time I go through a lesson there is aways something I want to fix. Something that can be improved upon. Something that can get my students to think a little deeper about the math or something that can make my organization better, or class management better. Sometimes I can think of how to fix it, sometimes I know there is a fix out there and I can’t see it. That’s where you come in.

Each week I’m going to post one idea from my lessons that was my favourite and two topics that I need help on. Two topics I hope to fix. I’m hoping that in the comments or on Twitter you amazing readers can help me out with some hints, tips, and suggestions.


For the last two weeks one of my class’s atmosphere seemed poisoned (see below).  My favourite this week though helped restore (for a short time) that atmosphere back to where we have spent most of the year. Warm-ups to the rescue! Our warm-ups dive into our Everyday Math curriculum like nobody’s business. Sometimes they take 10 minutes, sometimes 20….and I’m ok with that. Each one has my class engaged for that time. This week my favourite was Dan Meyer’s Dueling Discounts.

The kids each had a copy of a $20 off coupon and a 20% off coupon. For each item I showed, I had them hold up their choice of coupon to use. I was loving that all students were actively engaged and WANTED to know which was the better deal. It was so nice to see this with my kids again.

First Fix

Like I said above, my class’ atmosphere has seemed poisoned for the last two weeks. Before that we had an amazing atmosphere…..all kids worked well together. They sat in random pairs everyday, they were engaged! Then a few things happened.

  • Outside of class somebody was texting things they shouldn’t to somebody else….VP said they are not to work together.
  • A new student was added and talks a lot
  • Two others can’t work together because of a fight they were in last week.

So now we don’t have the awesome —we all can work together and build off each other atmosphere I love and had. I’m looking for tips to try so we can re-create our atmosphere we started with. Any ideas?

Second Fix

In my grade 9 mfm1p class this week we worked on solving proportions through the Smart Car Smash activity. screen-shot-2016-11-06-at-9-22-20-am

After going through super gross lesson and seeing the kids smile and cringe at the same time it was time to practice our strategies. I gave out this sheet below.


This is where all the excitement for math was lost….”ah man, a worksheet”. Most students solved the problems. Some kids who were actively engaged with the first problem now were shut down. How can I keep the practice portion that I need but keep engagement up?

Thanks for reading. I would love your help. Share your suggestions on Twitter or below in the comments.

Helpful Fixes from Readers:

MEL3E Day 27

I’m a little late on posting our work from Friday. Our warm up was from Jen McAleer, the brains behind the site has put together a collection of tasks that create a bit of controversy. We completed the Starburst MiniGate task. 

Part 1: Estimate

Students estimated too high, too low and best guess. 


Part 2: Estimate the number in a bag.

Along with an estimate I had students determine how many 1/4 cups scoops would be in the bag if the bag had their estimate. 

Part 3: Reveal the number in the bag. 

After the students grumbled about how far they were off or celebrated if they were close they determined how many 1/4  cups scoops would be in a bag. We determined about 4 scoops would be in the bag. Now for the controversial part…this is the part that made them super mad! 

Show the Nutrition Lable and point out that it says 6 scoops should be in the bag. 

Are you kidding??? There were only 4 scoops in that bag and it says there’s supposed to be 6?? Come on. 
The students voiced their dislike for being ripped off.

We next worked on how much we should have paid for this bag instead of paying $3.09

There are more tasks over at go ahead and check them out. 

For the remainder of class we finished our quiz and mastery work from yesterday. Today the students felt more relaxed and comfortable about the quiz. More comfortable students = more confident about their work. 

I’ll be taking a break from blogging everyday this week but you can still follow my day-to-day on my spreadsheet

MEL3E Day 25

Our warm up today was writing a cheque! 

Students were to fill out a cheque to me! I’ve definitely thought that these were given skills that we all would know, but the class reminds me that is not the case. I didn’t learn these money skills while in school. I picked them up along the way. My students, most of whom are 17, haven’t seen these skills yet. I’m so glad we offer this class to students! It’s too bad not all students get to take this class. I know some of my senior advanced function students could benefit from it.

We picked up finishing the On The Map Desmos activity. Some students who were away yesterday were here today so I worked with them to get caught up on drawing routes, estimating distances, and  using the scale to determine the route distance.

MEL3E Day 24 – Shortest Routes with Desmos

Warm Up: Estimation 180

Since last week we did the 1/4 cup of candy corn today we looked at estimating how many would be in the big bag.

We remembered that there was 19 candies in the 1/4 cup. For their too high and too low today I also had them find how many scoops of candy that would be. For example, Joey said too high might be 1000. So I had them determine how many scoops of 19 that would be. I then asked if this now still seems too high?

After all students had voiced their best guess and how many scoops it would be I showed the answer:

I asked them how Mr. Stadel determined the answer of 893 if he didn’t count. I let them study the info shown. Shanice piped up, “there was 47 scoops….so 19 x 47 = 893.”

Today we switched strands from Saving & Borrowing to Travel and Transportation. They all got out an iPad and went to this Desmos Activity.

The first problem has students drawing a route from our school to a Tim Horton’s. I asked them to try to draw the shortest route possible.


This had them hooked. Each wanted their route to be the shortest. screen-shot-2016-10-11-at-11-28-30-am


I took time here to show different routes students had drawn.


As a class we moved to the next screen where we estimated the actual distance.  A student pointed out that the map image had a scale in the bottom right corner. A small section was labeled to be 200m. They used that to help estimate the distance for their routes. But we needed a better way to determine who would have drawn the shortest route! Moving to screen 3 we used the points to determine the “map distance” for each section of our route.


Students filled in a description of each leg of their route and the distance in map units.


Click to download a copy.

We measured the scale at the bottom to create a scale factor for this map.


I demonstrated how to use the scale factor to determine the actual distances in metres and kilometres. We went around the room voicing how far our routes were to see who had the shortest!! Moving to the 4th screen showed what Google would say.

That was problem 1 out of 5 in this Desmos activity. We started problem 2 but did not finish it. Tomorrow’s work!!

Having the students guess the shortest route first allows them to try something informal before we try to formalize it with actual distances. Desmos’ sketch tool allows them to draw, erase, undo, and re-draw those routes. The ability to wipe away their trials is so valuable. It allows them to take risks. It allows them to get deeper into their understanding.

Give it a try. I feel I’m missing some extension questions, or questions that dig a little deeper. Can you help me out and leave me some feedback in the comments? Thanks.