License Plate Combinations

When we come back from winter break we normally start our probability and statistics unit. I normally take a week for probability and a week for statistics which normally melts into three weeks. I've always thought nothing of changing it, but during winter break Dan Meyer posted "Plates Without States"  Since we were going over permutations and combinations I thought this would be an excellent way to get students thinking about how many different combinations there are in license plates and why they make them like that.

To start the lesson I had students go through Dan Meyer State-Plate Game.  Students were definitely engaged and loved playing against each other in their groups.

Next we talked about license plates and I separated it from combinations and permutations.

I gave all of the students a blank license plate and a card. The card had a name of a city or state and a population that students had to take in consideration.

Here are some of the license plates that students were working on.





When students were done with their license plates, they took a picture of their license plate and put it on SeeSaw. The last part they had to do was comment on three others the number of different combinations that they had with their license plate.

Here were a few students figuring out and commenting on other students post.



I like this activity much more and students realized how license plates play a role in local governments and how the population of an area can control the different license plates possible.

I posted almost all of them in the back of my room here are a bunch of different ones that are posted.




Posting Teacher Goals

I was reading this blog post, I can't seem to find it now. It had 21 things teachers should try in 2017, number 19 was "Post Your Goals in Your Classroom."

I thought this would be an excellent way for students to see what I am working on in the classroom and maybe they can hold me more accountable.

There are lots of different things I want to do in 2017, I will post a list of what I want to do at the bottom.

Here are the three goals I posted in my classroom:

1. More Activities, Less Homework

I have been disappointed lately with our school's emphasis on homework and worksheets. I feel that some of our students are being pushed down and out with this emphasis. I want students to experiment with math and I want more formative assessments to understand my students knowledge.

Since we are 1-1 with iPads I see students trying Google the worksheet before attempting any of the problems. They know in other classrooms that they get their worksheets online and don't need to do the work and its easier.

Getting students using Desmos, WODB, and Estimation180 to challenge their thinking and their understanding of mathematics.

2. Students In Charge of their Own Learning

My students heavily rely on the teacher for their information. If they don't know an answer right away their hands go up. I want my students to be challenged, but also know that I am there to guide not to tell them the answer.

I want students to be able to go out and find the answer. If they don't know how to do something I want them to be able to go out and search for it, find a YouTube video.

3. Build Students Up with Growth Mindset

This last one is very similar to the second one. My last goal is for students to have a growth mindset, to start the year I normally have a BreakoutEDU box for students to do. I want students not to think of math as thing that "smart people" do.

Things I have Planned or Want to Do in 2017


  • Different types of seating
  • Caine's Arcade
  • Incorporating more VR
  • Walking Classroom
  • Incorporate more reading.
Here is a seating chart that I currently use and really like, plus my goals are posted!!




Codename: Numbers

The 2016 game of the year was Codenames, but for Christmas my wife and I were given Codenames Pictures, which is an equally awesome game. The basic gameplay is that you have a partner or a group where one person gives a one word clue and a number which correlates to how many it is suppose to cover, the first one to get them all wins.  There are neutral ones and one is an assassin which ends the game.



My thought: How cool would this be if you did this with numbers.

If I made board pieces that had a bunch of different numbers, students would use one word such as: even, odd, cubic, etc... this game would help build number sense.  Since you could play it with groups of 4 it would be a great station activity.

More to come with actual student gameplay.

Children's Books for Algebra 2 Part 2

Children's books are a great way to get students interested in your content. Picking the right book is more difficult for the topic area. Here are three more children's books perfect for Algebra 2 class.

We are Growing by Laurie Keller

This book shows grass growing, yes literally. A theme the book has is that being unique is okay and that everyone is different.

A great math topic for using this book would be introducing unit rates or graphing linear functions. You could have some real grass growing in different stages per day and ask them if grass growing is linear or not? It would be a good exploratory lesson on linear functions.

You can further go into graphing and think about what non-linear grass would look like? How long would it take to cut the grass?

Giraffes Can't Dance by Giles Andreae

The giraffe believes he can't dance, but with words of encouragement he learns that he can dance in his own way.

In the book there are a bunch of different animals dancing. It would be a perfect time to look into transformations, you can look at it in a variety of different ways from linear transformations to parabolic transformations.

It will be good for students to look for similarities and differences. With the book you can even include more social learning skills learning about kindness and encouraging others.



Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin

Dragons love tacos. They love chicken tacos, beef tacos, great big tacos, and teeny tiny tacos. So if you want to lure a bunch of dragons to your party, you should definitely serve tacos. Buckets and buckets of tacos. Unfortunately, where there are tacos, there is also salsa. And if a dragon accidentally eats spicy salsa . . . oh, boy. You're in red-hot trouble.


In the classroom this book would be a great introduction to probability. You could talk about what goes in a taco. What ingredients it would take, alternatives, how many different types of tacos are there?

My Favorite: Marshmallow Catapult

When graphing parabolas I had lots of students ask when are we going to use this. One way I wanted to answer the question was by getting their hands dirty and make things. As of lately I have been big into the maker push, where students learn best by building and making things.

Next year I will teach and introduce the catapult at the same time, but this year I used it as more of an activity in between graphing parabolas and solving parabolas. 

To start we watched this video to get their interested sparked: 



Students received 10 popsicle sticks, one spoon, and 7 rubber bands. Their challenge was to create a catapult that will launch a marshmallow more times than any other group. Once students have created their catapult they will test and launch a marshmallow.

Students will take a burst photo and combine these photos on an app called SplitPic. On SplitPic you can have multiple photos overlapped onto one image. Students will put this in Desmos and find the equation of the parabola.

Students will use this picture in a Seesaw activity.  They had to describe the graph of the parabola and what it meant, how using the graph would help them, and do you need to change anything?

Here were some example blog posts:





The next day I gave students 10 minutes to practice, then we put their catapults to the challenge of getting as many shots into a paper bag as possible.  Here were some of the photos of our competition.



Polynomial Video Games Using Floors

As we were progressing through our polynomial unit in Algebra 2 I thought looking back that the focus was on factoring polynomials and not too much on graphing polynomials. I wanted them graphing polynomials and learning about polynomials without traditionally learning about polynomials.

First, I had students go the graphing calculator on desmos.com had them enter the expression
a x^3 + b x^2 + c x + d = 0

I had them enter sliders and each one around. 

Students had to determine what a, b, c, and d did.

Then they had to find three graphs that interested them and make a video game floor based on those three graphs.  Students had to create 3 levels of a video game based on the three polynomials they graphed. By the end of the weekend they needed a playable working video game and will be peer assessed based on their video game.


Here are some of the students working on their levels.



Teacher Christmas List

Here is a list of the top 10 things to get your teacher friends or loved ones. These are relatively new products that would be great in any teachers classroom. If you are a teacher leave a comment down below for something you would want for your classroom. Or if you are not a teacher leave a comment down below a different gift idea. I know you can find these products anywhere, I am listing all of these products from walmart.com they have been my go-to shopping a month out from the holidays and normally shift to Amazon when closer to the holidays.  All of the walmart.com links go directly to the products.

1. Stikbot Studio Pro 

Stikbot is the social-sharing easy to post figurine! It's stylish design allows for easy posing for photographs and stop-animation filming! Includes a free app for iPhone and Android which makes it super fast and simple to shoot stop animation videos of Stikbot and quickly share to social media sites! Includes tripod to quickly and securely set up your smartphone for filming stikbot!

It is currently $51.94 on walmart.com 

This would be great idea in any high school classroom where lots of students have their own devices. Teachers could even use their device in middle or elementary school. It would be a different way for students to show what they know using stop animation. 

2. Miracle Cube Timer

The Miracle Cube Timer is the world's simplest, yet most versatile timer: No more buttons, no more switches, no more dials, the Miracle Cube allows you to manage your time with simplicity and in style. The four sides of the cube simply state the minutes that you would like to start timing. Merely turn it on the side needed and it will immediately start timing. When the time is up, a loud, unmistakable alarm will ring. Simply turn it back to its upright position to silence it. Its that easy!

It is currently $19.33 on walmart.com

Timers are being used more and more in classrooms, especially non-traditional type classrooms where students are doing activities and projects and have short but timely deadlines. Great for any classroom.

3. Bluetooth Keyboards

Bluetooth keyboards are the perfect companion for your iPad and other Bluetooth enabled devices. This ultra-slim and stylish keyboard includes the new wireless technology that offers lower battery consumption, higher security encryption and 8x faster transmission speed than Bluetooth 2.0, with the same great wireless distance of 30 feet. 

It is currently $26.19 on walmart.com

Teachers that are 1-1 with iPads or students can BYOD can easily connect and type using the keyboard. 


4. Universal Mini Cell Phone Stand

Small stand for your phone that allows you to easily see your screen without having to have it in your hands the whole time.  A different but similar product is called Mobile Handz works the same.

It is currently $1.69 on walmart.com

At the middle and high school grades it is impossible to to have students not look at their phones, using this it can be out on their desk and can easily use it (when it is appropriate). In my classroom I like to see students use their phones respectfully and knowing what is appropriate with their phones and when.

5. Cardboard VR Glasses

  • Experience a truly stunning, engrossing VR experience with cinematic HD visuals from your smartphone's screen
  • Compatible with Android 4.2.2 OS or newer and iOS 8.0 or newer with screen no larger than 5.1"
  • Comes with a headband which can let you use with bare hands.

It is currently $2.99 on walmart.com

I have a set of VR glasses in my classroom and they are great ways to spark student curiosity. I can introduce different topics and work in a wide range different phones. 



6. Bondic Plastic Welder

Bondic is the world's first liquid plastic welding tool! It's not a glue, so don't use it as one! It's the ONLY product that works where glue fails! It's a liquid plastic that never dries until you want it to! Simply squeeze out the desired amount and use the UV LED Light to cure it in 4 seconds and it's done, the world's fastest drying bond! You'll be amazed how fast it works!

It is currently $39.95 on walmart.com

I have personally never used it, but my wife the media specialist says that everyone should have one in their classroom. Things break all the time, now you can fix them. When the side of the projector remote breaks you can now quickly fix it.

7. Crazy Aaron's Thinking Putty

Crazy Aaron's Thinking Putty Heat Sensitive Hyper-color, Twilight, 3.2 oz Color: Hyper-color Twilight. Just as an evening sky melts into the dark of night, Twilight Thinking Putty's deep purple color disappears with a touch of heat to reveal a fluorescent blue complexion.

It is currently $10.99 on walmart.com

If your students have never used this thinking putty they are in for a treat. I use this silly putty in my classroom because students love the color and different effects that this brand has. Students can easily manipulate it and it isn't messy. 



8. Post-it Big Pad

Hold meetings and presentations with the 3M Post-it Big Pads. They stick to nearly any surface and remove without damage or residue left behind. The bright-colored Post-it sheets grab attention to showcase your display in style, and the rigid backing is excellent for portability and capturing ideas wherever you go. This package includes 30 self-adhesive sheets that stick and stay on smooth vertical surfaces. The adhesive allows you to remove and re-apply them without damaging the surface. These durable and versatile 3M pads are suitable for school use and professional environments. 

It is currently $8.41 on walmart.com

I love using big post-it notes in class. It helps foster student learning and students can collaborate. The number one reason I love big post it notes is that it helps get student work on the walls. I love when student work is up around classrooms using this is the best way.

9. Bluetooth Tracking Devices

Keep track of your important items with the Tzumi Tag It Discrete Bluetooth Tracking Device. This piece easily attaches to almost anything. The Bluetooth tracking tag, black, helps you to locate missing items. Just download the app and when you need to find something, press the button to see on a map where the item was last located and the distance between you and the tracker.

It is currently $7.16 on walmart.com

I had a Tile that did the same thing, but at $25 a pop it was expensive to get it replaced every year. With this tracking device you can find your keys, bag, or maybe a missing student assignment.


10. Arctic Trail Tumbler

Enjoy your favorite beverage on the go with this Ozark Trail 20-Oz, Double-Wall, Vacuum-Sealed Tumbler. It is ideal for a range of activities including hiking, camping, sporting events and commuting to or use at work. The durable high-grade, double-walled, stainless steel construction ensures that it can hold up to almost any task.

It is currently $7.74 on walmart.com

I have a Yeti and I love it, but I keep an Arctic Tumbler at school. Yeti performs a little better especially when outside temperatures differ from whats inside the cup. But at school it keeps ice just as long as my Yeti.