Monday, March 25, 2013

Coordinate Plane Fun!!

     One of my favorite activities to use with my students is Looking for the Top Quark.  I take my students to the computer lab and give them the web address to Jefferson Lab.  Located at this address is a fantastic resource for your class,  The game is called Looking for the Top Quark.  It is a really fun way for students to practice plotting points in all four quadrants on a coordinate plane!  Basically it is like playing battleship except with Quarks.  What is a Quark?  They are these really cute little guys that the students hide on their coordinate plane.


Plotting in all Four Quadrants!


     I always have my students choose the medium size grid and create a competition to create excitement.  The students play against the computer and try to discover where the computer has hidden its Quarks.  The first student to beat the computer will get the title Top Quark and a homework coupon.  All other students who beat the computer will also receive the homework coupon too.  It is not that easy to beat the computer.  I usually only have about 5 winners out of a class of 23.  While students are working, I walk around and announce who has found a quark or how many they have found.  This creates even more excitement.  The students get so excited when they find the Quarks.  They need to find all 6 of the computers before the computer finds their 6.  This activity is so great because the students have to create an ordered pair each move and then plot all of the computers moves.  By the end of one period every student in my class can plot in all 4 quadrants with ease.  They don't even realize they are learning.  They beg me to play again that's how much they love this activity.

This is how the game looks at the start.

Looking For The Top Quark
You will be playing your game on a grid that ranges from -4 to 4 on the x-axis (the horizontal axis) and from -4 to 4 on the y-axis (the vertical axis). Coordinates are made by combining x and y values in a specific order - the x value is always listed first and the y value is always listed second. The coordinate (-3, 2) locates a point at the intersection of -3 on the x-axis and 2 on the y-axis, as shown on the diagram below:

                       A point is plotted at the coordinates (-3, 2).
Where would you like to place your quarks?
 Place my Up Quark at () Place my Down Quark at ()
 Place my Charm Quark at () Place my Strange Quark at ()
 Place my Top Quark at () Place my Bottom Quark at ()
What is your first name?  
Click on the link above to play.

How do you practice plotting points in the quadrants?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Student Rewards!

    I promised myself I would not do anything school related during the break--not!  I already started preparing assessment practice, task cards, and other activities.  I can't believe the State Assessments are just a few weeks away.  My students are looking forward to review time because I have some fun activities planned.  We will use my task cards for partner activities or scoot, power point reviews, some computer lab time, and play a few games focusing on different mathematical concepts.
     At this time of the year, I love to give my students extra opportunities to earn rewards for all of their hard work and right answers.  One way I reward students all year is with my personal teacher bucks.  Since they are in math class why not use money.  I reward students with $100 teacher bucks when they are doing the right thing, helping others, participating, taking risks, right answers,  amazing explanations, using the right math terminology when speaking, choosing the appropriate tools, and at the end of an activity especially if it is a competition.  My students love this reward system!  Some students make their own wallets to hold their money (so cute).  The students can use their bucks to purchase items from my classroom store, buy a homework coupon, or buy a special privilege.  I have tried many different reward systems in my 14 years of teaching and this one is by far the best.

To download an editable version so you can change the word teacher to your last name, click the following link:;

     I give out fake $100 bills.  Students collect them and then have an opportunity to visit my classroom store.  My classroom store has a variety of items ranging from $300-$4000.  At the low end students can purchase pencils, erasers, sharpeners, stickers, and a variety of small toys.   At the $1000-$1800 range, students can purchase stress balls, small toys, slap bracelets, and rubber duckies.  For $2000 students can purchase a homework coupon (this is my biggest seller and free to make).  Students love having a night off from their math homework.  Some students hold onto their coupons and use them when needed.  I always have colorful and attractive homework coupons to choose from.  I laminate all of my homework coupons so I can easily replace my stock as students hand them in.  From $2000 - $4000 students can choose from stuffed animals, necklaces, bracelets, pencil cases, matchbox cars, games, special privileges (like sitting at my desk, eating lunch with a friend in my room, etc.).  I usually purchase all of my items from Oriental Trading or the dollar store.  Once in a while I get a donation from a parent.  I only open my store once a week for students to make purchases.

What reward system do you use?
Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Homework Coupons