Math Teacher Must Haves

Due to a previously mentioned grant my school received, I basically have free reign for supplies/resources for the math classroom. I obviously have no idea what I need. So here's what I currently have:

Colored Pencils
Electric Pencil Sharpener
Graphing Calculators
Individual white boards
Document Camera
2 Printers (1 is color)
4 Student Computers (that we never use)
Kagan Timer
Student Response System (Clickers)
1 Flip Video Camera

Basically I want supplies that are durable, sustainable, and reusable. But then again, I want to take advantage of the money while we can. Here are the ideas I've found/heard so far.

Classroom Laptops (Don't know how to use them)
Ipads (Have one, not really a fan, rather have laptops)
TI-Inspire and Navigator (scared of these!)
CBL/CBR data collection devices for the TI 83/84 (not sure how to use this)
Deluxe Probability Kit
Geometry Reproducibles (Book)
Folding Shapes: Solids and Nets
Geometric Solids (Are these the same as the above?)
Geoboards (Recommendations? What size do I need?)
Algebra Tiles (Recommendations?)
Easy Smartboard Teaching Templates (Book)

Any other ideas? Professional development is kind of iffy so for now I'm looking more for manipulatives, books, supplies, etc.

What should every math classroom have?


My Favorite Lesson of All Time!

I've never taught a unit on transformations before so I started from scratch. Wait, all my lessons are created from scratch. Just sometimes it's someone else's scratch. I digress. My unit only covered reflections, translations, and rotations and I discovered I suck at teaching rotations. But, my translation lesson went over really well and my reflection lesson was probably the my best lesson idea ever!

Here's what I did. In explicit detail. With bullets. Download PowerPoint here first.

  • Using the questions posed [slide 1] have students answer and discuss. You should get some pretty interesting information. Sum up the discussion by telling students that most fashion models usually have very symmetric features. Also, a study was done using babies. Pictures were put up and babies tended to stare longer at the faces that were most symmetric, alluding to the fact that symmetric faces are more attractive to the eye.
  • [Slide 2] names the objective. [Slide 3] Have students guess which face is the real one. The real face is always the one on top (this is for you to know and them to find out!). The bottom left is the left side of the face reflected and the bottom right is the right side of the face reflected. As you go through [slide 3] through [slide 9] discuss the similarities and differences. Ask students which pictures look realistic and which don’t. Point out birth marks, shadowing, eye shape, mouth shape, etc. Basically, make the conversation as interesting as possible.
  • Now go to your internet browser. Ask the students to pick a celebrity famous for being attractive. Google their name to find a picture. The picture needs to be of them facing forward and preferably with both ears showing (which is harder if the person is female). Classroom management tip: You might want to do this ahead of time or where the students can’t see. You never know what type of picture might come up! Copy the url to the picture you’ve found. Then go to the website http://www.anaface.com. Paste the url into the box that says Enter Image URL. Click submit. Then place the dots as directed. Have the students help guide you. Then click next. The site will analyze your picture and talk about vertical and horizontal symmetry. This is a good place to introduce those as vocabulary terms as well as introducing a line of symmetry.
  • [Slide 10] Put up your picture. Your face. I inserted a 10 x 10 table with a red border and no fill over my picture. Now we start talking about where the lines of horizontal and vertical symmetry would be. Ask the students how we decide if the eyes are symmetrical. What about the ears? We want to lead students to measuring the distance from each eyes to the line of symmetry and comparing the lengths.
  • Before advancing to [slide 11], I had students guess what rating the site gave me. I had previously analyzed my own face and took a screenshot of the website. I put it on the slide to save class time. We want to the next slide and talked about the different aspects of symmetry. I used my own face so that no one else would be offended by the negative comments.
  • Now pass out the notes worksheet. I picked celebrities that I knew my students liked. Please change any of these to pertain better to your class. Have students use a ruler to draw a straight vertical line. Then draw dots in the center of each eye. Use the centimeter side of the ruler to measure the distance from the left eye to the line. Then measure from the right eye to the line. Repeat for each celebrity. Students may get bored doing the same repeated action. If so, jump straight to the geomirror. Have students put the mirror part on the line of symmetry. Have them look at the left and the right side to see the difference in symmetry.
  • Have the students do the back of the worksheet on their own, using the geomirror. For left-handed students, they will need to turn the paper upside down.
  • To end beautifully (pun intended), have the students complete the exit slip [slide 12] on scrap paper. This brings us back to the beginning of our conversation.

OMG if the students did not eat this up!! During this whole unit, I heard students talk abut how math was actually fun now and they looked forward to this class and it went by so fast. It was encouraging to finally find something that they truly enjoyed.

And for the record, their exit slip answers brought out really good comments on what their opinion of beauty was. I shared ALL of them the next day with the whole class.

Students also loved the geomirrors and borrowed them throughout the day to use on their own pictures and yearbooks and so on. They wanted to use them every day!