#myfavfriday Jigsaw Puzzle Software

I LOVE the Tarsia puzzle software from Hermitech Laboratory. Puzzle designs range from having 16 to 24 pieces and anywhere from 15 to 30 different equations. The software has a great equation editor so it’s really easy to type in math expressions. I usually have students work in pairs to complete the puzzles and they must do all their work on a piece of paper to pass in along with the finished puzzle. Sometimes I shrink the puzzle pieces so that the finished puzzle can be taped to an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper, other times I give them poster board.

I have used Tarsia puzzles to have students practice:

  • Solving equations
  • Solving inequalities
  • Multiplying binomials
  • Factoring trinomials
  • Solving quadratic equations by factoring
  • Properties of Exponents

Solving Equations

Solving Quadratics by Factoring:


Achievement Tracking

The process of creating SMART goals for the new teacher evaluation system has been challenging and frustrating for the teachers at my school, and I’m sure many others, over the past few weeks. It surprises me that with all the amazing, shared content in the teacher blogosphere, and just Google in general, that there is such a lack of SMART math teacher goal examples. One of my administrators suggested that educators may be hesitant to share their goals since the evaluation tool is so new and no one wants to be criticized. However, I’d love feedback, any feedback, on my student learning SMART goal:

  • During the 2012-2013 school year, I will implement appropriate differentiated interventions so that each term 80% of students with a grade lower than 70 on the progress report will raise their grade by at least 10% on the following report card.

My goal corresponds with the rubric indicator, Adjustment to Practice. The idea for this goal stemmed from an achievement tracking form that my team and I began filling out after the midterm progress reports were distributed each term. See below.

I identify the students who received a D or F on the progress report and make a list of each student’s identified learning needs. Then, I decide which interventions I think would work best to help the student bring up his/her grade. My team made a list of the needs and interventions so that we would be consistent using the same terminology.

Identified Learning Needs: Homework Completion, Assessment Preparation, Project Completion, Classwork Completion, Class Participation, Cooperative Learning, Attendance

Interventions: Student/Teacher Meeting, Daily Agenda Use, Contact Parent, Weekly Progress Reports, Contact Administration, Teacher Check In, Extra Help Sessions

Making this document really helps me to focus on the students and what I can do to help each one succeed. At the end of the term I fill in their final grade and whether or not I actually used the intervention. In the notes section I keep track of individuals (parents, guidance, administration) that I contact for additional support. I decided to turn this into my SMART goal because I feel it has so much potential. I was using it before, but not to the best of my ability. Now I’m going to add a column titled “Goal” next to the progress report grade. It will give the student and myself a target. I’m hoping that a student with a 60, who sees a new goal of 66, says, “That’s still too low. I can beat that.” Ideally I would love for students to improve a whole letter grade by the end of the term.

Graphing Calculator Activities

TI graphing calculators are required in Honors math classes at my school and we also have class sets to use in our non-Honors classes. Over the past few years I created some step-by-step TI graphing calculator directions for my students to follow for when they get behind, want to go ahead, or just forget how to do some of the basic procedures.

1. Scatter Plots

2. Systems of Equations

3. Absolute Value Functions

4. Quadratic Functions: Minimum/Maximum Values

5. Quadratic Functions: Zeroes


Some Background Info: I teach at the high school I went to, and am very lucky to work with many of the awesome teachers I had as a student. In particular, the english teacher on my  team this year, Mr. C, was my english/journalism teacher for 3 years. This information has been shared with our students, but it’s always a joy when one “finds” this out for the first time…

Student: “Mr. C was your teacher?! But you seem like you are friends now?…”
Me: “We are friends now.”
Student: “That’s so weird. Let me get this straight… when I graduate in 4 years, I could go to college to be a teacher, and then in 8 years, we could work together and be friends?”
Me: “Yeahh, we could be.”
Student: “I don’t think we would be friends.”