Pear Deck Flashcard Factory

Pear Deck’s Flashcard Factory is one of my favorite tools to use when teaching new vocabulary or even just reviewing vocabulary at the end of a unit.

In this activity, students are grouped into a n orange or blue team. Each team then works together to create definitions and images that match the vocabulary words. The goal for each team is to finish making their flashcards first. Then, as a class, we can decide what flashcards are best and create a Quizlet set with them.

What I like best about this activity is that students have to work together to succeed. Students that are making definitions for terms have to work with the student creating the image for that flashcard. To make a good flashcard, the definition and the image need to match and work together. In the process of creating flashcards, students are not simply just reviewing material, but actively using their knowledge to create. The video below is from PearDeck. Check out how it works.

Surface Area of Cylinders and Spheres

Many of my past and current Geometry students have had trouble memorizing the formulas for volume and surface area. Traditionally, teachers have asked students to memorize all of the formuals below.

Name Lateral Area Surface Area Volume
Prism L.A. = Ph S=L.A. + 2B
= Ph + 2B
V = Bh
Cylinder L.A. = Ph
= Ch
= 2πrh
S.A. = L.A. + 2B
= 2πr + 2πr²
V = Bh = πr²h
Regular/Square Pyramid L.A. = ½Pl S.A. = L.A. + B
= ½Pl + B
V = ⅓Bh
Cone L.A. = ½Pl
= ½Cl = ½(2πr)l
= πrl
S.A. = L.A. + B
= πrl + πr²
V = ⅓Bh
= ⅓πr²h
Sphere S.A. = 2πrh
= 2πr*2r
= 4πr²
V = 4/3πr³

This is a lot for anyone to remember. Our jobs as math teachers is to help students make connects between all of these formulas. The connections between them allow students to memorize very little and to generate these formulas based on their knowledge of how they are related. This also provides students with a much deeper understanding of the math.

Here are just a couple visual representations of some of these connections that I commonly share with my own students.

And in that vain, I created a Desmos graph that shows a visuallization of the connection between the latteral area of a cylinder and the surface area of a sphere. Click on the graph below to see the math behind it on

Google Apps Script

"Google Apps Script is a JavaScript cloud scripting language that provides easy ways to automate tasks across Google products and third party services and build web applications."



I have known how to code in JavaScript for years. I have not needed to use it in any professional capacity as a teacher, until now.

In a previous announcement, I talked about my use of a service called Pear Deck. It allows me to present my lessons in a more engaging way. Just as importantly, it provides students with "takeaways". These takeaways are copies of the slides from the lesson along with all the answers a student typed/drew in that day. However, it only does this for students that are signed in and present. Pear Deck does create a blank takeaway for the teacher and I post this to my website for students that are absent that day. Here is an example takeaway.

The process of finding the blank takeaway on my Google Drive and then moving it to the shared folder that is shown on my website, was a boring and annoying task that I would have to do at the end of each day. I was finding myself putting it off for weeks at a time.

Then came Google Apps Script to the rescue. With this service I was able to code a Google Spreadsheet add-on that looks for my daily takeaway in my Google Drive and then publishes it to my shared folder that is shown on my website.

Now, with the click of a button, I can find my blank takeaways and publish them on my site. If you know how to code in JavaScript, and you have a repeated task every single day, use this. You'll never look back.

Feel free to copy any or all of this code for yourself. It is used for a very specific case (only myself), but maybe it will be useful to someone. If you have any questions about the code, contact me and ask away. is an online application for your students to practice skills. I use it about once a week to quickly assess my students skills in mathematics topics. They have thousands of premade quizizz in many different topics. I rarely have to create any of the questions myself. So it saves me a lot of time in planning.

The game is similar to but it allows students to work at their own pace. It also allows you to assign the game as a homework assignment. No need for your students to sign up either. The best part is that students love it. I love it because I can quickly find and diagnose misconceptions. They love it because it's fast and fun. Quizizz shows the students a meme after every question if their answer is right or wrong. They even let the teacher make their own memes. I like to make memes of students (with their permission).

Overall, I highly recommend this website for all teachers that need to quickly assess their students' knowledge.

Triangle Inequality Theorem

Common Core State Standard: Know the triangle inequality theorem to determine the possible side lengths of a triangle.

Description: In this activity, students will discover and explore the triangle inequality theorem. It is similar to a popular activity where students are given different lengths of spaghetti and are asked to find relationships between the sides when trying to form triangles. It is a great way to still do this discovery lesson without needing the large amount of prep time needed to measure a bunch of side lengths.

Teacher Guide: Click Here

Desmos Activity: Click Here

Below is a sample of how students may try and create a triangle out of specific side lengths.

Volume of a Sphere

Common Core State Standard: Know the formulas for the volumes of cones, cylinders, and spheres and use them to solve real-world and mathematical problems.

Description: In this activity, students will discover and explore the use of the formula for the volume of a sphere. Students will already need to know and how to use the formula for the volume of a cylinder.

Teacher Guide: Click Here

Desmos Activity: Click Here

DohCubes 3 Act Lesson

This 3 Act Lesson was created by Jenn Vadnais. You can visit her website at In this lesson, students will exploring finding the number of cubes inside a PlayDoh container.

My students really enjoyed this activity and asked a lot of questions during Act 2. My favorite was "How many cubes does the ball 'poop' out?" It was a great question, and I rolled with it. The lesson Jenn Vadnais created was very engaging and helped my students easily see that the space inside of a shape can be described by the number of cubes that fit inside of it.

Click Here to View my lesson on

As the Crow Flies

Students practice finding distance 'as the crow flies' on a coordinate grid. Students will use the Pythagorean Theorem and the Distance formula to find distance.

Click Here to view my lesson

I used this Desmos activity to help show my students that the Pythagorean Theorem and the distance formula perform the same task. We also discussed why and how the Pythagorean Theorem could be turned into the distance formula. We had some great math talks about this one.

Measuring Angles

Students practice using a protractor to measure angles.

Click Here to view my lesson

I had used real protractors with my students the day before I made this Desmos Activity. I found that students really struggled with understanding which scale on the protractor to use. The questions at the end of the activity allows students to analyze another student's mistake and analyze their own mistakes in the process.

Prodigy Game

I love trying new websites and software out with my math tutorial students. Over the past year I have found some great websites that allow my students to learn and play at the same time. This is one of my favorites. has provide my students a unique way of practicing their math skills. It combines math with a fantasy role playing game.

Prodigy is a freemium game. Almost all of the game is free to your students. The paid subscription is an add-on option that you or your students' parents can pay for. The subscription adds levels and items for your student to delve deeper into the game. It is absolutely not needed. The free memberships include access to over 1200 math skills for grades 1-8. Unfortunately, Prodigy is really good and asking your students to upgrade. So your kids may bother you about it every time they are not allowed to open a special chest.

It provides teachers and parents with reports on what standards and skills their students are performing well on and what they need help with. . Prodigy is always free for teachers and it allows them to create plans and assignments for their students.

The most important part of Prodigy is that it has given many of my students a reason to do math. It has allowed many of them to find math exciting and fun for the first time in their lives.


I will be working with data in Unit 5 of my Exploring Computer Science course. In preparation for working with map data (latitude and longitude) I wanted to find an online program that would organize and filter the data while presenting a nice visual. I have found that is that solution. To test out the website yourself please follow the instructions below.

1. Grab some data here (this will make a copy of some Los Angeles Bike data into your Google Drive)

2. Copy the data

3. Paste the data into

4. Click the "Map now" button

The results are great. It automatically processes the latitude and longitude and maps all the points. At the bottom of the map you can filter the data. Try it out below.

Conceptis Puzzles

This week I have found the best website for helping my students with their number sense and their perseverance. It is called Conceptis Puzzles. This website offers hundreds of puzzles and several puzzle types. The Pic-a-Pix puzzles are my personal favorite. The actual puzzle is called a nonogram. More can be found on this website. They build problem solving skills, number sense, and perseverance. All things I want my students to build on.

Your students can make free accounts and play a new puzzle every single week without paying a dime. I use this website on short days or as a fun activity on block period days between tasks. Students find them fun and some have no idea it is making them better mathematicians.

Which One Doesn't Belong?

If you haven't heard about this great discussion technique, Which One Doesn't Belong (WODB) allows students an opportunity to construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others (Math Practice 3). I first learned about this from Mary Bourassa's website This site provides many pre-made puzzles but making your own isn't very difficult.

These puzzles work great for my warm-ups as students walk into the room. Here is an example:

Each box contains a shape (or anything you want to study) and students are asked "Which one doesn't belong?" Student find this to be an easy problem. But asking a student to explain why it doesn't belong requires a student to have a good grasp on academic vocabulary and the ability to create a viable argument.

The problem on the left shows that every box can be used as an answer as long as you have a reason for it. The first box doesn't belong because it doesn't have equal length sides. The second box doesn't belong because it is shaded in. The third box doesn't belong because it is rotated. The last box doesn't belong because it has five sides.

To the right is my first attempt at creating my own WODB problem. My students are studying systems of equations. Each box has a reason for not belonging. I was amazed at the conversations that came out of answering this simple question. This problem sparked a discussion about solutions, graphs not showing everything, and parallel lines.

I am definitely going to create and use more of these problems to start math discussions in my class. I will post more as I create them.


With Scratch, you can program your own interactive stories, games, and animations — and share your creations with others in the online community.

Scratch helps young people learn to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively — essential skills for life in the 21st century.

Scratch is a project of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab. It is provided free of charge.

Here are some of the few examples I have made in preparation for teaching Exploring Computer Science:

I have used the Pythagorean Puzzle to help my students discover the Pythagorean theorem themselves! Not only can this tool be used to teach students how to code, but it can be used by educators to create their own interactive lessons/applets.

Systems of Equations Project

Project created and designed by English teacher Sharlene Moss, M.A. ( and Kyle Ramstad

This project was designed to align with 8th grade Math and English Common Core State Standards. 

Click here to view the aligned math standards. Systems of Equations

Click here to view the aligned English standards. Persuasion: Ethos, Logos, Pathos

The files below were used in guiding the students through this project. 

Please download and make copies for your own students.

All assignments were given online. Google Classroom, Google Drive, and Google Sites were used to distribute and collect files.

Click here to view the project page my students used.

Linear Regression

Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) is an effort by California State University, Northridge to support science teachers in the San Fernando Valley. The concepts being developed by CSUN can be applied to all subject matter at all grade levels.

Click here to visit the CSCS website

Demand for Computer Systems Analysts with big data expertise increased 89.9% in the last twelve months , and 85.40% for Computer and Information Research Scientists.
— 2014

Data collection and analysis is a growing industry. Being able to pull ideas out of big data is what drives many of the newest and most successful technology companies.

Go through the steps below to collect, view, and analyze data about height and shoe size. Linear regression is one way that data can be analyzed to find patterns/relationships between two sets of data.

  • Data Collection
  • View Data
    • Google Sheet
    • Make sure you copy this data to use in the next step
  • Calculator
  • Analysis
    • What can this line tell us about the relationship between the data?
    • In regression, the R2 coefficient of determination is a statistical measure of how well the regression line approximates the real data points. An R2 of 1 indicates that the regression line perfectly fits the data.
    • Use your linear equation to predict what height someone would be if they had a size 15 shoe.

Linear regression lines can be used to help predict future results. The linear equation models what is happening in the real world. The better your R2 value, the better your equation will model the real world situation.

Linear Function Transformations

Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) is an effort by California State University, Northridge to support science teachers in the San Fernando Valley. The concepts being developed by CSUN can be applied to all subject matter at all grade levels.

Click here to visit the CSCS website

What is a Linear Function?

Linear functions are those whose graph is a straight line. A linear function can be written in the following form. 

y = f(x) = mx + b

This is called slope-intercept form. Where m represents the slope of the line and b represent the y-intercept.

What happens when m or b changes?

  1. What happens as the value of m changes?
  2. What happens as the value of b changes?

Distance Between Two Points

Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) is an effort by California State University, Northridge to support science teachers in the San Fernando Valley. The concepts being developed by CSUN can be applied to all subject matter at all grade levels.

Click here to visit the CSCS website

How do you get from one point to another?

  • Open the map and the Google Form. Answer the questions on the form.
  •  The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. To find that distance, it may be easier to find the distance by "taking the streets" first. These distances for a right triangle. The shortest distance is the hypotenuse of the triangle. Open the example.
    • Example
    • This example shows that you can easily count the distance of the legs of the triangle, but it is impossible to count the distance of the hypotenuse. 
  • To find the distance between two points, we use the Pythagorean Theorem. Open the Desmos calculator to view the points and the distances between them. 
    • Desmos
    • Type the Pythagorean Theorem in for the hypotenuse. It solves for the length automatically!
    • Now create your own right triangle and find the length of the hypotenuse by solving the Pythagorean Theorem for c. 
    • This is the distance between the two points
    • Take a screenshot of your triangle and answers and add it to our class Google Slides