Fantasy Football, Part Two

I blogged here about the Fantasy Football activity from Yummy Math.

To prep for the next class, I chose 4 players for each of the positions we previously wrote equations for: quarterback, wide receiver, tight end, and running back.  I pulled each player’s stats from Week 1 and created a table for each position. Here’s the quarterback table:

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 7.58.35 PM

I posted the information to my website with these directions:

  • Each table group needs to come up with a team name.
  • There are 16 players available representing 4 positions.
  • You must draft one player per position.
  • Download the pdf below to see the stats for each player. All scores/stats are based on Week 1 of the 2015-2016 season.
  • Use the equations from the Fantasy Football activity to calculate the points associated with each player.
  • You will have 10 minutes in the “War Room” to strategize and plan your draft.
  • Teams will be called at random and given two minutes to make a selection.
  • The team who drafts the players with the highest combined fantasy points wins!
Another teacher came to my class to help me run this draft – he acted as the commissioner. He had pulled pictures of each player ahead of time and created a slide within a Powerpoint presentation as each group made their selection. Here’s an example:
Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 8.04.15 PM
This was much better than trying to record each pick on the board. Being super creative, he also quickly found theme music based on each group’s name!
To keep this math-focused, and to avoid a football fanatic having an advantage, each group had to state their draft pick and the total number of fantasy points based on the equation.
At the end of the draft, thanks to the commissioner, I had a completed Powerpoint with every pick – labeled with the appropriate group name and fantasy points.
Almost all my kids actively participated – it was loud, fun, and filled with math talk! Win!
Next time I will not let the kids pick their own groups. The kids who are football fanatics and currently play in fantasy leagues grouped themselves together. Prior football knowledge was only minimally helpful since I required each group to state the fantasy football points when drafting.  But next time I will ask if anyone in the class thinks of themselves as a fantasy football expert and I will place one in each group. I think spreading out the “experts” will help spread out the excitement.
One thing I didn’t anticipate was what to do if a group got the math wrong. Do they lose their pick? Do they have to take a zero for that round?  In the moment, I just had the group re-do the math.  A few of my kids suggested if a group makes a math error, that group gets the player with the least amount of points in whatever category they were trying to draft a player from.
As I mentioned before, I am doing this lesson/activity during “Flex”.  This group of kids will rotate to a different teacher next week.  I’ll see a new group of kids on Wednesday.  It looks like I will have three days with my new group. I will use the activity from Yummy Math on Day 1 and the draft described above on Day 3. I’ve got something else in the planning stages for Day 2!



Four Strikes and You’re Out

Several times a week I see one of my math class at the start of snack time. Because we are a 1:1 laptop school, I can’t have my kids use their computers while they eat snack. On these days I use something for a warm-up that encourages conversation and does not require technology use from the students. Sometimes I project a picture from Which One Doesn’t Belong, sometimes I pose a question, etc. I recently added Four Strikes and You’re Out from Marilyn Burns’ blog.  It’s a quick game that starts with guessing and quickly demands the use of number sense.  You start with a basic frame like this:

____ ____ +  ____ ____  = ____ ____      0  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9

Students guess a number. If it’s part of the equation, I write in the number.  If not, I cross out the number from the list on the right.  Think Hangman but with numbers. Once there are a few numbers in the equation, kids start to reason through their guesses.  This sparks great conversation.  I tell the kids they are playing against me – this causes the kids to work together and explain their reasoning (MP3):

“No, don’t guess nine – it’s too big – look at the numbers in the one’s place!”

“It has to be five – see the zero?! 

“Can I come up to the board to explain?”

The kids are engaged (while noshing on delicious looking snacks) and talking about math – I call that a win!


Fantasy Football

My kids have a “Flex” period during the day which is used for different things.  Sometimes the class is used for remediation or extension, sometimes the minutes from the class are incorporated into other classes to lengthen them, sometimes the time is used for an assembly, a band/chorus rehearsal or a fitness class.

My school operates on trimesters – 60 days each. For this first trimester, my kids will have a fitness class every day during Flex for the second 30 days.  The schedule for the first 30 days is somewhat mixed up due to all the beginning of school activities – team building, opening assemblies, picture day, etc.  So my teammates and I decided we would use whatever Flex time we had during the first 30 days to design mini-units of something fun/interesting.  Something to incorporate the 4 C’s and/or 21st Century Skills. The kids are cycling through by home room, seeing each teacher for about 5 days.

One teacher is focusing on areas of history we never seem to get to – the Alamo, Battle of 1812. Another teacher is having the kids research a current event and put together a brief presentation for the class – the refugee crisis, Hilary and her emails, the Donald, etc.

I chose Fantasy Football. Yummy Math has a great activity designed to highlight the math behind the “game”.  From the Yummy Math website:

In the midst of another NFL season, we introduce students to Fantasy Football. Students first calculate football points given touchdowns, yardage gains and interceptions. They are then challenged to generalize an equation for that gives a player’s total fantasy points. Students solve equations as they try to find the number of passes, touchdowns, or interceptions that yield given point totals.  Students can also compete in their own fantasy football competition within the class.  This lesson is ideal for teachers that want to work on equations with their students or for a group of football fans.

The website has a kid-friendly introductory video to explain the basics: https://youtu.be/4Pm2pkxbYYU

I wish I could have captured the look on some of my kids’ faces when they saw a Fantasy football video projected on the screen.   “Sweet!”     “Are we really doing this?”    “No way!”

My kids were so into it – I think they were also somewhat surprised with my personal football knowledge. Although I am certainly not an expert, it’s difficult not to pick up on a few things with 10 years of marching band experience. Attending a Big XII school in Texas, well – football is king.  Hook ’em Horns!

I have one more day with this group. Two of the kids in my class are in a Fantasy Football league online and they are going to show the class their accounts.  I toyed with the idea of starting a classroom league but, understandably, the websites are blocked at school.  The Yummy Math activity has a section to track stats over the weekend but I made that optional considering it was a holiday. My idea is to pull the stats of 5 quarterbacks, running backs, tight ends, and wide receivers from this weekend and hold a mini-draft in the classroom. Then have the kids use the actual player points and the scoring rules from the activity to determine the number of fantasy football points their “team” earned over the weekend.  Thoughts?


High Five Friday!

As people start to return to school, mentions of implementing “high fives” have been popping up all over Twitter. I think it stemmed from a sharing at #TWC15 (http://blog.mrwaddell.net/archives/1431).  My favorite quote might be, “How can you NOT be in a great mood getting 35 high fives several times a day, every day.”

I dubbed today “High Five Friday” and instead of greeting my kids with a high-five, I stood at the door as my kids left for lunch and high-fived each one of them. So many smiles and giggles –  one student even came back in the room so he could leave and get another high-five!  This was a great way to end class. I think next week I will greet my home room kids this way.

At some point at my school there was a rule made prohibiting high fives. I can’t remember why the rule was instituted (probably something about kids ‘high five-ing’ each other with more force than necessary) and I’m not sure if the ban is still in effect. We have a new principal starting this year who is very focal about creating connections with kids so I’m hopeful my implementation of “high fives” will be celebrated. 🙂




I Have, Who Has

I love this game! I usually play it with my kids on the first day. It’s a great way to assess mental math skills and it’s a great introduction for a conversation on listening skills, auditory verse visual learners, etc. The set of cards I use is one I made, probably 15 years ago. Sarah at Math=Love has a blog post where she compiled a list of cards she found on the Internet. I’m linking it here so I can reference it in the future.


First Days

First week of the 2015-16 school year is in the books! Monday and Tuesday were professional development, meetings, etc. for teachers and the kiddos showed up on Wednesday.

My team created a modified schedule of classes on Wednesday so the kids could meet each teacher for introductions and we spent the rest of the day doing team building/community building activities.

On Thursday we held “regular” classes to continue team building in smaller groups. I used “Dealing in Horses” from Marilyn Burns’ blog.

I displayed the following on the board as students entered the classroom:
A man bought a horse for $50 and sold it for $60. He then bought the horse back for $70 and sold it again for $80. What’s the financial outcome of these transactions?

Each class had a different experience with this problem. Below I am capturing the experience of one of my classes.

I greeted the kids as they entered the room and practiced learning their names but didn’t say anything about the problem on the board. It was fascinating to observe which kids read the problem, which kids read the problem and immediately began to solve it and which kids never glanced at the board!

After everyone had found my classroom and I took attendance, I asked the kids to think about the problem individually for a few minutes.  Then, I asked for volunteers to offer answers. Answers included +20, +10 and 0. I Identified different locations in the room for each answer and had students choose a location. If someone wasn’t sure of the answer, I told them to remain seated and join a group when ready.

Groups in each location formed a team to come up with the most convincing argument for their answer. Each group was instructed to choose a spokesperson and the goal was to convince people to join their group. I wandered around from group to group listening to the reasoning. After I few minutes I gathered everyone’s attention and the spokesperson from each group began to convince their classmates of the perceived correct answer.

Some kids got confused midway through the explanation and asked a teammate for help (awesome!), some kids asked to use the board to help illustrate the thinking (yes!), one student kids switched groups midway through his own explanation (so very cool).  All this led to a great class discussion about being precise with our language, how to properly and respectfully disagree with someone, how visuals can aid in our understanding, learning from each other, taking risks, etc. I was then able to point out the Math Practice Standards on the wall and talk through each one.

There were a few kids who struggled with the answer to the problem.  I displayed the following on the board:

     I bought a lamp for $50 and sold it for $60.

     I bought a table for $70 and sold it for $80.

     What’s the financial outcome of these transactions?

Some students said this was the same problem, some students said this problem was easier. We had a great discussion – students were able to point out the structure of the problem was the same but the way in which it was presented was different. Students pointed out the first problem was presented as a block of text and the second was “broken out” into three sentences. Three separate sentences made it “easier” to “see the information”.  Students also noticed the second problem talked about two distinct objects rather than one object seemingly being sold back and forth. This led to further discussion of the Math Practice Standards. It was great class discussion about problem solving and communication.

Friday was Laptop Deployment Day and we ended with some more large group team building.  It was a fantastic week. I have such great kids – I love them already – and I’m looking forward to a great year!


One Good Thing

Every day may not be good, but there is one good thing in every day.

There is a collaborative blog within the MTBoS community for sharing and celebrating the good things that happen each day.  I think this is such a great idea, especially on those stressful, draining days.

A few years ago one of my students had this quote written on a bright green sticky-note on her computer. It stayed there the whole year. When I asked her about it she said it helped her get through math class – my math class! She told me the class was difficult but she loved the challenge and tried to find one thing she was proud of everyday.  This was an 8th grade student with maturity and poise beyond her years. At the end of the year, when she had to turn in her computer, she took the sticky-note off and headed toward the trash barrel. I asked her if I could keep it. It stays on my bulletin board to remind me to look for the good among the difficult and to remind me of this very wise student.