Mystery Boxes Review Game


I recently saw a Facebook post referencing a teacher’s use of post-it notes from Naeir for a review game called Stinky Feet.  The timing was perfect because we were going to be reviewing the next day for a polynomial test.  However, instead of using post-it notes, I decided that I could do “better” and make a digital game for Stinky Feet. 

Designing my App

I coded the app in’s app lab and went through a couple of iterations of the design before I decided on my final design.  I also decided the name Stinky Feet did not match what I made, so I changed the name to Mystery Boxes.

In my app, the team is chosen from a dropdown box. I have 8 groups of 3 – 4 students in each period, so I designed the app to work for 8 teams.  Once a team is chosen, a box 1 – 5 is chosen to award points to the team.  The mystery is that the point values for each box are randomly generated by the computer and change every time the box is clicked.  The random value is from -2 to 5 points.  The score is automatically updated based on the chosen team.

The reset button allows you to quickly reset the game for the next class period.

Playing the Game

I displayed a problem for the students to solve.  Each student worked the problem on their own paper.   Then I randomly picked one member of each team to write their answer on a white board at their group.  My desks are labeled with playing cards, so I would pick a suit (club, heart, diamond, spade).  If a group did not have someone sitting at the chosen suit, another member of the group would write their answer.  Each group held up their answer and every group that had a correct answer would come to the board to choose their mystery box.  My new interactive short throw projector had just been installed and calibrated so this was a great way to use it.

Updating the App

Because the computer was randomly assigning the point values every time the mystery box was chosen, it was possible that the points were identical in multiple boxes.  Some students did not realize they had already received their points and clicked again.  So I made a small change to the code so you have to choose a team after every time a box is clicked.

Mystery Box App

Feel free to use my app in your class.  If you do, let me know how it goes. 

Ornaments on a Tree

Inspired by this post  from Sarah Carter and this post  from Kim Hughey, we played Ornaments on a Tree to review for our rational expressions exam.


I made two sets of trees (four trees per set).  I put a point value on the back of each tree.  I used 0 points, 2 points, 5 points, and -1 point.  I also printed eight sets of problems (one per group) and put a colored sticker in the upper left corner.  Then I laminated the trees and problems.

For each group, I wrote the numbers 1 – 8 on the colored stickers that would correspond to the group’s colored sticker.

Before class, I randomly taped a set of trees to the whiteboard.  I put my desks in groups of four and gave each group four dry-erase boards and markers, an eraser, and the set of problems.

Playing the Game

Each person in the group must work the same problem.  When every member of the group had all their work shown and an answer, the group would raise their hand so I could check their work and answer.  If the group’s work and answers were correct, the group received a sticker.  The color of the sticker matched the color of the sticker on their set of problems, and the number on the sticker indicated the problem they had correctly simplified or solved.  One member of the group would then place the sticker on any one of the trees (not knowing what the point values were for the trees).  Groups could work the problems in any order.  Since I had numbered the stickers, I was able to keep track of which problems each group had already worked.

About 5 minutes before the end of the class, we stopped playing so that the points could be tallied.

Each sticker on the tree for each group was multiplied by the number of points on the back of the tree.  The group with the highest point total was the winner and received a star sticker.

Since I had two sets of trees, I was able to run the game with back to back classes.  In between classes, I removed the stickers from the previous class.

Innovative Teaching Grant 2018

In March, I applied for an Innovation Teaching Grant through the Pearland ISD Education Foundation.  The project is described below.

Project Summary

This project will provide the TI-Innovator™ Hubs and TI-Innovator™ Rovers for students to learn to code using the TI-Nspire™ CX calculators that are used in the math classrooms. Participation in this project will afford students interested in the application of computer programming an enrichment opportunity outside the normal math and computer science curriculum.


The purpose of the project is to teach students how to code using a device (TI-Nspire™ CX calculator) that is familiar to them and used daily in their math class. This project will introduce students to the basics of coding to help build critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. Programming with TI-Innovator™ technology introduces physical computing and helps spark interest in engineering, robotics and more.

TI recommends 1 hub per 2 students and 1 rover per group of 4-6 students.

TEKS supported by this project include:
Mathematics TEKS
Mathematical process standards. The student uses mathematical processes to acquire and demonstrate mathematical understanding. The student is expected to:
(A) apply mathematics to problems arising in everyday life, society, and the workplace;
(B) use a problem-solving model that incorporates analyzing given information, formulating a plan or strategy, determining a solution, justifying the solution, and evaluating the problem-solving process and the reasonableness of the solution;
(C) select tools, including real objects, manipulatives, paper and pencil, and technology as appropriate, and techniques, including mental math, estimation, and number sense as appropriate, to solve problems;

Robotics and Programming Design TEKS
Critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making. The student uses appropriate strategies to analyze problems and design algorithms. The student is expected to:
(A) develop algorithms to control a robot, including applying instructions, collecting sensor data, and performing simple tasks;
(B) create maneuvering algorithms to physically move the location of a robot;
(C) create algorithms that provide interaction with a robot;
(D) demonstrate an understanding of and use output commands, variables, and sequence programming structure;
(E) demonstrate an understanding of and use jumps, loops, and selection programming structures;
(F) demonstrate an understanding of and use subroutines, accessors, and modifiers; and
(G) apply decision-making strategies when developing solutions.


By the end of the first semester, students will have completed all five units of the 10 minutes of code for TI Codes: TI-Nspire™ Technology using the TI-Nspire™ CX.

By the end of the second semester, students will have completed all five units of the 10 minutes of code for 10 Minutes of Code: TI-Nspire™ CX Technology & TI-Innovator™Technology using the hardware supplied by this grant.

Project Description

During the first semester, students will work through the skill builders and applications for the 10 minutes of code using TI-Nspire™ technology. The units will introduce students to the basics of coding on the TI-Nspire™ CX.

During the second semester, students will work through the skill builders and applications for the 10 minutes of code using TI-Innovator™ technology. The first three units will utilize the TI-Innovator Hub™. The last two units will utilize both the TI-Innovator™ Hub and the TI-Innovator™ Rover, since the TI-Innovator™ Hub is used to send commands to the TI-Innovator™ Rover.

Students will meet weekly during lunch or after school to work through each skill builder and application. The skill builders and applications are designed to be completed in 10 minutes.

Findings show that after completing one Hour of Code activity students report liking computer science more, feel that they are better able to learn computer science, and are better at computer science than their peers. (Source: Introducing the students to coding on the calculator will encourage students to enroll in computer science courses.

Project Evaluation

Students will work through each unit from TI Codes. A spreadsheet of each skill builder and application completed by each student will be kept by the teacher.

Students will save their programs on the calculator in a personal folder.

Videos of TI-Innovator™ Hub and TI-Innovator™ Rover programs will be shared on social media.


15 – TI-Innovator™ Hub – $869.25
5 – TI-Innovator™ Rover – $659.75

Awarded May 23, 2018


Exponential and Logarithmic Equations Breakout

Last year I created a mini breakout on solving exponential and logarithmic equations.  This year, the other Pre-AP Algebra 2 teacher at my school decided added to the breakout to include finding inverses of exponential and logarithmic equations.


Pearland High School – population 2985 – has been infiltrated by zombies.

It started with one zombie.  In ten minutes, there were 25 zombies.  After 15 minutes, there were 625 zombies.  If this rate continues, the entire student body will be zombies in 30 minutes.

But YOU can stop the zombie attack.  The antidote is locked in this box!  You have 30 minutes to decipher the codes and retrieve the antidote.  It’s as simple as moving left, down, up, right!  Can you break out in time to stop the zombies from taking over Pearland High School?


I placed all three locks (directional, 4-digit, and 4-letter lock) on a hasp attached to one box.  I projected and read the story to the class and asked each group to get an envelope with the clues from me.

Envelope with Color Clue

4-Digit Lock Clues

Solving Equations Clues

4-Letter Lock Clues

Inverses Clues

Several of the groups placed the envelope on an empty desk or up-side-down, so they did not notice the color clue that told them what to do with the solutions to the solving equations clues and inverses clues.  As a hint for groups that requested one, I indicated that they needed to pay attention to the paper on the front of the envelope.

The other teacher placed each lock on a separate box.  She gave each group the story and the color clue that would be used with the other two sets of clues.  The students had to open the directional lock to get the clues for the 4-digit lock.  Then they had to open the 4-digit lock to get the clues for the 4-letter lock.

Groups had 30 minutes to solve the clues to breakout and not become a Zombie.


In my classes, 13 out of 22 groups became “Zombies.”  However, with an additional 15 minutes, only 2 group were unable to successfully breakout.

In the other teachers classes, 1 group became “Zombies.”

I believe the reason my students were less “successful” was because they did not know what to do with all the clues.  Each group “divided and conquered” to solve the exponential and logarithmic equations and find the inverses, but they did not understand which cards went with each lock.  I watched multiple groups switch cards with their teammates to have them check their work, so they had the right answers.

In the other teacher’s class, the students were presented with one set of clues at a time.  Once they had figured out what to do for the 4-digit lock, they were able to transfer that knowledge to decode the clues for the 4-letter lock.



What T3 Means To Me

Inspires My Teaching

At our first TLC (teacher leader cadre) meeting, one of our instructors Jeff Lukens had us purposefully play with temperature probes.  After a few minutes of play, we made connections to math and science.  This inspired me to bring probes into my classroom.  I have written and received two grants from the Pearland ISD Education Foundation and the Pearland High School PTA for CBR2 motion detectors, dual-range force sensors, temperature probes, and gas-pressure sensors.  Now our PAP Algebra 2 students are able to collect data to model linear, quadratic, exponential, and rational functions and make connections to the real-world.

Several workshops I have attended incorporate the TI-Navigator into the presentation.  I have also increased my use of the TI-Navigator in my classroom through quick polls, sending and collecting documents, screen capture, and live presenter.

Inspires My Learning

I do not tweet a lot, but I regularly follow #T3Learns on Twitter.  I have grown professionally by reading and reflecting on the books for the book studies before the T3 International Conference and books suggested by Jennifer Wilson and Jill Gough.

T3 provides the best professional development, whether it is face-to-face or via webinar.  I always leave with something that I can take back to my department or my class.  As mentioned in a previous post, I was inspired to get my computer science certification after attending a mini PD day on coding with the TI-Innovator hub.

Inspiring Others

The math teachers in my district use the TI-Nspire CX.  I want our teachers to embrace the handheld as a learning tool.  I train teachers new to our district on the features of the TI-Nspire CX.  Even though our science departments still have TI-83+ and TI-84+, our students are now coming to science having only used the TI-Nspire CX, so I have also trained our district’s physics teachers.  This year I am going to work with the AP Chemistry teacher on my campus on integrating the TI-Nspire CX into her course.

I presented at the T3 International Conference (T3IC) in Chicago, IL in March on BreakoutEDU using the TI-Nspire CX.  As a first-time presenter at the conference, I was shocked that I was given such a large room for my session.  The room was packed (~80 people), and the session went very well.  I received positive feedback from several attendees.

While at the Conference for the Advancement of Mathematics Teaching (CAMT) in Fort Worth, TX in July, I was waiting for a session to begin.  The presenter was walking around before her session started, and she stopped to ask me if I was presenting at CAMT.  Unfortunately for her, I had just given my first presentation, and she had a presentation the next day at the same time as my second session.  She had attended and was inspired by the breakout at T3IC and wanted to come to my session at CAMT.  Luckily, I was presenting the same thing at CAMT that I had done at T3IC, so she wasn’t missing anything new.

Just the Beginning

I have only been a T3 Instructor for a year, so this is just the beginning.  I cannot wait to see how the T3 community continues to inspire my teaching and learning and how I can inspire others as well.

To learn more about T3, visit

Computer Science Certified

The T³ community inspired me to become certified to teach computer science.


I took Pre-AP Computer Science my sophomore year of high school.  I really enjoyed the class, so I signed up to take AP Computer Science the following year.  I was the only girl in my AP Computer Science class.  Nevertheless, I still enjoyed computer science.

I have always known that I was going to be a teacher.  I decided that I was going to be a math teacher during my junior year of high school.  My mom and I visited with an adviser at Texas A&M University the summer before my senior year of high school.  The adviser suggested that I pursue alternative certification for teaching and get a BS in applied mathematics.  The BS degree did not require a minor, but my mom wanted me to have something to fall back on if teaching did not work out.  I graduated from Texas A&M University in 2004 with a BS in applied mathematics and a minor in computer science.

Mini PD Day

Fast forward to October 2016.  I attended a mini PD for T³ instructors on coding and the TI-Innovator hub.  We worked through several of the activities at TI Codes.  I had not done any coding in 12 years, but I was quickly reminded how much I enjoyed coding in the six hours I spent with other instructors.


Upon returning to my district, I was speaking with the math/science advanced academics specialist about my experience at the mini PD and told her that I might like to get my computer science certification.  She told me that there was money available from the state of Texas to encourage Texas teachers to obtain computer science certification.  She sent me the information about WeTeach_CS.

In June, I took and passed the TExES Computer Science 241 test.  I am now certified to teach computer science.

Although I will not be teaching computer science this year, I hope to incorporate some 10 minutes of code into my classes, and hopefully, inspire a love of coding in my students.

What have you been inspired to do as a result of your professional development?

Advice from Students for Students

My students were asked to write a letter to the students that would be taking PAP Algebra 2 next year giving them advice.  Here is their advice to next year’s students.

So you’re taking PAP Algebra 2.  Whatever ideas you have about this course – go ahead and banish them from your mind.  PAP Algebra 2 is not some evil class that will suck the life out of you.  Sure, it’s challenging – but you can handle it.  You didn’t take this course to be babied. You took it because advanced classes look good on your transcript and because, to some degree, you believe you have what it takes to at least pass.  In PAP Algebra 2, you can expect to have lots of homework (sorry, but that’s just how it is).  You can also expect to be working from bell to bell, so don’t try to pull out your other homeworks.  Look.  My advice to you is: do all that you can.  This class was made to test you.  To see if you can handle varying levels of difficulty.  Just try your hardest and you’ll make it.  Also: don’t use scratchpad. – Abby

Regarding IDs

  • Don’t fight the ID.  She will make your wear them.

Regarding Notes

  • First, you are going to want a big notebook, so you can write all your notes down.  And second you want to have good notes, so you can go back on them and study.
  • Print out your notes.  It will save you time and will help you focus and understand the lesson better.
  • I’d consider printing out your notes if you’re doing any kind of graphing because the graph Ms. Kelly is giving you is better than your sketch; I promise.
  • Printing your notes off of Canvas allows you to understand what you are answering. (And not to mention, it minimizes hand cramps because you don’t have to write as much or as fast.)
  • If you think you can come into this class and not take notes, or do your homework, and expect to do good on all the tests and quizzes, you’re wrong.

Regarding Homework and Canvas

  • Expect homework most nights and be ready for quizzes because there are a lot of them.
  • You should always do your homework the night you get it, even though it may not be due the next day.  Also, don’t check Canvas before or you won’t learn the material and you will fail the weekly quizzes!
  • Always check Canvas to make sure you have done your homework correctly.
  • When you work, you are expected to make mistakes, but learn from them.
  • Show ALL of your work!!!
  • If you want to do well, properly do your homework.  Don’t simply copy answers or you’ll likely fail the quizzes.
  • Check Canvas for assignments if you were absent.  Ms. Kelly will say the same thing.
  • Canvas will help you in the long run.  Everything you need on there is important like notes, assignments, and there is discussion board so if you need help with your work.
  • If you haven’t experienced the magical greatness that is the TI-Nspire CX calculator, get ready for a thrill ride.  These calculators make completing many complex mathematical equations a breeze and I highly suggest you purchase one for homework uses.

Regarding Asking Question

  • Ask questions.  If you don’t understand something, ask questions.  It’s what teachers are there for.
  • Go to tutoring if you don’t understand.  Ms. Kelly is like the smartest person ever so go to her and she can help if you don’t understand anything.
  • If you don’t understand Ms. Kelly is always there to help and she’s not just going to give you the answer.  She is going to make you think.

General Advice

  • Don’t rush on the test/quiz because you might make the stupidest mistake.
  • Remember the ± sign in front of square roots.
  • Come to class with a positive attitude and an open mind to learn new things.
  • Expect to learn a lot of math and equations that build upon each other because the thing you learned in the 1st term will definitely be used until the end of the year.
  • Don’t use scratchpad.  If you do use scratchpad, Ms. Kelly’s scratchpad senses will kick in and she’ll be at your desk saying “No scratchpad” fast than you can type the first number.
  • Ask Ms. Kelly to tell you π.
  • Don’t let Ms. Kelly make you think she doesn’t laugh.
  • Last but not least, no Ms. Kelly can’t follow you to pre-cal (I already asked).



Data Collection – Boyle’s Law

Yesterday, as part of my Innovative Teaching Grant from the Pearland ISD Education Foundation, my students completed a data collection lab.


  • Model pressure versus volume using inverse variation


Boyles Law Data Lab

Although students were in groups of three to four, each student collected their own data. Members of the group rotated between three jobs: syringe, calculator, directions.

A syringe containing 15 mL of air was screwed onto the gas pressure sensor, which was connected to the TI-Nspire.  The pressure of the air was recorded using the Data Quest App on the TI-Nspire.

Gas Pressure Sensor with Syringe

The gas was compressed to 14 mL, and the pressure was recorded.

Compressing the Air in the Syringe

The pressure reading was also recorded for 13 mL, 12 mL, 11 mL, and 10 mL.


An example of one student’s data collection.

Pressure vs Volume Graph

Students noted that as the volume increased the pressure decreased.

The constant of variation was calculated by multiplying pressure and volume.  Then the average  was calculated.

Data Table

Using the mean value for the constant of variation, a model was written and graphed on the scatterplot of the data.

Inverse Variation Model


Students used their models to predict the pressure for a volume of 20 mL and 5 mL.  Based on their predictions, they were able to determine that when the volume of a gas is decreased from 40 mL to 10 mL, the pressure will quadruple.