Saturday, September 24, 2016

Properties of Operations Sort

Properties of Operations is not my favorite thing to teach. I love how numbers work and sharing that with students but I am not a fan of having to memorize names.

So students took notes and they found patterns in equations and describe the rules.

For example, I put the following equations:


I asked them to find what rule these equations were describing and asked them to find an example of when the rule wouldn't work.

I wanted students to see that they already knew most of these properties, they just didn't now the names.

After they took notes, we did a card sort. Each group got a bag with the names of the properties we discussed and equations to match to the property.

I love card sorts in math and I loved hearing the conversations they had as they disagreed and tried to convince each other. I also loved seeing them refer to their notebooks because my students see to forget that it is there.

If groups finished early, I gave them a dry erase marker and had them write their own equations to show the different properties. I think I will do this part more later. For the few groups that got to it, it was a great way to see if they understood what each property said. 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Mathematical Mindsets--Jo Boaler

This should be required reading for anyone who teachers math--from PK to College, from teachers to parents. (affiliate link below)

This book will change how I teacher math this year from the very first day of school. I will continue to blog about how things are going in my classroom, but here are a few bullet points of my main takeaways. 

  • I am going to talk with my kids about brain research--not just once--but several times throughout the year and heavily the first two weeks of school. I have to change their mindset about math and their selves. 
  • Homework will look extremely different. Jo Boaler says "homework perpetuates inequities in education." She even talks about how her family has two working parents and after everyone is home and fed for the evening, she wants to spend time with her daughters-not in frustration over homework. My homework was very light in the past, but this year it will be more reflections questions and maybe 1 problem to start on that we finish discussing in class. 
  • "No one is born knowing math, and no one is born lacking the ability to learn math."
  • Mistakes are necessary!
  • My grading will look different--if mistakes are necessary, I can't punish students for making them. 
  • Mental Math will improve--I especially want to show students ways to think about numbers to improve their number sense.
  • Boaler talks about using tasks that are "low floor, high ceiling." Everyone can access the task and anyone and take it further. 
One is a website Jo Boaler is part of--there are two weeks of inspirational math with videos and activities designed to help students change their mindset about math. What I like most about the activities is they are "low ceiling, high floor" but they also give students practice to work together in math. Math should be a very social subject. I will be using (and blogging about) several about the activities the first two weeks of school. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

CAMT 2016--Jo Boaler

I went to CAMT the first time this year and I presented. 

I wanted to do a quick run down of my take aways from CAMT.   This turned into a post just about Jo Boaler--everything else will be later. 

I have been a fan of Jo Boaler for awhile. I was first introduced to her through her book What's math got to do with it?  She advocates for changing math education to reach more students and help more students become successful. Jo Boaler currently runs which focuses on having a growth mindset. Here are some take away from her presentation.

  • Every child can excel (not just learn) math.
  • Schools decide who can and can't do math an an early age (This has always been one of my pet peeves. If a child wants to take an advanced math class and is willing to work, why should we stop him/her!)
  • The times we are challenged and struggling are the most beneficial times to learn
  • MISTAKES GROW YOUR BRAIN (I think this will be my motto for the coming school year)
  • Our message to students should be "I am giving you this feedback because I believe in you."
  • Speed, time, and pressure stop the brain from working
  • We need to stop associating math with speed--we turn away many students.
  • Students think that being good at math means being right
  • Students should use their fingers in math (I still use my fingers when I add and subtract.)

I want to take her presentation and really live it as a math teacher this year. I want my students to feel confident that can be successful at math. Math was always my hardest subject and it really wasn't until I took College Algebra that I understood any Algebra or until I had to study to take the GRE that I felt I had any type of number sense. I am still not the best, but I know that I will continue to learn and get better. I try to convey this message to my students every year and hopefully this year I can be more successful at it. 

What have you done in your classroom to help more students feel they can successful at math?

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Happy Planner

I search for the perfect planner every year. I drive my husband crazy going into store after store finding the one I want. I have wanted an Erin Condren planner for a while, but couldn't justify spending that much money and I wasn't in love with it.

So I bought this planner at Michael's after looking at it for 20 minutes. And I couldn't even see the inside because it was inside a box! Very not normal for me and the fastest I have ever picked out a planner. Also, with a coupon, it was about $25. And it came with stickers, a pen, and a highligher. 

It's the My Mind's Eye Happy Planner and they have a bunch of different styles but I went for the teacher one. Here is the cover. It has a plastic cover to keep it safe and a nice message. 
Each month has an overview page to write goals, tasks, etc. And it comes with a pocket. Right now my pocket holds the stickers it came with, plus some stickers I bought. 

Did you know that planner art is a thing? My instagram is full of pretty pictures of people who have decorated their planner with stickers, washi tape, stamps, gorgeous handwriting, etc. I don't have time/patience/money to take all that on, but I like a few stickers to make my planner more fun. 

Each month also has a month at a glance-with dates already filled in. I need the dates already filled in--I make too many mistakes when I do it myself. 

Then each month comes with 5 lesson plan pages. I only have two classes to prep for (advance and on level math) so I don't need all the columns--but I also use my planner for outside school (probably more often). I think eventually I will print some labels I can put at the top there for all my categories of things to plan for.

Each month also comes with some motivation sayings. 

And finally it has some check lists. There are 10 pages here. I am not sure if I will use this because I don't like the idea of writing student names, and I would need at least 12 to get through the year, and I like my current system of just printing an excel spreadsheet with all my student names where I can write out assignments and grades. 

So here is my happy planner. It almost gives me the motivation to start planning some stuff--but don't worry. I am still on summer break. You might have noticed I have potty training and moving my toddler to a big girl bed to work on this month--no easy tasks. 

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Two Truths and a Lie--Writing in Math Class

I had a goal to have my students write more in math class this year, without making writing such a big deal. When students hear that they are writing in math, their responses range from disbelief to outright indignation. "Why are we writing in math?! This isn't English." 

So I try to sneak it in their when possible. 

I did this activity with my students at the end of the year--really the last few weeks of school, after STAAR testing was over. I was pleasantly surprised how engaged they were and I am excited to try it again next year when summer isn't on everyone's mind. 

In this activity, we start by playing Two Truths and a Lie-- the get to know you game. This can work at anytime of the year as students always like sharing things about themselves. I first share two truths and one lie about myself (this is how I announced my pregnancy to my students last year) so students know what to do. Then, I give each student a post-it and ask them to write Two truths and one lie about themselves then they share with their group and the other students guess what is the lie.  

I spent about 10 minutes on this part. It gets students talking to each other and excited about class. This way when they go into the activity they are smiling and laughing instead of depressed that they have to writing. 

Then I explain we are going to do Two Truths and a Lie-- The Math Version. Each group is given a sheet of paper with a graphic or word problem on it. There are 2-3 students per group, so I will have about 12 different papers distributed around the room. The group is then asked to write two truths and one lie about the graphic or word problem. 

I did model this for my students before I passed out the papers. I asked them to dig deep and come up with something profound--not something like there are two dots on this graph. I was happy that some students voluntarily did computation as their truths and then wrote a sentence about it instead of just stating facts they could see without computation. 

After all groups had their two truths and a lie written down, I gave each student 4 post-its and asked them to find the lies on 4 other papers. I asked them to write a sentence about why it was a lie instead of just stating "Number 2 is a lie."

In the process, students found that some papers had two lies or that there weren't any lies at all--either students didn't follow instructions, or they had made a mistake. 

Here are some students papers after the activity. 

This activity can be made easily-- you can take pictures of graphics in textbooks, worksheets, make your own graphics, etc. You can have the whole activity be centered around one concept, or a review of several concepts. 

I have a FREE sample of what I used in my classroom--it is appropriate for grade levels 6-8. 

Monday, July 4, 2016

Excused Absence

If you are looking for my CAMT presentation materials, click here.

I have been MIA for a while on this blog and in life. But my reason is good.

My baby girl is going to be a big sister this December and this pregnancy has taken a toll on me. I have done basically nothing but go to work and then come home and crash for the last two months. I am starting to feel a little better and now I have a short time in summer to prepare for everything I want to get done before school starts and then before baby gets here.

We couldn't be more excited for this new baby.

I attended CAMT in San Antonio and presented and heard lots of interesting ideas. I am planning a post to reflect about all I have learned this week.
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