Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Notebook Pages

I am really happy with how the Math ISNs are going this year. The students are taking ownership of them. I have had two students lose theirs and one student spilled water on his, but all three have wanted to redo their notebook so it has everything in it. 

Most of the pages I come up with are me thinking quickly what the students will benefit the most from. I try not to make too many copies for the notebook. I asked the students one day if they just want to write stuff down in it, or do they like the construction paper and color. They like the construction paper and color. I think it is a more fun way to take notes, it is visually appealing, AND it makes the notes easier to read. 

Here are some pages from the last few weeks. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Freddy Fractions

Freddy Fraction is a FREE app that uses equivalent fractions and decimals and percents. 

Students have to get the bee to the honey pot by dragging the bee to the fraction next to them that is equivalent to the decimal in the top right corner. In this case, the decimal is .88 and the equivalent fraction is 7/8. One downfall of this game is it rounds decimals to the hundreths. So while my students know that 7/8 is equivalent to 0.875, this game rounds that decimal. 

I like that the app doesn't just use the simplified fraction and uses equivalent fractions as well. 

As the game progresses, percents are added and the path to the honey pot gets longer. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Writing and Graphing Inequalities

I had a good week last week, compared to last week. Things were clicking, the students were understanding and I was able to pull small groups on solving equations. 

We started with these cards. I wanted the students to connect the inequality signs with real world situations, so I made this inequality matching set. 

Day 1:

First Sort: I first gave students the cards without the signs. I asked them to come up with a way to sort the cards. They needed to have at least 2 groups and could have as many as they wanted. Some of the ways they sorted them.
  • Numbers more than 50 and less than 50 (or some other number). --These groups didn't pay attention to the situations.
  • Situations with more than one answer and only one answer. --I didn't expect this one and I was excited to hear it. 
  • Situations the were positive or negative--really those that were less than or greater than. 
  • Situations which were less than or greater than
I heard so many great conversations among my students as they sorted. 

After their initial sort, we talked about the word inequality and what it means. One girl said that an inequality has more than one answer--a wonderful response. 

Second Sort: After introducing them to each of the signs and learning the new less than/greater than or equal to --I asked them to resort the cards in 5 groups now. This was a little more difficult for them to distinguish when it was equal to and when it wasn't. But as I walked around I got to talk to the students about how to tell the difference by questioning them. 

Day 2:
I used this foldable to sort phrases into which sign they go with. I gave the students the cards back and asked them to look through them to find a phrase like "no more than" and identify which sign it goes with. 
Day 3:
We started writing the inequalities. We did some class practice and I called students to the board and the we added this page to their notebook and they practiced with their groups. 

Day 4: 
We started graphing inequalities. I had some examples on the board that students came up and practiced and then they finished the above page from their notebook.

I ended the week hearing students say this was so easy. Their exit tickets showed that they are understanding this. I know that when we start solving inequalities, it might be a different story though. 

The Inequality Sort Cards are available in my store now. 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Math Mistakes

I want my students to know that a mistake in math class is not the end of the world and that you can recover from them. Not only can you recover from them, you can learn from them!

To show them I mean what I say, I keep track of the math mistakes I make in class. When I add instead of multiply or I completely botch a problem--we make it a learning opportunity.

Sometimes the students notice before I do and say "Mrs. Stowe made a math mistake" other times I notice and ask them to find what I did wrong. 

It hasn't helped everyone, but I do have students willing to say what they are thinking even if it might be wrong. And students are willing to come up to the board, even if they might be wrong. We can all learn from each other when we make mistakes--even the teacher. 

Some days are better than others. I made it several weeks without putting many tally marks on the board. But the closer it gets to Christmas, the more I have to add to the board! 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Class Incentive

Oh my! Only 6 more school days until Christmas break and we are all ready. I am so excited to see my family and can't wait for my daughter to open her presents. She has seen all of them--but she is only 2 and will still be excited Christmas morning when she opens them. 

So... how do you keep classes of 6th grades excited about following classroom expectations? I am not big on giving rewards in the classroom--I wish I could eliminate them all together--but I am not ready yet. They are a crutch I occasionally use. 

If you use rewards, here is one way for the class to work together. I was introduced to this at a training last year. Each one of my classes has their own 100s chart. Every time I feel like the class has worked well, or entered the classroom quietly, or we've had a good discussion, etc I cross off a number. I use a random number generator app I have on my phone to pick a number. 
Once the class gets 10 in a row in any direction, they will all get a prize. Probably candy. The first day I did this was the day before Thanksgiving break--one class got 8 numbers crossed off in one day because they were so amazing. 

Any ideas for keeping kids excited between the holiday breaks?

Monday, December 7, 2015

Dan Meyer-Math Class Needs A Makeover

I hope every math teacher has seen this video.

He starts by saying we sell a product that students don't want but are forced to buy. I love math--always have even if I wasn't always good at it. I wish my students could see how awesome it was. But am I doing a good enough job actually want them to buy into the product.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Reflecting on the Week--Thoughts on Solving Equations

I hope I am not alone in saying that we all have weeks where we don't feel we are effective teachers. This past week was one of those for me.

I started the week with a good idea that didn't quite work that way I wanted it to. Then I felt like I had to cram 3 days of instruction into 5 days--because another day this week we had a benchmark testing day. I had also promised my students we would be doing guided math/center time everyday. So I felt rushed to stay on schedule.

We were learning how to solve one-step equations. We had modeled how to solve one-step equations before Thanksgiving break using algebra tiles. The plan was to learn the steps for isolating the variable and solving for it by performing the inverse operation.

When I was in school--this was when I started not getting As in math. I was able to following steps and do exactly what I was told to do. But when problems were slightly different from what I was shown in class--I was not able to solve it. I didn't understand the reason behind what I was doing, so I couldn't figure out how to solve more difficult problems. It wasn't until I had College Algebra teacher explain things and when I was studying for the GRE that I read the reason behind the "tricks" I had learned.

I don't want my students to be in the same position I was in. Telling students to solve a one step equation just by performing the inverse operations does not work in every situation. When my students saw -4+x=12 they immediately said they needed to subtract 4 from each side. Well, that doesn't work here.

While using inverse operations will work in most situations with solving equations--it doesn't solve for 100% of problems.

Instead, my students need to have a good understanding of integer operations and commutative property to solve the above problem. If my students understood that -4+x was the same as x+-4 and then could change that last expression to x-4, then they could use the inverse operation and just add 4 to each side.

So this is where I am. If my students truly understood everything I taught them this year, they could apply that information to new situations. So I am on the hunt for ways to help my students apply the information they are learning.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Blog Posts I Love--Part 5

Another post of blog posts I love. I found some great ideas this week and want to share them with you. 

1. From Embrace the Drawing Board--The game integer-nary. It is like pictionary, but with integer equations. For example, a student might draw the equation -3+7=-4. Then on a white board, they model it and then their team has to guess what equation it is. I am doing this in my math centers as soon as we get back from Thanksgiving. The students can also move to modeling expressions like 4x+5 and algebraic equations like x+3=10. 

2. The week before Thanksgiving the students had a science benchmark. Our schedule was different for the day and I wanted to have an interesting activity for my homeroom to do afterwards. 

Enter--Hexaflexagons. At Math=Love she shares how she introduces the whole lesson. My students LOVED making these. I had instruction, but lost the copies. But most of the students were able to figure it out on their own by watching the videos linked in the blog post. I did have the template for them to cut out. 

This is one of my student's hexaflexagon. 

3. Counting Circles from Who is a Math Nerd?

This is a whole group activity that has students count by a certain number. Say you start counting by 10s but you start at 63. Or you count by 1 1/4, but you start at 1 1/2. It is a mental math routine and I can already imagine it being helpful to my students. We have transition time and sometimes we wait for other classes to be ready to switch. This could be a helpful activity during that time. But I would also like to make time for it in class because I would like to give the students time to have a discussion about their counting.

4. Smart Classroom Management

I just found this blog and I love it. It is a classroom management blog--which is one thing I am always trying to be better at. Good learning cannot happen if there isn't good classroom management. I feel like most good classroom management is just common sense and begins by treating students as people with needs and wants. This post is about letting students get out of their seats and establishing routines. I plan to go through this blog thoroughly.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Card Clutter

Another FREE app. Algebra Card Clutter.  At first glance, it seems very basic. But it provides good ordering practice for students. 

Basically, students order numbers as fast as they can. It start pretty simple with just natural numbers, but then it gets progressively harder adding different types of numbers. 

Students are timed as they go and work up the levels. 

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