Saturday, January 30, 2016

Learning to Love Data--Planning for Test Review

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It's almost the time of year teachers enter into panic mode and freak their students out by talking about the dreaded Test.

We don't mean to freak our students out, but we want them to show what they know! This test shows if we did our job or not, right?

I use another thing teachers dread to plan out how I am going to review: Data. I love it; I don't always love what it says. But, I'm a math teacher, why wouldn't I love data.

Before reviewing for the test begins, I look at data. While we are reviewing for the test, I look at data. It helps me form a plan and make sure that I am using the precious few weeks of review effectively and efficiently.

Where do I get this data?

1. Tests

First, you have to have tests you can collect data from. What is the point of giving a test if you aren't going to use it to adjust your instruction?

In order to collect data from tests, you have to write a test that gives you data. From the first year I taught, I have created tests with my team based on the standards we were teaching. We decide how many questions, which standards to test and then wrote or found questions. We coded each test with the standards we were testing.

The last few years of teaching, the districts I taught in had Eduphoria-which is awesome at tracking data. Once you input the test question and the standard it aligns to, all the work is done for you. Before I had Eduphoria, that data was collected by hand. I counted up how many students missed which questions--which are already aligned to the standards--and I had a picture of how my class did as a whole.

Once I have the data, I have an idea of which concepts need to be reviewed. I don't pick them all! Instead, I choose topics that I know will be more heavily covered on the test AND those that I feel students will be able to master in the short amount of time we will have left.

2. Exit Tickets

If you want some data that is quick and easy, exit tickets are your answer. They can be short responses or multiple choice. You can quickly look through the exit tickets and sort your students into piles and make groups.

If your exit tickets has 3 multiple choice questions, you sort students into groups based on how many they got right and then create your small groups based on that.

My lesson plans during review time are flexible. I know which standards I am covering and about how much time I want to spend. With exit tickets, I know if what I am doing is working or if I need to spend an extra day.

3. Observations

Not all data has to be quantitative! Qualitative data and teacher instinct can have its place, but don't base all your review decisions on it.

I might have students that second guess themselves while testing, or rely on their group for the answers, or who preform well in class, but bomb the tests. These observations are important to me to help students

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Here's a great idea for Groundhog Day from Route 22 Education.

--Once you have made a plan for reviewing, make sure to keep your lessons engaging and interesting for students. This is not the time to abandon your best teaching skill in favor of test prep!

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Friday, January 15, 2016

Inequality Puzzles

As we got back from Christmas break, I needed to review what we learned right before we left: Inequalities.

I did a short small group lesson and added some notes to the math notebook and then I started pulling small groups. 

In these small groups, we put together some puzzles. 

Each puzzle had a word problem, number line, an inequality, and an inequality solution. I made this because I wanted to do something more than, "Here is a word problem, now solve it." It was more interactive and the students responded well to working to find matches. 

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Thursday, January 14, 2016

A Day in the Life

One of the blogging challenges this week is "A Day in the Life."

I LOVE reading about the days other teacher's have. I like seeing how different other schedules are and but how everything is basically the same. I tried to be as detailed as possible. Enjoy!

Wednesday January 13

6:00--Alarm goes off. For the first time. I am one of those, hit the snooze button.
6:09--Alarm goes off. Hit Snooze
6:18--Alarm goes off. Turn it off. I lay in bed a check email and convince myself it is time to move.
6:23--I actually get out of bed. My husband is out of town, so I have the bathroom all to myself.
6:45--Wake up my daughter. She is cranky in the mornings and doesn't like waking up so early. Who does?
7:00--Take out the trash and leave the house.
7:03--Drop off daughter at day care
7:35--Arrive at work. I am not a fan of the commute, but it does allow me to listen to books or podcasts. This morning, I am listening to "Dad is Fat" by Jim Gaffigan.
7:37--Enter classroom, set stuff down. Finish a letter to my Destination Imagination students and parents about future practice dates.
7:50--Head to break room to put away lunch, make oatmeal for breakfast, fill up water cup.
8:00--Students are dismissed to classes at 8am for early start. It is my week for duty for my team. Students work on homework or work on iLearn during this time.
8:30--Most of the buses have arrived and my team mates come pick up their homeroom students.
8:45--School officially starts.
8:45-10:20--Advanced 6th grade math. We do Daily Math Review, we have a lesson where I introduce ratios, and we do some guided math/stations.

10:20-11:00--Next class. 6th grade math. This class is broken up by lunch. We do basically the same outline as the previous class.
11:00--Lunch. I do not work during lunch. I eat in the break room. My group of lunch teachers is not a negative bunch, so no need to avoid the break room!
11:30--Pick up class and continue math class.
11:30-12:45 Finish 2nd lunch period
12:45-1:55--Third class. 6th grade math. Similar schedule. With this class, I save Daily Math Review (the warm up) for the very end of the day. It calms them down after coming back from PE.
2:00-3:10 Fine Arts/PE for students Conference for me.

Conference--No official meetings today. I copy the Destination Imagination letter for my teams. Copy some stations for guided math. I respond to emails, I attempt to clean off my desk a little bit--it doesn't stay clean for long. I meet with my math team to plan a tentative schedule for everything we need to cover during our ratio and proportion unit. I check my box.

3:10--Pick up my students from Fine Arts PE.
3:15-3:45--Second part of third period. This is the hardest part of the day. Students are hyper from FAPE and think the day is over.
3:45--dismissal starts. We dismiss students from our rooms. Car riders and walkers leave first. Then buses are dismissed one at time as they arrive. Usually all the buses are gone by 4:30. Since I have early duty this week, I send my students to my team mates team at 4. A normal day, I would go home. But...
4:00--Destination Imagination practice starts. It is a competition for all grade levels where students solve a challenge and present it on competition day.
5:00--Practice Over. Kids leave. I leave
5:10--Stop at grocery store.
5:45--Pick up daughter.
5:50--Arrive at Home.
6:00-8:30--Eat dinner. Watch Frozen (daughter's current favorite movie). Play with daughter. Ignore the cleaning I should do. Shower.
8:30--Put daughter to bed. She only lets me put her to bed when my husband is not home. If he is, I am not allowed to put her to bed, only Daddy can.
8:40--Sit in the dark and read on my ipad until I am sure my daughter is asleep and I can turn on the TV.
8:50-10:30--Watch Netflix/Hulu. Tonight I watch Superstore on Hulu and Bones on Netflix. As I watch TV, I am working on lesson plans. I make some ratio notes for my students. Research activities for equivalent ratios. I am moving really slow tonight, so it takes me forever to make the notes.

Around 10:30, my husband comes home. I check on my daughter, read a bit in bed and go to sleep around 11. 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

MTBoS 2016 Blogging Intiative

I, Randi, resolve to blog in 2016 in order to open my classroom up and share my thoughts with other teachers. I hope to accomplish this goal by participating in the January Blogging Initiation hosted by Explore MTBoS.

You, too, could join in on this exciting adventure. All you have to do is dust off your blog and get ready for the first prompt to arrive January 10th!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Valentine Activities--Ways to use Matching in Math

I haven't ever done holiday themed activities in my classroom before this year. For Thanksgiving I did a turkey color by number, for Christmas I did a few others. The activities were not time wasters, or busy work--they reviewed previous skills that needed reviewing. The students liked it. It was different than normal--so I made some things for Valentine's Day. 

Coming back from Christmas break means students forget what they know. 

Integer Operations is something that they know but need reviewing. 

On our benchmark math test in December--making equivalent forms of benchmark fractions, decimals and percents was one of the lowest performing TEKS for my students. So they need some practice with this too. 

I am going to use these matching activities in 3 ways. 

1. The students just match them. Turn all the heart pieces face up and find matches. 
2. Play a memory game. Turn all the heart pieces face down and find matches by turning 2 cards over at a time--I will reduce the number of cards I give the students so they aren't spending forever finding a match
3. Play go fish. Each student will get a 7 cards and then ask their group mates for matches. If they get -25+26=, then they will ask their group mates "Who has 1?

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Math Rings

Another FREE APP: Math Rings

In this app, students move the rings so that when you read the equation across, the equation is true. There are dozens of levels so anyone probably won't run out stuff to do. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

Blog Posts I Love--Part 6

Doing these blog posts help me remember the great ideas that I have read and helps me plan for how I will use them in my classroom.

1. I have wanted to set up a large number line in my classroom for a while and this blog post gave me the push. Mr Elementary Math posted about a number line that is geared towards younger elementary. To make it appropriate for my 6th graders, I will mix fractions, decimals, percents for students to place on the number line. I want to have this as a station that students can rotate into.

2. Another post from Elementary Math Coach--Math Pictionary. This is the second time I have posted about this and I am actually going to make something for a math station. Students will get an integer operation problem and will draw the algebra tiles that model that problem which their team mates will have to name.

3. The growth mindset is something I am going to talk to my students about the day we get back from winter break. This is one blog posts at Edudemic on the importance of having a growth mindset. I have a bulletin board that focuses on growing in math and I want to make sure I am talking to my students about it.

4. When my students take tests, I do not let them turn it in early. I give them a time and tell them they need to be working on the test until then. My students don't try to turn in the test early, but they will close their test and just sit there until it is time. I ask them to go back and check their work and some students will say "I already did" and others will go through and check that they did all the problems.

I experimented with one class one day and briefly looked through their tests when they said they were done and said "It's not a 100." All of the students went through and some found at least one mistake and changed their answer.

At Who's Who and Who's New,  this post explains the levels of checking your work. Something I want to share with my students. There are three levels from make sure you check that you have an answer, checking that your answer is reasonable, and solving the problem again.

Friday, January 1, 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. 

2016 Resolutions

I LOVE making resolutions/goals. I do it every year and spend too much time thinking about them. I thought about not doing it this year, or just making a few, but I probably over did it.

Teaching Goals

  • Ask a few students every day about their life outside of school
  • Be better at classroom management
  • Call parents several times a week for positive reasons
Personal Goals
  • Read 25 books
  • Stick to a budget--My husband and I will be doing the envelope method.--This has a whole bunch of mini goals inside of it. But the overall goal is to not overspend. 
  • Go. To. Europe. Finally.
  • Run a 1/2 marathon--Maybe, I am still trying to decide if I actually want to do this
  • Study scriptures daily--better than I have been
  • Compliment more people. I always think them but never say them out loud. 

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