Sunday, July 21, 2019

Science Coloring Pages to Use in Stations or Homework

The science teachers at my school started small groups this year and wanted things for students to do in stations as they pulled students into small group. I had a made a coloring page one and they requested more. So I started making some coloring pages for them. The students like doing them. There are something students can complete without interrupting the teacher at her small group and they enjoy coloring--even in middle school. Not every student likes to color...but that's okay. 

Here is a free coloring page  for students to differentiate between elements and compounds. 

If you are interested other science coloring pages. The topics there so far are calculating density, heat energy transfer, metals nonmetals and metalloids, rock cycle, classification of organisms, and plate boundaries.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Statistics--Finding Mean, Median, Mode and Range with Your Name

Statistics is one of my favorite units to teach. It is something every person should understand. It is used against voters and consumers all the time and we should be able to recognize when the statistics aren't really saying what we're being told they are saying.

In a statistics class in college I had to read the book Damned Lies and Statistics. It was eye-opening to see how bad statistics can be used influence people.

I explain all of this to my students when I start our statistics unit. We only spend about 3 weeks on it, and its usually the end of the year, but its a unit students usually enjoy.

I wanted to share a freebie with you today. I gave this to students for homework. Students use their name, turn the letters into numbers, and then calculate the mean, median, mode, and range to their names.

Name Mean, Median, Mode and Range

Students like it because it is their own name so it is a little less headache to get them to complete it. 

If you are interested in other statistics resources I have some in my store. 


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Sunday, July 14, 2019

10 Grading Tips for Teachers--How to Keep Grading Manageable and Fair

When I was younger, I loved grading papers. It was one of the things I was looking forward to when I become a teacher. I would have one of those sliding grading things and some cool pens and grading would be so fun!

That got old real quick. I like going through student work to get an idea of what they understand and where to take my instruction based on that data.

However, the process of collecting work, grading it, entering grades, passing back assignments...not something I enjoy.

Over the years, I improved my grading process so that it didn't consume so much of my time but still provided students with feedback that needed.

Here are my tips to make grading work for you without causing you unnecessary stress.

Know your district/school/department grading policy

Most schools will probably tell you at the beginning of the year. It should tell you how many grades are required, how many should be test/homework/daily, if students are allowed to redo work, etc.

Know when progress report and report card grades are due

...and don't wait until the last minute to enter grades. Not only will it be stressful at 4 pm to enter grades on the day they are due at 4:30. That will certainly be the day your computer starts acting up. I had a goal to enter 1-2 grades per week. Students and parents probably have online access to their grades and parents especially expect grades to updated regularly. It also isn't fair to a students who had an A the first week of grades to now be failing after a teacher waited 3 weeks to enter grades again. So, keep on top of it. 1-2 grades a week isn't unmanageable.

You also should wait to long because you are depriving students of feedback. One purpose of grades is for students to know how they are preforming in your class. If you only do two batches of grading in a grading period, students are not getting the proper feedback they need. (There are other ways to give feedback (I'll discuss later) If you are doing those other forms, use them as grades!

Don't grade students on responsibility

Some teachers won't agree with this one. I don't count off for late work. That's grading responsibility. There can certainly be other consequences: call home, lunch detention... but if a students doesn't turn in an assignment, I am not going to count off because it is late. I grade to know if they can do the work.

Let students fix their grades

You can let them make corrections of work you have passed back OR let them replace a grade with another assignment on a similar topic. For example, if a student got a 50 on an assignment about order of operations but then a week later did another assignment on order of operations and got an 80 -- I replace the first grade with the second grade. If the purpose of a gradebook reflects a student's understanding of the subject, that 50 is no longer an accurate reflection.

Find ways to make grading quick

Use SeeSaw, Quizizz, Self-Checking Assignments (like coloring pages), shortened assignments. Spot check assignments too. If a student can do the first 10 problems correctly, then possibly that's enough to know if they got it.

You don't have to grade everything. 

You just don't.

Don't take formative assessments as a grade

...unless you are willing to give students a similar assessment to improve their grade. The point of a formative assessment is to see where students are at and then to adjust your instruction. So students might not be ready for assessment and it isn't really fair to base their grade off of it.

Differentiate the assignments you take grades for. 

We have to standardized our state testing--but not in the classroom. If you only take grades on multiple choice assignments, you aren't letting some students show their potential. Have a variety of ways for students show what they know. Including verbal responses! If I pull a student for small group and they do a wonderful job explaining how to convert from a fraction to a percent -- I'll take a grade.

Try not to take grading home. 

If I took grading home over the weekend, it usually sat in my bag and made me feel guilty for not touching it. So make time to do it in 10-15 minutes bursts during the week.

Have student helpers

The worst part of grading for me was remembering to pass it back. I would always remember as students were leaving my room. So I created a file folder for each student and would give stacks of graded papers to students to file before or after school. Then I could just hand each student a stack of their papers. This also made it easy to make copies of students work that I was tracking for RtI or their IEPs.

My opinion on grading throughout my career has changed and I am sure it will change again before I finish. To be quite honest I think we should get rid of grades, reduce class sizes to 12-15 and have report cards be like Kindergarten ones that explain in words how a student is doing in class.

What are your thoughts on grading? Anything you agree or disagree with?

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Rational Numbers Cards FREEBIE Small Group Instruction Ideas

One things I consistently used every year was random numbers written on cards. Usually, I would take some index cards, cut them in half, and write random numbers on them right before class started. 

Once small groups started, I pulled students over and depending on the topic, gave them random numbers to work with. 

I used these number cards for classifying numbers, ordering and comparing numbers, converting between fractions, decimals, and percents, and rational number operations. 

By the end of going through 3-4 groups per class, over 3 classes over 2 day, those cards got a lot of use out of them. 

So, I wanted something that would last longer, and where I wouldn't have to use brain power to come up with random numbers on the spot. (Have you ever made yourself come up with random numbers on the spot? Eventually I can't think of anything!)

I created these cards with lots of numbers so I could laminate them on pretty colored paper and use them over and over again without scrambling to write down numbers real quick. 

Here are some ideas on how you can use them in small group instruction:
  • For ordering numbers, students pull 5 random cards and order them least to greatest, greatest to least (use all the vocabulary here)
  • For classifying numbers, students pull 10 random cards. Create a large Venn Diagram on butcher paper and students will classify numbers. 
  • For converting numbers, give students a fraction, decimal or percent and ask them to generate two equivalent numbers. 
Of course, you can differentiate for each student. You can give them random cards or you can choose specific cards to give them depending on what kind of practice they need. 

I find that in the best small group instruction, students need to do most of the talking. So as they are completing the tasks above I ask them questions. 

"Why did you put this number there?" "Explain the process you used for this." "Why isn't this number an integer?"...

Monday, July 8, 2019

Free Editable Math Game for Middle School or Elementary Math

One thing my students liked to do is create challenges for each other. When they do that, the get practice in two different ways. First, they have to create problems/games for others to solve and then they have to solve and play other student's games. In my experience, students usually try to stump their classmates.

I created this template that you could use to have students create a Spin and Cover game for others to play.

You can give students this blank template and and topic to create a game for. Give them some time to make the game and then when they are done, they can switch and play. 
Some topics they can make the game on: 
  • Integer Operations- students pick 8 numbers to place in the spinner. Then they have to write enough integer operation problems where the solution is one of the 8 numbers they selected. 
  • Multiplication facts- Students pick 8 numbers and write multiplication problems where the solution is one of the 8 numbers they selected. 
  • Equivalent Fractions- Students pick 8 fractions and then they fill the circles with fractions that are equivalent to the 8 they selected. 
  • Solving Equations- Students pick 8 numbers to place in the spinner. Then they write equations where the solution is one of the 8 numbers they selected. 
Some topics will be more challenging than others, but you can vary it based on what your want your students to practice. 

Here is a completed game board where students will compare numbers. 

Finally, here is an editable version of the game so you can add your own numbers and problems. 

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