Thursday, 9 November 2017

Worded Problem Window

For my grade level class, often worded problems can be a sticking point. Some feel like they are either "good" or "not good" at them. To break down the attitude and also build up mathematical discourse I used a Frayer-esque model to get them to visualize and solve the problem in different ways.

I find sometimes letting students discuss and allowing them to draw and model their discussions get richer; and more likely to take risks. For some reason an incorrect drawing does weigh as heavily on them as incorrect working out.

I love discussing the multiple approaches and building up the confidence (and risk taking) int he classroom.


Pictures are worth a 1000 how much is a video.

I have been making videos using the document camera. These are great to compliment work, but also as help videos - like here on calculator instructions.

There were particularly good when lessons are interrupted due to school events or scheduling interruptions like ERB testing.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Graphic Organisers

Over my career I have come to love graphic organizers (in moderation! Like most good things). I really began to explore and use them in my work looking at Harvard Project Zero and Visible Thinking. Click here for more on my previous post on it.

I find them useful to summarize an important big concept in a very clear and organized way. I am all for students experimenting for what works for them, but having something like this is a great maker to have in their books as "go to". Here are some sales of ones I have used recently - Frayer Model (or Window Box) template, as well as flow diagram template. 

I have a copy that I display of our bulletin board int he class, but also a copy for those who's hand writing may not be as organized or for those who would like a different copy to which they did.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

5 signs your classroom is overdecorated & how to fix it

I came across this article in my news feed: 5 signs your classroom is overdecorated & how to fix it (Angela Watson)

Originally, I didn't think it had much to do with me. However, once I had a quick glance the article actually has some good points and reminders about the purpose and use of what we put up in out rooms.

I made a reference to this article in my mindfulness of what I put up in my new classroom - like my problem solving stratergies (link to come) or Mathematical Practices posters.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Systems of Equations - Substitution Dice

You can be buried under worksheets in teaching. So sometimes you just have to mix it up. This was something I used in station work with my Algebra 1 group on practicing solving systems (simultaneous equations) using algebraic methods. 

Very little preparation. I bought a set of cubes off Amazon and made my own cards. Students work in pairs - both can solve or have one solve and sone check. The down side, is beaucse its on the roll of the dice, some answers can be a little yucky. But its a good lesson, that math is not always "nice" numbers!

Monday, 16 October 2017

Headbanz...Celebrity Heads

We have been having a great time playing Heads Down Thumbs Up with our Grade 4 buddies. Games have been a huge hit for this group and decided to try Headbanz (Celebrity Heads).

My first concern was to generate lists of names that could bridge the age difference. Came across this very useful resources - which could be used in itself - or to generate further celebrities. Super handy to have on call for a game! The Gamegal has some great lists and printables.

There are other resources under the "Advisory tab" also on this blog.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Problme Solving Posters

The learning environment is really important! I love having a welcoming and simulating poster sad decorations - but one thing I shy away from is unnecessary posters..or ones that aren't useful.

Over the last few years I have used (and shared) these great posters from the blog MathEqualsLove. Part of the appeal is the simplicity yet eye catching fronts!

In the first few lessons of the year we used activities from Jo Boalers week of inspirational math - at the end of one where we looked at multiple ways of solving I also gave them a mini black and white version. This was after a past parent pointed out that the posters were useful when they were in class - however when the students were at home they couldn't refer to them. Such an obvious point - and one that I am excited to fix!

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Crow and Pitcher (V.2)

The familiar (and much loved) Crow and Pitcher Activity returns. The task is based on the Illuminations activity. This year my college simplified the instructions down. I had visions of using this as a summative assessment (however a partnership is all about compromise!)

I really love using the Aesop's fable youtube video by Smartzoons to hook the students, before connecting the equipment to how we will proceed with the simulation. 

If you want to see what I did another time  - click here 


Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Reviewing Common Core Mathematical Practices

This year my new colleague and I started the year a little different. We began using some activities from Jo Boalers Week of Inspirational Math. We used activities as to emphasize them mixing, group work expectations and justifying answers. Another thing ew wanted to talk about is the mathematical practices - as they will be assessed and reported on this year.

At the end of the final lesson, I got students to write on post it notes where they had used the practices over the last three lessons and stick it on the relevant poster. I found it very effective in pulling together of ideas and clarifying any practices they couldn't identify.

I put them up on classroom window - such a thrill to hear and see other students and teachers talking about them.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

CMP TWMM Inv 1.2

In 8th Grade we started the CMP course with the Thinking With Mathematical Models (TWMM) unit. Today we used Desmos to look at the classes data to generate discussion.

It was the first time I used it in this investigation. As the began to come into the classroom I got a few to enter in there data. It was also useful to be able to tune on and turn off the tables - hence showing their classes data, plus how it sat within the the wider set of data. It also worked out well the the choice of thickness in the simulator provided the same trend.

CMP TWMM Inv 1.1

In the 8th Grade we use the Connected Math Project (CMP) resources to teach our mainstream grade 8 course and Algebra 1 course.

The first unit is Thinking With Mathematical Models (TWMM). The first problem gets students creating bridges and investigating the factors that effect its length. The main objective and to distinguish linear and non linear trends. I use a simulator for the 1.2 problem.

I enjoy getting students to explore both strategies in collecting their data. Its also a nice link with how engineers might investigate how much weight a structure can hold. One student bought up how elephants were use to solve the panic of the safety regards the Brooklyn Bridge! Love real life links! 

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Math Practices

The Common Core State Standards for Mathematics has content standards and mathematical practices. As a department at our school we are looking more and more ways of incorporating the mathematical practices into what we do and how we asses.

The mathematic practices underpin mathematical thinking and what kind of learners we aim to have in our class. It can be the driver for some of the activities I plan.

Some resources to help other teachers bring the CCSS Math Practices more into your classroom could be:

  • Visual Aids - have then up and present in your room or notice board. I have have two kinds I use Poster 1 & Poster 2 (Thank you Got To Teach on TPT for the free download!)
  • End of an Activity - after doing posters or an investigation ask the students which ones did they feel they engaged with. Or give them sticky notes to places their vote (everyone gets a voice then!)
  • Rubrics - we have two rows that focus on Mathematical Practices and gives them feedback on their demonstrated practices on that particular assessment. 

We handed the Scholastic "A Guide to the 8 Mathematical Practice Standards" article out to parents on Back to School night to introduce (or reinforce) the language and vocabulary of what we will be using with our students.

The teacher channel video "Owning the Common Core Math Practices" has some good suggestions and modeling by Mrs Audra McPhillips for all grades.