Day 3 – I have students!

Yippee! Today was like Christmas! I finally get to meet my 6th grade math class of 16 students.  The day started with a whole school Advisory lesson on CHAMPS, which are the school wide expectations.  There were 8th grade student leaders presenting to the 7th grade students.  It was great to see and there was good conversation about  a few of the items.

7th grade co-taught – We started their ISN’s today.  The teacher I co-teach with took my ISN professional development class last year and implemented them last year and loved them.  She has mentioned a few times how excited she is that I can help with foldables and ISN stuff, that will definitely be fun!  So they started with their author page (it was assigned for homework) and then we glued in the TOC.  We had a good discussion about what an ISN is and how we plan for them to use it.  They were either really sleepy or are great kids because they worked quietly to accomplish the task.  This will be a fun group to work with!

I worked with a couple of teachers today to assist them with the new Pearson digits product the district adopted last year.  We had to work through some bugs, but I think we figured it all out.  It’s a great program and resource for teachers to use and it’s all digital, which is fantastic. Our students do not receive any math textbooks and have not for a few years.

8th grade co-taught – They came down to my room (The MALL) to log into Digits and take the first Unit’s Readiness assessment.  The readiness assessment is a pre-assessment on skills necessary to be successful in the coming unit.  When the students are finished, the program automatically assigns them intervention lessons on the topics & skills they need the most work.  I plan to use those readiness assessments with all teachers in all grades to help identify students who will need more assistance with math this year.  The students didn’t really have issues logging in, but the assessment was a little harder than they thought.  Many said they were happy it wasn’t going to be for a grade.  This is a rowdier group of students, beside myself and the classroom teacher, there are two other aides in the room for 28 students.

My 6th grade math class is coming! I had planned a day of fun math problem solving, no rules for me…they heard them from every other teacher.  I basically told them the same rules apply to my classroom and that we would discuss them as needed.  I greeted them at the door, told them to choose any seat and follow the directions on the daily agenda.  I LOVE Rachel Rosales’s Name Plate activity (& have used it before), so they were working on putting their name on the front along with 4-5 pictures to help me get to know them.  I will say having 16 students is going to be nice and easy to get to know!  They had the length of two songs to complete that part before we moved on.  Then I introduced myself again, told them a little bit about me and asked them to open the flap on their name plate for Thursday and complete the “I Notice” (from Drexel University & Max Ray) before we did anything else.

Then I explained the Pentominoes Activity they were going to work on in their groups, handed out the materials and let them play.  I wanted an activity that had a low entry point, where their previous experience and understanding of math didn’t stop them from participating.  I also wanted a good cooperative group beginning activity and when I saw it on that blog, I knew it was the perfect activity.  They worked really hard and there was great conversation, frustration and perseverance.  After about 15 minutes I did provide them with a few hints, but none of the groups were successful in solving the puzzle this time around.

8.28.14 photo 4

A great question from one of the students was, “What does this have to do with Math?”. We took a break to discuss and the students came up with answers such as “Area, perimeter, shapes, Geometry, problem solving, working together, etc.” I mentioned that this was a math activity, but the main focus was to work together to accomplish a task. I really liked being able to walk around and observe the students while they work to start learning about who they are as mathematicians.

At the end of the class, with no solutions found, I clarified that in this class sometimes we will be frustrated and unable to solve a problem within our class time and that is OKAY! The most important part is how we problem solve and go about trying to figure out the solution. We closed with having them complete their “I Wonder” for Thursday and turned in their name plates and grabbed a Who Am I flag pennant to complete for homework. I used her free template, but changed what I wanted them to write in each box.  I will use those to decorate the classroom or maybe one of the bulletin boards!

I found an online version of Pentominoes for students to play and sent them the link via Remind. The HARD level in this game is what we were working on in class. http://www.scholastic.com/blueballiett/games/pentominoes_game.htm.

It was nice to finally meet my students today. Keep in mind I haven’t taught 6th grade since my first year of teaching…I’ve been 8th grade since then.  They are definitely smaller and less edgy than the 8th graders are. I am not a convert yet…I love my 8th graders, but I think it’s going to be a great  year!

US History tied to Math

Being in the middle school, I have taught US History for 12 years and while I initially was not thrilled to teach it, it has become a subject that I love.  I love the discussions that my students can have because they feel that sharing an opinion is “safe”. They challenge each other, add to what someone else said and bring up good questions that make all of us think. They all want to participate and discussion tend to go longer than planned.  Why can’t this be a math classroom?  Why are students so afraid to do all of this in math? I see it even more now because I have the same group of students for History that I do for Geometry.  In History while evaluating primary sources, they toss out questions, ideas and opinions, but in Geometry when we look at different ways to solve a problem, they take it as it is and rarely challenge.  I have found they do much better in small groups, at their tables, sharing with each other.  I love using cooperative grouping in my classroom, but can’t they reach a point where sharing to a large group is okay?  I want them to treat math the same way…without fear of what they say, without judgment by their peers for the answer they share, because that is the math classroom I desire and they deserve.  Now how can I improve on this for the future?

 

3/30

Explore the MToBS Mission #1

I am late to the game…not because I forgot but because I just got SO FAR behind in grading (need to stop assigning!!), preparing and getting my presentation ready for ICTM. And I couldn’t decide what to write about, sometimes I can be so indecisive!

According to the Explore MToBS blog post for this mission, we are to choose between two blog topic options:

You are going to write a blogpost on one of the following two prompts.

  • What is one of your favorite open-ended/rich problems?  How do you use it in your classroom? (If you have a problem you have been wanting to try, but haven’t had the courage or opportunity to try it out yet, write about how you would or will use the problem in your classroom.)

  • What is one thing that happens in your classroom that makes it distinctly yours? It can be something you do that is unique in your school… It can be something more amorphous… However you want to interpret the question! Whatever!

I want to write about one thing that makes my classroom distinctly mine, yet I don’t really know what that is. I feel like I borrow and take so much from my online PLC and my real life PLC that I am not sure what is really mine anymore.  That isn’t a bad thing, just that I wasn’t sure what made my class different from other classrooms.  So I took @JustinAion’s idea and asked my students. I sent a Remind101 text with a link to the Google Form survey and waited (not very) patiently for the results to come in.

Here are the results in a Wordle from 56 of my 120 students.
makesdifferent

I really enjoyed reading their responses. There are a few misconceptions that I need to clarify “we skip around the book, like 3.1 and then 6.5”, but that’s the curriculum not me & we don’t even use the book. Some feel that I rush through lessons so we do more activities and other feel like we spend too much time on lessons and don’t do enough activities. 🙂 Some of them don’t quite grasp the idea of the ISN or see its usefulness, that is definitely something I need to work on if that is the case! One comment really stuck with me “She uses worksheets and the “ISN” to teach new lessons. I dislike the way she teaches for math using worksheets.” because I don’t use worksheets. In fact today was the second day they received a homework assignment that was a worksheet.  I am not quite sure what this comment means, except that I need to clarify and change something about the perception of worksheets. I was also able to see that my prediction was correct for a few comments about wanting to use the textbook (we DON’T have one to use!)…they have only ever learned from a textbook, so not having one and creating our own is a huge change for them.

They identified the ISN as the thing that makes my class unique, along with Standards Based Grading (Skill Assessments) and the MathXL online homework.  This was a great reflection for me as we are coming to the end of a quarter and I usually give them an End of Quarter survey about class. I plan to change a few of the questions before giving it to them. We spend the day after the survey, talking about changes we want to make to the class and clarifying things. I love giving the students a voice in the classroom environment! If you want to read all of the comments you can click here:  Makesdifferent