Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Trip Investigation- Day 2

Day 2:

  • Choose a destination from the 3 you researched yesterday.  Explain why you made that choice.
  • Research travel costs.
  • Estimate the distance in miles from Brian and Kali's home to the destination.

    For this I encouraged use of google maps.  Students had to estimate the distance between locations  using the scale at the bottom of the map.   Lots of good conversations about if they should estimate the distance across oceans or go longer distances to stay on land (example, students traveling to Cancun, Mexico) 

  • Determine mode and cost of transportation.

    This led to conversations about roundtrip versus one-way and layovers.  A lot of the students used expedia and ended up with screens showing all of the information they needed in one place!  When they got to this screen they brought me their chromebooks and we took a screenshot of the information as a way to "book" the flight.

    Here is a screenshot from one of my students: 

  • Determine the time it will take to travel.

Because I was checking answers from day 1 and "booking" flights (showing students how to save screenshots and share with partners)  I wanted students to have a way to ask questions without holding their hand in the air forever and without shouting across the room so I created a room in Today's Meet  for students to ask questions.  I was super happy with how this worked :)

Monday, April 29, 2013

Trip Investigation- Day 1

During my green block, a student was called to the office to be signed out of school early.  Normally all of the other students moan and are jealous that the student is getting to leave... today.... THAT student moaned and said he didn't want to leave.  Success!! :)

Today each student set up a folder within their google drive and shared this folder with me.  Now any documents they need me to see, they place within this folder.  They also shared the folder with their partners.  I shared an introduction page and the rubric with students today and they made copies of these files and saved them into their folders.  This was a bit of a complicated process... I had never been through it with students before and should have had prepared instructions typed out with screenshots to refer to.  Students were not familiar with making copies and renaming files within google drive or moving documents between folders and we all got a little frustrated.  We got through it though and they were super excited about starting their research! :)

Today they had to list 3 possible destinations and choose reasons for choosing each.  They will receive a daily grade for this portion of the assignment.

I also created a document in google that was shared with all students AND Kali and Brian.  Students can post questions for Kali and Brian, and they will answer  (aren't my friends awesome for helping!?!) periodically.  Students will be able to communicate with Kali and Brian throughout the project using this document:

Minor hiccup with creating documents and folders...but we made it through and hopefully destination and travel research goes well tomorrow!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Trip Investigation - Introduction

Okay, this is my first PBL unit.  Our last unit in CSCOPE was a trip investigation:  give the kids $1800 and 4 days and let them create a vacation to wherever they choose.  Fun!

I took it a step further.... they have heard me talking about my best friend getting married all semester. They've seen pictures and heard details so I put my own spin on the project based on this!  

Tomorrow when students come in they will here this voicemail : Kali telling me that her honeymoon has been cancelled 1 month before the wedding!  OH NO! 

Then I will show this presentation:

And this video of Kali and Brian explaining what they want in a honeymoon:

More to come on this project throughout the week! :)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Day 5: Sink or Swim

STAAR Crunch Day 5 Agenda

1. Warm-up
2. Check homework
3. Sink or Swim

This review game was from a meeting with our instructional coach, Gayle Lechler!  I had never played before and was nervous, but explained this to my first block and asked them to work with me :)

I gave each team (3-5 students depending on size of my class) an index card and told them to create a group name and write it on the index card.  Students received STAAR problems from reporting category 5 - Probability and Statistics.  I instructed students which problem to work on and then drew an index card.  That team answered - if correct they could choose to "sink" a member of another team or "swim" a member of their own team that was previously sunk.  Sinking players are not allowed to talk or help their team members, but they are still required to work problems.

It was really easy and the kids got really into it.  They didn't care that it wasn't leading anywhere and that nobody was necessarily winning.  I was prepared to grant immunity to any players that were repeatedly being chosen to sink, but it wasn't necessary.   Some entire teams ended up sinking... in which case I chose one player to answer the question-  if correct they saved themselves and the game could continue.

With my first block, we discovered it was a little more fun to have a handful of problems worked and then complete a couple of rounds of sink/swim rather then doing one question at a time.  In the rest of my blocks I gave them 20 minutes to work on problems with a partner before starting the game aspect and it worked really well.

Unrelated- but highlight of my day:
Students have been earning tickets for a prize drawing Monday.  Since sink or swim didn't have a "winner" I decided to provide an opportunity for one group to earn bonus tickets today.  I asked them to estimate how many tickets were in their class jar.  I expected students to just look at the jar and guess a number....which some of them did, and that was fine.  But I heard conversations between other students that were SO exciting.

I had drawn a chart on the chalkboard recording the percentage of students turning in a completed homework- with work shown- each day throughout STAAR Crunch this week.  I forgot to take a picture :( but something like this -
I heard students saying, "Well there are 20 students in our class, so day 1 if 75% brought homework back...then 15 people brought it back and earned tickets.  Day 2 if 90% brought homework back, then 18 people earned tickets, and so on.  This was so beyond what I expected when I decided at the last minute to let them compete in a quick estimation contest.  Really proud of the mathematical conversations I was hearing :)

Day 4: Jeopardy

STAAR Crunch Day 4 Agenda

1. Warm-up
2. Go over homework
3. Review Test  #12, 16, 17
4. Jeopardy
5. Homework

Today we were working on Category 4- Measurement.  Another math teacher designed a Jeopardy to go along with the problem set for today!

Each table selected a captain that received a dry erase board, marker, and tissue to erase.  Groups took turns choosing a category and point value.  Every team answered the question and the captain recorded the answer on the dry erase board.  Students turned the board over to "lock in" their answers.  Every team could earn points for every question.

Exciting moment of the day-  two of my four classes had 100% of homework completed and all day only 2 students had not completed the homework.  Very exciting for me and huge improvement from what I typically see with homework.

And a side note on the homework incentive... kids are SO generous.  I check all of my paper bags to make sure the items inside are appropriate and have been so impressed with the generosity of my students in filling these prize bags for classmates.  Several bags had $10 and $20.  Crazy.  My favorite had a comic book, baseball cards, green army men, and the handheld 20 Questions game.  I love my students!

Day 3: Sink the Sub

STAAR Crunch Day 4 Agenda

1. Warm-up
2. Grade Homework
3. Test #13-15
4. Sink the Sub
5. Homework

I originally found sink the sub here.  I used this game last year a few times and the kids loved it!  To switch it up, another math teacher and I split our classes in half-  half of her students would come to me and half of mine would go to her each period.  Students competed against the other class which increased motivation and resulted in less behavior problems!  It was awesome :)

Anyway,  I created a new version of Sink the Sub that does not show questions... just question # 1-25.  I also took out the answers so that I can use the game with a variety of assignments and don't have to edit each time.

I facilitated the game similar to Jenga.  Students were in two groups- boys versus girls.  I randomly chose a boy to select the coordinates on the gameboard.  Behind the tiles, there is either a picture of ocean.... or a question mark.  If the tile reveals the ocean, that team's turn is over.  If it reveals a question, EVERYONE works out that question on their own paper.  If the team misses, the other gets a chance to steal.  When they get a question correct, they move the question mark to reveal either a fish or a submarine.  Finding a submarine earns the team 5 points and a fish earns 1 point.

The kids worked 25+ problems without realizing it and while having fun :)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Day 2: JENGA

STAAR Crunch Day 2 Agenda:

1. Warm-up
2. Go over HW
3. Test #9-11
4. Jenga!

One of my favorite review games and one of the ways I change a boring worksheet and create an interactive day for students.  Today each student had a set of 25 STAAR questions from Reporting Category 2 (TEKS 6.3 A-C, 6.4 A-B, 6.5 A) to complete.  

With a plain set of Jenga blocks, I have written #1 - #25 on 25 of the blocks.  Then I added comments on extra blocks like: choose any, choose any even, choose any odd, choose any +2, 2 free points, 1 free point, lose a point, extra turn, lose a turn, and so on until all the blocks had something written on them.

In class, I split my class into two teams-  typically boys and girls.  I randomly choose a girl from my popsicle sticks (beforehand I usually sort put sticks with girls names in my right pocket and sticks with boys names in my left pocket).  This girl comes and pulls a block from the Jenga tower.  The block tells this student and the rest of the class what problem to complete.  I can walk around and help struggling students and address common mistakes.  When the original girl has completed the problem she tells me the answer.  If she is correct, she earns a point for her team.  If not, the boys can steal.  Everyone must be working or: 1. You won't be able to steal, 2. Ms. Stephens makes us stop playing the game and just do the worksheet- boring.  Next it is boys turn and so on until class is over or everyone has had a turn.  

The kids end up doing all or majority of the problems without realizing it and I'm able to watch work processes and address common errors.  It gets a little loud sometimes (today my reading teacher next door messaged me and asked if there was a mouse in my room because she could hear squealing and desks moving)-  they really get into it! 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Homework Incentive

I typically don't assign a lot of homework-  last year was my first year and I noticed that the kids that were doing it...didn't need the practice...and the ones who did need it either practiced the entire thing incorrectly or didn't attempt it at all.  (I will be assigning more next year, just working on figuring out the balance).

Anyway... this week we are preparing for the STAAR test and have homework each night.  Just 10 questions... but motivating the students can be challenging this time of year.

Solution:  A week ago the math department sent home a brown paper sack with each student with a note attached:

Students return the bags with some type of prize inside-  some put bags of chips, candy, $1 or $5, etc.

Throughout this week when students complete homework (bonus tickets for making A's!) or win games in class, they receive tickets.  They place them in containers for each class- my classes are organized by colors.

Monday I will draw names from the containers.  If I draw your name, you get to select a prize bag.  I'm keeping bags that are turned in separated by class so in some classes more names will be drawn then in others, but that is okay.

Really easy (and free for me!) motivation for students to complete homework! :)

STAAR Crunch- Day 1


1. Warm-ups
2. Go over test # 1-8
3. Review Game
4. Pass out/discuss homework

We are one week away from the STAAR assessment, so we are in crunch time!  We are switching things up, which has students excited and there are incentives being thrown all over the place (I don't necessarily know if that is a good or bad thing).  Monday we are covering reporting category 1, Tuesday category 2, etc.

I created warm-ups that were all questions with answers that could be recorded in grids.  Students struggle to record answers correctly so each day at the beginning of class, they practice this.

We gave a CSCOPE test Friday and the grades were LOW.  In all honesty, I didn't think it was a fair test of what we covered that week but we are required to give those exams for data purposes.  I didn't want to completely dismiss it though, so we are going over category 1 questions Monday, category 2 questions Tuesday, etc.  I'm asking students to find WRONG answers and tell me WHY they are wrong.

For a review game, we tweaked "ghost in the graveyard" or "Candy Hearts" to have a STAAR theme:

Student groups got a card of questions from Reporting Category 1 (TEKS 6.1 (A-F) and 6.2 (A-E) and were to work together to solve.  When they thought all were correct, they bring me the card.  If they are right, they receive a colored star to place around the room on larger stars.  If any answers are wrong, I tell them to go back and try again.  I tell them how many they have wrong, but not which ones.  This annoys them, but tough.

At the end of class, I drew cards to determine how much each start was worth.  The kids are familiar with the game, so it was a good day!

I made a few changes throughout the day though-  some of the cards had 5 or 6 questions, which took students too long and they got frustrated.  For some of my classes 3 was a better number, and for others 4 made it more challenging, so I adjusted the number of questions they had to complete on each card along the way.

Homework this week:  Every night students have 10 STAAR-like (or as close as we can get at this point knowing what we know) questions.  They are graded at the beginning of class the next day.  Students who complete the homework receive 3 things-  a ticket, a STAAR buck, and the satisfaction of preparation and a job well done.

Tickets are entered into drawings for prizes at the end of the week.  STAAR bucks earn them a chance to play games or purchase snacks in a school-wide STAAR carnival at the end of testing.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

My Favorite No- Adapted

In a department planning day our instructional coach shared a strategy: My Favorite No - Learning from Mistakes .  "A mistake is your opportunity to share with me how much you understand"

We took a quiz last week...and the grades were disappointing.  Typically I would hand the quiz back and we would go over questions at a class but this isn't typically effective-  students who should be listening aren't.  So I adapted "My favorite no" to review quiz answers.

As I was grading I took notice of common student errors and took pictures of student work:

Students got out a piece of notebook paper.  I displayed an image of a student mistake and gave the class one minute to write down any and all mistakes they saw, one minute to share with their group members, and then we discussed what the student did correct and what mistakes they made, as well as how they could correct their mistakes.

The students really enjoyed this activity and when I returned their quizzes they were able to recognize their own mistakes and correct independently.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Review Rotations- Add and Subtract Fractions and Decimals

We have entered 3 weeks of STAAR Crunch time.  We are reviewing all of the concepts we have learned throughout the year and making connections between concepts in preparation for the STAAR exam.

Today we were reviewing the addition and subtraction of decimals, fractions, and mixed numbers.  Instead of just having kids complete a worksheet, I decided to have each student group create their own questions and then rotate to solve questions written by classmates.

I had students fold their paper into fourths- creating 4 sections on the front and 4 sections on the back-  room for the 6 stations and 2 summary questions at the end that I gave them.  At each table there was a red card and a colored piece of paper.  To prevent students from writing simple problems (one-half plus one-half), I created a "number bank" providing students with fractions or decimals that they could choose to incorporate into their word problems.  Student groups would work together to write a word problem on the colored paper using the numbers and operation provided on the red card.  Then groups rotated.  At the new station, students solved the question written by the previous group and then wrote a new problem using the red card.

Some struggled, some wrote really great questions, some wrote more difficult questions that I would have given.  A lot were surprised and upset when class was over...which does not always happen in math class, so that is good.  I was able to walk around and get a general idea about where students were struggling, provide help, and modify tomorrows lesson to meet their needs better.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Instant Group Game

The idea behind this is essentially the same as here but switches it up just enough so the kids think it is a new game....

Students were given 4 problem situations in which they had to solve multi-step problems by writing an expression and solving the expression using the order of operations

Ex - Ms. Stephens is twelve less than 3 times your age.... how old is she?
Expression: 12*3-12  = 24

Good assignment...just a little boring in my opinion.

So.... students worked in groups.  Here are procedures for group work:

When every student in a group have agreed on an answer, they call me over to check.  If correct, students get to draw a card.  Throughout class each group collected cards.

At the end of class I asked students to find the total value of their cards (face cards = 10 and aces = 11).  I told students that the groups that total was closest to my age were the winners!  In the future, I could switch it up by announcing the winners are those with the lowest total, or most hearts, or most face cards, etc.