April Currently

Excited about linking up my first "Currently" post with Oh' Boy 4th Grade!

Love to Laminate!

Recently, I came across the game, "Scoot!" I'm not sure where I found it, but you can find a ton of examples by Googling or searching Pinterest. I made all my "Scoot" cards for reviewing rational number operations last night. After seeing a "Math Lib" activity in Gina's Teachers pay Teachers store, I was excited to just print the math problems on 2"x4" adress labels and adhere them to index cards. I also made answer keys that are color coded with the index cards. I got them all laminated today! I love to laminate my games in anticipation of making the game last longer than one day. I just need to find the time or a willing student to cut out my 28 laminated index cards + 7 answer key sheets!

I'm looking forward to playing "Scoot" in my classroom and can't wait to share!

Connect Four: Pythagorean Style

As a kid, my brother and I played Connect Four frequently. I even remember having the travel version that we would take on trips.

Today's activity reminded me of those childhood days as I had to explain to some students how to play Connect Four. About half of my class was familiar with the game...boy, how times have changed!

Students received a game board and colored counters. Students paired up, picked their color and I flipped a counter to designate who would go first. Students then took turns choosing a problem that they both worked. If the student who picked the problem got it correct, they got to place their counter on the board. If they got it incorrect, the other student could steal with a correct answer. Students alternated choosing problems based on strategy for getting a Connect 4.

My students did a great job working today and enjoyed the Connect Four game format.The game board was made by a colleague. There are a few problems that were repetitive, meaning students could look at another problem on the board and use it to get the answer, but other than that, I loved it. I mean, we do want our kids to be resourceful, right?! No point in doing extra work when the answer is sitting in front of you. Anyway, here is a copy of the game board. It can easily be edited for various concepts. Enjoy!

Hot Seat Jeopardy

I'm not a huge fan of playing PowerPoint Jeopardy games in my class. I think this is mostly because of lack of management of the game on my part, and in turn, lack of participation by my students. Recently the planned lesson by a member of my team was another Jeopardy Review. This was the best Jeopardy Review we've done in my class because of the structure that was added.

Students were placed into teams of 3-4 students and sat in a line (one behind the other). The person at the front of the row was designated as being in the hot seat! Each student had a recording sheet which matched the Jeopardy categories and point values to show their work for each problem.

As we selected a problem, all students worked the problem on their recording sheet and as they finished could pass their paper up to the team member in the hot seat to offer their solution and help. As the team member in the hot seat decided on a solution (only with the work of his teammates, but without talking), he then passed their papers back. I then took answers for the team only from the hot seat.

After we finished the problem, students rotated up a seat, putting a new team member in the hot seat! The front student went to the back of the team line.

I really enjoyed this structure and so did the kids. All students were working. Accountability came from me taking up individual recording sheets and using their work to help their team! I think I will continue to do any Jeopardy lesson this way and not dread them so much now!

I Hate When this Happens...

...when I start thinking about how to do things better next year. I still have about 12 weeks left in this school year and I'm already thinking about Day 1 for next year...ughh!!! But, I think all good teachers probably do this!

Tonight, I've been perusing my twitter PLN, browsing old hashtags I used to frequent and came across @shareski and a tweet that really intrigued me...
This tweet led me to another and eventually to a blog post about assessment by Bill Ferriter...more specifically having students assess their own learning.
Something I've implemented lately is a unit test reflection. My students go back through their math test identifying if they missed a problem due to a simple mistake (which they can fix on their own) or a lack of knowledge (and need more instruction). I then set up structured tutorials based around the concepts students have identified that they need more instruction for. In addition to identifying areas for improvement, students also identify their successes. You can download a copy of the document I've been using here.

Bill Ferriter has a very similar  form he uses after tests which can be found on his blog here. I love his form and will probably change a few things about mine based on the sample Dean has provided.

This is a great reactive approach, but I've been trying to be more proactive in my approach to supporting students. Well, Bill has an answer for that too! I love his Unit Overview Sheet which can be found here! His students refer to this page at the beginning of most lessons to to focus on the objective for the day and then again at the end of a lesson to evaluate where they are in terms of mastery of the objective. He encourages students to update their position of mastery as they learn more and become more confident with the material.

I can't wait to try it out myself in my math class. I just spent an hour developing one for an upcoming 7th grade math unit on 3D geometry. Here's a little preview...
And you can download the full document here. Now that it's made, Bill has left me some insight to making it work!
You should definitely head over to Bill's Blog to check out his thoughts.