Posted in Education, Math, Sketchnote

Blind Kahoot, Sketchnoting, and Better Lesson Teach180

I had a fabulous time over the weekend at EdCamp Chicago.  You can read more about my experience here.  I am feeling a little of the EdCamp is over blues so I figured the “cure” would be to apply some of what I learned to my classes and that totally energized me.

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Blind Kahoot

I wasn’t sure if this would work in my class but it TOTALLY did.  We played a Kahoot on classifying triangles BEFORE I introduced the terminology.  Mind you, these terms are middle school topics, so my students aren’t completely “blind” to the definitions.  However, as happens EVERY YEAR, students mix up the words “isosceles” and “scalene”.  They enjoyed playing the game a second time through on “ghost mode” where they competed against their original scores and times.  The ratings students gave the activity at the end merited doing it again AND this year students actually noticed that there are TWO ways to classify a triangle.  I loved how they verbalized this during the game when sometimes that nuance is lacking in my class.  It was so much fun teaching this lesson today as compared to years past.

Sketchnoting 101

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I am relatively new to sketchnoting myself.  I am getting better about using more icons and containers.  Today was the first time I tried to get my students to try it.  I provided the “notes” and they needed to provide the sketches to accompany them.  I was surprised that no one has complained about not being able to draw.  Below are some of the sketches my students worked on.  I will have to pass out color in the future.  The “proof” on whether this activity merits future use will be in students being able to identify these terms in the days to come.  File_002

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Posted in Education, Math, MTBoS, Sketchnote

EdCamp Chicago Fall 2017 – AMAZING :)

EdCamp Chicago went down to the south suburbs so I HAD to represent 🙂 you can take the girl out of the Southside, but never the Southside out of the girl :).  Anyway, I learned soooo much today and am excited to get back and put it into action.  I was talking with @MrsBronke through Twitter about the fact that I LOVE EdCamps but I totally struggle with how to describe them to educators so they can feel the awesomeness and come as opposed to being scared by the “scary” parts (i.e. there is no agenda before the day, people can come and go at will, etc – which I admit are scary but after your first EdCamp you realize that these factors are ACTUALLY empowering and really force you to really be super present and invigorate you). Below are some of the lasting ideas that stuck with me from the sessions I attended (for the first time at an EdCamp I didn’t leave any session to attend another one – maybe just really good choices on my part, or maybe just my desire to make the most of where ever I was – regardless, I liked it so much).  Shout out to Danita and Mia who sat with me at the beginning, it was so fun to connect with Hammond, Indiana folks….maybe they will get on Twitter 🙂 I’ll be on the lookout.

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Scouts, Sunday School, 4H and More

This was a small group but we were a mighty force.  I loved how diverse the room was despite the fact that we only had 4 people in it :).  I was impressed with the connections we made when it came to how you communicate with the members of your extra-curricular, how do you hold them accountable,  how can we “gamify” attendance so it doesn’t need to be punitive, to how can we recognize members for their contributions on a regular basis so that they aren’t so fixated on end of year MVP awards.  I really liked how this session made me reconsider how I encourage my students in Mathletes and Snowball.  I’d like to maybe recognize “streaks” (one person mentioned Homework streaks in his classroom, maybe I can do that with attendance or for my Mathletes their practice skills or other attributes that I want to see more of in my activities).

My Favorite Four Letter Word: Math

I suggested this session.  I’ve suggested it before at EdCamps and have LOVED it but never have I experienced so many math teachers in one room at an EdCamp!  It was fantastic.  Also, very surprising for me, we didn’t even utter a peep about Desmos or Geogebra (my personal favorite go-to math resources) and DESPITE that the conversation was soooooooo good.  We shared so many great things about why we love being math teachers and it was fantastic.  I’m excited about the possibility of using this clip in my class – the teacher who mentioned it talked about a Mindset Monday and I was totally intrigued.  I gave props to Sara Van Der Werf and her Name Tents with Comments activity that I used with my students this year and it was awesome to see other teachers who were interested in making the same connections with students.  I liked the idea of Blind Kahoots – similar to blind Quizlet Lives that I have been in love with lately – so I will have to try Kahoot in this way.

Someone talked about how our students tend to be missing some basic skills (adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing to name a few).  I don’t believe that I have all of the solutions, but I do believe that it is my duty to help any student who walks in my door to be better for entering and engaging in my class.  I feel like my math talks, notice/wonder, estimation, clothesline math, selective use of Khan Academy are steps in the right direction.  A couple of times we circled back to this idea of mindset and I believe that some of these basic skill problems come back to mindset issues.  Which makes relationship building so important.  When you build the relationship, you can get students to do amazing things that they didn’t even believe were possible.

Then during the last five minutes someone brought up the topic of homework – such a great topic that needs soooo much more time than 5 minutes.  However, being with math teaching peers and openly questioning the role of homework and whether the homework we are giving actually achieves those goals strengthened my resolve to only assign homework with a specific goal in mind that I believe will ACTUALLY be achieved.  I feel a much bigger blog post on that topic coming soon.  For now though, I am happy about the place I am in with homework at this time and don’t plan on changing anytime soon.  I mean I actually have some of my students ASKING ME for homework, which is DEFINITELY a switch and I have tailored assignments for them based on their needs as a learner as opposed to my needs to justify a grade.  I have students actively asking me questions about problems they are getting wrong in Khan Academy (that they are doing of their own free will) and want to better their understanding.  I must be doing something right.  And I might not have it ALL right, but it is working for some and for that I am grateful.

LUNCH with the Marian and Math Peeps

Lunch was great conversation about all kinds of fun topics.  Whether it was about taking a last name, classroom activities, what you were doing later – all of it was so fun.  I wished that we could have boxed up that group of people so I could have lunch with them everyday :).  Sharing a meal does great things for connecting with others.  Also, it is amazing to me that even when surrounded by a whole bunch of Catholic School educators that we as educators have so much in common.

I’m mad at myself for not taking a real picture of the chairs that were similar to this in one teacher’s classroom:

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The desk part was bigger and swiveled to the other side for lefties.  They were so sweet.  I kinda want to start writing a Donors Choose project and get them for my students.

Additionally, I liked this image I saw today:

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Power of Positivity

I needed this 🙂 I always need this.  I have been working so hard on this in my classroom.  I HATE when my husband criticizes me HOWEVER he usually has a point when he does (though I will never give him the satisfaction of saying “you’re right”).  Anyway, he told me recently that I was being negative and it hurt my heart until I was real honest with myself and realized that he was right – he doesn’t read my blog so I am safe :).  Anyway, it has been a goal of mine to be more positive, which lead to a goal of being more grateful, which lead to a goal of being more present.  All of these things have worked well together and I can honestly say that I am in a much more positive place in my life now than when he made that comment to me :).  Whether it be standing at my door thanking my students for coming each day (which was a “fake it before you make it” thing for me at first but now I TRULY am grateful – like for real, and I recommend it to everyone) or handing out my new Bitmoji-fied Post-Its (blog coming this week – they really are my favorite thing right now) or taking the time to REALLY get to know students, this positivity thing has done wonders for my classroom management (I’ve only written 4 referrals this whole year and two of those I really had no choice but HAD to write them up) and wonders for my students’ work ethic.

The Angel Project idea really spoke to me as I had actually mentioned this idea to my administrative team – and it got me thinking that maybe I could do this for just my students in my classes as in I would put my own dots next to my own students who I had made a personal connection with this year already and really make it a goal for me moving forward to make connections with the ones I have not made that connection with yet.

With my son I want to implement the idea of asking him “How were you kind today?”.  Such an awesome question and one that will show my son what I really value out of him in addition to asking him what he learned today.  Maybe I should ask my students the same question.

Sketchnoting

So sad that I had to dip out of this one early as I am new to Sketchnoting but I totally believe in the power of it.  I shared my story about how I got started (long story short, an administrator admonished me during a faculty meeting for what was in her eyes “off task behavior” and so I started sketchnoting so I couldn’t get in trouble for taking notes 🙂 .  Anyway, I loved hearing how one teacher was using this technique with her special ed students and it made me think that maybe I should be deliberate about giving my students the opportunity to try sketchnoting in my classes. Below is my sketchnote about sketchnoting. One thing that I didn’t get to note is that when you sketchnote you have a built in picture for blog posts and everyone knows that pictures get more views than just text alone.Screen Shot 2017-10-14 at 7.53.43 PM.png

I think to take my sketchnoting to the next level I need to incorporate more icons.  Also, although my dog doesn’t have a name, I believe I already have a learning mascot, or maybe he is my creativity creature…whatever, it was nice to think about him in a new light.

Posted in Education, Math, MTBoS

What is Data? What is GOOD Data?

I miss teaching statistics sooooooooo very much.  I have to work hard to try to get the class BACK at my school because statistics are literally EVERYWHERE and the class is required for so many careers these days.  Everyone wants to be data driven and make decisions with data in mind.  We are looking for improvement and maximization or minimization.  We are looking to see if there is a significant difference which is literally the culminating topic for most statistics courses.

Today during our weekly late start Wednesday professional development session more “data” was distributed to our staff about attendance and discipline.  I really appreciate the transparency of our administrative team with this distribution.  Anytime I am presented with data I want to know more about it before I make any judgments.  I wonder if my students look at data with that same lens or if that is something that I need to teach to them.  When I do get the opportunity to teach statistics as a course, our first unit is all about data and what data is.  So I pondered the question for myself:

What is data?

I began thinking about a definition that we develop from class about the fact that numbers become data only when we have a context.  Google says:

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When you actually dive into the definition of data, you are almost forced into considering the following:

What is GOOD data?

Now THAT is tricky because now you have to make a value judgment.  Or do you?  Does just putting it in context make that value judgment for you?  Can what I consider GOOD data to me be just mediocre or bad data to you?  As an educator, what do you consider to be GOOD data?  Why?  How do we get others to consider this when they present data?

I wonder if people think that I am being “type A” or a “B*&$%” when I ask about the who, what, when, where, and why of the data that I desperately want to know before making any data minded decision.  I won’t stop asking though.  It is important and I want others to see the importance too.  Without that information, how can you know if you have GOOD data?  I guess for me, GOOD data can satisfy all of those questions and provide a good basis for decision making that will allow the most positive outcomes to occur.

Posted in Education, Geometry, Math, MTBoS

“Upside Down” Triangle

I’ve incorporated Which One Doesn’t Belong tasks into my bellwork.  I love how they fit nicely into my Geometry lessons about definitions and saying what you mean and meaning what you say.  Given the image below, I was not expecting my students to write what they did about the upper left corner image.

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Students wrote some of the following statements:

  • the only upside down one
  • it is the only regular triangle <— especially shocking since we have worked with the term “regular” in this class already
  • the only normal one
  • different shaped triangle

I was shocked at how many students referred to the triangle as “upside down”.  It really made me think about how we represent triangles to our students.  I plan to do more work with showing multiple representations and pressing students to work on how they verbally express themselves.  How do you address this issue of “right side up” in your class?  I think it is really important especially when we head into concepts like area and perimeter.

Posted in Blaugust, Education, Math

The Beginning of My “Math Play Table” and Broken Circles #teach180 #blaugust

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I was excited this morning because the magnatiles I ordered for my play table will arrive sometime today.  However, I realized that I already had some puzzles that would work well on the table for this week :).  I already had some students try out the math puzzles here today so I am looking forward to what this table will do in the future.  I thank Sara Van Der Werf for the inspiration for this in my room (I believe my students will thank her too).

Additionally, today my students worked with the Broken Circles activity.  The inspiration for this activity came from reading the Math Equals Love post about this activity.  I believe I learned more about my students through this activity than they learned for themselves but I am ok with that outcome because I really do think they learned about how to work on a team and that sometimes your solution will not help other people with their problems. At one point, this team had waited a VERY LONG TIME to have one student give up any of his pieces so they just gave them all to him.  He struggled and was unable to put the four circles together himself.  I tried to check in with the students and I look forward to reading their feedback to see what this group gleaned from this experience.  I definitely learned something and plan to use that information to move forward in my class.IMG_7507a.jpg

 

Posted in Blaugust, Education, Geometry, Math, MTBoS

My Favorite Five Minute Games #blaugust

Today I gave pre-assessments in all of my classes.  It is a necessary evil in this world of data driven decisions. However, it also allowed my students the time to register for Remind and Khan Academy which is worthwhile.  Two of my classes still had five minutes left at the end so I played “Guess My Number” and had a blast.  When I first started teaching my arsenal of five minute games was pretty limited.  Below are my favorites.

Guess My Number (Between 1 and 1000)

Though it sounds daunting it really isn’t.   Students are in groups and ask yes/no questions to determine my number.  Each group gets three guesses at any time that they turn in on a post-it note.  The inspiration for this game came from the internet but I could not find the blog post to give it credit 😦

Sum Sudoku

I blogged about this fun one recently. It has a really quick set up and an endless array of possibilities on level of difficulty and scaffolding.

Tech and One Minute: Math Mayhem

My high school students STILL struggle with their multiplication facts.  When I have out my Chromebooks and we have finished an online activity, I introduce them to Math Mayhem.  It is elementary BUT after the first round when I DOMINATE them and they realize the challenge of beating me IT IS ON.  My students will clammer for this activity.  I will usually only do it once a year but it is a glorious one day.

24

My district bought us a set of these cards a long time ago and I will bust them out when I have five minutes in class.  I’ll challenge students to find multiple ways to make 24 in their groups. This game is also a super fun way to talk about order of operations.

Draw the House 

Again, a no set up game.  I challenge my students to draw the following figure without lifting their pencil off of the page (in other words, one continuous line) and without retracing any lines.

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Connect the Dots

Challenge your students to connect the dots without lifting their pencil off of the page, using only 4 lines, and no retracing any lines. It cracks me up to see them draw and redraw the same wrong answer over and over and over.  I’ll give them a hint to “think outside the box” and they just have no idea.

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Spelling Bee

I have Geometry so there is a TON of vocabulary.  I will take students who want to participate and have them do a mini spelling bee of Geometry terms from class.

Integer Ball

I have a beach ball that I have written integers all over.  We toss the ball and the students have to perform an integer operation with the numbers that their thumbs are touching.  You can do this game as an elimination game or one for points for your team.

Posted in Blaugust, Math

Algebra Reviews in my Geometry Class #blaugust

The Geometry curriculum we use at my school is heavily Algebra based.  Therefore, we take some time to review some Algebra concepts.  Today, I used some clothesline math with my students.  I am amazed that this version of a number talk can take a variety of turns in class and no two conversations I had today with my students went in the same direction.  Most classes were able to review what a variable is and what (1/2)x means on the continuum.  I really like clothesline math but realized that I need to “invest” in a better clothesline than just some string as the string has too much give to it.

The clothesline included the following two tents which also led to some healthy discussion of equality and the meaning of the symbols.

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With that discussion of equality we were able to springboard into “noticing” and “wondering” about some mobile math.  IMG_7466.JPG

I realized JUST how out of practice I was with running math talks by the time we began talking about this picture.  I gave my students too much scaffolding in my first period.  By the third time, I was happy with using the notice/wonder structure that gets talked about all the time with #MTBoS.  I LOVED the result of what students were able to notice and wonder without me and it led to me seeing the math in some much different ways.

We also touched on having a viable argument and critiquing the reasoning of others (one of my FAVORITE practices).  Students were able to say that the diamond was 2 but articulating “why” was really a challenge until they realized that I just wanted students to share their thinking.

I need to work on closure.  Each class today left without me “getting their pulse” on if they learned anything – I mean it felt like they got something out of today but I really can’t be for sure.  I need to be much more deliberate about getting that information in the future to guide my instruction.