Posted in Geometry, MTBoS

Popcorn Prisms

popcorn prisms

My Honors Geometry students Monday lesson was inspired by a lesson posted by Fawn Nguyen that related to surface are and volume.  I loved the idea of it and figured that the day after Spring Break that also happened to be the day before all school testing would be a great one to review the topics from two weeks ago (and enjoy a snack, yum! 🙂 ).

I totally overestimated my students ability to perform this task.  I was really upset about the experience until I remembered this awesome quote:

“If you haven’t failed in the classroom lately, you aren’t pushing the envelope far enough. “Safe” lessons are a recipe for mediocrity at best.” ~

I like how this quote gives me liberty to try things outside of my comfort zone, potentially mess up and come back and try again.

Very few students were able to construct the prism, measure, and calculate the desired quantities.  I was impressed with the variety of rectangular prisms students created.  However, I found students had a number of difficulties with this project that made it hard to assess students understanding.  The activity was super beneficial and eye opening to me.  I’m writing this post to highlight the fact that I take full responsibility for their errors because I as a teacher did not 1.) give them enough to understand my expectations and 2.) assumed that they had background skills in measuring with a ruler and finding area and volume.  There are so many areas that I need to work on with my students based on their performance during this activity not to mention that surface area and volume are real life skills so I can’t just pass the buck and hope they get it next year. I am struggling with which area to address FIRST.

  • constructing the prism
  • measurement
  • surface area
  • volume

Where would you start? What would you do?

 

 

 

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Posted in Geometry, MTBoS

One Good Thing, Similar Triangles Activity

I am proud of myself for attempting to blog during the first couple of days back at school 🙂 the struggle is so real.  Today was a late start school improvement day.  These days are devoted to a variety of professional development activities.  Due to this, classes are shortened and I am only moderately used to the schedule on these days so I had to push through and persevere myself today.

My one good thing from my Geometry classes today was the emphasis on measurement skills.  The goal of the day was to have students use similar triangles in a real world scenario and solve for an unknown.  In our case, the students were measuring their heights, standing across from each other with a mirror between them, and determining how far apart they must stand in order to see each other’s eyes in the mirror.  One class had an amazing “a-ha” moment when the pair of students who miscalculated their response and could not see each other’s eyes then corrected their work and had success.  Another class had quite the blunder when due to incorrect measurements they were able successfully see each other’s eyes when they should not have been able to.  Regardless, I was happy with the fact that students got to measure quantities in real life which they need to do more of and that they were engaged in the topic.  I was not happy with our progress toward the learning objective, but as I learned long ago, there is always tomorrow to come back and try it again from another angle.

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, 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, Education, Geometry, Math

What is that? How do you use it? #blaugust

Side note, this blog post is in no way a criticism of anyone or school or anything along those lines.  It is just what happened in class today.  If anything, it might be a criticism of myself as while I was planning this lesson, I assumed my students’ experience would be greater with this tool.

Today was the second day of real “content” with my Geometry students.  After years of the Common Core Standards in place, which I know includes Geometry standards at the 7th grade level, I am still amazed when students remark that they have not used a protractor before, and I am fairly positive that they are being truthful (or at least that they didn’t remember actually using one).

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What was intended to be a five minute “review” of these skills to launch into the real lesson activity of the day turned into a much more in depth “teaching” of how to use this tool.  Although they might NEVER use a protractor outside of my class again I do find the task of measuring something using a tool useful. The task also spoke to the CCSS Math Practice Standards of attending to precision and using tools strategically. It is so challenging (especially at the beginning of the year) to determine what are appropriate scaffolds to help students work on a task. Moving forward, I plan to assume less which is actually a good thing because then we can talk about refined meanings of things.  For instance, because of their lack of background we were able to really talk about that the measurement in degrees was actually a measurement of a rotation. I think next year my approach might be different.

Posted in Geometry, Math, MTBoS, Uncategorized

Beginning 2017-2018 #blaugust

It is the end of summer.  13 weekdays left of summer (edit: now there are only 8 – eek) – about 2 and a half weeks.  I am determined to remain positive in this time and moving right into the school year.  This summer has been filled with awesome accomplishments:

  • personal records in my squat, bench, and meet total
  • drove all the way to Florida, spent 8 days together, enjoyed Disney, and all the way back home with minimal problems
  • Jacob has been working on his writing skills
  • Jacob can put his head under water
  • redid our master bath about halfway – the rest will come sometime this fall or spring when we have the money 🙂 but I love it already
  • I’ve rejoined the Twitter community and am getting fired up to go back to school!

Goals I have for the last week and a half:

  • take my world powerlifting congress judges’ written test
  • get in this blogging habit again (I did a 30 day challenge before and it was a struggle IN MAY so I can only imagine what it is like in August with school starting BUUUUT I’m not one to back down from a challenge)
  • decide on a teaching initiative for the school year for myself and go full speed ahead (interactive notebooks, flipped classroom, replacing homework completely, or standards based grading).  All are worthy intentions and I need to stop thinking about how great they are and start moving ahead with at least one of them because I am tired of just being in the knowledgeable stage with them and not actually trying them out in my own classroom environment (this year 5 sections of Geometry which I taught for the last two years and now have SMART board lessons for the entire year, 3 regulars and 2 honors, of the 3 regulars 2 are cotaught, low-income school, Chromebook cart in classroom, 16 years of experience on my side)
  • clean my house like it is my JOB (as it is until next week at this time
  • present at the conference on Wednesday

Go #blaugust I got this and I hope you will come along for the ride

Posted in Education, Geometry, MTBoS, My Favorite Lessons

Introducing Solid Geometry with Marshmallows and Toothpicks #MTBoS

Today we began the last unit of the year in my Geometry class that involves solid 3-dimensional figures.  I opted to play a game with my students and challenged them to build towers out of marshmallows and toothpicks in a group of three.

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The idea was to build the tallest free standing tower in seven minutes..IMG_6245.JPG

It was fun to listen to students as they determined what would make the strongest foundation, ensure that their structure did not get too heavy and topple over, and ensure that they had enough building supplies.

IMG_6243.JPGIt was a good activity and in the end we were able to define some terms for class as well:

edges – “toothpicks” – where two faces meet

faces – the flat “surfaces” of the “solid” (which in our case were invisible and the solid was not really all that solid at all)

vertex or vertices – “marshmallows” – where two edges meet

After the building, students then went online to do a Quizlet (I found one that suited my needs and adapted it) even though I had not introduced the terms.  It was awesome that they were able, through trial and error, to determine the meanings of some of the terminology.