Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Connecting with Colleagues and Learning New Structures

I met with Scott Miller @smiller229 and Dave Elliot @dtelliott today.  Wow that was a treat.  They are amazing educators.  I learned some very cool things.  I always enjoy thinking about some new ways to teach.  I think we should do this often with other educators during our summer time when we can really let the ideas sink in.  I can't wait to try them.

1.  BACKWARDS AND FORWARDS
Have your students in groups.  Have half of the students facing the front and half facing the back.  Now show your students that are looking forward a graph.  Since they are facing forward they can see it plainly and need to describe it to their partner who is facing backward.  The person who is facing backward then needs to draw the graph on paper.  They can dialog back and forth to gain clarity.
I wonder if this could be done with students creating their graphs on their calculators/Chromebooks?

2.  QUIZ, QUIZ, TRADE (Kagan)
Teacher Preparation is to make cards with questions on the front and answers on the back.
Students should be in pairs with all getting a card.  QUIZ: Person A solves the problem while Person B Coaches and Encourages.  QUIZ B:  Then Person B begins their problem with their roles reversed. TRADE:  They then give each other a high five congratulations and then TRADE cards.  Now they stand up and hold up their hand looking for a new partner.  High five the new partner and begin the process QUIZ, QUIZ TRADE over again.
I like this because of the fact that students get done with problems at different times and this structure accounts for that.
Video of Quiz, Quiz, Trade

3.  RALLY COACH (Kagan)
Have your students work in pairs with one being A and the other B.
A problem is posed to the whole class.  Person A solves the problem with Person B coaching and encouraging.  A second problem is posed and the roles are reversed.
Video of Rally Coach 

4.  EQUIVALENCIES
Put students in groups of 2-4.
Pose a question.  Given:    3x2
Now ask all groups to find an equivalent expression (this works for equations too).  They should be told that they should find more than one because there will be NO REPEATS (voted on by the class if is in violation).  Students will be called on randomly to represent their group.  Do no allow a student to give an answer that has already been given.  Call on a few students until you feel like the students are   Try to give time every once in a while to let students find some new equivalencies.   
3x2
x2+x2+x2
3(x)(x)
5x2 - 2x2
etc...

5.  SIMULTANEOUS ROUND TABLE (Kagan)
Students are in groups of 4:  A, B, C, D
Work sheets have 4 separate problems on it.  All start in the left corner problem.  When all are finished the paper is passed clockwise.  That person checks the work of the person who gave it to them.  There also might be discussion regarding the question.  Wait until all are done and then start on the problem in the upper left.  Again wait until all are done and then pass it clockwise.  Check and discuss.  Wait. etc. until all problems are done.  You should end up with the page you started with and have all four problems worked out correctly.  

One story that Dave relayed to me was that one of the teachers in his department describes herself as a waitress.  She says that she moves from group to trying to see what they need next to help them.  She sees herself as a servant.  This is beautiful.  I love the idea of students deciding what they need to get to the standards of the class and the teacher being available to serve them in their quest.



Sunday, July 30, 2017

Eraser Ban

I'm mulling over an ERASER BAN in my math classes this year.  What do you think?
  ERASER BAN = No erasers allowed.  Always strike-through your mistakes.  Pens are encouraged.

If students do not erase in class, then we all get to see a progression of their thinking.  It is a chance to say that it is OK to try something and not be sure.  When students don't erase it will be a reminder that WE WON'T GET IT PERFECT EVERY TIME.  We should model the ERASER BAN ourselves when we do work with them on the board and one on one work.  If I implement this ban then I will  need to provide more space for all problems in any worksheet we give.  Should this ERASER BAN be for all parts of class?  Or should/could it be at certain times in the class? The most beautiful part of this ban would be that you wouldn't have eraser crumbs everywhere in your room anymore!
No More Eraser Crumbs
I would love to know your thoughts on this topic.  I'm still trying to put my mind around the possibility.     
My Best 
Dave
twitter @dsladkey

By the way, I got the idea from a presenter Amber McCormick @EdTechAmber at ISTE.  She teaches Global Studies K-5 and uses Sketchnotes to help her students. 

Monday, July 3, 2017

10 Takeaways from #ISTE17



ISTE 2017 San Antonio TX (International Society for Technology in Education) started on Saturday June 24 and ended on Wednesday June 28.  That is a lot of technology. I was there and here are some of my big take-aways.

1. Relationships with your students still are the most important part of teaching whether it be online or face to face.    This was reinforced with one of my first sessions via Scott Garrigan @scottgarrigan This was #2 on his list but he talked about this A LOT.  Here is the link to his presentation.  Here are his 12 strategies to successful Blended/Online Learning: 1.  instructor presence 2. build relationships 3. live web conferences & presentations 4. debates 5. brain rules 6. visual images 7. make relevant connections 8. creative application of content 9. featuring student work online 10. peer review/editing/grading 11. team projects 12.public presentation/publishing

2.  Homework?
Over and over I heard speakers talking about homework.  Homework is a big question mark.  Do we get rid of it altogether?  Do we call it something different?  What about classwork?  We need to think of Standards Work.  This is WORK but always getting at the understanding of the standards. Everything we do revolves around understanding the standards.  So let's call it StandardsWork.  My plan is to list the standards for each chapter. Then I will give a small sample set of problems that will need to be understood for each standard.  I will give formative assessments throughout the chapter to help students know where they stand with each standard.

3.  FEEDBACK, FEEDBACK, FEEDBACK
Digital Tools help us as teachers to give informative, personal, appropriate, and timely feedback.
Formative https://goformative.com/  Playlists, MC, Short Text Answer, Answers in Drawing mode etc.
Flipgrid  https://info.flipgrid.com/ Video discussion board
Padlet https://padlet.com/my/dashboard Discussion Sticky Note Board
Desmos Activity Builder https://teacher.desmos.com/  Slide progression with student feedback
Google Forms https://www.google.com/forms/about/  Feedback gathered in a spreadsheet
Socrative https://www.socrative.com/  A simple discussion board
Two session really inspired me regarding the importance of FEEDBACK:  Blended Learning Reboot and Using Tech Tools to Create Formative Assessments

4.  Every Student and Every Teacher has a Story.  Be a listener and try to hear that story.  Be bold and vulnerable, and tell your story.  Keynote Jennie Magiera @msmagiera


5.  A Digital Playlist is a list of things to get accomplished for your students.  Your student's progress can be recorded virtually.  An example might be if an instructor gives a playlist to the students at the beginning of the period and giving students the class period to complete it.  Here is an example of a playlist for a lesson from a playlist for an algebra 1 lesson. via Jason Appel @jasonkapple  http://www.jasonkappel.com/blog Here is his whole presentation.


6.  Create, Create, Create
We must push ourselves to offer our students more ways to CREATE instead of listening, memorizing and repeating.  There was no exact session on this, however many speakers emphasized this.  I love it.
Digital Creation Tools
Screencastify https://www.screencastify.com/ screencasts and more
Google Slides  https://www.google.com/slides/about/  Very versatile and collaborative for students
Google Draw Tricks from Andy Mann @andrewmmann Here is a copy of his awesome presentation
Order of Objects:  Select object and then CTRL + Up or Down Arrow
Move Object One Pixel:  Select object and then SHIFT+Arrow
Clone Objects: CTRL+SHIFT and click and drag object to desired place
Change Font Size: Select passage or word and then CTRL+SHIFT and < or >
Awwapp  https://awwapp.com/ Digital Whiteboard

7.  I was challenged to give my students more CHOICE this coming year.
"Learning must be student-centered.  Letting students have a voice in their pace, place and path gives them that learning experience."  via Melanie Lehman @MLehman76  with her session on Blended Learning

8.  Sketchnotes are awesome.  They provide a visual representation which can say so much more than just words and can trigger your memory to deeper connections.  They are often made when representing a story, a class lecture, a new representation of a known topic or just an outlet for creative expression.   The presenter was really terrific Amber McCormick @EdTechAmber .  A said something that I really liked.  She said she does not allow erasers.  Students love and hate the rule.  I might do this with my math students.
 I made this starter sketchnote with Amber guiding us.  She kept on reinforcing that ANYONE can do it.  I think she is right.  I think this is a good outlet for some students.  I used http://awwapp.com with this one.


9.  FAIL really means First Attempt In Learning  via @teach42 and @adambellow

10.  A panel of students was asked "What is one thing you wish schools would stop doing?"  Here are the answers HOMEWORK, LONG LECTURES, DESKS and BULLYING.  We need to listen to these students!


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Blue Tape Math

What is Blue Tape Math?  

Simply put, it is having your students use blue masking tape to represent math on the wall, floor desk or windows.  


Why use Blue Tape in Math?

MATH:  Students are using ratios, scale models, fractions, decimals and graphs ALL THE TIME.  Blue masking tape also 'slows' the math down a little bit so all can jump in and be engaged.
MOVEMENT:  Students are moving while learning which helps our kinesthetic learners.
MEASURING:  Students are using rulers, protractors, tape measures.
AND NO MESS with painters masking tape.  It comes right off of walls, glass, desks and floors.


Math Skills

Ratios
Scale Models
Measuring an angle
Measuring a side length
Fractions (While measuring distances)
Graphing
Areas


Where can students create their shapes?

Walls, Windows, Floors or on the Desks.

Ideas for when to use blue tape

Create a figure with a specified area.
Create a regular hexagon or pentagon.
Create parallel lines, or parallel lines by using a traversal
Create a parabola from a quadratic function.
Create a kite.
Create a triangle with Blue Tape.  Find the area of this triangle in multiple ways.
Create a shape (triangle, quadrilateral, etc. ) .  Create a different shape with the same area or perimeter.
Create a circle using blue tape.  Now guess how many diameters will be needed to make the circle?  Test your guess by creating diameters to go all the way around the circle.
Quadratic expressions and equations.  Click to get to the activity we did in class.

This project students created their own non-right triangle and then found the area of it using 3 different formulas.  #precalculus 

This group had a "random triangle that turned out to be an equilateral triangle.  They called the PERFECT triangle.  They were proud.



In this project students are making shapes to understand quadratics. This was in Algebra 1.  A colleague @rachelfruin and I wrote this  if you are interested, here is the progression.   


Try Blue Tape Math with your colleagues in the office.  We did.  It was a great experience.  @rachelfruin  @smiller229 and @mthor_  all have been working on blue tape math together.  The best way to describe what happens when you are using blue tape to get at a solution is that the process is 'slowed down'.  It helps everyone collaborate together at the same pace.  Try it in your office, and then try it in your classroom.  

Take the Blue Tape Math Challenge 

Find one or two colleagues that are up for an adventure, and create a regular pentagon with only a ruler, protractor, and some blue masking tape.  You can create the regular pentagon on the floor, desk or wall.  At the end of your creation reflect on the things you needed to accomplish the task.  Then discuss how you might use blue tape math in your class.  If you have time, let us know what you think @rachelfruin  @smiller229 and @mthor_ @dsladkey


A Word of Caution.  

Your lesson is going to take a lot longer.  This was something that was frustrating at first, but I realized that sometimes when a problem takes longer, the students understand it more thoroughly.   Another word of caution is that I always measure the figure on the INSIDE.  It has much crisper lines.  Also, I have my students use 1/4  inch blue tape.  See below.



#bluetapemath  







Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Ups and Downs of Blended Learning

I feel like a first year teacher again.  Do you remember that?  The roller coaster you were on emotionally?  Well welcome to my world this semester.  I have taken the Blended Learning Plunge. See my first post about blended learning here.   I have my students for "In Class" days 3 times a week.  Then for two days a week they have "Independent Days".  These are days in which they do not have to attend class unless they have a grade below a 70%.

The Ups
The independent days have been spectacular.  There has been some "ah hah" moments for my students that could never have happened in a traditional setting.  Let me share a story.  I gave a visual pattern assignment to my class on an "Independent Day".  (this is where only a few of students are in my class)   So I only had a handful of students doing this problem in class.


We actually followed Michael Fenton's steps through this visual pattern with a piece of typing paper.  Click here to check that out.  So a student and I were working on a problem together.  Although she is very slow at processing arithmetic, she is very good at seeing patterns and growth of patterns.  For this problem we progressed by giving steps 1, 2 and 3.  (see picture)
Then she was asked to draw step 4.  No problem.
Then she was asked to draw step 10 with relative ease.
Then I asked her to tell me about step x.  (This was the key moment I had been waiting for.)
She said do you mean step 11.
I said no, step x.
She said I don't know what you mean by step x.
This girl has taken 8th grade algebra, Intro to Algebra and now Algebra 1.   Now she was finally able to ask  about what x means.  It was a breakthrough. We continued to work together.   She put together the expression that represented the xth step.  Yes it took a while, but that was an amazing day of teaching.  I felt like it was a day that I live for when a student "gets" it.  A student finally figuring out what x is in an algebra class. Thank you Fawn Nguyen for visual patterns and Micheal Fenton for a format to teach visual patterns.

Here is another girl explaining the problem.  She did her work OUT of class on her own.  This is amazing work on Independent Day.




The Downs
So not all things can work perfectly.  That is certainly the case for me.  I had two students email me this past week with frustrations about the Blended Learning process.  They don't feel like they are getting enough practice.  These are strong students too.  I need to listen to them and try to improve the way that we are doing things.    
Planning:  Am I giving the students enough resources?  Am I providing the structure for the students working outside of class?  I'm not very confident right now.
Getting Enough Math?  I continue to struggle with the idea that the students are not getting enough math.  I don't see it happening (because they are not in my sight two days a week) so it is not as easy for me.  The balance is trying to give enough resources for students who are out of class and also make them appropriate for where their learning is.  If it is too tough, they can't complete it.  If it is too easy, then they tend not to do it.  We must keep our ideas and our routines fluid to see if we can improve them.  I certainly do. 

Refining
Since we are always learning we must always refine our teaching.  That is certainly what I'm doing now.  I am trying to provide the right balance of digital resources and practice.   I'm now working on a document for the chapter that we are working on.  I wouldn't call my document a Hyper-Doc.  However it is similar.  Below is the document I'm working on right now for the chapter we are in. Note:  this document  Always learning.



Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Feedback with a WORD

Feedback is important.  Here is an idea to try to get some more feedback to our students.  Give them a WORD that represents them.  Give them a WORD for them.  No other student in the class has that word.  That means no repeats in that particular class.  (I have 4 classes so I used some words repeatedly in different classes)




Students like this kind of feedback is that it is personal.   It is a way that they stand out to me and most students like that feeling of being special.  The second reason that students like this kind of feedback is that it is concise.  It is easy to remember a word.

I was scared to try this at first.  I wondered if the students would not care or think it was silly.  However, I have received a lot of feedback from students saying they really liked hearing something directly about them from me.  It is funny that I'm getting feedback on the feedback I gave.




All the words that I'm handing out are Growth Mindset words or phrases.  Here is a list   http://tinyurl.com/growthmindsetwords They are also at the bottom of this post.

Give your students a gift today.  Give them a WORD!

What do you think?  Do you have any Words or Phrases to add to the list?






Saturday, December 31, 2016

Half and Half: Managing Technology Use During Math Assessments


I'm just saying....this is new for me.  I have tried it once and would love some feedback on this idea.  

Splitting up the time a student is able to use technology on an assessment is not new.  You have seen it before where you give the first part of the assessment as "No-Technology" or "No Calculator" and the second part of the assessment as "Technology Allowed".   So this idea of giving the whole assessment at once and then splitting up the time half and half for "No Technology" and "Technology Allowed" is new for me.  It accomplished a few goals that I had for it.  Let me tell you how I worked it and then you can give me some feedback on what you think.

1.  Give the whole assessment to the students at the beginning of the class.  (You are not giving a part of the test to be no-technology and part of the test to be technology allowed)  
2.  Do not allow technology for the first half of the assessment.  
3.  Then allow the students to take out their technology to finish their assessment.  

Here are the positives.
1.  Students are usually looking at a problem twice.  
2.  Students are making predictions about the problems without technology and then confirming their predictions with technology.
3.  It affirms the use of mental math.
4.  It forced students to make a plan instead of just guessing with technology.

Negatives
1.  It takes away a really useful mathematical tool for part of the assessment.
2.  Students are a fearful to be without their technology
3.  The traditional problem solving approach is thwarted by not having all the math tools available.

Please give your thoughts and ideas in the comment section.