Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Interactive Student Notebooks and Foldable #1

I've been reading A LOT about Interactive Student Notebooks. I spent all summer researching, planning and thinking about how to best implement an ISN in my classroom. Up until a week before school I was convinced of what a GREAT idea they are, but I know myself. I am not organized. My desk and teacher tables are a mess. I misplace pens and papers and notebooks constantly. My students love to laugh at me looking for things that are right in front of my face. It's a vice that I'm working on, but it's not fixed yet :) I couldn't see how I would ever be able to effectively maintain the amount of organization required.

After discussing it with a colleague and reading Sarah Rubin's amazing how-to guide (here), I decided to commit. I KNOW this will be good for both me and my students!

Following Sarah's guide, I spent the whole first week of school doing the following:

1. Decorating the cover of the composition book
2. Setting up the Table of Contents
3. Going over class rules and procedures (in the ISN).
4. Completing a learning style survey
5. Take a multiple intelligences inventory

(all of this was borrowed from here)

In keeping with the the Interactive part of the ISN, I want to use more foldables this year. I am starting the year teaching Box-and-Whisker Plots and created a foldable in Powerpoint for students to take notes. This foldable covers the 10-step method of creating a plot (an idea I got from a colleague at the school where I worked last year).

TO C M LULU DI (To See my LuLu die)

(Yes I know this is kinda weird and morbid. But, I promise, the kids remember it!)

T - Title
O - put data set in order, least to greatest
C - create a number line
M - median
L - lower extreme
U - upper extreme
L - Lower quartile
U - Upper quartile
D - draw box-whiskers

I like to create foldables in Powerpoint, because I find it easier to align things and move things to exactly where I need them. It seems like I am always fighting with Word on the formatting. I copied these 2 pages front and back, then had the students fold on the solid lines and cut on the dashed lines. This created a 10 tab (one for each step) foldable.

BAWP Foldable

Here is a picture of the final product:

I like to teach box-and-whisker plots at the beginning of the year so that I can do lots of examples using class data (like class test grades) to reinforce. I have found that this topic is really difficult for many of my below grade-level students and the constanst reinforcement all year really helps!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Awesome Target Finds for 30 Cents!

The dollar section at Target is awesome, especially for teachers. This past weekend, I got a ton of stuff 70% off. I got each of these items for 30 cents each and couldn't be more excited!
Lesson plan book, foam clock, spanish reward stickets, memo book, student planner, 2 self-inking stamps and 6 small plastic containers!
Unfortunately, many of my 7th graders can't read an traditional clock with hands etc. They beg me to hang up a digital clock, but I refuse. We are going to learn to tell time the old school way if it kills me. I plan to hang this on the whiteboard with magnets and do a few problems with them during the warm-up, hoping they will catch on over time.

Love these spanish stickers! I plan to keep one for myself and give one to my fellow cheerleading coach and 2nd year spanish teacher. (update: gave her the stickers and she was SO excited and eager to use them. I love to give other people presents they really enjoy :) )
These self inking stamps are the best, especially for 30 cents. I think I will be going back to see if I can get a few more :)

Metric Measurement and Valentine's Day

This is an old post I wrote right after Valentine's day, but never posted. Not sure why. Either way, I think it's worth reading:

One of the things I love about middle school is that the kids are still 'little' enough to enjoy cutesy things. Even though they often drive me crazy, I really wanted to get my  kids Valentines this year. I ignored the day last year and felt like such a scrooge. So last night I went to Target and bought Fun Dip Valentine's, thinking I would pass them out to the students at the end of the period.

On the drive to school this morning (I commute an hour one-way) I got to thinking about how I would give out the candy without losing a bunch of class time. I couldn't just hand it out on the way out the door because Fun Dip is a time consuming candy, and I am sure the other teachers wouldn't appreciate me giving the kids candy and setting them free in the halls.

I didn't want to use my class time either, though. I really value my class time. I hardly let kids go to the bathroom etc. I always tell them "We don't miss math class, no matter what!" I try really hard to make sure every minute is well spent. I kept struggling to find a way to make the Fun Dip relevant and part of the instruction.

Here is what I did:

Today we learned Metric Measurement. Students learned to convert between metric measurements by counting jumps and moving decimals (we'll cover the multiply and dividing the rest of this week), using KING HENRY DIED BY DRINKING CHOCOLATE MILK. 

As an exit ticket, students were given their pack of fun dip. Students had to read the package and find it's mass (measured in grams). Then they converted that mass into 3 other units; kilograms, centigrams, and milligrams. When they were done, and had all 3 correct, they were allowed to spend the remaining few minutes eating their treat! The students loved it! They were so eager to try, worked hard for the correct answer, and celebrated in their success :) I was such a happy teacher!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Rate of Change

Many of the 7th grade standards in South Carolina have me cover topics very briefly. If I follow the standard exactly I have to literally fight to stay away from such obvious progressions of the math that are supposed to be taught in Algebra 1 and beyond. I find this extremely frustrating, because I feel like I'm trying to fool my students into thinking that this really is all there is to whatever topic we're covering.

Most recently this has come up in a 2-week unit I just finished with my 7th grade advanced students on Rate of Change. The standards say:

7-3.2 Analyze tables and graphs to determine the rate of change between and among quantities.
7-3.3 Understand slope of a constant rate of change.

I began this unit with filling in a function table with a given x-value and rule to find y. We then wrote a sentence describing the rate of change such as:

        As x increases by 3, y decreases by 1.

The students were then to determine if the 'Rate of Change' is constant or not constant, based on the ability to write of a sentence structured like the one above. This went pretty well. Most students were able to fill in the function table with no problem, and determining the Rate of Change was easy! Yay!

The next day we began studying graphs. Each graph had a line with drawn points. Students were to study the graph, translate the points to a table, and write a Rate of Change sentence in the same format as the day before. This was a bit more of a struggle since we haven't done an direct instruction on reading a graph, or plotting points. (Every holiday I have them graph a holiday picture for a day of 'fun math' that is still relevant and standards-based. The students seem to enjoy it and they get the much needed practice.)

The next day was supposed to be focused on slope. I put several graphs on my Promethean board. We wrote a Rate of Change sentence for each. We colored in the graph. I then urged the students to look at each picture carefully. I asked, "What do you notice about all the graphs?", "What do they all have in common?" It took some time, but we eventually got to the desired answer: "They are all straight lines!". Yay!

Now this is really where the standard ends. All I had to do was tell them that if the Rate of Change is constant then the line is straight. If the line is straight then it has as "Slope". And finally, Slope is a fancy math word for "Rate of Change".

But I couldn't stand it. I hate to leave my kids hanging. There is such an obvious and easy step right in front of them. I don't have to teach it. In fact, I try to only teach the standards in my classroom because standardized test acheivement is so 'important'. Rarely do I go above and beyond. I hate it, but it's true. This time I couldn't take it. We had to talk about slope. We defined slope, measured/calculated slope using Rise/Run and then made connections between tables, graphs, ROC sentences, slope and the function rule.

To sum it all up we completed a card sort where students were given 6 graphs, 6 rules, 6 tables, 6 slopes, and 6 sentences. Students worked in groups of 4-5 to sort the cards into groups were the rule matched the table, matched the graph, matched the slope, and finally matched the sentence. There were 4 sets of these cards that were traded between groups. Here are a few pics:

This card sort really helped my students make the connections between graphs, tables, Rate of Change, and slope. It was struggle for them to 'sort' it all out, but once they did, I knew they knew it!

In the end I am so glad I took the extra step. The kids got it. I probably saved the Algebra 1 teacher a day or two  of instruction for next year (if the kids remember what they learned), and the students understand how this all works together. It was all I could do to not keep going into equations of a line, y-intercepts, etc! Oh well...back to the standards it is...

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Graphing Linear Equations Video

I often do YouTube searches of the concepts I am covering in class, hoping to find something to show my students. I found this one today and couldn't resist sharing! It's teachers like this who make me want to be better at what I do :)


So, I started this blog over the summer after reading other awesome teacher blogs for months and months. I was feeling motivated and inspired to join this community of amazing math teachers by sharing what I'm doing in my classroom, and getting tips, tricks, and pointers from all the great teachers out there.

I had a lot of ambition, which is typical of me. I went into the school year at the beginning of August ready to document everything I was doing, take pictures of activities and materials to post here, and open up the comments to advice from my peers.

Life took over and none of it ever happened. I got too busy, too tired, too frazzled. I never quit reading others blogs though. I read them everyday and wait eagerly for new posts. I love the ideas I am able to "borrow".

So I've been thinking that it's not fair for me to read and borrow without contributing a little myself.  So, starting today, I am recommitting myself to blogging about what is going on in my classroom. Look for a post on my recent lesson covering 'Rate of Change', as well as pictures of the card sorting activity my students will do this week, and copies of the worksheets I created for my students to practice.

I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas!