Friday, April 20, 2012

NCTM presentation sneak peek!

Last year I had the privilege of going to the Annual NCTM conference in Indianapolis for the first time.  My colleague Julie and I were so inspired we sent a proposal to speak this year in Philadelphia and we were accepted!  The title of our presentation is called "Group Work That Works" and is all about... You guess it - group work!  Don't worry if you can not attend our presentation because I have already shared a lot of our ideas right here on the blog! Golden Groups, Smart Questions, or Marbles ring a bell?  I decided my lucky readers could get a sneak peak at one of the activities we will be doing at the conference.  We call the activity "silent conversations" but the idea came from an attempt to do a graffiti wall. 

One of the math coaches in my district shared the graffiti idea with me to help teach volume and surface area of different 3d objects.   She told me about these graffiti walls but I was having a hard time envisioning what she was talking about.  I decided to try the idea using a "worked example" for students to analyze and discuss through writing.  

Here is the first poster I created. 

When I started, the idea was for students to write all over the poster and then display the poster for whole group discussion.  This poster took me about an hour to make. Once it was created I was committed to the activity but I was NOT about to make 18 posters (6 for each class).   A light bulb went off and I realized I could laminate the poster.  The posters could not only be reused for each class BUT I could reuse the posters each YEAR! Brilliant idea if I say so myself :)

Here is a closer look.  
 All of the writing is mine and was written on the poster (before laminating).  Students responded to the questions with dry erase markers. 
This poster was obviously about volume of a sphere.  
Here are some more pictures after the posters have been written on. 

 I had a total of 5 posters and used the jigsaw method for each group.  To ensure accountability students used a graphic organizer to record the steps to solve the volume of the shape on their poster.  Each student was responsible to report back to their group and teach their group about the shape they had learned about.  After we discussed all the shapes in small groups and whole group (to clear up any misconceptions) I gave a quick 10 question quiz. 

During the activity I had a problem making sure all students were participating and given a chance to write.   I noticed the poster's writing was all in one direction making it hard for all four people to read the poster at the same time.  For our presentation we needed a function activity so we made new posters and placed the questions facing outward in all directions.  

Presentation Function posters

We tried these posters with our district's middle school teachers during our dry run of our presentation.  They loved it! 
We also included two rules for the activity.  
1) Each student must write two (mathematical)  questions. 
2) Each student must answer 2 questions (written by teacher or another student)

We have now tried this activity with 7th and 8th grade students at all ability levels and middle school teachers.  Students and teachers were very engaged during the activity!  I plan to do the poster activity again for my spring observation.  Stay tuned for an update! 

If you are going to Philadelphia for the Annual NCTM conference check out our presentation!  Our Presentation is 8:30 am on Thursday April 26th!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Midweek Laugh

This is too funny! 

I guess I need to start recruiting for the next Mega Millions!

I hope everyone is having a good week.   I am looking forward to Saturday when I start my barre instructor training and possibly reach one of my goals for 2012!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Happy early birthday to me!

After years of longing to own that magical tablet that everyone around me seemed to own I finally joined the club.  I bought the Ipad! I saved my cashback for months (actually years) and had enough to pay most of the expense leaving the rest as my birthday present to myself.  Although my birthday is not until Thursday I wanted to purchase it and all the accessories before my trip to Philly for the Annual NCTM conference at the end of April. 

This thing is addicting! 
The first accessory I need ASAP is a case.  Any recommendations??  I want to incorporate this tool into my classroom so I really want something durable.  It seems that the otterbox is a highly recommended case but I would love to hear from teachers who use them in class.  I rather not have something really bulky but certainly don't want to regret my choice after an accident.  

I have other exciting news... 

Fast Times of a Middle School Math Teacher has joined Twitter!! I have to confess- I have been on twitter for years but follow only about 10 people and they are all over exposed celebrities.  After much convincing from the media arts teacher in my building I have created a separate account to follow teachers who share the excitement of sharing new ideas.  

What I have accomplished so far..
That's right- I still don't have a picture.  I am thinking about seeing if the media arts teacher can have a student make a cartoon image of me during class.   Possible extra credit opportunity?!

If you are on twitter please follow me! I know I am bad with updating my blog but I am hoping twitter will be a new source of motivation! 

Also, if you have any Ipad case or app recommendations please share! I need tips!

Friday, April 13, 2012

The small things that make me happy..

This week has been CRAZY! Came back from spring break,  passed out new textbooks, received a new student, prepared to deliver a dry run of our "Group Work That Works" presentation (sneak peak coming soon) and found a request to be observed from my principal.. Can you say STRESSED! Just when I was starting to tackle things on my "to do" list I was given a stack of 75 teacher recommendation forms for my students math placement in the 8th grade.  Through all the madness (and a couple of breakdowns) I added something little to my room to help me feel like my days run a little more smoothly. 

So Simple

I get so tired of having 25 students ask me if they can or can not use a calculator so I finally made signs to answer their question.  

I only had one student ask if they could use a calculator today and all I had to do was point to my new signs.  I even had a group grab calculators within the first few minutes of class to so they were prepared for the day! It is the little things that can put a smile on my face :)

If you were wondering where my calculators are stored.
 These handy holders were from the target dollar bins.  They were meant to hold jewelery but lucky for me they are the perfect size for my scientific calculators.

I hope you had a better week than me! Happy Friday!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Management Minute Linky Party!

Miss Klohn over at Adventures of a 6th Grade Teacher started an awesome Linky Party on classroom management topics. 
April's Management Minute Focus is: Student Restroom Use

My school is very strict on restroom use because of an incident that happened in an elementary school in my district.  Students are not suppose to use the bathroom unless it is an emergency and must sign in and out on the restroom log.  I personally hate when students ask to use the restroom because I find it to be an avoidance tactic.  I wanted to make paper passes and give out 2 passes a trimester but I forgot to make them at the beginning of the year.  Once students started to ask to go to the bathroom I realized I forgot to make the passes.  I had to get creative quick and decided on a "once a month rule".  I told the students that the bathroom was for emergencies only and an emergency should only happen once a month at the most.  This strategy is easy to keep track of because I have the restroom log to check dates of student use.  I thought this strategy was great until once a month felt like once a week.  I couple of months ago I just started to only allow students to use the bathroom right at the beginning of class (they have to ask as they are walking in the door) or the last five minutes of class.  I have found that when I say "no"  I get a lot of whining but when I say "yes at the five minute bell" students seem to be okay. 

This strategy may not be the best but it is good for the teachers out there that often forget to hand things out during the year.  I want to try to do paper passes next year to see if it cuts the amount of bathroom requests I get on a daily basis.  

I can't wait to read all of the other ideas other teachers share! Great topic Miss Klohn!