Thursday, December 29, 2016

Math Practice #5 for Teachers

The other day I was trying to decide which of the many tools in my bag of tricks I wanted to use for a quick formative assessment.  My usual routine is just to have students raise their hands to answer my questions and provide enough wait-time for everyone to think about it, or to have them write their answer on their individual whiteboards.  But no matter how much wait-time I provide, there's either that one student who calls out the answer so everyone else stops thinking, or the student who just waits for someone else to answer so they don't have to.  Over this past summer I read Total Participation Techniques and swore I was going to use some of these strategies to get everyone involved in answering, but I really haven't done a good job with that.

So back to my decision of which tech tool to use - here are my usual go-to choices:
  • Nearpod 
  • Socrative
  • Google Form
  • Plickers
  • Classkick
  • Google Classroom Question

I'm looking for something that is quick and easy, will record everyone's answers for later review, and gives everyone an equal opportunity to provide an answer.  I'm trying to assess how my students are understanding the pattern lessons we've been exploring from the book From Patterns to Algebra.  I want to see if they can explain their thought processes using words, not just drawing or building the next position in the patterns.  I want to see if they can explain how they determine the constant and the multiplier.  This is really important as we are going to move on to patterns where all the tiles are the same color instead of having the constant stand out with a different color.  I want to have a good class discussion afterwards to reveal all understandings and also correct misconceptions.

So, my first option - Nearpod - requires me to set up the presentation and have students sign in.  I can see the results in real time and it does save the data for later.  I can even share out good responses and those that are lacking so we can discuss them as a whole class which I like.

The next option - Socrative - also requires that I set up the questions ahead of time.  Yes, I could use the Quick Question option, but as far as I know (please correct me if I'm wrong) the data isn't saved for later review.

Next up - Google Form - again requires prior setup to use, but it does save the data.  But reviewing the data is awkward when it's short answer questions as I'm planning to use.  Forms are also good for multiple choice because they can be graded with Flubaroo, but this was not this case here.

Next is Plickers - my students love Plickers, but they're only good for multiple choice, so that option is off the table.

Classkick is another option, but I find this is a better option for using the drawing tool to solve problems, not so much for typing responses.  

My last choice is the Google Classroom Question feature.  My students are already signed into Classroom all the time, so that makes it quick to access.  And adding a question on the fly is quick and easy too.  I have a class that I named "Templates" where I add questions that I use over and over again.  So when I want to use one, I click on the "+", chose "Reuse post", and pick the question I want to ask.  I love that I can see how many students have submitted their answers and how many have not.  I also find it easy to review their short answers by simply scrolling through them.  I can also provide feedback to them by means of a private comment if I wanted to do that afterwards.

Image result for common core math practices

We talk about students' mathematical habits and the 8 Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practices that we want them to become proficient with.  I realized as I was trying to find the "just- right" tech tool for this formative assessment that I was paralleling Math Practice #5 - "Use appropriate tools strategically":
Mathematically proficient students teachers consider the available tools when solving assessing a mathematical problem. These tools might include pencil and paper, concrete models, a ruler, a protractor, a calculator, a spreadsheet, a computer algebra system, a statistical package, or dynamic geometry software tech tools for formative assessment such as Nearpod, Socrative, Google Forms, Plickers, Classkick, or Google Classroom Questions. Proficient students teachers are sufficiently familiar with tools appropriate for their grade or course to make sound decisions about when each of these tools might be helpful, recognizing both the insight to be gained and their limitations. ...  They are able to use technological tools to explore assess and deepen analyze their students' understanding of concepts.
As I was going through my options for formative assessment ("consider the available tools"), I was making decisions about each tool's strengths and weaknesses ("recognizing both the insight to be gained and their limitations").

I don't think I've ever put this much thought into choosing a tech tool to use.  Going forward, I think I will always make a more conscious effort to "use appropriate tools strategically".

What do you look for when choosing tech tools for formative assessments?

Saturday, December 17, 2016

#SwDMathChat From Patterns to Algebra (part 3)

I'm continuing to blog about my experiences with using the great ideas from the book From Patterns to Algebra.  In case you missed my first 2 blog posts, you can read the first one here and part 2 here.

So we worked on lesson 4: pattern building with composite rules this week.  The first pattern I showed them was the one on the right below with the yellow diamonds.  They were struggling a bit so I showed them the very first pattern we had worked with a few weeks ago (the one on the left without the yellow diamonds) and asked them what they noticed.  I started to hear some "ah-ha's".

My students are starting to get more flexible with this concept.  I can ask them different questions and they can apply what they know about the pattern rule to answer my questions.  For example, for the first few days, all I asked of them was to come up with the rule and what position 4 would look like.  Then I started asking them to show me position 0, or position 10, or how many tiles will there be in position 8, etc.

A few of my students can draw position 4, but are having a difficult time writing the rule independently; I have to prompt them with questions like "what's staying the same?" or "what's changing in each position?" for every pattern.  I have 8 students in this class and about 5 or 6 can come up with the correct rule and patterns for the positions I ask for fairly easily each day.  My big challenge going forward is to figure out how to help the last 2 or 3 make the connections needed to do this independently.

The last few days I really challenged them - I did not use 2 different colors, making it more difficult  for them to determine the constant.  About half of my students were able to identify it after a few minutes of productive struggle.  I love watching them all really thinking and talking about these patterns!

Here are the patterns we worked on this week:

I'm looking forward to the next lesson in which we work in reverse and I give each student a secret pattern rule and they must build what their positions 1, 2, and 3 look like.  Stay tuned...

Saturday, December 3, 2016

#SwDMathChat From Patterns to Algebra (part 2)

Image result for From Patterns to algebra(In case you missed my last post on using the book From Patterns to Algebra, I highly suggest you check it out before you read this post.)

The next 2 lessons in the book were similar to the first 2, but instead of just multiplying, now my students needed to think in 2 steps (can you say "nice connection to two-step equations"?) by first multiplying then adding.  We started with the "Guess My Rule" game as before.  The first day I used the rule  x2+2  as suggested in the book.  I had my students volunteer the random numbers for the input column and I gave them the output numbers one at a time.  After 3 sets of input/output numbers I asked them to try to think of the rule.  Many were stuck.  One student (the same student I mentioned in part 1 as a matter of fact) said "This is hard!" (again). But once she figured it out, she again changed her tune and said "Oh, this is easy!"  Most of my students just needed scaffolding to help them come up with the rule.  I asked them to start by looking at just one pair of numbers - "What can you multiply the input number by so that you get close to but don't go over the output number?  OK, then what do you have to add to get to the output number?  Now see if that rule works for another pair of numbers in the table."  Basically trial and error.  Eventually most of them were able to figure this out.

The next day I started by giving them the first pair of input/output numbers and told them "I can think of 6 different rules for this, can you?"  Loving a challenge, they all set out to work. That same girl I mentioned several times already had 4 correct rules and said she couldn't think of any more. That's when I broke into my rant about perseverance and productive struggle.  With my prompting she went back to work and easily came up the last 2 rules.  After we had all 6 rules written on the board, I added a new pair of inout/output numbers. I asked them "Now which rule is the only rule that works for both sets of numbers?"  A few minutes later most had written down the correct rule on their whiteboards.

The third day we started out the same way with one pair of input/output numbers and me challenging them to find 4 rules.  Once they had figured out the 4 rules, I gave them another input number and asked them to write down the output number using our rule.  This was easy for them now that they had the rule, but then I gave them an output number and asked them to figure out what the input number was.  Wow!  You would have thought I'd asked them to explain Einstein's theory of relativity!  We're in the middle of a unit on two step equations so I hinted at the connection.  Love this!  I love the way they're all engaged and challenged by this and they're starting to see the connections.  At first, one student said "But there's no x!" so I had to explain to her that x represents the unknown number, which in this case is our input number.  I saw the light bulb go on and she quickly wrote and solved the equation.

Next, I think I'll let them take turns being the rule makers as the book suggests.  I didn't do that with the first lesson, but when I let them build their own patterns for each other to solve they really loved that.  It gives them some ownership and, as I firmly believe, if you can teach something it really shows that you understand it.  I plan on using this lesson for another day or two and then moving on to patterns with two steps.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

#SwDMathChat From Patterns to Algebra

Image result for from patterns to algebraI recently discovered the book From Patterns to Algebra by Dr. Ruth Beatty and Dr. Catherine D. Bruce and thought it was perfect for my students to give them the hands-on and visual connections to linear equations and support their algebraic thinking.  As they say in the introduction, "Mathematics has been called 'the science of patterns'."  The lessons presented in the book are meant to be followed in the given sequence.   The first chapter of the book, which is where I am now with my students, has them playing "Guess My Rule" and pattern building.  I chose to purchase the DVD with the book which gave me access to video vingettes and Smart notebook files for each lesson.

In the first lesson, "Guess My Rule", I asked students to give me a random number between 2 and 9 (1 and 10 make it too easy), and then apply the rule I'm thinking of and write the answer.  As they figure out what the rule is (what I'm multiplying their input numbers by), they write it down on their whiteboards.  When I think everyone has figured it out, I take one more random number and have everyone write down the output number on their whiteboards to check.  Some of my students lack multiplication fact fluency, so this is good practice for them.  As the authors advise, don't have the input numbers in order because that leads to students looking for additive rules instead of multiplicative rules.

In the next lesson, I displayed various patterns with 'position number' cards underneath each iteration of the pattern.  The students must again figure out what the rule is.   The first day we did the patterns, I heard one student say "This is hard!"  I told her that once she sees how the first one is done, she will think they're a lot easier than she originally thought.  They were all overthinking it!  Once everyone figured out the rule and wrote it on their whiteboards, I had them draw what position number 4 would look like.  One student (the same student who thought this was hard) expressed the rule additively instead of multiplicatively at first (for the first example below she said you're adding 3 each time).  I asked her to try to see what the position number was being multiplied by instead of how the pattern was changing each time.

After doing the patterns for a few days, today I had them create the first 3 positions of their own patterns with color tiles.  After I checked their patterns, I had them rotate to someone else's pattern, write down the rule on the whiteboard, then try to build the 4th position themselves.  They really liked this activity!  I loved how engaged everyone was with creating their own patterns and figuring out each other's patterns.  Here's some of the patterns they created:

The lessons coming up next deal with composite rules.  I think this will be more difficult for my students because they have to see the two steps being done (multiplication and addition) instead of just one (multiplication).  I hope I'm pleasantly surprised and they pick this up very quickly.  I'll keep you updated on our progress!

Monday, November 7, 2016

#SwDMathChat Expressions and Combining Like Terms ... "Can I Take Your Order?"

In keeping with my new school year resolution to introduce new topics with real world situations, I start out teaching combining like terms by telling my class we're going on a pretend class trip - after going to see a play, we're going to stop at McDonald's for lunch.  Instead of waiting to get there to place our orders, I'm going to call in the orders ahead of time as soon as we get back on the bus.  This is where I really grab my students' attention - I pass out 9 magnets to each student with pictures of McDonald's food and drink items (I made these magnets a few years ago with the magnetic paper that you can run through a printer).  They can choose 2-5 items that they want to order.  I have each student make their decision and then stick their magnets on the whiteboard in the front of the room, circle them with a dry erase marker, and write their name next to their circle.  Then I grab my cell phone and pretend to call in the order to McDonald's, naming EVERY.SINGLE.ITEM separately, faking being out of breath from having to say so many items!  Then I ask them if that's how I should have done it, or is there a better way?  Right away they all have an answer for me, although they don't all know exactly how to put it into words.  Basically, they tell me I should have counted up how many of each item I wanted to order, so we go through all their orders and count up how many burgers, chicken nuggets, fries, salads, sodas, chocolate milks, milkshakes, ice creams, and apple pies we all ordered.  Then I make my call again the easier way.  Then I segue into my combining like terms lesson...

I have a SmartBoard notebook file set up with infinitely cloned color tiles (in the rectangle on the left), which I drag out across the screen.  I have my students practice writing an expression to represent the color tiles by combining like terms (colors in this case).  For example, the expression we wrote for the color tiles shown here was 2R + 2B + 1Y + 3G.  We only do one together as a whole class, then I have my students come up and take turns dragging out the color tiles for the rest of the class to write an expression.

Then I move on to defining parts of a variable expression and making sure they understand that terms must have the same exact variable raised to the exact same power in order to be considered "like".  I give them several sample expressions and they practice naming the terms, coefficients, constants, and like terms.  We end this day with two games of Kahoot! to practice identifying the parts of an expression, one regular Kahoot! and then a ghost mode round of the same Kahoot! game.  They love trying to beat their ghosts!

Next I have them practice actually combining the like terms - I teach them several strategies to do this.  I demonstrate using shapes or colors to group the similar or like terms.  Each student can come up to the board to drag the shapes over the terms to show which terms are alike.  Then they have to write the final expression with the like terms combined.  I start out using only positive terms, and once they have the hang of combining these, I throw in negative terms - you should hear the moans and groans!

For more practice with identifying like terms, I created a card sort in the Desmos Activity Builder (love this!).  I used an idea from Cathy Yenca's "Becoming an "Expert" blog post of displaying the teacher dashboard on my SmartBoard in the anonymous mode until I found my first "expert".  Then I let them know which set of cards was theirs.  After they had all green cards, they moved on to the second screen which asks them to combine the terms they identified as like on the first screen.

After that, we did a Combining Like Terms QR code scavenger hunt.  As soon as they walked into the classroom and saw the QR codes hanging around the room they cheered!  They love doing these scavenger hunts!  I love watching them moving around the room so focused on their work.

The last activity I do before the study guide and quiz is centers.  One center had a (boring) worksheet on which they had to identify parts of an expression.  The second center was an iPad app called DigitWhiz which has several combining like terms activities.  I had them do the "Simplify" activity (shown at the right).  At the third center, they had Combining Like Terms Sort Cards - they had to first decide how to sort them and then combine each set of like terms.

They had their quiz on expressions and combining like terms on Friday - most of them did really well!  The biggest issue most of them have is not recognizing that a subtraction sign indicates the number following it is negative.  I remind them to change the subtraction to addition by "adding a line, changing the sign", but some forget to do this.  I'm hoping this will improve as we move into solving equations.

One topic I am skipping this year is expressions and equations that require distribution.  Teaching resource classes means I go at a slower pace than the general ed classes, so unless I leave out certain topics, I will never be able to get to every topic in the 8th grade curriculum.  It's always difficult for me to decide what to leave out and every year I feel like I leave out something different.  I chose to skip distribution this year because it's always so frustrating for my students (and me!).  Now it's on to one-step equations...

Sunday, October 23, 2016

#SwDMathChat Integer Activities and Strategies

I love teaching integers! I think it's probably my favorite concept to teach. I've already blogged a few weeks ago about the Wii activity I did with my LLD class to introduce real life integer situations, so I thought I'd write this post about the rest of the activities and strategies I use to teach integer operations.  Since this is my LLD class, I really take my time to ensure my students understand each operation before moving on to the next. I try to give them as many tools and strategies as possible to make them feel successful.

Addition with chips

I spend a few days on integer addition.  One integer addition strategy that many teachers use with students is the two-sided chips manipulatives.  When I started teaching, this was my go-to activity for integer operations.  Then I discovered the Interactive Integers iPad app which I've blogged about previously.  Unfortunately our tech people were re-imaging all of the iPads so they were not available to use, so I had to fall back on the 2-sided chips.  I knew from previous experience with my OCR classes that my LLD class would have a hard time remembering which color is positive and which is negative so I wrote + and - on each side with a Sharpie.

I begin by demonstrating on the SmartBoard using an infinite cloner for the chips so I could drag out as many as needed, just like the app.  We discuss what a "zero pair" is and first related it to money - "If I had $1 (+1), but owed my friend $1 (-1), how much money would I have left?  Right, $0!"  I repeated this a few times with different amounts.   Then I go around the room asking each student what their favorite number is. For example, if they tell me 7, I say "so positive 7 and negative 7 equals...?" and wait for them to answer 0!  I repeat this with each student.

Now it's their turn - I write an integer addition problem on the SmartBoard and have them also write it on their individual whiteboards.  Then I give them chips and ask them to just set up or model the problem before attempting to take away "zero pairs".  I'm a real stickler for having them set up their chips neatly and lining up the chips under the correct number that they've written on their whiteboards. Once I know they can model the problems correctly, then I have them start the "game".  "Can you make a move (take away a zero pair)?"  Once they do that I ask again, "can you still make a move or is your turn over?"  They like thinking of this as a game. Once you cannot make any more moves, count up your chips for your final answer.

Addition with a number line

Then we move to the number line method.  I explain to them that most students end up liking this method better.  It's one that you can use anywhere, even on the PARCC test because as long as you have scrap paper you can always draw your own number line.  I even show them that if there's any coordinate plane somewhere on the test, you can use the x-axis as a number line.  All of my students' desks have these stick-on number lines from Nasco:

On the SmartBoard, I have this template set up with the "start" and "move" boxes and the number line:

I give them communicators with the same number line and plenty of empty space at the top for them to write in the problem.  (Note to self: as I'm writing this, I realized that I should create a new template for them with the "start" and "move" at the top instead of just empty space.)  I have them draw a dot at the "start" number, then use the "move" number to move that amount of times in the correct direction (I remind them that - is left and + is right, just like the all the negative numbers on the number line are to the left and all the positive numbers on the number line are to the right).  Most students pick up on this strategy very quickly.


Once we finish addition, I move on to tell them that I do not like subtraction, so we're going to change any subtraction problems to addition problems in order to use either of the two addition strategies we just learned.  I use the slogan "add a line, change the sign" to teach them how to do this.  After they have worked with subtraction for a day, the following day I give them a mix of addition and subtraction problems so they have to be aware of the operation and whether they have to change subtraction to addition before using the strategies.  This is were I see the most difficulty.  Students either forget to change the subtraction to addition and just solve it as if it were addition, or they change the subtraction to addition but forget to change the sign of the second number, or they attempt to "add a line, change the sign" in an addition problem.  I make sure to give them a lot of practice time with this to get comfortable with switching between addition and subtraction.  For my LLD students, when I gave them a quiz on integer operations, I made sure to keep the operations separate and specifically indicate whether they were addition or subtraction problems and which ones they should "add a line, change the sign".

One way I provide practice for integer addition and subtraction is to play a friendly game of bingo!  Students love the friendly competition and don't mind doing the work if it's fun.  I use to create my online bingo games.  I blogged about Bingo! a few years ago - check it out!

Multiplication and Division

On to the easy part!  I explain the really easy-peasy rules for multiplication and division and tell them that they can only use the calculator (basic 4-function calculators, no negative button!) for the fact part but must use the rules to determine the sign of their answer.  I emphasize that for addition and subtraction, they should use the number line (none of them this year liked the chip method better) and not the calculator, but for multiplication and division, they can't use the number line and should either do the fact in their heads or use the calculator.  Still I saw some students try to use the number line for multiplication and division, or try to use the calculator for addition and subtraction, but not too many!


On Wednesday, we did centers for a review.  This is my favorite day!!  The centers are:

  1.   integer operations cubes
  2.   integer operations puzzle
  3.   Math Practice iPad app
They have about 10 minutes at each center.  Partners worked together on the cubes and puzzle, and independently on the app.



When they were working on the study guide Thursday and taking the quiz on Friday, I left the rules on the board for them to reference.

Now that this unit is over, I will allow my students to use the scientific calculators so they can use the negative button to do the calculations.  Integers are such as big part of the 8th grade curriculum so I want them to be aware that they are not the same as positive numbers, but then again, I'm realistic and know that if they must continue to do these operations without the aid of a calculator, even if they correctly learn the procedures for solving equations for example, they will get an incorrect answer if the integer operations are done incorrectly.  (Not to mention that use of a calculator is in every one of their IEPs.)

Sunday, October 16, 2016

#IMMOOC "Pre-Reflecting"?? of the new practices I have this school year comes from the ideas I got from my summer reading.  Before I begin a new topic this year, I am "pre-reflecting" (not sure if that's a real word or if I just made it up).  I am more cognizant of the prerequisite skills my students need coming into each topic and thinking about how I can incorporate more real world applications to help my students better relate to and understand how it applies to their lives.  Sometimes, with math topics as abstract as they can be at times, this is difficult.

George Couros quotes Chicago-area teacher Josh Stumpenhorst in his book The Innovator's Mindset: “Innovative teaching is constant evolution to make things better for student learning.”  George rephrases this as “What is best for this learner?”  The students in my resource classes come to me with all ability levels, so this is a question I am constantly asking myself about each and every one of my students every day.

Most "reflections" are done post-lesson, looking back at what went wrong or right.  I'm calling this "pre-reflection" because I'm looking ahead at what I can do to make the lessons I'm teaching this week better for my students before I even teach them.  I'm rethinking activities I have used in the past and modifying them to fit my new teaching/learning model.  In the past I have used a lot of technology, but after being a part of the amazing #IMMOOC group the past few weeks, I realized innovation is not all about the tech that you use.
I’m defining innovation as a way of thinking that creates something new and better. Innovation can come from either "invention" (something totally new) or "iteration" (a change of something that already exists), but if it does not meet the idea of "new and better," it is not innovative.   - George Couros
So innovative doesn't necessarily mean I have to throw tech at it.  It just has to be a change that makes it better than it was before.  My goal is to get my students from point A to point B and sometimes I don't need tech to do that.  I've incorporated more hands on materials this year to help my learners.  As Katie Martin said during last night's #IMMOOC live session, "You can't measure innovation but you can measure student outcomes".  I've narrowed down and fine-tuned my list of go-to tech apps this year and I'm only using the ones that really help my students understand the concepts better and improve their learning outcomes.

Innovation is something new and better.  This blog started out as me writing about all of our 'tech adventures in a middle school math class', but this year is a turning point for this blog, hopefully new and better.  I was even thinking of changing the name of it but couldn't come up with a good title.  George says "change is an opportunity to do something amazing".  I hope I'm making my students math experience this year at least somewhat amazing and memorable.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

My new approach to "Do Nows"

"Do Nows", "bell ringers", "warm ups"... whatever you call them, I've been wanted to change my daily routine for a few years now, but up until this year my Do Nows always consisted of a quick review of what we learned the day before. While there's nothing wrong with this approach, and I occasionally still revert to this, what I've been wanting to do is to use this time to focus on improving my students number sense and mental math abilities. It's something I've always wanted to work on with them but could never find the time while trying to "cover" (my math supervisor hates that term!) the required curriculum. This summer after reading a lot about building number sense and daily routines, I decided the perfect place to build this practice into our daily routine was to steal the time from the Do Now time.

My three favorite resources for these new routines are Jessica Shumway's Number Sense Routines, Sherry Parrish's Number Talks, and a PDF I discovered online from San Diego City Schools entitled "Middle Level Mathematics Routine Bank".

Image result for number sense routinesImage result for number talks sherry parrish

The second week of school I started out with the "Number of the Day" routine from the "Middle Level Mathematics Routine Bank". I gave my students a random number and they had to write down 3 different ways to express that number. At first, they looked at me like I had two heads -- they had no idea what I was asking them to do. So I gave them a few examples. Unfortunately, most of them wrote down the super easy "+1" or "x 1" expressions, so I had to include in the directions that they could not use 1 as one of their numbers. The next day I gave them the stipulation that each of the 3 ways had to use a different operation. Gradually throughout that week I expanded the task so they had to use multiple operations in their expressions. I was very proud of one student who thought out of the box and was using exponents and parentheses!

I started out the third week of school with what I thought was a fairly easy routine - using mental math to add 10 to a random number, such as 37 or 148.  While most of my students found this easy, there were a few students for which this was quite a challenge.  I gave those students a hundreds chart and showed them that adding 10 just means moving down one row on the chart.  After a few days, they began to understand this concept.  So after the two-problem Do Now of adding 10 to a number, we did a "Count Around the Room" activity (Shumway calls it "Count Around the Circle" in her book).  They actually loved this and never wanted to stop!  I ended up going around the room twice each day.  Each day that week and the next I upped the ante and increased the number they were counting by to 20, 30, 40, and 50.  Some days we would count forwards, and some days we would count backwards.  The trickiest turns were the ones that required them to jump across a century (197 to 207 for example), but they improved on this as time went on.

The next week I changed it up and we multiplied a random number by 10, 20, 30, 40, and 50.  We discussed strategies for doing these calculations mentally.  I had explained to them that I wanted them to improve their number sense and be able to take apart numbers and put them back together again, so this was the perfect activity to demonstrate how that works.  We had "Number Talks" about all the different strategies they had used.  This brought us into the following week's Do Nows in which I taught them how to use the area model for multiplication so they were breaking numbers into their hundreds, tens and ones, multiplying using our mental math strategies from the previous weeks, and putting the numbers back together again.  That week I also showed them how to use partial products method instead of the traditional multiplication algorithm.  At one point we had 5 or 6 ways recorded on the board for solving one problem -- being the math geek that I am I was super excited!

What frustrates me is that after a few weeks of Do Nows consisting of "Counting Around the Room" by 30s or multiplying a number by 20 successfully, when my students are faced with the same type of problem in the content we are currently learning, they automatically reach for the calculator for these problems.  They are super dependent on their calculators, so trying to break them of this habit is going to be difficult.  I try to anticipate when they are going to reach for the calculator and head them off at the pass!  Hopefully after another month or so more of doing these types of Do Nows, they will gain more confidence and realize that they don't need the calculator for these mental math problems.

Friday, September 30, 2016

#IMMOOC Wii Golf and Integers

Image result for a teach math with the wiiSo in the spirit of #IMMOOC, I tried my hand at being #innovative today.  This year I've been trying to make a concerted effort to connect real world situations to the concepts I teach my students.  Today I had a surprise for my first class - we were going to play Wii golf!  A few years ago I bought Teach Math with the Wii by Meghan Hearn and Matthew C. Winner, but I never followed through with actually reading it and implementing it in my classroom.

I wanted to surprise my students with this so when we left the classroom right after the Pledge of Allegiance and headed down to the auxiliary gym where we have a really big screen TV, they had no idea what we were going to do.  This is what they saw when they walked in and sat down in front of the white board:

Then I pointed to the Wii that I had set up under the TV.  They were all super excited, even though they knew that somehow I would weave some math into the game.  Yesterday we talked about real world integer examples, such as bank accounts, sports, temperature, and weight.  So we started off today just reviewing that in most cases, negative numbers are viewed as a bad thing, but in golf, we want to see lots of negatives because the lower the score, the better.

I gave everyone a quick overview of how to use the controller and how to try to keep the ball as straight as possible.  I had everyone grab a clipboard with the scorecard.  The students played as one player, each taking their turn on a different hole.  They cheered each other on and coached each other on how to correct their swings.  After each golfer finished, everyone recorded the score on their scorecard.

After the nine holes were complete, we regrouped at the whiteboard.  I modified the par that each hole had been assigned in the actual Wii game so that we would have some positives and negatives to work with.  We went through each hole and decided whether the number of strokes was over par (+) or under par (-) and recorded each value in the bottom row of the scorecard.

Time flies when you're having fun, so we didn't get a chance to add up the total score.  We will do that next week.  I plan on introducing the concept of zero pairs and the use of 2-sided chips for this to help them with the totals.

So my attempt at being #innovative was a big success with the students.  I hope this will be a memorable lesson for them and that it has helped them with the concept of integers.  I guess I'll find out for sure next week when we continue our journey into the world of integers!