Conundrum

So, I always go back to the same question…What is the best way for my students to learn?  

I struggle with this because I feel like I am always trying something new to see if it will work and then I become frustrated and think it is not the best way for them.  For example, when I started flipping, I thought it was great.  Then I heard about mastery flipping, I thought that was great and then I feel like I need more time in each period to effectively get them to do the flipping and check in with them and have math talks/conversations.

Basically, I am thinking about the coming school year and wondering what I can do to better teach my students.  I want to continue flipping when I can, but I want to make sure they talk about math and get excited to learn about math.  Maybe that’s where I should really be directing my thoughts –

How do I get them excited?  

How do I introduce the concepts in an interesting way that will not take too long?  

Our first unit is geometry…is there a way to introduce this concept that is interesting and encompasses all the ideas we need to teach?  Kind of like the Dan Meyer activities, but every time I look at those I get confused as how to use them.

I am open to suggestions and ideas…

I just always want to do the best for my students that will help them remember what they have learned without getting too far from the standards or taking too much time introducing the concepts that they do not see the connection to the standards.

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July 16 – Favorite movies/tv shows:

Movies:  Of course, my favorite movies are the Harry Potter films 😉 I also love most of the Disney/Pixar films – Incredibles and Monsters Inc being among the favorites!  I also love the Muppets movie with Jason Segal.  Mostly – I am a kid at heart!  On the serious side, I loved Primal Fear.

TV Shows:  I may have a problem and watch too much tv…I love So You Think You Can Dance, Big Bang Theory, Blacklist, Bachelor/ette, Castle, Switched at Birth, Suits, Justified, Sing Off, and I think I am forgetting some – if I remember I will add them here…Some are guilty pleasure and some I really LOVE!

Recently ended series:  How I Met Your Mother and Psych

Day 4-6 Bivariate Unit – Measure Arm Span

DAY 4

After they watched the video they then had to collect data from their classmates as they compared their heights in centimeters to their arm spans in centimeters.  This was another fun and active day!  The only difficulty being the shortened schedule for our Veteran’s Assembly (love the assembly – just a time constraint for measuring!)  It was fun to see them make some of those connections we always hope they make!  Some students realized it should be similar to their heights and others made comments about people with longer arm spans than their height being good at certain sports!

This is exactly what I hoped!  Once they got 10-12 measurements they were to graph the data in their notebook.  I realize now that most of them needed a little more guidance in that area.  They struggled with which variable should be on which axis and many other things.  This is mostly because these students have not been exposed to a lot of graphing.  I think either a class discussion to begin with or a video reminder would have helped!

DAY 5

Once they got through that I wanted to show them how to use Numbers to do the same thing.  I did do this as a class on Day 5!  We walked through the process of selecting all the data, creating the scatter plot and then making adjustments to the graph in “inspector”.

Along with that we started the class discussion from Page 2 of the file.  This discussion was leading them into seeing different correlations or relationships in data (positive, negative, or none).  It was a SMART Notebook file that I put on the SMART Board and they came up to move their own data points.  The first graph was looking at their birth month and how many siblings they have.  Each period had their own color points so that we could see what happened throughout the day!   They loved coming up and moving the points and they were able to see that their was no relationship.

The next graph was looking at their height in inches and their shoe size.  Here they were able to see that their was a positive relationship!  And the last one was the limbos and their height – which we had already done so I showed them their graphs we had made, to see the negative relationship.

DAY 6

This ended up being the day we went over how to graph by hand from Day 4…oops!  Lesson learned!  Again we had shortened periods – this time for Discovery Education testing.

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On to Page 2….

Day 3 Bivariate Unit – Introduction to the File

I know I am a little behind, but I have lots to share!  (By the way I added photos from the Limbo activity!)

On Day 3 we introduced the Numbers file they would be using for the duration of the unit and let them get started by doing step 1 – watch the video!  This was the day we talked to them about the real world.  Most jobs do not have you sit and listen to your boss for 8 hours and takenotes, which is sometimes what they end up doing in school.  We discussed how many bosses will give you a project and a due date and it is up to you to get it done.  I shared how even on the weekends, I have a life and have days that I do not want to do work, but if I did not update their grades by Monday morning some of them would be upset because we have to check for ineligibility!  Therefore, I know myself and if I decide not to do work on Saturday, then I will be busy on Sunday!  In other office jobs, someone may have a bad day, or get easily distracted for a bit, but in the end they have to manage their time to get the project done by the due date for their boss!

This is the same thing with this unit.  We will provide them with checkpoints along the way and they should be trying to meet those in order to know they are going to complete the unit in a timely manner.  We then showed them the file first and what it looks like and how to follow it!

This was also the day I had a realization – I need these videos inSpanish!  EEK!  I have a student who is new from Mexico and does not speak any English!  She is incredibly smart and I knew she would benefit from Spanish videos if I could find them.  I am using Learn Zillion and they do not currently have all the videos in Spanish…yet!  I know they are going to, but since I needed them now I did a quick search and stumbled onto something pretty amazing.

Universal Subtitles

This site will let you add subtitles to videos!  All I needed was the You Tube website address.  I happen to be able to find some of the Learn Zillion videos on You Tube and I asked a couple of my advanced students to do the translations.  They would get service hours and I would be eternally grateful!  They were able to get me the video by the next day and I was able to email them the link!

Bivariate Day 2 – Limbo!

Today was the true kick-off!  We played the limbo song, we gave the students lei’s to wear during class, and they got to do the limbo!  We heard comments all day long from “Are we doing math?”, “Why are we doing this?” to “This will be easy for short people!”, “Can we do that again?”, and tons of cheering and smiling!  It was a great experience to be able to introduce students to a difficult concept with something fun and they knew the correlation even if they did not call it a correlation.

Immediately after we did the limbo and they entered their data into the Numbers file that was set up prior to the lesson, we sat them down and I asked, “Why do you think some students were able to do more limbos than others?” and the answers flew out of their mouths, “flexibility” and “height”!  We then discussed which would be easier to measure right now and then they each got to measure their heights in centimeters and added that to the same Numbers file.

Before we showed them the graph, we discussed how we could represent this data (graph), what are we comparing (limbos/height), and then we asked them which one was independent and dependent.  This sparked the most conversation since they have not been exposed to those terms.  They had to think about it both ways (does height depend on limbos or does limbos depend on height).  Once we decided which was which, then they had to figure out which of those became the x-axis and y-axis for our graph.  Then they predicted how our data would look.

Lastly, we showed them the graph and had a long conversation about that data.  We talked about what the “line” meant, how it is what is expected.  Students then discussed why some students were further away from the line and what that meant, what kind of person are they (tall, but flexible).  We even discussed the principle (he had jumped into another class that was doing the same activity and limboed), we tried to estimate his height and then from our class data what would we expect him to do and then we told them what he did do!

As a wrap up and assessment, we asked them to think of two other variables that they could compare AND have a relationship. They had to add this to the eChalk class discussion board!  Little do they know that this could help them with their final project!

Tomorrow is the start of the self-paced learning!  Excited, but nervous all at the same time!  Have to let go control and help guide them into becoming life-long learners!

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Bivariate Unit – Common Core

So today was the official start of a huge Bivariate Unit I created with the help of one of our district iCoaches (Lindsey).  This unit is what I have been striving for since our school became 1:1, I started flipping my classroom, and since I decided to jump fully into Common Core.

To give you a glimpse – I built a Bivariate Unit all in the Mac program Numbers.  In this file is a guided unit where students will watch videos, complete activities, have check points with me, and yet work at their own pace.  It will start with a pre-test, opening activity and then introducing this self-pacing concept (time management, etc).  It will culminate in a project where they must produce something for their audience.  Again I could not have done all this without help…

If you were wondering what Bivariate means – I did too when I first read the Common Core standards – it is scatter plots!  This includes correlations, clusters, outliers, and line of best fit.  Also, students will be expected to make predictions within scatter plots.

The fun started today with Discovery Education Probe.  It consisted of 10 questions ranging in difficulty and will be used as the Pre/Post test for the unit.

Students taking the Discovery Education Probe

I also added classwork to our calendar (we use eChalk) so that students can see what is happening for the week.  For Wednesday I added that said Introduction Activity with a picture of a hula girl (below).  Little did I know that this was going to spark so much interest!  Students were asking me and some of their other teachers what that picture meant….what they do not know is that our introduction activity is a Limbo Activity!  We will have the music, lei’s, and they will see how many times they can make it under!  Once we have that data in a spreadsheet (already made and set up to go) then we will ask the students why they think some students made it under more times than others…in the hope that they will see that height might play a factor!  Then we will measure their heights and add it to the data and show them the graph!  Because they are curious, I am getting even more excited!  I will be sure to post each day or so about this unit and share my results and findings!

Cool Project: Math and Art!

So for my next post I really wanted to share something I created.  When I was in high school the only art project I ever did that made me feel like I could draw was a Similar Figures project.  We had to find a picture (I choose something from the funny papers) and make a grid on it.  Then you had to choose a scale factor that would work for the size paper the art teacher gave us.

For my students (7th and 8th graders) I have done this project a few times.  Most recently I did it with the Flinstones! 🙂  Many had not seen an episode, which prompted me to buy the Jetsons meet the Flinstones movie and show it to them while they worked on this project.  They had many class days to do it and many turned out amazing!  I am always so impressed with what they come out with!  We usually do this right after ISAT’s (Illinois State Testing) as a relaxing way to do math OR at the end of the year when they are done and you are done! 😉  The first document is the directions and rubric.  The second it the pictures.  You will notice the background of the pictures are white (so the students can have some free will with it) and there is a picture border (so the grid can be made).

I have done this with other pictures (Nemo, Monsters, etc…). For an advanced group the backgrounds can be more complex and interesting, but this was a great intro into Similar Figures in geometry.  For many this is a great correlation to the real world and architecture as well as model…anything!  Enjoy!

If you can see it correctly please let me know and I will try to redo the embedding process…(remember this is only my second post…eeek!)

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