Saturday, September 21, 2013

Today I Attended an Inspirational Teacher's Workshop with Dan Meyer

I know, a workshop on a Saturday that I did not even get paid for... crazy right? In my 10 years of teaching this was probably one of the best sessions that I attended. I urge you if you have not read about Dan Meyer and his educational message, that you take some time to do so!

I have so many ideas about how to better my lessons. The three questions that I came away with that I plan to ask myself from now on to help bring meaning to my lessons are:

Questions I have learned to ask effectively. From Dan Meyer's workshop.

There are also a great deal of FREE resources that he shared with us. These resources can be used at teh teacher's discretion and really motivated me that concepts can be introduced effectively without laboring for hours on creating videos or scenarios up out of thin air. You can use what is already available as a "jumping board" to help you introduce the concepts you are beginning to teach students. Amazing!

I cannot wait to start using some of the following resources in my classroom. The following was one resource I really appreciated having access to and wanted to pass onto my readers.

THREE ACT LESSONS - also from Dan Meyer.

ACT I - basically the idea is to draw the students in by showing them a video clip or picture that sparks their attention. (Keep the math out of it).

ACT II - Ask them the math question and have them investigate it more. Give them tools or insturction as they need it.

ACT III- Validate the answers they arrived at, let them see the various ways that the asnwer was found.

He also acknowledges that this is the "hook" but that students still need to practice problems in class and at home in order to master the skill.

I am planning on incorporating this with my 6th graders and was very excited to have the oppurtunity to attend this workshop. Have a great weekend!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Interactive Lesson on Relating Ratios to their Proportionate and Equivalent Forms

This lesson worked really well last week for all levels of classes because it scaffolded the thought process needed to find equivalent ratios. Student could manipulate the shapes and were encouraged to use ratio language to make sense this concept.

The video above gives a short preview/explanation of the lesson. Our school has access to the promethean board and ActivInspire so this is a flipchart and PDF student notes file and works best when students can utilize a computer individually in a computer lab setting or laptop cart setting. (If you are someone that may want a low tech version of this lesson, please contact me through TpT by finding this product and describing to me what you would like through the "QUESTION" prompt.) You can find this lesson at my store. This lesson is aligned with CCSS 6RP1 and includes answer keys describing how the lesson should progress.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Introducing the Concept of Rate

This week, I finished up working on helping my students to understand basic ratios through a variety of activities. Yesterday, I introduced the idea of rate by posing a challenge  to my students.

Given two tracks, can anyone beat me in a hopping race???

The students were first asked to examine the two tracks and make predictions about who would win this race. (When making your two tracks it is important that the teacher's track is spaced out to cover twice the distance of the student's track.)

It was a lot of fun to hear the different predictions. My most challenging and most active class (also at the end of the day) was really into it. They noticed right away that the race would not be fair and started throwing out phrases such as "You are trying to cheat us!". This really got them to be engaged!

Once the students had a chance to analyze both tracks, I chose a student at random (I use popscicle sticks with their names on them) to race against. I raced against four different students. The rules were that each person on each track would have to hop the distance alloted them by the post-it notes and every post-it note had to be hit. The first person to make it to their last post-it note would win. (To make it even more competitive, I taunted them a bit and kept writing the score on the board each time I beat one of them. Have fun with it!)

After I raced the four lucky students, we began to discuss the activity further. I had a few prompting questions in my mind prior to starting the discussion. (Since I want the kids to discover the idea of rate on their own, I wanted to make sure I did not give away too much information.) Students were partnered up and asked to journal their thoughts in their math notebooks as we discussed with the whole group.

  1. Was the race fair, why or why not?
  2. Why was I able to win each race?
  3. What do you notice about my track compared to your track?
My students did a nice job (all ability levels) of coming to the conclusion that I was able to hop a larger distance each time I hopped than they were able to. My more advanced math class began using frequency tables to analyze the information and were right on the verge of coming up with their own definition of rate when it was time to leave class, so I will have to continue discussion on Monday. It was hard to not tell them the answer, but very rewarding to see them thinking it through and so actively engaged. I will be completing this lesson Monday and will write more about its conclusion at a later date!

I also came across some really good hands-on lessons (already made up for you) that help students work with and use unit rate at ILLUMINATIONS. I plan to use these next week as I continue introducing the concept of unit rate and its uses.

Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful week!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The First Week Went Great! We Began the Ratios Unit...

We began the Ratios Unit this past week and I am excited to say that it went well. What a great start to the year, I have nice students that gave me a really good effort on the Ratios Pre-Test and I am currently completing their Student Achievement Growth Cards. (These come from my Betta Math Ratios and Proportions Unit.)

Another useful tool that I found online is a ratios worksheet generator. This can be found at MathAids and also generates the key for various topics. I use it a lot for basic skills when I may not have time to create my own worksheets.

In preparing for next week, I am going to focus on getting students to really be able to understand how to write and simplify ratios through a number of activities. I am using an adapted version of the Math Workshop that I purchased from:

The author of the math workshop I will be using and adapting to middle school classroom has been kind enough to allow me to blog about this. I wanted to make sure I awarded her the proper credit because it has helped me organize my thoughts about encorporating math workshop in my 6th grade classroom.

I believe that this is where the curriculum is taking us and gives you the flexibility to hit numerous learning styles in one class period and promote differentiate learning.

I will also be blogging more about student portfolios and my students' interactive math notebook. Since textbooks are becoming more of a secondary reference, student notebooks are even more important to their success. Please stop back here frequently because my intention is to blog on a weekly basis and I would love any feedback any other professionals may offer.

To those of you starting back to work...have a great year!