Thursday, February 25, 2010

Quadrilateral Project

Holy Cow, my kids are awesome. Out of about 23 students in geometry class, 8 turned in amazing projects, and the rest (barring 2 late assignments) did great stuff (but not with the "wow!" factor of the first 8). Here are 6.

Here's "super man". You can put it in front of your chest and strut your stuff.

Here's a purse. All the math equations and essentials are on strips of paper inside.

Here's a camera, taking a picture of the world.

Turtle Soup. The "recipe" is awesome.

Surfer Dude (had an incident with a shark).

Monster in the closet.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Differentiation Chapter 1

Maybe this will motivate me to actually get through the differentiation book. There are 18 chapters, and I like her writing style and attitude. Invariably, though, for me, with all good ideas I read about, I'm all "Great Idea!" and then it's a crap shoot as to whether I implement it. So maybe if I talk/blog it out, it'll have a better chance of going into action.

The first chapter can be summarized as "there were no good old days of teaching". Way back in the late 1800's only a teeny percentage of boys went to and completed high school. And it seems the debate was always on about the purpose of high school and what should be taught and such. Here's a site with one synopsis.

So what does this have to do with differentiation? I guess in the early days only a select type of kid went to high school and only a few graduated. Now we're trying to get everyone to be successful, so that means we have all levels of kids in our classroom, not just the select few. And not everyone learns the same way.

She has one statistic that by 1990 only 38% of the nation had graduated from high school. Wow. Page 11 of this document breaks down graduation rates by state in 1990 and 2000. Too many percentages in the 60's and 70's. So I guess if kids weren't cutting it in school or the school wasn't serving them, then off they went. These days, I'm guessing most schools would not make "adequate yearly progress" if these were the numbers, and the school would be a potential candidate for closing.

So, this sort of makes the case for differentiating for students who need more/different ways of learning instead of just listening and notes. It's not making a case for the "fast learners" and how to differentiate for them. We have to keep both in mind.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Algebra Epiphany

I'm apparently a slow learner. I just realized the other day that I'm treating my algebra 1 preAP students like "gifted" kids, or "true preAP" students. I show them 1-3 examples (they work at least 2 of them by themselves in class) of a particular topic, and then invariably the bell rings MUCH too soon, and I send them off with homework. I also provide them with my school website in which I've linked various videos and sites that help for that topic.

I give about 10 problems of a type, and then the next class starts and we move on to a new topic after we've gone over homework. About 25% of the class (very rough estimate) is fine with this and can self assess and readjust their thinking and learn from their mistakes. BLACH! That means I'm not serving 75% of my students. They need MANY more examples, they need more hand-holding, they need more time in class to process new information.

Then there's always the war raging on in my head: Ackh! I'm going too slow, we won't learn everything we need to know for algebra. Eek! I'm molly-coddling them too much, when will they learn to stand on their own. Oof! what about the kids that get it, what will they do when we're practicing more in class when they already GET it. Yeesh! This is a preAP class, step up to the plate, kiddies.

Yes ... the "D" word ... differentiation. I had started to read a good book about it a while ago, and then as always seems to happen, other things got in the way, and I only finished 3 of 18 chapters. Then just the other day, I started reading it again. I'm on chapter 3. MUST. READ. BOOK. Must reflect on another way to do things.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Textbook Skills

I had a major scare yesterday after school during tutoring. My kids had a test the following day, and the homework I assigned was 1/2 odd problems (answers in the back) and 1/2 even on all the skills they needed for their test. One of the students was working an odd numbered problem, and then asked me if it was right. I told her to check the answer in the back. This was a total revelation to her. She didn't know the odd numbered answers existed, and after I told her, she couldn't track them down.

Then another student asked me how to do another problem. I asked her what the directions were and had her read them to me. Then I asked her to flip to the start of this particular section of problems. She didn't know what to do. We figured that out. Then I asked her to find an example they work through that is similar to that problem. We struggled to do that, too.

So, their homework tonight is a Textbook Scavenger Hunt (we use the Holt book).

Sunday, February 14, 2010

New Math Game Addiction

So what do you do on your weekend when you are procrastinating doing your work? Well, you play this, which I found out about from her, (who is also the source of other game addictions).

Friday, February 12, 2010

Geometry Polygon Project

Inspired my Mrs. H and by the cool graph separation of a grid from Mr. K, I designed this geometry project for my kids after we've covered all things polygon. I'm going to pass it out next week and see what I get back.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Valentine for "sticky notes"

I love the versatility and color choice and usefulness of sticky notes. Especially for returned homeworks.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Line Project Finale

Well, all, okay most of the projects have been turned in, and now comes my grading fiesta (ay yi yi yi) which I solemnly do swear NOT to put off until forever and a day (p.s. I dread grading projects). I love the creativity of the students, and was impressed with some of the facts they found that they thought interesting. Here are a few of them (with no mention yet of whether they are accurate or not).

Things I've learned and would change for next time:
Be more specific about what you want on the poster (data, what work, the sentence of the prediction, the fact that the prediction has to be from using the line equation and not just the slope).
Be SUPER HAND-HOLDY on the step by step procedure of finding the equation of the line of best fit.
Grin and take Deep Breaths because even though some projects are not exactly what you were expecting, everyone still learned something about how lines are used in "life".