End Of July Blogging Challenge

I would like to say that I wouldn’t really give myself a passing grade on this challenge…I got caught up in other things but it was good while I was doing it. I will say though, that this got me back into blogging and into the twitterverse and for that, I am glad I did this. I feel like I will be blogging more regularly now and it will only help me on my conquest to never stop getting better. Shout out to @druinok for getting me involved and all her encouragement! Without it, I don’t think I could have done it! Another shout out to all the people involved, their blog posts were awesome and seeing them post made me want to keep doing it.

This crazy MTBOS that we will live in is pretty awesome…


Domain + Range Pictionary Game


I was productive today and made a binder for the class I taught over summer school. I put all the materials in order of how I used them, with corresponding answer keys, so that I can look back over it if I ever teach this class again or want to snag an idea from there. I like having everything in a binder because it makes it so easy to flip through and look at everything you have done. Then, I can always find the corresponding activity in my electronic files.

Anyways, one of the activities I did that made me laugh when I looked at it again was a domain and range pictionary springboard motivator activity. I am sure I stole this from someone online but I have no idea who…not trying to steal your work but it is awesome! Before I even talked about domain and range I cut out the pictures below and gave each pair of students a little pile of them. I then had one student describe the drawing while the other student had to attempt to draw an accurate picture. The only guidelines I gave was that they had to only use words and could not use any hand gestures. I had the students put up a divider and face each other so they couldn’t see what their partner was drawing for an extra challenge.

This was so much fun for the kiddos and I enjoyed watching them struggle to explain to their partner what to draw. We talked about it afterwards and what strategies worked/didn’t. The things that came up included the following:

  • Vocabulary: Increasing/Decreasing, Max + Min, Zeros, Intercepts, etc. We talked about how knowing the correct definition helped.
  • Strategy of just plotting points. Some students said they tried just telling their partner to plot a whole bunch of points and connect with a curve. I picked one of the continuous graphs and asked if you could name every single point. Most students said yes and listed all the integer ones. It was great to clear up the misconception that their are an infinite number of points. Some students were still a little mystified at that concept but I think by the end of the course they got it. This was only day 2…
  • Students brought up that you had to stay within the certain x and y values….BOOM. Gotcha….now I was able to introduce domain and range and talk about how we use this in math to only denote certain values. They said that makes sense…so then we moved on to doing some examples.

I love things like this that even though it is not “real world” it makes my students see a need for this. I have just realized that I could use this to motivate the discussion of basic graph vocab with my lower-level juniors at the beginning of the school year….YES. I could just modify a few and make some graphs that would make sense for them.


Turning Multiple Choice Into A Discussion

I always want my students to get good at tackling multiple choice questions but it seems like they fall into the trap of choosing a distractor answer. In order to remedy this, I used this technique a lot with my summer school students that I heard about from a colleague of mine, which I then took a little bit farther. I had students take a piece of paper (since I did not have this prepped ahead of time) and cut it into 4 pieces. On those 4, they had to write the letter A-D large enough so I could see. I then proceeded to put up the multiple choice questions up on the board and had students hold up the answer they thought was write after some solo time to think and work it out on a mini-whiteboard.

I would see the answers they all chose and then have the students discuss to me why they chose that answer. (They always dislike when I start with a question and refuse to give them the correct answer until we had some discussion). Student #1 will tell us how they solved it, student #2 offers up a different way, student #3 tells us they thought it was a different answer choice because of the work he showed on his whiteboard, student #4 points out an error and comments on how they have made that error before too, student #5 points out that choices A and B don’t make sense since the answer has to be greater than a certain number, student #6 asks how student #5 was able to reason that out, student #7 points out why and offers a great explanation, students#8-20 now think about their answer.

After I feel the students have discussed it enough (while I just throw out guiding questions) I have them put up a letter of their final answer and then I reveal it. I would rather go through 5 really good multiple choice questions and have students learn about so many different ways to tackle a multiple choice problem from their peers with multiple reasoning and perspectives rather than throw out a worksheet with twice as many problems with answers and say practice.

Do you have a good way to practice multiple choice questions? I would love to hear them!

Pythagorean Theorem Jungle Hideout Practice

Summer school is over and I have a month before school starts up again. With going to block scheduling, I have been thinking a lot lately about how I will keep my students entertained. For me, a juicy problem that has multiple entry points with multiple paths to a solution can keep me busy for quite awhile….but I know students don’t always see it that way. I don’t like doing activities for the sake of doing activities but I do see the value in students being able to practice their skills in a way that doesn’t seem to be another worksheet.

Below is something I used last week to have students practice their Pythagorean Theorem skills. They all said they already knew this before so I wanted to see how much of this was true as well as let them to show off their ability. I believe the original idea of this is something Dan Meyer once used and I modified to fit my needs.

As students walk in, I give them all a card from a deck. I only used all the 2-8 cards and students wondered what they were used for. They kept asking and all I did was smiled and said “you’ll see”. They hate that….and yet it builds anticipation so they secretly love it. When it was time for the activity, I had students go to the appropriate problem (either 2-8 depending on their card they received earlier), and begin. When they answer the question, they had to then find the next question and answer that one. All the problems are multiple choice while I walk around the room monitoring progress. At the end of the document, I put the answers to the correct route that I carry with me. I usually put them up before class or since I share classrooms, while the students are working on their opener or some other task. It doesn’t take long to tape 12 problems up around the room.

To add to the suspense, I tell them that they have to find me in the “Jungle”. I tell them how I grew up and it was hard to find places for hide and seek because I am so tall and that a jungle helps me since their are a lot of tall trees. They all laugh, think I am weird like any other given day, and then get to work. I also have them keep track of their work and make a big deal about turning it in so they will actually show all their steps and blah blah blah. You get the picture. Keeps them moving, on task, starting at different spots, and finding out if they are correct or not. Lots of things I like about practice all rolled up into one little package.

So Far Behind In Blogging….But I Will Make It Up Soon!

I have been so horrible these last few days about blogging. This last week of summer school with the push of getting everything done has been a little overwhelming. I have just had a lot on my plate with other things going in life as well and I just can’t seem to find the time/energy to blog. When summer school ends on Friday, my life will be so much better and I can blog more!

Note to myself to blog about these things so I don’t forget:

– Funny things students did in summer school

– Traps students seem to fall in when taking multiple choice tests and a trick that seemed to help

– Pythagorean Theorem Treasure Hunt

– How I will stay more organized at home this year

– Students at the board for practice

And I am sure I could blog about a whole bunch of other stuff I have worked on to get ready for the next school year. I promise you guys, I will post some stuff soon enough (and also get caught up on reading all of your blogs!). Look for some stuff to appear next week (or maybe something this week if I get some time to just sit down and write…I have like 3 posts that I have started but never finished!)

Organizing My Filing Cabinents For The Upcoming Year

I recently cleaned out all the old quizzes/tests that I had stored in my file cabinets at school and realized that it was completely disorganized. I am sure that if a student came in and wanted to look at a certain quiz, it would have taken me forever to find it. Especially when students take it late due to absences, I just tend to shove it in the filing cabinet and pretending to organize it later.

I think to prevent this next year I will create a folder for every student. This way, I can just file the quiz for the appropriate student and then have an easy way to find it. This will take a little effort after I am done grading a large stack and the students have seen it, but I feel like this could keep me organized. I needed to write this down so I don’t forget to do this. If I am really smart, maybe I can just assign all my students a number and then next year, I can just reuse the folders and just renumber the students. I can probably think of a smart way to number students since the gradebook automatically numbers all the students in each section. I could even have different colored folders for each section and then number from there. Sometimes I just need to blog for myself and writing it out seemed to help me get my idea down.

Hey Future John, this is a good idea and you should be more organized! Good luck…you will need it!

~ Past John

Solving Quadratic Equation Sum Race Activity

Dropping the ball yesterday by getting caught up in things means that this has to be a really good post then right?

I did this the other day with my summer school kids and they loved it. I like this type of activity and have made several for all sorts of subjects/topics as well as for all different types of learners. The possibilities are endless.

The document below is what I used (I don’t know if I got this from someone or made it to be honest) and every group decides who is partner A, B, C, and D (so you need a group of four). Then, each member does their own problems but they find the sum of all their answers and then show it to me. I either tell them that they are correct or incorrect. If they are wrong, these must now go back and help/work with each other to figure out what wrong. This really gets them collaborating and working together to find errors. I got to hear some great discussions about how to fix problems as well as the process to solve the equations. These kids are so good at these discussions by now that this just gave them another opportunity to show how awesome they are.

On this particular one, I just gave them all problems that were of equal difficulty. I have in the past, differentiated by having partner A with easier problems and decided who that was going to be. I just felt like almost everyone in the room was on the same playing field at this point so I did not need to do a whole lot of differentiating.

Let me know if you have any questions!