- Students feel mentally exhausted after a quiz
- Students say it is hard to get started if it is a new topic
- Students don’t want to do anything else
- Students want to do something that is not “too hard”

I was trying to come up with different ways to get my students re-energized. While most were done and I was waiting for a few students to finish a quiz, I had students complete this little half-sheet below.

Since others were still finishing the quiz they couldn’t talk to me or each other. The topic of logarithms was something I introduced last class. I did the first problem in each row as an example to show them. The result: Success. Almost every student actually completed it without any moans/groans and it was great to discuss any misconceptions about logs before we moved on with our next topic. Students told me afterward how much they liked that I did the first one since it acted as a reminder and took away the intimidation factor. I need to find other things like this that can engage them. I could even use this to recap something from a previous day.

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One thing that made this more effective than I thought was also having two worksheets. One was simple practice with the special right triangles and the other was tougher with application problems. It was nice that students could use this and differentiate a little. Allowing them some movement didn’t hurt either. I think that I just need to give my students time to work and ask questions and I don’t always need something flashy and exciting to help them learn. I was feeling kind of bad about this and now I feel, even though I could still always update the worksheets for next year, that it was pretty solid and the students seemed pretty strong on the homework that I assigned. I needed to write this to remind myself of these things.

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From @mrsjtweetsmath I read her post about how to restart 2nd semester. I have so many things that I want to change and I always fail with my grand plans at getting everything because I tackle too much. My one focus is going to be student focus so I am going to be a lot stricter on phones and focus on my classroom management. Once that is under control, then I can pick something else. I needed this reminder to just fix one thing at a time.

From @JDaomath I read her post about social justice in mathematics. You can tell this is something she is definitely passionate about. I have done scatterplots but I never thought to include something like what she did. This has the wheels turning and I think I need to incorporate something like this at least once 2nd semester. (Small goal = at least once!).

From @kirk_humphreys I read his post about changing his look at assessments. I gave my honors geometry students a project with quadrilaterals that was really fun (I could definitely blog about that next). I haven’t done a project for my algebra II class like this yet so his quadratic water fountain problem has intrigued me. Not sure what I want to do but I think I need to find some form of a project to get them to show me what they have learned.

There are so many amazing Illinois bloggers but this is just a few of them that caught my eye and got me thinking about things as I start 2nd semester. Check them out!

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Going off of the MTBOS 2017 Blogging Initiative and talking about a “My Favorite”… the first thing that came to mind is my favorite way to get students up and practicing. Their are days where I just need students to practice some skill (solving inequalities before break comes to mind) and I need to know how they are doing. Their are lots of ways to get this done but one way my students enjoy (and by enjoy I mean they don’t complain and will do it for a reasonably amount of time before they get bored) is standing at the whiteboard. Not just one or two of them, but all of them at the board at once. Thankfully, my rooms have three walls of whiteboards so I can fit a bunch of kids nicely. (In my larger classes I give some of them mini whiteboards and then trade off who is sitting and who is standing).

I usually prepare a bunch of problems ahead of time with their answers on a piece of paper (though I have just made them up off the top of my head before) and I read the first problem out. They all write it down and then begin working. I stand in the middle of the room and get to watch it unfold and see who is struggling immediately and who is flying through the problem. I encourage students standing next to each other to assist as if they were sitting and working together in their groups. It is a great way for me to see a snapshot of everyone’s abilities. Then, we repeat with another problem. A cool thing I learned throughout the years doing this is that when I say something out loud, students actually have to know how to write it correctly and helps with understanding (less than, log base 2, etc.)

To make my life easier, I always have markers and little erasers sitting around the room before class so we can grab them ahead of time. I also only have the standard color markers (blue, red, black, green) for students to use and use a purple or orange marker for myself in case I need to write something down to show a student something.

It is surprising to me that once a student gets out of their seat and everyone is at the board, they are more willing to try and work on something instead of just another problem on a worksheet. This works especially for my lower-level students. Try it and see how it is different than just using mini-whiteboards!

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I think some students will divide into four congruent shapes while others will divide into four similar shapes. It can generate discussion about what the difference is and motivate some discussion on how these will be two huge concepts for the rest of the year.

Enjoy your remaining summer while it lasts!

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I will give each student a sticker (I was going to have them use their name but then I figured that this way I can keep it kind of anonymous) and have them paste it up where they feel they align.

I think this could work really well

- I can learn how the class feels about mathematics in a general sense
- I can incorporate our scatterplot intro in the beginning of the year with a real activity
- I think students would be willing to discuss when I ask a question like “how many people think math is easy in this classroom?”

I like low-entry first day activities for algebra like this to get kids discussing and then hopefully change their opinions by the end of the year!

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You may have seen this somewhere else as a card sort (honestly can’t remember where I got this from so I can’t give credit) but here is my version that I am going to use on my first day with my Algebra II students:

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Here is the document so you can see what I am talking about. Do you have a different way to assess homework? I would love to hear it.

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I was reading some of their thoughts and I was really amazed that I stuck with doing an opener almost every day when the students walked in for some consistency and many of them said that it really helped! A few said that we should break away from that once in a while (even though I know I did but maybe not apparent enough or needs to happen more often).

I have put the survey I used this year below. I would be curious to know if anyone else uses something like this or maybe has better questions I should be asking? I kind of like that is open-ended for them. I am thinking of trying maybe some smaller ones at the end of the quarter to maybe get some more feedback and try to make some changes during the school year too.

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One of my favorite units is Probability. I like that it appears really easy and then can crush your soul as you try to figure them out…okay I don’t actually like that part but I do love playing games to figure things out! One activity that we did in class, that turned out to be a huge success, was to watch a Jimmy Fallon video. We watched this one where he plays egg roulette with Bradley Cooper: Jimmy Fallon Egg Roulette

Before I had covered the words and/or I had them watch parts of this and I kept pausing the video asking them what questions they had and then also had them answer questions I had. These include but not limited to:

- How many eggs are there right now?
- What is the probability of success (we defined success to be not getting yolk in your face)
- What is the probability of failure (great way to introduce these terms to because it made sense to the students which one was which and they came up with it on their own!)
- What is the probability Jimmy smashes an egg on his head? Does it matter what previously happened?

It was interesting that some of my students still struggled initially with the fact that the probability of success changed throughout and didn’t stay constant. Answers like karma or he is on a lucky streak popped up and we talked about the validity of those types of things. All of this even spring-boarded us into the concept of replacement vs. non-replacement with things like a bag of marbles and the probability of drawing one. Students for the next week kept saying things like “This is just like the Jimmy Fallon video so we subtract one each time.”

It was great that one video got them so engaged, interested in the subject, cleared up some misconceptions, and helped motivate some of our other topics. I swear it felt like it took half the class period to watch this video with my stopping to ask questions and facilitate discussion but I know it was totally worth it! I knew watching Jimmy Fallon was going to be good for something! Thanks Jimmy…you rock!

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