Homework Helper

As I am slowly starting to look through files from last year, I found this worksheet a colleague made that I thought was really great. Students had to check their homework answers by matching them up with the corresponding problem number. This happened to be on properties of exponents but I am sure you could use this for many other assignments. When students did not find a match, it opened up an opportunity for discussion and working with each other ensued. It is getting me to think about how I need to vary checking in the homework every day and do a better job at that this year instead of my standard walk around the room and look at it approach. I actually like my standard approach but I wonder what I miss out on learning from my students if I were to mix it up and try collecting a problem or two every once and awhile, give a homework quiz, etc.

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.

Super Survey

At the end of the school year, I always give my students a survey to hear their thoughts about what they liked about our class and what the disliked. I tell them to be honest (they don’t even have to put their name on it) and I always get some really useful feedback.

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.

Eggcelent Engagement

In order to force myself to blog once a week, I may just pick random things to blog about and I have decided that this is okay since it is my blog and I can do whatever I want right?

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!

Krazy Kahoot

I now put it in my calendar to blog with an alarm….I am really going to try and stick with this once a week…

Since it is Summer I figured I should start the blogging thing again and I found this post sitting in my drafts. I also had another teacher ask me when I was going to post something again because they thought I was helpful….CRAZY! Now I have to blog again if it makes a difference only for one person (even if that person is me). Anyways….

Kahoot has been this crazy phenomenon at my school. The world language teachers started this trend and then it seemed like my whole school jumped on the bandwagon. In case you never heard of or used Kahoot, it is an application that the students all sign into on their phones or computers or ipads or whatever. As the teacher, I create multiple choice questions with answers and they have to choose the answer. The questions are projected on the board and they just choose their answers on their phone. The students who answer correct earn points. Here is the craziest thing about it and causes mayhem when playing: the faster you are, the more points you earn. Now, I am usually not about speed in mathematics but their are a few things I can see this being good for but first…

A typical classroom day using this looks like following:

1. Me: We are going to do a Kahoot today. Students: YAYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!

2. Students pull out phones and put in their names. (I make them put their initials and then whatever bizarre name they want. Nothing inappropriate or we don’t play….unfortunately that has happened before.)

3. Question # 1 appears on the screen and the kids all punch in the answer.

4. They see the leaderboard (top 5 people appears after every answer) and get excited and even more competitive.

5. This continues until the end and they ask if we can play it again….which makes no sense since they all know the answers now.

 

I did this with exponential growth and decay functions with some basic equations and identifying things like percent increase, start value, etc. You can use the quiz if you follow this link: https://play.kahoot.it/#/k/3e1b8673-47b4-40ea-a412-60d944cfb039 (Note: I have random questions like my favorite pop thrown in so you might want to update that)

If you have never used kahoot you should go to  https://getkahoot.com/ and try it out. Then you can snag mine and use it or make your own. You can also search for lots of other ones teachers have made and modify to your hearts content. It is pretty fun when you are looking for a quick activity and you want to just test if students can recall. Don’t expect to ask hard-hitting questions here or kids will just quickly answer to see if they can be first and not try the problem (learned that the hard way).

 

Lucky Lottery

One of my favorite go-to activities is to do a lottery in class because it has my favorite elements…

  1. Students have fun and enjoy doing it
  2. Students work at their own pace and it is okay if Susie finishes first…goal is learning
  3. Students get to check their answers and receive feedback
  4. I get to see where their level of understanding is at

Basic Premise: Students complete a worksheet. After they complete x amount of problems, they get it checked by me. If they get it correct, they get an entry into the lottery.

Setup: Before class starts, I put up numbers 1-100 on the board with enough spacing so students can write their names. Before class, I also use some worksheet that has enough problems for students to practice what we are learning. 10 usually seems to be sufficient. I also decide if I want them to go solo or work with a partner.

During The Activity: Students will complete a problem(s) in any order they like. Once they get a set of problems completed, they must come up and show me (I am usually sitting near the board with the numbers but off to the side an out of the way). If they are incorrect, I may simply say “Try again” or provide some guidance…depends on the student of course and whether or not they have a partner, etc. If they get it write, I either stamp it, sign it with my initials, etc. to verify they got it correct. The student gets to go to the board and pick any number they want and put their name next to that number. Students continue doing this for as long as you deem productive. (Make sure you let them know when their are a few minutes left or they will be mad they didn’t get a chance to get one more name down). Then, after time is over, I use a random number generator (ti-nspire on the board so they know I am not cheating) and pick something from 1-100 (if you need more than 100 i tell students to put up 101, then 102, etc. for as many more as we need…but they don’t get to pick anymore just whatever comes next). I usually have some lame prize (eraser) to something amazing (extra credit, high-five from me). Make it whatever you want!

Below is a worksheet I used recently with this when practice exponent notation and some basic function operations with my lower-level Algebra II students. They had a blast and worked really hard. Such an easy thing that doesn’t require much set-up! Also, below is a picture of part of one of my boards with the students names on it. Let me know if you try it and how it goes!

20141006_093419

 

Grueling Grading

With some time this week having Monday as a professional day and today as the ACT day, I have had some time to think about stuff so I figured…why not blog?

I have been thinking about grading lately since I had a huge pile of papers to catch up on over this weekend (don’t worry, I am all caught up as of today!). These are just some ponderings that I don’t really have the answers to:

  • Green Vs Red Pen
    • Does it matter if I grade in a positive color versus a negative one?
    • Are student’s self-esteem lowered if they see a bloody red paper versus one that looks like St. Patrick’s Day came way too early this year?
  • Stickers on students paper
    • If I start the beginning of the year putting them on papers, students seem to like
    • If I don’t start at the beginning of the year, nobody asks for them
    • If I start doing it and then stop, they complain and what their sticker
    • Is a sticker worth my time? What benefits does it really have?
  • Positive Vs Negative points
    • If I put a +4 on a problem versus a -2, does that make a difference?
    • Will a student actually look for their mistake if I do one way or the other?

Are students more or less inclined to read my comments I spent a lot of time doing if any of the above are followed or not followed? Maybe I need to explore more of this but just a brain dump for right now…

 

Paper Punchers

I know when you get back from break that it is hard for students to get back in the motion of things (and for me too!). I made this activity for students our first week back and brought in a few helpers to make it successful. Everybody got both punch-out worksheets and I let them choose where to start and which ones to tackle. This was more solo-oriented but students are always sitting in groups of 3-4 so they are free to talk with each other on problems. Here is what they looked like:

 

Students were busy working away and then running up to either myself or a helper and got the box hole-punched if they got the problem correct. If they did not get it correct, either guidance was given or I asked a question that might lead them to think about how to solve the problem and they would go back and try again. Students thought it was fun, they got to practice, students got to move around which, imo, helps learning, and I got to see who knew what was going on and who didn’t. Win, win, win, and win.

I know they did better on their quadratics test the following class because some of them realized things they “thought they knew” and were able to have a lot of time practicing as well as asking for some 1-on-1 assistance if needed.