2017-05-22 – Day 12 – Creating My First 3 Act With Friends

On the Twitters, what started out as a general comment about snacks and a shared love of eating said snacks had lead to a collaboration of creating our ever 3 Act Math Task. The collaboration is awe inspiring and I’m looking forward to this new endeavor.

I even asked the master, Mr. Dan Meyer, and he gave some excellent advices as we build this piece together! It’s very, very exciting and the growth to start giving back, after using these amazing tools created by others.

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2017-05-18 – Day 8 – Rich Task Routines & Fraction Splats

One of the charges my district has taken on requires that we work toward improving math instruction at the 5th-grade level – this grade level has been identified as a severe turning point in the performance and mindset of learners toward mathematics. We are working on ways that will improve instruction and learning experiences so students feel differently about mathematics and themselves.

One of our approaches is incorporating rich tasks for our students to access. The Rich Tasks provide both a better math experience and promote a growth mindset in mathematics.

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The process I am testing is trying to tease out if the students can make connections between their thinking and others. In addition to sharing their thinking and being able to perform some complex mental arithmetic with everyones’ favorite F-word, fractions. I was gifted with two extraordinary teachers that let me try this approach with the amazing Steve Wyborney’s Fraction Splats. I have had huge success in grades 3 through 12 with the fraction splits, so I knew that wouldn’t be an issue, but the questioning and format may be a challenge. The results shown in the video below show the comparison of previous Rich Task Routines with the new version. What do you #NoticeWonder?

Overall, the day felt very successful, the students seemed highly engaged in their learning, and sharing out their thinking. The valuable conversations and having students point to and demonstrate their thinking is huge. The connecting to other people’s thinking may need some direct instruction on, and multiple reps before students are reliably able to tackle this piece.

 

2017-05-15 – Day 5 – #Sketch50

I almost missed the journey, the idea is called #Sketch50 on Twitter and following various messages. I see the idea more like…

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which forces you to…

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And in order to do this, we need to realize…

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Understanding that I would never spend 50 days drawing different ideas, but knowing that in order to stretch oneself getting in those reps is so important. The public display and daily demand cause one to formulate a habit around this idea. The result of this #sketch50 has extended to my blogging once a day until the end of school, knowing that writing, reflection, and expression of ideas through these various formats help us get better. With the terminus day 50 of #sketch50, I wanted to reflect on the journey, so the last 26 of my days are shown in the slide deck below (I’m working on getting all 50 into the deck). Love to hear your thoughts.

2017-05-14 – Day 4 – Summer Learning

I have been wondering what my learning journey would look like over the summer, and I found my answer today thanks to my amazing #PLN. Starting with Margie’s (@pearse_margie) posting of great summer reads, I first thought about all the books I read without really learning from over the summer. My second thought was a book study would be a great way to make this social and provide some folks to process with, making the learning a truly engaging experience. Then my thoughts went to #MathConceptions, as I was thinking of a slow chat concept over the summer, this would be the perfect way to implement a purposeful slow chat….but what book? Of course, the answer was right in front of me, I read The Writing On The Classroom Wall a year ago, and it has several key ideas I’d like to pull out again. In addition, there seems to me an idea about this idea and misconceptions that are often present in our instruction we could address through the lens of the book. Now just getting sure we’re all on the same page and there are enough people willing to share their thinking…

…Update, now we might even be led by the author! The incredible Steve Wyborney (@SteveWyborney) is willing to jump in and support, maybe lead, our discussions! Oh the learning that will occur, this might be the best summer yet!

2017-05-13 – Day 3 – Practice Now – End of the year practice for a better run next school year

The end of the school year is rapidly approaching which brings a mixed bag of emotions to me every year. On the one hand, I am excited about sleeping in, long summer days, and more leisure time with family. On the other hand, I will miss the relationships, connections, and goofy things my students seem to do. My one consolidation this time of year is being able to experiment with instructional methods.

The use of an actual clothesline to model a number line is one idea I have had on my mind all year but just started diving into this past week. I started with these tents from the Clothesline Math.

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I tried the same format and same numbers in both my HS and MS classes, the contrasts were interesting, as this process clearly indicated where gaps in understanding and evaluating numbers came in.  I was not surprised by the placement of the term -3^2 term, and this provided a natural landscape to discuss this misconception.

In my trial run of Clothesline Math, I fell in love with it immediately, the learning and conversations that it promotes, the physical explanation of numbers relative to one another, and the kinesthetic components are all so impactful in the learning experience. I am looking forward as I build my very first trigonometry set, I have finished the first round of tents, and will work on more at a later time. I also see how logarithms could be used with this, and I want to use this with my MS students for solving linear equations, a la Mr. Matt “Yes, it is. And now you know why.” Vaudrey.

The other new endeavor, now in its fifth week is the creation and manifestation of a co-created Twitter chat. I never thought I would actually start one, but with the persistence of my right coast math dancing partner, Shane Ferguson (@MrFergusonMJHS), we are moving along quite strongly as we grow our weekly chat. The idea we wanted for the chat had to be centered around mathematics, but we didn’t want to cover what other chats already hit upon, when the idea struck we should talk about the many, many misconceptions there are in the world of education, especially related to mathematics education. I also am a huge fan of having the word ‘math’ show up in the title, a la @mathkaveli, which is how we ended up with #MathConceptions. Our 30-minute weekly chat is every Monday at 6:30 PM PST, and it’s a great group of people and powerful discussions. We also have a growing weekly chat in our Voxer group for #MathConceptions. 

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2017-03-28 On The Spot Ahhhaaaa

Although I have many blog posts on the tarmac ready for lift off, this entry takes special priority as I had a powerful Ahhhha moment that lasted two full periods.

Quick background, I have been teaching about trig functions in IM3 and coordinate geometry in 8th-grade math.

My IM3 students look similar to Fry from Futurama….(see below)….when I begin discussing trigonometric functions and their relationship to a right triangle and the unit circle.

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Yesterday, I thought I would slow the progress down and focus on right triangle trig relationships, then move back up to unit circle and beyond. Before I even began today, the students’ lips were moistening with anticipation of the drool onset….So I changed directions, had handed out a sheet of paper to every student, and we began folding.

I didn’t know where I was going with this, but I was on an inspirational kick and was going for it. After students folded their papers, I checked each stage, I’d ask a question and have them label their own triangle, the students would confirm with their partner, and stand up when they agreed.

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The 3 step process was extremely helpful in uncovering areas of stuckedness and bringing their understanding to light. My next step was to have them write each of the trig functions according to their triangle they had created.

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Time quickly ran out for the students when were at this point, so tomorrow, they’ll finish the trig functions relationships. Students literally gasped when the bell ring, they were so into the lesson they couldn’t believe the period was over.

Then my 8th-grade party began, immediately after IM3, and I’m working on giving the students plenty of repetitions on problem varieties to allow them to be successful. Yesterday, the progressions began with a problem having them plot three ordered pairs, which form the vertices of a right triangle.

The students would plot the three points, then find the distance between each of the ordered pairs. Students should find that the two of the lengths are easy, just counting the distance between points, the third combination would require the use of the Pythagorean theorem. The third stage in this progression asked students to determine the slope between points forming the hypotenuse, with the hint that if stage 2 was done well, there shouldn’t be any additional requirements for calculations. The final stage asked for an explanation of how students know that the triangle formed in stage 1 was a right triangle.

Well students shared they were having a hard time with the concept of slope, so fresh of the triangle fame of IM3, I gave the same concept a try in 8th-grade.

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Since this was near the end of the period, I performed a think aloud to indicate my learning. Tomorrow I’m expecting that this will be part of their work, creating the ordered pairs on a triangle, perhaps on centimeter grid paper, and do it exactly. Anyway, I felt the explanation landed with the students, several heads were nodding with that smug look of understanding….

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Which showed I was on to something that may uncover more of their thinking as we explore and shed light on that which was previously in the dark.

My excitement for this simple idea and the reason for posting this moment is tied to my developing understanding of students learning and being back in the classroom for a couple of periods. Addressing students understanding in visual ways, with a manipulative and a slow pace were all pieces that helped gain students attention to make it truly impactful.

I always love these inspirational teaching moments that shed light on understanding for students, and the fact it worked in 8th through 12th yields potential for my favorite kind of tools that go K12.

What were some experience you’ve had that are similar or different? What about those experiences made them turn out the way they did?

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As I publish this reflection, I fear that this moment may turn into something along the lines of another famous moment….

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I am very honored to have met #IRL (in real life) the person that inspired this learning goal for me this school year: Having students produce a weekly learnings podcast for public consumption. Joe Young is an incredible TOSA for math and education and he shared this idea a long time ago, and when I had the pleasure of teaching two courses this year, I wanted to challenge myself and use this as one way students would show what they know.

Finally, this week, I found the magic recipe to making this happen, I assigned two students, one in each class to get the job done. Friday marked the turning point for me in doing some of the things I wanted to get done and continue to build on. Friday was also our first Mystery Skype with another group of students. While the connections prevented less opportunities for conversation, it was an entertaining and fun sort of thing.

While doing the Mystery Skype, we also produced our weekly podcasts for both classes. I loved the idea of having students interact with other students around mathematics and this public display showed a proof of concept.

All in all, I was very excited to have been able to edit, publish, upload, host, and publish to iTunes. I am currently waiting on a review of my two podcasts to be approved, and if that works they’ll be in iTunes. The Mystery Skype provided the opportunities for students to strategize their thinking and be able to try to problem solve.

The podcasts are linked:  Math 8    &/or     IM3

Well looking forward to another great week. Hope your week is as magical and moving you forward to meet your new goals.