2017-09-04 Numberless Word Problems

There are two things that I learned about toward the end of last school year that got me so excited I couldn’t wait to try them, Numberless Word Problems was one of them. One of my #eduheroes, Brian Bushart (@bstockus on Twitter), created this idea some time ago, and I was just learning about them. So, I wanted to get a couple reps in ASAP, and I was able to get a couple of reps in before the end of the year, and it confirmed my initial excitement.

With this school underway, I want to jump in early and often to get everyone on board with this idea, exposing all students to this opportunity and making it an ever growing area of powerful learning. On this journey last year, I was able to modify this into a sequence of learning events, where we start with a #NoticeWonder activity that builds the Numberless Word Problem the students create. Since students create the word problem, whether or not there are numbers is there choice, and it is so interesting what they come up with. The students smash their questions together to make a new question, and then they answer their question (or switch with another group and answer theirs) four ways.

Once the students have shared their answers and we’re all on board with the questions and answers, we compare our information to the state standards example(s). Students are always surprised that their questions are much harder than the state examples and think the state question is easy. Compared to previous times when given the state question, they typically shut down because it’s “too hard,” I’d say this is an amazing outcome.

Anyway, it’s still a work in progress and I’m super excited about it. Thanks Brian for sharing and making us all a little better.

2017-08-28 PDs

This week was the week of Professional Developments (PDs) with my creation and delivery of Interactive Math That’s Meaningful (Horrible Title, I know) and 3 Powerful Math Routines. Each one has some amazing pieces to it that I am very proud of, and both have some areas I do not feel meet my goals. Time and reps will let me know if my feelings are accurate, and it will reveal where other holes are and where great stuff is as well. It’s pretty hectic this week, so this is just short note to remind me to breath.

2017-05-24 – Day 14 – 360 Math Collaboration Finals Review

State testing finished two weeks ago, warming weather, and multiple field trips all indicate the sun is setting on the 2016-17 school year. The looming giant of finals is the final hurdle many of our students are left with in ending this school year, and here we sit investigating this idea.

Getting students the opportunity to do the work, we covered examples yesterday, and today we are doing a combination of 360 Math (thanks, @edcamposjr) for the inspiration there and karaoke presentations when we are finished.

In Math 3, students used Flippity (thanks again to Ed for that tip) to form our groups. Each group was given 90 seconds to capture the 7 problems on paper 360-style around the room, students used mobile phones to take pictures of the problems, and then shared the with their group. Students broke up the problems, some students would solve 2 problems, others would solve 1 problem, in the 15 minutes.

When time was finished, random selection for each group assigned the problem they would build the solution to the poster. Their goal is to write a solution clear enough that anyone could present it, which is the next phase with the presentation karaoke.

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The Math 3 students hit some of the road blocks I was anticipating, but this process uncovered a couple more as well. The students did not get to the point they were going to present, we will capture those tomorrow. Students did see me solve all 7 problems in 3 minutes, not emphasizing the quickness of solving, but the efficiency of ease of these problems the concept of multiple iterations of inverse operations. I do feel I needed to give them more opportunities, and I should have started with this approach on Monday, then used it to set the stage for any clarifications or additional input the students would need from me, not the other way around.

In Math 8, we followed a similar format as in Math 3, the students opened up with a Quizizz review, getting a single shot of the year. Next, we chose 7 problems posted on the walls, viz a vie 360 Math. The 7 problems were taken from review problems previously covered, with small alterations, each team was assigned a problem and given 10 minutes to solve. Their goal is to write a solution clear enough that another group could present their solution viz a vie Presentation Karaoke.

Getting students to present would go smoother is more reps, this is our first time trying this Presentation Karaoke. While herding cats is challenging, it is worth the effort in that students are really engaging in their learning.

One of my students stayed after to tell me that another student explained what “simplifying” means in a way that he now understands it. When students stay after to share about their learning you know something went well.

2017-05-23 – Day 13 – BreakoutEDU

An amazing teacher was inquiring about the use of BreakoutEDU having heard about it at some point. A “little birdie” in the form of one our equally amazing technology TOSAs let her know I have some of the boxes and am willing to demonstrate.

She reached out to see if I’d be available to showcase it, and we set up a time a few weeks out. Today, was the day we chose and the time, so we set it up and got it ready to go.

On a fun note, I am incorporating more of the digital locks, and using SnapChat to create more of the clues, like the one below, adds a lot more personalized fun.

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One of the things that I absolutely love about BreakoutEDU is how it engages students to challenge themselves and work through difficult mathematics without feeling like it. Although I have run many games multiple times, I love that every game is unique. Running the same game, with the same class, minutes apart still produces a different experience and that is so fun.

On this day, with this group of scholars, we found that the teamwork was good, the communication worked, and the breakdown of connecting the ideas of individuals to the whole created opportunity for students to find their First Attempt In Learning (FAIL). We debriefed what went well, and what could have gone differently, we then planned what we might do better this next time and we ran the same game, picking up where we left off.

Students were more determined the second time and knowing the majority of the game, they went back at it for 20 minutes (they had 25 minutes the first time).

With time running down, they were still a little behind, and the teacher was sure she wanted them to experience success (which is usually a good default, especially the first time, I would be less likely to be flexible again). So we paused the time to clarify questions a couple of times and provide guidance to help students be successful.

Pulling together in the final few moments, the students were really good at working together to breakout of the game.

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2017-05-19 – Day 9 – Announcing Summer Book Study for #TWOTCW and #Mathconceptions & CVNiC Work

With the school year winding down, let’s  begin refilling ourselves, building our personal learning network, and improving our practice. Steve Wyborney‘s The Writing On The Classroom Walls #TWOTCW is a powerful teaching tool and bucket filler we will use in our first #Mathconceptions Book Study of the summer. Shane Ferguson (@MrFergusonMJHS) and I are super excited to have Steve lead us through our slow chat, highlighting key components of learning from point of view of misconceptions. Our chat will begin in June, with a pre-chat conversation starting on May 22nd. 

The year ends in more ways than one, we had our final get together of our CVNiC group today and we shared a lot of learning, reflecting, and guiding our path for the next school year and beyond. Although I could only be there for half the day, I used my new favorite tool for capturing learning (SnapChat and thanks to Ann Kozma @annkozma723) to capture that learning. The video below highlights my learning from this morning.

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.

 

2017-05-17 – Day 7 – Clothesline Math & Goodbyes

Yesterday we spent time making sense of the ideas of Clotheslines Math, and we were able to get a few quick reps in. Today, we dove straight in, students were broken up into groups of four, each person was assigned a job, and the students were tasked with placing the trig functions in their appropriate sequence on their number line. Students were given 15 minutes to make this magic happen

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I had one group finish early, which was perfect, they became the “experts” and I shipped them out across the “country” to troubleshoot groups where the sequence was stalled. Once the 15 minutes were up, groups verified their sequences with others, and with their “experts” were given another 2 minutes to confirm their sequence. Each group would use their device to take a picture of their successfully completed sequence, and then we tried this process whole class, randomly chosen people were given a tent, two students were holding our much longer class sized chord, and we tried to place the tents in a proper sequence.

So a couple of things that I loved about this process: 1) Students understanding of how to construct a viable number line is sorely lacking from establishing benchmarks to proper scale and this is a powerful way to build it; 2) The multivalued aspect of the trig functions were highlighted in context, so some students made this connection; 3) The periodicity of the trig functions were brought to light when we connected all of our group together, and what did they notice and wonder.

We were able to get to try this in 8th grade today, as well, but with different algebraic based tents. Students in 8th grade were much more accepting and understanding of the process (tents were integers) but struggled with the tents that were given as variables. Students had no problem placing m, 2m, and m/3 in a variety of orders. So we will be addressing this misconception in the next period. I am thinking of having students draw a distance, then draw twice that distance, and a third of that distance. Then we place the tents m, 2m, and m/3 on their number line and see where the conversation goes.

On another note, today was the last day of a content specific course in mathematics for new teachers and I wanted to highlight some of these pieces in our last class together. So we started with a warm up on the sheet placing various terms in order. Our random groups were given an envelope with 3 linear equations, highlighting various slopes and y-intercepts and three fractions and asked to place in the correct sequence.

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The teachers seemed truly engaged in the process, and the attending to precision (MP6) evident everywhere. After teachers shared their thinking and we compared, we talked about how this might be used in their content areas. I do not know if I facilitated bringing to light the flexibility of this strategy, but I think the teachers found some value in it as another tool in the trade. The evening was our last class together, as half of them will be graduating with their preliminary credential in a few weeks, and half will be doing so for another year but will be graduating to summer soon, so our theme of the night was graduation.

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As per our traditional sequence, we like to have a group photo to commemorate the evening by, and this one was no different. In the spirit of the class, I showcased a family fail photo, to prompt our discussion and as a reminder for myself, and we tried to take an awkward family photo together, and I think we nailed that result.

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It was an epic end to a great sequence of classes and I hope the new teachers were able to get as much from this as they gave my partner in this class. I hate to end this amazing post on a down note, but I felt the night went well, we did spend too much time on the “speed dating” portion discussing our use of a strategy from Teaching Reading in Mathematics (TRIM) with a problem from Fostering Algebraic Thinking (FAT) book. We didn’t debrief their assignment as well as I would have liked, and I don’t think I facilitated the connects between all the classes well. In the sequence of the night, time moved too quickly and trying to do too many things got the best of me. The part that really gets me is that it felt like we had put our hearts into this class, each night had a theme, we tried to make every moment purposeful, connected, meaningful and engaging, the teachers seemed to indicate they were picking up what we were putting down, but their feedback indicates more to the contrary than I would have expected. This is to say that no matter how well you dress something up if the content isn’t good, people will notice and will not connect to it. I am going to have to do a lot of reflection on this class and use these failures as opportunities to grow, learn, and question.