Tuesday, August 7, 2018

My Edublog

Humanizing the Mathematics Classroom

Committed to Teaching Mathematics Meaningfully

Grad school consumed me the past 1.5 years, so it was hard to keep up with this blog.  Nevertheless, my professor, Dr. Steve Wolk suggested we create a blog so I explored edublogs. This new blog will serve more about my journey as a social justice math educator and reflections as a teacher: http://jdaomath.edublogs.org. Hope to keep in touch!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

HW Error Analysis on Google Classroom

Purpose: My math coach encouraged me to think about..instead of  grading hw for completion, can I get more meaningful feedback from my students to see if they really understood their assignment?  I tried this on google classroom today and below are student responses and the instructions I gave. I pretty much posted sample student work and had them write a reflection for 5 minutes. I am SO IMPRESSED why what all of them wrote--even the ones who didn't do their HW. In the student work, I provided, I showed a model student example this time around--next time we have HW error analysis day, I want to make purposeful student errors to see if they can spot this. I am curious...has anyone tried something to similar to this? What are your suggestions? Is this meaningful for students? (I asked them as a class and they said ehhh but with my teacher hat on, I am thinking wow). I told students they would get credit for homework if they put in effort in their reflection and there was no right or wrong answer. 


Sunday, January 8, 2017

Soft Skills: Building Confidence

Happy New Year! I am jumping onto #MTBoSBlogsplosion Week 2

Survival week, the week before winter break is always a daunting week for any teacher--to keep a classroom of teenagers engaged for 80 minutes per day for an entire week while they were dreaming about two weeks of video gaming, vacationing in the Caribbean, or the Friday Star Wars Field Trip. 

Nevertheless, the thoughtful cards from my students during this time help remind me why I teach. This card below summarizes what I strive to do in my classroom everyday for all of my students. 

To add more context to this card, I teach two courses of Algebra 1 and an Algebra 8 course. What is the difference? Well curriculum wise, everything is the same: textbook-CMP3, homework, lessons, activities. The difference is that students who score higher on the MAP scores are placed in Algebra 1 and students who do not make the cut-off score are placed in Algebra 8. As students are separated by test score, the classroom dynamics are drastically altered based on race and socioeconomic status as well. I am curious to know what other school districts are doing about tracking--does your school still track or have gotten rid of it?

Various factors due to the nature of Algebra 1 could have made this student feel uncomfortable at first. I have many predictors but do not want to pinpoint. I can speculate that Algebra 1 due to its composition of students who scored higher produces more competition among the students in the class. Many of these students based on my observation grasp concepts more quickly; however not as deeply and generally identify themselves as liking mathematics. This can be quite intimidating for students who do not always grasp concepts as quickly but are deep thinkers. Another possibility is the racial dynamics of the classroom. There are very few minority students in Algebra 1; perhaps 1-2 students per class.  The student who wrote the card was the only African American girl in my class and she shared that most of her friends were in Algebra 8.

Beyond the systemic issues of schooling, I would like to share some things that possibly contributed to a positive learning environment for students to feel confident. I cannot take full credit for these strategies as I have picked them up from colleagues and scholars.

1. Distributing Authority through Student Jobs: Students take ownership of their own classroom. Letting go of certain jobs in the classroom was one of the hardest things I learned to do this year. I enjoyed leading the warm-up discussion and walking around to check student's homework notebooks to see whether they did a problem correctly. However, my colleague convinced me to try some of her jobs this year to a greater extent and so I did.   I currently have the following jobs: HW Checker, HW Reviewer, Warm-up Leader, Paper Passer, PBIS Leader, Job Manager, Timer, Teacher Helper. Students change jobs each month and everyone is required to have a job at least once. Every Fridays, we do celebrations and students honor one another; the Job Manager praises the students with jobs, and students without a job yet have the opportunity to highlight one good thing their peer did for them for the week.

2. Open Ended Warm-ups : I used to print half sheets of practice problems pertaining to skills students previously learned to do for 5 minutes at the beginning of class. I felt that it was necessary for them to see the skills again to practice more. Students would certainly do them; they would come up to the board and share correct answers, but something was missing. If you haven't read @viemath 's  Daily Warm-up Routine, you definitely should because I adopted my warm-ups from her. I was first weary about using these warm-ups at first, wondering how will students get practice out of them. But I can't stress how powerful these warm-ups are by simply asking a student, What do you Notice and Wonder? rather than... What is the Answer? Sometimes the depth of discussion and students using their reasoning and justifications--arguing with one another needs to be cut off because they are so engaged in the warm-up.  I also noticed that students who would never participate or have lower confidence in their mathematical abilities started to raise their hands and share out their ideas.

3. My Favorite Mistake/ Error Analysis: I first learned about My Favorite No from the teaching channel. Since then I have adopted other methods teachers in my district have shared in regards to analyzing mistakes from quizzes or tests.  One of the main things when students get their quizzes back is we will discuss Favorite Mistakes. I would post underneath the document camera the problem and the work with mistakes. Ask the students to think about: 1. What did this individual understand? 2. What was their mistake?  My hope is that by opening the discussion for what understanding was there first allows students to realize that mistakes are part of learning.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

GGG 4.3: Hot Cocoa Lab

This year's hot cocoa lab was a success! The secret? NO LABSHEETS :D Thank you to our 8th Grade Science Teachers who do a wonderful job with the students on writing Lab Reports---the kiddos can do it in their sleep now.

All I did was introduce the lab with them that they will observe what happens to hot water over time. 1. They Formulated a hypothesis
2. Listed Materials
3. Procedures- They came up with what to do, what data to collect, and time intervals.
We had a resource monitor to disperse materials and a class timer that would notify the class to record their temperatures.
4. Results and Conclusion. I asked them what did they need in their results: They answered-table and graph.

While they were waiting,  we made hot cocoa, and played Exponential Growth Bingo! I should add exponential decay next year.

In Our Summary I asked students the following questions:
1. Describe the pattern of change. What is the relationship?
2. What is the decay factor and decay rate?
3. What is the equation that models this relationship?
We spent a great deal discussing how to find the decay rate from the decay factor and about modeling data.

Monday, November 21, 2016

November Activities

Days fly by and activities build up. It's so hard to highlight the daily happenings but I'd like to share some things I've been trying this Year.

1. Access Project:

After attending Complex Instruction Consortium at ETHS, my Algebra team decided to come up with an open ended task project requiring students to explore the open ended question: What demographic has the best access to resources in your community (Evanston)?  Students conducted research, collected data, and applied pythagorean theorem by finding exact distances to explore the wards from their community to determine whether or not it was well resourced. They then wrote a letter to the alderman for the wards they researched. We required them to back up their argument with mathematical justification. Please e-mail me if you are interested in the project! :)

2. Clothesline Square Root Number line inspired by my math coach. Next year, I'd like for them to draw an actual square with the area and side length represented as square root.

3. Wheel of Theodorus Once again, and students never cease to amaze me with their creativity!
4. Des-man Project  inspired by Fawn Nguyen. One student took it to the next level and made SOMBRERO MAN :D  This year in Algebra, students are building their toolbox of Functions: Linear, Inverse, Equation of Circle (pythagorean theorem), Exponential, Quadratic, and More! So I plan this seed early on saying their goal whenever they finish early is to add these functions to their mathematical toolbox. Desmos.com is their canvas, and their job is to make a smiley face or something creative and cute :) We've also discussed domain and range, which has help them with their function writing. Can't wait to see what the end of the year stuff will look like.

5. Special Right Triangles Exploration:  I am all about students exploring and investigating the meaning behind mathematical ideas. Before rules were established, people noticed patterns. And after watching this ted talk https://twitter.com/JDaomath/status/800909470620647424, Roger Antonsen has reminded me of why I chose to major in mathematics--not just for it's reason and logic but its beauty and patterns. So for this lesson (LFP 5.2) I gave students equilateral triangles and squares, asked them to fold them in half into 2 right triangles and asked them to record what they notice and wonder about the measurements. I don't think I can ever just draw a 30-60-90 or 45-45-90 triangle and tell them what the "rules" are and memorize. 

 6. I Spy Right Triangles Scavenger Hunt:
Thank you #fujifilm and #scholastic for sending me amazing fujifilm instax cameras. On the day that many students went to the cubs parade. The 7 students who did not attend, and who were stuck with me had the opportunity to go on a scavenger hunt to find right triangles around the school, photograph, measure on the photo, and real life, find the hypotenuse (diagonal distance) and find the scale factor from photo to real life size.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Irregular Shape Posters- Halloween/ Pokemon Themed

My colleague had a wonderful idea of having her students make irregular shapes and calculate the area of their irregular shape. She instructed students to pick a Halloween or Thanksgiving Themed Picture, and their creativity was amazing!

Since we are LFP from CMP3, working on area of irregular shapes and finding exact perimeters using pythagorean theorem, I decided to add another layer of having the students find the EXACT Perimeter of their irregular shape picture in addition to calculating area.

This is what they came up with! :)

Monday, October 31, 2016

Launch, Explore, Summary Model: What activities do you do?

My colleague, who is a 7th grade teacher, has a lot of lesson structures that helps breakdown CMP3 for students in meaningful and engaging ways. Strategies I adopted from her classroom include: Chunk and SlideSurvivor (Lazy Mathematician), and The Amazing Race!  These activities have been an absolute hit with students and the amazing race activity is a perfect way to chunk the investigation and differentiate it for all students. Regardless of what curriculum you use, adding more structure into a "Launch Explore Summary Model" can definitely promote a more collaborative classroom.

Launch (opened-ended, thought-provoking question or video)  Explore (ACTIVITIES) Summary(students orchestrate discussion)" Please see my powerpoint from ICTM 2016 conference below if interested in LES ideas!

Chunk and Slide
This a great model for think-pair-share when students are learning a new concept such as writing linear equations or solving (for dryer lessons when we want to avoid direct instruction at all costs--gotta keep it engaging). Tables are set up in a "U" shaped form and students sit within and outside the circle. Students receive a worksheet with problems pertaining to the lesson goals. They get 1 minute to work on the problem, 1-2 minutes to discuss and collaborate with their partner sitting in front of them, then we go over as a class and then they move to the right. They eventually snake around the u-shape tables and are able to collaborate with everyone in the classroom. Chunk and Slide allows them to move around with structure, keeping them engaged. This is great for boring worksheet days and you want structured mini collaboration.

Survivor (Chunk and Slide 1.0)
My new favorite activity! My colleague decided to name this activity, Survivor- leading to the fact that students need to complete this activity to help study and survive the next day's quiz or test. Tables are placed in "U-Shape" formation. There are two parts in this activity. Part 1: Students receive 1 min and 30 seconds per problem while music is playing in the background, they need to initial their name next to the problem they are working on. After time is up, they move to the right and rotate. For early finishers, I have them analyze the answers from previous problems, starring the ones they agree with and circling the ones they disagree with. Once rotations finish and all problems are completed on the worksheet, by each person in class on the same sheet of paper, students will complete an Error Analysis. I explain to them during the error analysis, they need to look over everyone's work on their worksheet and try to make sense of it. Then they need to find their Favorite Mistake and go to the person with the initials and give them feedback. Then they ask if it is okay to share the favorite mistake.  After 5 minutes of Error Analysis, I have students share underneath the document camera their Favorite Mistakes and we have a whole class discussion. 

The Amazing Race!

This is by far one of the best activities for group accountability. I basically take a CMP3 lesson and chop up parts A,B, C, D and put them into envelopes (destinations from the actual tv show). Envelopes for Level 1, 2,3, 4, 5 are placed in buckets throughout the room. Each group's task is to complete all levels and get to the final level, which they will receive an envelope from me, which is an Exit Ticket where they answer questions and write reflections in their online algebra lesson. The goal of the activity is for the group to work collaboratively as they cannot move onto the next level without my approval. They assign each other the following roles: Teacher Checker, Envelope Runner, Table Facilitator, Supplies person (4 students per group max). Everyone must show their work in their classwork notebook, and the teacher checker runs up to me when they are ready to get feedback. If they are correct, I tell them to go to the next level. If they are incorrect, I often tell them to go back to their group to try again. Or they are allowed a question/hint that will help them answer the level. I really wish people can come in and see the intensity and focus of all students when I give them this task. I did not believe my colleague when she shared this activity with me and said how engaged her students were...until I finally tried it myself!

On another note...
I am so grateful this year to have a classroom set of chromebooks, and it is my first year using Google Classroom! I'd love to get more ideas on how to use it.

Currently, I use GC for daily warmups, agenda, google forms (pre assessments), algebra journals, and an easy way to post challenge problems/ desmos activities. I am also a huge fan of organizing all of this under the "Topics" menu option 
At ICTM's Annual Conference, I completed my first solo presentation. It was a wonderful experience sharing ideas with colleagues and discussing how to promote an inquiry-based classroom. Please see the below link for the slides and detailed information if interested!