January 30, 2014

Algebra 1: Unit 2

Here's your visual tour of my Unit 2.

Unit Overview

This is what the "What I need to remember on my retest" looks like.
Since my district uses common assessments my students are not allowed to take their exams out of the classroom. We use a reflections page similar to this one shown for each unit to write reminders and study notes that students take home with them. 

An updated version of THIS page from last year.
The blank boxes on the right side were for partner practice problems like the ones shown here.

Inside the "How to Calculate and Approximate a Decimal" foldable.

Not-so-fantastic Exponents foldable.

Students worked through the following two pages with teams.

Once they were comfortable with their own rules and generalizations, we wrote the names of the rules on the front of the two folded pages.

And we wrapped up with radicals.

the Simplifying Radicals Maze idea is from here

January 5, 2014

Math Workshop

Not all students are created equal. Yes, we all know that. I try to differentiate my instruction but let's be honest, this is not my forte'. It's very challenging. My class is usually run whole-group style with instruction designed for the average kids. It's bulk, mass market education. And, honestly, it's working somewhat effectively. Good test scores... increased achievement... blah blah blah. But I'm not satisfied. I feel like there are kids who are confused or bored or not challenged or challenged too far or who never ask questions or fill in the blank that are basically falling through the cracks. They are getting a decent education. But I feel like I could give them a better education.

Do you feel like I'm leading up to something here? You little detective, you!!

Well... here's the new idea... MATH STATIONS!

***wooooooo!!! cheers!!! the crowd goes wild!!***

Wait, why are you not cheering? What? Educators have been doing this for years and calling it "math workshops?"

I know, I know, the math workshop model is not revolutionary anymore. People are using it all over the place. But, from my research, mostly with elementary age kiddos. I want to try it with 8th grade math and pre-ap Algebra 1. There are fewer resources out there for this level! Also, the mathematics is more rigorous and 15 minutes every other day will simply not do to adequately teach the concepts I need to teach.

But my kids deserve better. They deserve to have small group time to get their questions answered and really be heard. So, after much research, deliberating, and discussing with other awesome math educators, I'm going to try to implement math workshops.

Here's my current plan. Feedback on this one would be FANTASTIC!
I need all the help and ideas I can get.

On the first day back from winter break I'm going to ask each student to fill out the following:

They will rate the jobs and then I will review all the papers and create groups. There is also a section (not in the picture above) that asks students to list five classmates with whom they work well. They are also asked to explain why they work well together, not just "we're friends" type stuff. I have also given them the opportunity to tell me two classmates they do not work well with and why. I'm hoping that using their input I can create some teams that work well and they also feel comfortable working with.

Here is how I see rotations going.
I am not comfortable yet with the idea of only having "instructional" time for one 15-20 minute station every other day (I teach on block schedule) so I made each group have teacher time for two stations. :) This will allow me to have half of the class with me (12-14 students) while the other half is working through two rotations. One will be MobyMax where they will log in and work through prior concepts that they are weak on. The second will be Practice & Quiz time. This will be where students do practice problems (homework) with their team, work on tasks, and take concept check quizzes (moving towards SBG). I will be using the 6 laptops I got through my school's one-to-many grant for the MobyMax station.

I have created a powerpoint with an embedded shockwave flash timer from online stopwatch. I love using online stopwatch in class and wanted a way to display each groups current station while showing a countdown timer so students can monitor themselves on timing. 

Here's an example of the first slide. I can input the time and then the timer will count down while students can still see where each group should be. When the timer goes off I will advance the slide to show the next rotation and retest the timer. Repeat...repeat...

If all goes according to plan (none of those unscheduled fire drills please!), by the time students are done with each class period they will have had 35 minutes learning a new concept and creating notebook pages with me, 17ish minutes working through old skills that they need to polish up on, and 17ish minutes requizing concepts, working on tasks, playing a fluency game, etc. 

Alright... there's the current plan. What are your thoughts???

I have run stations in my classroom on numerous occasions. I do them for review, gallery walks as teams for multiple representations, and other times as well. In the above post, I'm talking about converting my entire classroom model. We will meet in stations like the ones outlined above daily. This will be how class runs on a normal basis. There will be different days, of course, there always are, but Math Stations will be the norm. 
Hope this helps some of the confusion.