Tag Archives: Group work

Lesson Close

I have a hard time blogging during the school year, but I love to spend the summer reflecting on the past school year and thinking about my goals for the coming year. I have been watching #lessonclose and loving all of the ideas. And then I saw this one….

It all came together for me. I love the flow chart, I love the google sheets, I just love! Thank you!

I started using exit tickets more consistently in my seventh grade class this past school year. I saw was able to use the data to form flexible groups based on my plans for the day. I saw a lot of growth and could pinpoint which concepts students were struggling with. I sometimes had days that students weren’t ready for the exit ticket, and I had to quickly change my plans and save it for another time. I want to see some self-reflection about group work and so I created the rubric below.

I also wanted to find a better way to quickly assess different skills and I’ve been using formative.com so I created this…

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I did all this before I read @rawsonmath‘s post. Now, I’m seeing things in a new light. I think I can still use some of the tools I have created, but I’m seeing the organization of everything a little differently.

Thank you!

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Are stations the answer?

My time as a math coach taught me that stations are the bomb! I observed masterful first grade teachers regularly manage many different math levels without breaking a sweat. I experienced fourth grade teachers manage a room full of wiggly students during flex blocks and everyone was “getting what they needed.” Somewhere along the way we begin to believe that our students can sit for longer, focus for longer, and we don’t need to use stations to reach all learners.

A few years ago my district purchased the Connected Mathematics curriculum. I had used previous versions of the curriculum in the past and many of the problems were interesting and rich. The new version is clunky, disjointed, and difficult to use. Many of the problems are long, requiring several class sessions to complete with very little conceptual understanding. My students lose interest and are unmotivated by the time we finish a problem. The math they may have gleaned from the problem is lost in the euphoria they feel to be done.

As the year came to a close and I reflected on what went well and what didn’t, I was reminded of the times my students were engaged, challenged, and motivated to learn. The times this happened the most this year was when I was using stations in my classroom. They felt as though the tasks were interesting and at their level.

I began to think about my first unit in terms of stations using the math workshop model thinking about how I could use the best parts of the CMP curriculum. I came up with four stations including one where I will meet with students in small groups. These small group meetings will force both remediation and enrichment to happen within the station rotation.

Then I ran across this tweet….

After I read a little about responsive stations it seems like this is exactly what I need to add to make my stations even more productive. By first spending time to teach the necessary skills before starting a new unit I can really meet my students where they are. Looking at what students know and how to build off of that I can make all students feel successful.

So, my first unit is no longer my first unit. I need some station work before we start the first unit. The skills they really need to have solid are their multiplication and division relationships. I started planning my stations here. I think this will also be a great time to teach some of the classroom routines that need to get done at the beginning of the year so I’m only going to use three stations. More to come…

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Struggles

My colleagues and I decided to enrich our CMP 3 curriculum with one of Cathy Fosnot’s Math in Context Units, Best Buys, Ratios and Rates. It has been a rewarding experience and changed the way that I think about teaching.

One thing I have regained is the benefit of “struggle.” Students that are willing to struggle are able to gain more from a problem than students that insist on having an answer first. It is sometimes tempting to teach what students need to know before they have had this experience.

I have always enjoyed teaching this way, but time constraints and the need to finish the standards in a timely way often scare me into a different teaching style. I gave my students some extra time today. I wanted to finish the problem and share out by the end of the class period today, but students were engaged and learning. I let them go on with the problem for the whole period. One student looked at me so excited and said, “I’m so excited, it feels so good to struggle and then get it.” She had just discovered what I was trying to teach. I didn’t do any of the talking, she did all of it and she learned!

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Cogs

I was really looking forward to this problem. I couldn’t wait to see what my classes would do with it and it did not disappoint. I mixed up my classes (assigned seats) and gave them very little direction. I wanted to see what kind of mathematical thinking they would do on their own.

nrich.maths.org

The Counting Cogs is very specific and Nrich has even included step-by-step group directions so students can easily manage the problem in a group. Students need to discover which pairs of cogs will allow a colored tooth on one cog to go into every gap on the other cog. Students cut out the cogs, colored one tooth, and started spinning cogs. Nrich even has an interactive that helped me give some classes an idea of what they should be doing. Thank you Nrich for a great problem.

I was thrilled with the thinking. Some students quickly realized they needed some way to keep track of pairs and created great tables and charts. Some students wanted to immediately begin making conjectures. We talked about proving what we believe to be true, and they began to see that one example is not enough to be a proof. Some students even started creating other cogs than the ones supplied to see if their conjecture really worked. I heard a lot of conjectures! Tomorrow when we begin discussing this problem students will quickly discover the cogs that are relatively prime to each other work and the others do not. I did hear this conjecture today, but students just didn’t have enough time to really prove it.

This problem let students extend their thinking about factors, primes, and relatively prime numbers. They were actually applying these concepts rather than completing another worksheet. I really like the way multiple concepts are intertwined in this problem.

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Changes.

This year my room will not look like this. It already looks very different (I don’t have a picture of that). Tables have replaced individual desks and there are working nooks, created for students to work together uninterrupted. Each group will have a large whiteboard for collaborating on problems, a la @bowmanimal, and smaller individual whiteboards for working independently.

Group work has always been the norm in my room. I also feel that students used to be better at it. Now students believe group work is dividing up a problem and copying one student’s work. For group work to be successful there needs to be discussion about the problem before any work is done. I want to spend a lot of time teaching how to do group work at the beginning of the year. There needs to be a lot of processing while students are working. I think Dan Meyer’s beginning of the year activity  stacking styrafoam cups is a great way to start teaching group work. The marshmallow challenge is another idea for teaching group work. While it isn’t directly related to the curriculum, it is a great way to see how students work together. 

Technology! This is the first year that we have laptop carts to share for each grade, as well as projectors, wireless, and document cameras in each room.

1) Class Dojo is at the top of my list. This was a source of conversation at BLC12. The way that you can engage students in a discussion about behavior and what they want the classroom norms to be is very exciting. And who wouldn’t love the little monsters?

2) Edmodo is also going to be implemented this year in my classroom. I was using another website, but I want students to have the opportunity to interact with the site, ask questions, and answer each others questions. I also hope to start posting pencasts to begin flipping my classroom. I say begin, because I am not ready to commit. We’ll see how it goes.

Wow! I didn’t know I had so much to say.

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