## Nacho Problem

What’s a problem that’s not yours? Nacho Problem!

It’s that time of year, Test Prep time. Which makes me think about using EduProtocols for Test Prep. One great one that really promotes deeper thinking and understanding is Nacho Problem. This was created by Ligia Ayala-Rodriguez. It’s a fun way to do error analysis with your students. I have done this with students as young as 7.

One of the advantages is that you begin by telling the students the answer is wrong. This seemingly takes the pressure off. I like to have the students talk it out the first few times. I guide them along the way to help set the expectations. Just like in an ‘Analyze the Error’ on the test, students are expected to express their thoughts in writing. This can present an additional challenge if they haven’t exercised this skill. I’m not saying we should do this solely to prepare for the state test; the benefits of students being able to do this go far beyond that idea.

How to Get Started

As a class, they are presented with a Nacho Problem. We read and analyzed the problem together; starting with “What do you notice?” and “What do you wonder?” I explicitly tell them the answer is wrong and that we must find where I went wrong. I have found that looking at the question and working out the problem allows us to focus on the process (that the problem is asking us to solve) rather than the arduous task of finding a mistake. Once we work it out together, and later independently, students can then go back and compare their process with the original (wrong) process. It makes it more obvious where the original problem solver went wrong.

The written explanation can be the most difficult part. When I started doing problems like this, students would explain, in an addition problem, “I started in the ones and added 8+7. I left the 5 in the one’s place and regrouped the 1.” While technically that is true and we as teachers understand, that’s not showing an understanding. That is why practicing the structure of Claim, Evidence, and Reasoning (CER) is so important.

Claim: Ms. N. did not draw a quadrilateral.
Evidence: The student example with explanation.
Reasoning: Definition of a polygon and Ms. N’s error.

Finding Problems

One of the easiest ways to collect incorrect problems is from your class. Whether you use exit tickets or collect information from the day’s lesson, you have a plethora of options. When using student errors, it’s advisable to use a common mistake by many students. Done early, this can correct any misconceptions before they become habits. Ligia suggests using mathmistakes.org

Results

Teachers and students alike enjoy this math EduProtocol. Students find it ‘fun’ to find the mistakes. Teachers report that it takes little time to begin implementing in their classes. Doing this a few times a week can really improve understanding. Let’s face it, students LOVE to point out teachers’ mistakes.

If you use this, I would love to hear how it went. What changes did you make? How have your students improved with error analysis?

## Summer Presentations

This summer, I will be presenting at two academies for EduProtocols. My sessions will have a math emphasis; shocking, I know. So this past week when I was asked to come up with titles and descriptions, I struggled. I wasn’t feeling it. Luckily, a friend called before I could toil for too long. I relayed to her my lack of motivation at the time, and she came up with some catchy titles.

• 🍸The Mixology of MathReps – MathReps
• Wheel Of Word Problems – Word Problems with Random Emoji
• Playing with Parts – 8 p*ARTS meets word problems
• 🌶️🌶️ Spicey Solutions to a Bland Curriculum – Nacho Problem
• 👩🏽‍🍳Chef’s Kiss – Sous Chef
• Frayas for Ya Playas – Frayer and, honestly, my favorite title
• 🦹🏻‍♂️Math is a Villain: Comic Strip Math

Then it was time to get started on the descriptions. This is where I got inspired. I doubled down on the titles and all descriptions fit that theme. I mean, check out this description for Comic Strip Math:

In a world full of villains, the fine citizens of Mathemagicalville are up against the most evil, vile, sinister one around. Master of Dark is relentless in the pursuit of conquering the city. It is up to you, the superhero, to prove Master of Dark wrong and find the errors that were made. You create the comic, find errors, explain processes, and become the hero the city needs.

Yes, Mathemagicalville is a mouthful, but the names I wanted were all taken, and so I had to become creative. When I was creating this description, I felt that I had to be very careful with my wording. The character ‘Master of Dark’ was created by my 5th-grade class at the time, around 2019. The character was created to be gender-neutral. However, in today’s political climate, with hundreds of anti-trans laws being introduced throughout the country, I want to be sensitive to this. In 2019, the intent was to NOT represent one group as ‘evil’ or ‘bad’ but to keep the focus on math while empowering ALL the students in my classroom. The empowerment came from not having the gender stereotypes that boys are better at math than girls, and by taking the gender out of character seemed like a good solution at the time. However, as I began writing the description, I tried avoiding any pronouns. I don’t want to put a negative focus on any group.

I may be overthinking all this, and I may not be. However, in cases like this, I would rather err on the side of caution. So what do you think? Am I overthinking this? Does this character need to be revisited? Do I simply avoid using any pronouns as it’s not critical to the purpose of thinking critically about math? I would love to hear from everyone, especially those in marginalized communities.

Okay, that took a serious turn. NOW if you’d like to join me in Laguna Beach or Notre Dame this summer, here’s more information. I can’t guarantee that all seven sessions will be presented at both, but I can say that MathReps and Comic Strip Math will be presented at both – if I have a say.

## Next Level with MathReps

Recently I was in a 3rd-grade classroom doing a geometry MathRep. As I was walking around I noticed that one student wasn’t just writing the answer using just numbers, he was also putting it in word form. Needless to say, I thought this was great! Which then led to a discussion on different ways we could represent the answer. We talked about using tally marks, equations, and shapes.

I then went into another class and did the same lesson. Well, another student leveled it up yet again! I was having students state their answers out loud in complete sentences. As the students were being creative in reporting their answers on their paper, one girl wrote out the complete sentence! Yes! What a win. We celebrated her and her work.

Currently, I am a Tech TOSA (Teacher on Special Assignment) in my district. I love my job for so many reasons. One of which is the ability to go into classrooms and become inspired by the teachers I work with and their students.

If you are interested in this MathRep or others that are available, please head over to MathReps.com to view them all. The best part, they are all FREE! We have kinder through high school.

## MathReps Love at CUE

March 16-18 was Spring CUE, a California educator conference. There were many great sessions to choose from. In addition to all the great sessions, I was able to reconnect with friends. The night before the conference a few friends and I were able to have a fantastic dinner at our traditional ‘night before the conference starts’ restaurant. And it did NOT disappoint.

When I say that there was lots of love for MathReps, I’m not kidding. It felt like it was everywhere. I was not the only person presenting on it. It was in sessions, in the exhibit hall with the vendors, and people talking about them. It was everywhere! The vendor one was cool. As a friend and I were checking out the different booths, she stops me, points to an interactive whiteboard, and says, “Hey, that’s your stuff.” She was right. It was a 3rd-grade MathRep. I chatted with the vendor for a bit. I introduced myself to the person who displayed it. He commented on how he enjoys showing it on the boards because it’s so user-friendly

I was able to present MathReps and Comic Strip Math on the last day. There was lots of interest and lots of great questions. Several attendees wanted to know where they could purchase the book. Fortunately, on the book image, I had a link to Amazon.

So, all in all, it was a GOOD conference!

## MathReps on Jamboard

It’s no secret my new love is Jamboard. I began exploring it a little over a year ago. I liked some of the features: ease of writing, collaboration, and simplicity. I did NOT love some of the features: no revision history, inability to lock background, and some other annoyances. Yet, it became one of my favorite Google Tools.

Within the last four months, Google has been quietly updating Jamboard. First came the text and shapes features. Then came the ability for creators to lock a background. Recently, I discovered that a keyboard shortcut allows you to view the revision history. PC – Alt Ctrl Shift H; Mac – ALT Command Shift H

With all these updates, teachers are using Jamboard more and more. Last week I was able to work in a 1st-grade classroom and introduce Jamboard and MathReps to the students and teacher. We used a MathReps that the students could feel success. This way, if the tool was too much for them, they could at least follow along. Well, the tool was NOT too much for them. It does help that our students have touchscreen Chromebooks to use during distance learning (and yes, when we eventually resume in class instruction). The students had fun, the teacher learned about a few new tools, and everyone left feeling successful. Some students started pressing buttons (this is a good thing) and discovered the shapes tool!

Check out their work:

## Extra Practice

This year I began using ‘Classroom Economy’. The students have jobs, earn money, and rent or buy their desks. Students have several opportunities to earn extra money. This is important because their monthly paychecks are less than their rent (\$1000).

One way they can earn extra money is to solve math problems. I post two problems for anyone in the class to solve. I will only take the first correct answer. One is generally more difficult than the other thus allowing students to challenge themselves. The harder problem will earn them \$50 while the easier one will earn them \$20.

I was able to snap this photo of a student, who NEVER passes up the opportunity to make extra money, practicing the skills that she has learned. Added bonus, we leave the process a student takes on the board for all to see and learn from.

## 92%, Say What?

So what’s the big deal with 92%? A lot when it comes to having 3 weeks off and the likelihood that none of my students practiced their multiplication facts.

Monday was our first day back after winter break. As we do every day, we practiced our math facts using the Fast & Curious Eduprotocol. I had an anticipated drop from our usual 96% – 98%. I predicted, to myself,  it would drop to around 89%.  I wasn’t too concerned as I knew that they could easily get it back up to our normal within a week.

Well, to my surprise, my class scored 92%. Seriously, I was happily surprised that they really didn’t lose as much as I had feared. YES! The continuous rep practice has worked. The facts are sticking.

I was so giddy, I needed to write this quick post to celebrate the success my class is finding. I was sold before, but now I’m a believer for life!

# Resistant

I will admit, I was reluctant to use any sort of ‘timed tests’ for math in my classroom. The research does not support it. However, my students were sorely lacking in their multiplication skills, a skill they should have mastered by now. At conferences in September, I spoke with each parent about the need to practice at home and easy ways they could help their child. After a month, there was little improvement. THEN, I had a conversation with Jon Corippo.

Jon suggested I use the Fast & Curious Eduprotocol with math facts. I knew he had convinced Cori Orlando to try this with her 3rd graders previously. She balked at first then became a believer. I still held out. He gave me the same spiel he gave Cori. I begrudgingly tried it. It felt too much like timed tests. At first, the kids loved it; it was something new. But then, they kept asking for it day after day. This lasted a while. Several months later, they STILL beg for it.

# Does It Really Work?

Simply put, yes. The data speaks for itself. In the beginning, we were averaging around 56% as a class. That’s 56% correct on a 10 – 20 multiplication question quiz. As a class, we could only score 56% on a quiz. And some quizzes we were a bit lower (48%). YIKES! Within two months, as a class, we score between 96% and 98% no matter the quiz I give them. That doesn’t mean that I still don’t have kiddos who are struggling, I do. I still have kiddos who take an incredibly long period of time to complete it. Some day, I have to end the quiz before everyone can finish. But let’s face it, going from 56% – 96% is a drastic difference. I’ll take it!

# My Process

I use Quizizz, a computerized gaming review system. It’s a mouthful but if you’re familiar with Kahoot, it’s very similar. I choose a multiplication quiz. No need to make your own, just do a search and you’ll find one. Set up the quiz in classic mode and have the students sign in. On day 1, we take the quiz twice. The first time is cold, we write down our score (Quizizz is great that it’ll average your class score for you), review the questions, then take it again. We keep our first score then we record our second score to see how much we’ve improved. For the rest of the week, we take the same quiz. If our score goes up, which it should, we erase the last high score and replace it with the newest score. We repeat this process with a different quiz the following week.

Because students can consistently score in the 90% range on the first go-around no matter the quiz, I only do the quiz once on Mondays. I have some added bonuses you can read about.

# Cheating

I have teachers ask if students cheat: help each other, start the quiz over again, tell another student the answer. The answer is yes. But I don’t care. The kids who are getting the answers are clicking the correct answer and reinforcing it. Those that take it again are practicing twice as much as everyone else. It’s really a win-win.

# I’m a Believer

Based on all that I have seen in my classroom, I am now a believer in this protocol. The kids still love it months later. The information is transferring. The data doesn’t lie. Even if you’re still reluctant, give it a try. I did and so did Cori!

## Tic Tac Toe Math

I have been on a creative streak lately. I LOVE #EduProtocols by Marlena Hebern and Jon Corippo. I LOVE #MathReps which were inspired by Jon Corippo’s 8 p*ARTS of Speech (read the full story). As a result, I have been working on Math EduProtocols. My latest one, that is ready to share with the world and receive feedback, is Tic Tac Toe Math.

This is a sample I created for my class. My intent was to review some basic math concepts while having fun. The rules are simple:

Each player writes their name and chooses either X or O.

1. Player 1 chooses a square to complete. BOTH Player 1 and Player 2 independently work out the problem in the chosen square.  If Player 1 is correct, Player 1 gets the square and circles their symbol (X or O)
2. IF Player 1 is incorrect, Player 2 has a chance to ‘steal’ the square. Player 2 MUST complete the problem correctly AND explain where Player 1 was incorrect.
3. Player 2 chooses a square, even if they stole Player 1’s square. BOTH players must work independently to solve the problem. If Player 2 is correct, Player 2 gets the square. If Player 2 is incorrect, Player 1 has a chance to ‘steal’ the square. Player 1 MUST complete the problem correctly AND explain where Player 2 was incorrect.
4. This continues until someone wins or all squares have been completed.

I tested it out on my students. They liked it and had some good feedback. Some wanted ALL algorithms. Some wanted harder problems. This was a fair statement as I purposefully chose easier problems. I wanted to hook them before going all in. Two students worked on the middle square together and decided that they both claimed it; that worked for me. Overall, it was something that they all enjoyed.

The set up of the problems was purposeful. The four corners are meant to be easier problems (DOK 1). This allows all students success. Those that are between the four corners are meant to be a bit harder. Finally, the center square is to be the hardest. A challenge problem. A player can still win without choosing the challenge problem. I did like the modification my students came up with for that middle square. It takes the pressure off one particular player and allows for collaboration, problem-solving, and communication between players in a friendly manner.

I have created a template with directions and the above sample. Feel free to copy and create your own. I would love to hear how you are using it and how your students feel about it. What modifications have you made? Please share!

## #MathReps Work!

Several years ago I created #MathReps (EduProtocols for math) for my classroom. The original idea was based on Jon Corippo‘s 8 p*ARTS of Speech. When I first designed it I was excited and blogged about it. Since then, the idea, and resources have grown. And being who I am, I constantly doubt myself and my creations. I constantly question whether I’m doing good or harm.

Yesterday, some of my doubts were cast aside and my creation was validated. Recently, I was talking to another 5th-grade teacher at my site. We were talking about some tasks that we have students do. She follows the curriculum to a T; I, however, do not. This is in NO way a slight towards her (she’s new and is doing as she is instructed). She shared that she pulled out a concept the students hadn’t seen in a few months (our curriculum doesn’t spiral. I have much more to say about it, but won’t do it here.). It was adding/subtracting with decimals. I thought THAT was a great idea, so I did the same. She reported her students having difficulty remembering to line up the decimals doing the task. As I gave my students a similar task, I observed that they instinctively lined up the decimals. I found this not only interesting but satisfying. My students had been exposed daily to almost 5 months of this concept on various #MathReps. Needless to say, I was elated and felt somewhat justified in doing what I do.