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.

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.

Just like with anything, if we don’t use newly acquired knowledge we lose it. In addition, John Hattie puts repetition at a 0.73 on the Hattie Check Scale. I would caution that there are different types of repetition and we need to make sure that our reps are meaningful.

I did share this with the other teacher. I assured her it was no slight on her, and she understood, rather it was a slight on the adopted curriculum.

#MathReps

About a year and a half ago I began imagining how Jon Corippo‘s 8 p*ARTS of Speech might look in a math classroom. That’s when I started on my journey of #MathReps. It was small, and originally just for me. I had no problem sharing it and did so freely. Since then, I have been encouraged to expand to other grades. Working with other teachers, I have begun creating and collecting #MathReps for grades K – 8. It is an ongoing process.

Feel free to share with others. All credits are given to those that helped. And to them, I thank you!

Last year I created some 5th-grade math protocols. Simple pages students could fill in to help solidify and keep up previously learned skills. This year, I decided to create grades K – 8. A friend and I got together this weekend and hammered out the beginning of 1st grade. And, we gamified it! The directions and gameboards are in Google Slides. This allows you to copy it and customize it.

I also created a video, based on the 1st-grade teacher’s recommendation. Thank you Cris McKee!

I’d love to hear how you use it. Have suggestions for other 1st-grade MathReps? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

FAIL

Remember that Mult/Div math paper I was sooooo excited about the other day? Well, it was an EPIC fail. Monday morning I introduced the paper to the class. They freaked out. Okay, that’s normal. It was new and unexpected. We walked through each part together…slowly. Oh. So. Slowly. They could almost handle the paper until…division! Yup, that killed ’em. And here is where the fail occurred. I was so excited, I didn’t worry about the 2 numbers they would be dividing. BIG mistake!

Creative Commons 3 – CC BY-SA 3.0 NY – http://www.thebluediamondgallery.com/scrabble/f/fail.html

I don’t remember what the numbers were, but it was a HOT mess! They were over it, I was over it, and they were super confused – it didn’t divide evenly and decimals were needed. For 5th graders who forgot how to divide in most cases, it was too much. So last night I reflected. I needed to choose the numbers (not let the kids) at least for now.

Today I went into class and discussed how that was an EPIC failure. I got jazz hands. Yes, we celebrate failure in my class. I told them what I thought and how I think it could be fixed. Then I asked what they thought. They agreed, the numbers needed to be smaller. So we went through the paper in a slightly different manner. We chose the whole number first. THEN, we went to the tool box and created equations. From here, we were able to find a decimal (first number box) that we knew would divide evenly. We had to manipulate the number (multiply 1/10 or multiply by 1/100) to get our desired decimal, but it worked. And hey, they are getting extra practice with place value!

I am happy to report that things went much more smoothly today. They kids were still a little perplexed as to how to confidently divide, but that’s why we’re in school; to learn. They got to see me fail, which is always a bonus. And they saw how the reflection and iteration are a part of the failure process.

Multiplication & Division Basics

In the beginning of the school year, I created Place Value Basics. This was meant as a daily review to get students thinking quickly about some of the basics we learn. It was a big hit! My students went from doing it in 40 minutes (I know, but they needed the time) to around 8 minutes. Pretty good, right!?

Well, they had been bugging me to change it up. THIS is a good sign. So I came up with Multiplication and Division Basics. As some were still having a bit of trouble with Prime Factors, I kept in on this version.

Each year I teach this before Winter Break. Then after this, we head into fractions. Fractions take up all of the 2nd Trimester and by the time 3rd Trimester and the State Test roll around, students have forgotten how to multiply and (deep sigh here) divide. The problem is they have a shaky footing on these concepts before hitting fractions. I know, I’m the teacher… I should go with what they know and base lessons around them. Yes, in an ideal world that is happening. However, the pressure to do Benchmark Assessments and my district’s pacing (don’t get me started on that), and prepping them for the next grade are all too much for me – and them I suspect.

I have seen a great success with my students and the Place Value Basics. I am hoping that they can have the same success with this. How long will it take us in the beginning? Ugh, I hope not the 40 minutes! It’ll take us a while the first week or so, but in time they will successfully complete it in 8 minutes or less! Again, I will start off doing this whole class.