Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Post it note substitution

Today in my math 11 class we solved systems of linear equations using post it notes. We started class by reviewing how to evaluate a variable expression. Then, I gave them two equations, y = 2x and y = 7x + 15. I had them write "Y" on two of the post it notes, 2x on one and 7x + 15 on another one. We then discussed how they both were equal to "Y" so could we move one post it note and put it over the "Y"? Yep. Now we have an equation with variables on both sides and we know how to solve that. When we got a value for "X" we wrote that on another post it and I asked them what we should do. They decided we should put it into both equations and solve for "X". That's what I did. They were amazed that it came out to the same answer in both of them. This led to a discussion on what the answer really meant (the point of intersection).
We then did a couple more examples. I allowed them to use the post it notes if they wanted to. Some used them and some caught on quickly and didn't need them. Next time I do this activity, I will give them another post it note for their "Y" value and then show them how to check their answers.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

How to study math

Thanks to Twitter I found an excellent review activity to use for my classes. I combined two different ideas from to friends on twitter. Thanks @Fouss and @sqrt_1. I used my rainbow of colors of sharpies and picked four questions from each section of the chapter. I wrote each question on a separate index card. I put the answers to section 1, the red cards, on the back of section 2, the yellow cards, and so on. I stood in the door and handed each student an index card when they walked in. They went to the set of desks with the same colored folder. In the folder, I had a worksheet for each student. The worksheet was divided into sections, like a big table. There was a spot for each color numbered 1 - 4. After all the groups were assembled, I had them start. They got 5 minutes to work at each color station. When they moved to a new station, they would begin by checking their answers to the previous questions before starting the new ones.

It was a great activity because it reviewed the whole chapter, they got to work in groups and they got to move around. Also, it's an activity that they can replicate to study at home! My Algebra III class suggested that I put the answers on the back of the index card with the question so that when they get stuck, they could refer to it. I think that would work for that class, since they are juniors and seniors, but for the 9th graders it worked best for them to have to move and then kept them honest!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Success with LS students

Let me start by saying, I started teaching learning support ("closed") math 3 years ago. I co-teach with a learning support teacher. We were lucky enough to have the same students for 3 years in a row...yes, LUCKY and to be able to co-teach all three years. (We teach math 9, 10 and 11.) This is year 3, they are in 11th grade, and they are making such great progress! Last year the class drove me nuts with their lack of effort and motivation. This year the dynamics are very interesting. We have 4 students who are repeating from last year, 3 of which are making great strides. The interesting part is the difference in the kids that we have taught for three years...they participate, do their homework and almost always, give it their best effort. Math isn't easy for them but we have built a rapport with them. They respect us and trust us to help them be successful at math. We know what supports they need and when to give them to them. This week we have been teaching them how to factor quadratics, using the diamond method, and they are getting it! Some of my 9th grade Algebra I kids still don't get it! Happy day! Now hopefully they'll remember how to do it on the PSSA's in March...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

"Homework" in class = immediate feedback for students!

I have been experimenting with my Algebra I classes. The other day, we finished the lesson with 15 minutes left of class. Rather than assigning the 10-15 homework questions and allowing them to start in class. I tried something new. I picked 3 specific questions and asked the students to bring them to me when they finished. If they got them all correct, they didn't get homework. This allowed me to provide immediate feedback to each students.

I thought it would take away from the lesson but the time that I spent going over homework and trying to correct their errors is now spent guiding them in the right direction the first time. The kids love the feedback and the no homework. I love that I get to start each class with a new lesson rather than going over homework questions. I do take a quick walk around to check anyone who did have homework. Maybe I should collect their homework and check it at a later time...or have them turn it in the morning so I can give it back to them in class. Any suggestions?

It is difficult to check each students work, with 25 kids in a class. I get some that finish right early and others that are still working at the bell. I had the kids brainstorm ideas for what to do when they finish early and they requested playing the 24 game, on paper. It worked today but I'm sure that eventually they will get bored with 24. Any ideas for those who finish early? I'm looking for structured, math related activities that have meaning but can be completed in less than 5 minutes. I like 24 because it can never hurt to practice number sense!

Please leave comments/suggestions! Thanks.