Archive for September, 2014

A Wonderful Day!!

Posted: September 4, 2014 in Uncategorized

Today was an awesome day!

In my 6th grade math classes we have been working on multiplying and dividing decimals. So today, I put students in pairs facing each other in their seats. I gave each pair of students one whiteboard and one marker. After they discussed who was student A and student B, student B took the whiteboard. I looked at the students, leaned in and in my raspy voice (because I’ve been fighting voice issues this week):

Alright, we have a problem. The students with the whiteboard has lost their minds. They no longer know how to solve problems. I will write a problem on the board and the only thing that student can do is write the problem down. It is the responsibility of their partner to tell them how to solve the problem, including what numbers to write and where to write the numbers.

Working a problem together.

Students telling their partner how to solve the problem.

The students were hooked. I wrote the problem down and students with the whiteboards really took the roll seriously of not knowing what to do. I was exciting watching the strategies of the students as they helped their partner. Some would hold the whiteboard up so their partner wouldn’t have to read upside down. Some partners would stand and go stand beside the writer to help them with the problem.

After about 2-3 minutes of work time, I would work the problem on the board so that students could compare their work to the correct answer. After each problem the students would change roles and help the other person. They had a great time of reviewing and then having a great time discussing and finding out if they did the work correctly.

In my Pre-Algebra classes, we talked about multiplying and dividing integers. I wrote on the board a simple problem like 4×6 and asked the students for the answer. They easily and quickly said 24. Then I placed a negative sign in front of the 4 and their looks went blank. I then placed a negative sign on the 24 and heard a loud “OOOOOOOO”. They got it . . . or so they thought.

I then wrote on the board the following: 4 x 6 = 24, -4 x 6 = -24, 4 x -6 = -24, and -4 x -6 = 24.

They were all saying, yep, that’s it, got it, WHAT?!?!? That last equation had them confused.

UNTIL

I had a student in each of my two classes notice what to do and shared it with the class. It was amazing seeing the wheels turn in class. I then gave them a page with 95 problems on it and asked them to solve 30 of them. The page was divided into different sections with each section needing so many completed in it. We discussed that looking for the easy problems may be easy, but it isn’t the best way to go.

Students started working together, solving problems, and asking each other for definitions of words that they may not have seen before. Most were able to finish in class, so I gave them the key so they could check their answers. A few didn’t miss any while a few found the mistakes they had made and understand what was wrong. I was even able to ask some students who struggled to try a couple more problems and they had no issue doing so.

So many of my students want to learn and to better themselves. I love the atmosphere that all the students are bringing to my classroom this year. That make my excitement of doing the Social Contracts on Monday greater. I know they are going to make some great contracts and help each other through the year.

How as your day? Are there any big things happening in your classroom?

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The Struggle Is Real

Posted: September 1, 2014 in Uncategorized

Well, we have been in school for 9 days so far. Things are going well. I feel we are starting to get into the routine of school, but I also know that will take another two weeks before we are smooth sailing.

My biggest struggle so far this year is time and processing speed.

1) The time I teach is significantly different than what I’ve been used to. The past three years O have had about an hour and twenty minutes pre class period. This year at my new building I have 50 minutes.

Now, I know some of you are saying that you’ve always had about 50 minutes and you think that I’m just complaining. Well, I am a little. Ha

I never thought it would be that big of a difference, but it really is. By the time I take attendance, go over the days standard and find out from the students about “good things”, I’m down to about 40 minutes. I know that is still plenty of time, but my problem is is that I’m over planning. I have too much planned for the class period.

Again, where’s the problem? Better than not having enough, right?

Well, the problem is that by Friday I’m feeling down because I didn’t get covered everything that I wanted to. Yes, I know adjusting is important and I do that, but it’s still rough thinking that I didn’t get covered what I wanted.

2) The processing speed of 6th graders is drastically slower than 8th graders. Now, I know they are still getting accustomed to middle school life and changing teachers, but again, it’s new to me.

I have to keep reminding myself that they are adjusting and doing the best they can. They want to do well for me, I just need to slow down a little. It’s going to be okay, Anthony.

I know that as the year goes along, all of these silly thoughts and complaints will go away. It’s just the beginning of the school year, I know.

As I always say, I just wish it were the middle of September, we were in our routines, and the school year is running as it should. It will get there, I know it will.

What’s your biggest struggle with the start of the school year?
Any advice on how to help me plan my class periods a little better?