Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Stand Up/Sit Down

Ok, Stand Up/Sit Down is happy accident that solves the problem our math department spent all last year in our weekly PLC meetings struggling with. We identified that our students (7th and 8th graders) all had difficulty with decimal/fraction/percent conversions. We worked on a district wide plan to create a lesson to address these difficulties. We spent an entire year and came up with nothing.

Move ahead to this year: A fellow math teacher (she saves my sanity, my hide and keeps me on track, and the only term I could think of was 'fellow math teacher? lame.), and I came up with Stand Up/Sit Down as a way to encourage students to come to class prepared, but it is an amazingly quick way to review fraction/decimal/percent conversion, place value, rounding, and estimating...all in about 5 minutes.

Here's how it works in my classroom. Each of my classes is a different color, and at the beginning of class, while their warm up quizzes over the homework is being graded by a co-teacher of MTA, we run through class preparation.
First everyone stands up. Then everyone shows me their agendas. (school planners). If they don't have them, they sit down. Once down, you stay down.
Second everyone shows me something they have to write with that they didn't borrow from me, or another adult. Those without, or who borrowed from me sit down.
Next, students show me completed homework. I don't check for correct answers, I look for math problems and decide on an individual basis how much must be done to be considered finished.
Last I ask them to show me their math notebook, or their note cards...I try to pick just 4 things for them to show me.

Now, the students left standing count off, I write that on their dry erase board as the numerator. They sit down, I have 4 students tell me how many students are there that day, and I write that as their denominator.

Next, they tell me the ratio of students prepared for class that day, and I ask them if they think it more than/or less than 1/2. If  more than-stand up, if less than-stay sitting, if equal to-they do a half-stand/half-crouch. Then I pick 1 student to defend/explain their reasoning. (We've now moved on to comparing to 1/4.)

Then two students with calculators convert the fraction to a decimal, while the entire class tells them what to put into the calculator. I write the decimal, and remind them what place we're rounding to. Each week I change the decimal place, rotating among tenths, hundredths, and thousandths. I ask the class to hold up fingers showing the number of  places past the decimal for thousandths (or tenths/hundredths). Then I draw a line after that place and show it to the class. I ask them to stand up if we're rounding up and stay sitting if we don't need to round, and again have a student explain how they decided to round or not.

Still with me? Believe it or not, it really takes no more than 5 minutes. Ok, the next thing I do is hide the dry erase board from the class while I'm erasing extra digits, and have them tell me what the decimal will be. And I make them say it the proper way-no 'point 35'. I remind them it's because it helps them to convert a decimal to a fraction, not because I am a mean teacher.

Oh-almost forgot. If we've rounded, I put the squiggle on top of the equal sign, and we do a quick mention of why and what it means. Then, convert to a percent, I have them tell me what the equivalent percent will be. Last, we put their board in order on the chalkboard rail. Sometimes from least to greatest and some weeks from greatest to least. I have a beautiful new poster that I need to put up so they have more exposure to the vocabulary, but for now I just try to change it once in a while.

Oops, 1 more step. I have a chart to keep a running total of the data and their average. So far, I haven't had students compute the average because I haven't found the time...never enough time. But that's the next step I need to get incorporated. Right now I have one of my amazing MTAs do it.

So, this is my favorite new activity....I'm hoping it will make a difference come Acuity and state testing time. (fingers crossed)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Citing my source:

Here's the blog that I got my new warm up idea from. Approximately Normal 

The best part of the daily quiz is the immediate feedback to my students. It seems they didn't quite understand that homework had anything to do with learning. Now they get a daily (twice a week-we're on block scheduling) record of how they're doing. Students in sports are required to get a signed grade sheet from all their teachers each week, and I was amazed that they didn't think the quiz grade was their "real" grade. I'd do a quick look in the grade book, and sign their grade sheet with an F, and they'd ask why I was giving them an F.  It took a while for them to stop blaming me for their grade. Happily, I am now writing more "ok"s than Fs on grade sheets.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Happy Groundhog's Day

Well, it seems that I am not a timely poster. Bummer. I'll add more posts to my list of things I need to do. But enough of me and my many short comings....here's what I've done in the past month:

I've totally changed the way I've been teaching and I'm doing it with ideas from all my favorite bloggers. Once I've figured out how to go back and find whose great ideas I'm using-I'll do it. I just searched all my favorite blogs for 30 mins and couldn't find my sources. BIG TIME SORRY!

So, first of all I started back in January with the daily quiz over 2 homework problems instead of warm up problems. Then I quickly collect them, hopefully hand them over to one of my wonderful MTAs (math teaching assistants-paid college students) or a co-teacher. The quizzes get graded, recorded, and handed back in the shortest possible time. What are my amazing students doing while this is happening? They are getting better at sharing homework answers/problems with their shoulder partners. Of course some of them aren't, but there are some who really are teaching someone who sits near them how to do the homework. The students get their quizzes handed back within the 10 minutes of the bell ringing, and I give a jolly rancher for good scores. Students then have 2 minutes to find someone to help them correct their quiz. I've collected the quizzes and I have a wonderful record of daily comprehension that I'll give to parents at this month's conferences. Since we use trend grading, I'll "hide" all of these grades when I've given the Unit Assessment in a few weeks. I'm feeling Thumbs Up about this whole approach to homework.

I'll get pictures of what we've been doing each day with homework completion and class preparation. I think it's been a great way of using fraction/decimal/percent conversion and rounding and class competition. (note to self: bring camera to school)

Monday, January 2, 2012

First Post!

I have a million things I should be doing instead of starting a blog....get ready for tomorrow when kids start back, finish my lesson plans, get my smart board lessons looking just right. But I've spent a lot of time this break reading other people's blogs and thought I'd jump on in. Someday I hope to get pictures up of all the great ideas I've borrowed from everyone...until then I'm just hoping to get this blog looking prettier.