Thursday, November 9, 2017

Visualizing Rate of Growth using #ClothesLlineMath

You know how there are some sessions you go into and you walk out thinking, "Wow, why didn't I ever know about this before?"
Yup. That was me at the CMC-South Conference at Chris Shore's session on #ClothesLineMath.

He challenged us to use what we learned within 2 weeks. I don't know if I'm within the timeframe, but it doesn't matter. Cuz I was excited. And I tried it.

In my classroom, we are learning that exponential functions grow at a faster rate than linear functions. What a great spot to use #ClothesLineMath!

First, I asked my math department friends to come visit me during periods 1, 3 and 5 so they can give me suggestions.
Then I came in super early to class to rearrange my room.

I have desks in groups of four for group work. The students face each other, not me. Today I wanted students to focus on the clothesline, so I set up the desks in an arc facing the front.
I haven't had my students face me all year, so when the students actually came in and sat looking at me, I felt satisfied. It felt like participation.

I went into  Chris Shore's website the evening before and practiced at home with my daughter, so I had plans to have students go on the board and work on their own number line in groups of 2. But I didn't implement that during my 1st and 3rd period cuz I was excited about the "perceived participation".

I didn't use fractions, decimals or negative numbers on this day. Just whole numbers. I was happy to see that the students who did participate used hand methods like Chris Shore mentioned in his session.

I used a word problem from my textbook(shown below). My students pointed out that soccer teams would never start with 1 minute of practice like it says in plan 2 of the question. I should have thought about the problem instead of only thinking about using #ClothesLineMath. Oh well. It was too late.

I had students place the numbers on two lines. One for Plan 1 and another one for Plan 2. As we added more numbers to the clothesline, we realized we had to rearrange ALL the numbers on the line(setting the benchmark). We saw that the space in between numbers on the line for plan 2 increased by two times. In plan 1, the increase in practice time remained the same. We saw that the space in between the numbers remained the same.
I felt satisfied with the lesson but was sad to see that students could not come up with an equation for the two plans.

For the remaining 5 to 10 minutes of class, students had to write down their observation and answer the question from the textbook in their notebook.

Then third period started and (yes!) my teacher friend Deatra Lee showed up to give me pointers. I also have a para-educator that period, which means I get an extra pair of eyes. Now that this is my second time doing the same lesson, the excitement of trying something new quickly faded and I started seeing what any normal person can see. Deatra kindly stayed after class and shared that she saw a few dominant personalities and they were actively participating, but others were not. I told her I had markers and cloths so students can work in groups on the board while I have other students come to the front to work on the clothesline, but I didn't implement it. What I did NOT tell her was that I really enjoyed having students face me and it made me FEEL like they were participating and learning. I was too embarrassed to share that. Deatra also suggested giving students time to talk to their elbow partners first then having them sharing out their observations to me. I was so glad that Deatra helped me see beyond my "perceived participation".

Of course I implemented her tips during fifth period.

I saw a beautiful room during fifth period with kids up, around and loud. Because they were in groups of 2 to 4, I think they felt more comfortable coming to the front to place the numbers on the clothesline.

I'm not going to lie. My pictures look so much more beautiful than the actual lesson. But anyhow.
This was how my first attempt at #ClothesLineMath went. It was fun for me. It was different for the students. I felt bad that my first and third period students did not get the same interaction that fifth period students got. But now I know what to do if I use #ClothesLineMath again.

How are you using #ClothesLineMath in your classroom? I'd like to know.
Pleases visit Chris Shore's website and see what you want to do in your classroom. Then share it with Chris, but also share with me. Cuz we all wanna be better at our craft. Right?

Monday, September 4, 2017

Making Sense Of Solving Systems... with #360Math

It's the beginning of the new school year... again. And my new set of students are at it again.
They work in groups of two and write their last names above their heads on the board so I know who's working on what. I am teaching Algebra 1B again this year. Yes, I honestly don't enjoy teaching this class. But I want to make the best of everything. I've been using 360 math for a few years now. It's getting popular among my teacher friends and I get to talk to many teachers about the benefits of it all.

But my friends always ask me.

"Do you really have 100 percent participation?"
"What if you have a student who is really resistant?"
"What if a student really doesn't care?"
"Do you use 360math everyday?"

Come on, friends.

360math is better than what we are making our students do on their notebooks. No. Students have bad days and some students really don't care. So I don't get 100 percent participation everyday in every class. And no. If I use 360math everyday, it will be the same as taking notes in their notebook everyday. We all know we get tired of monotony. We all know we have other hands on activities that doesn't require students stuck to the board. And yes. I'm sorry. I also do traditional lectures about once a week. But I make it short and have them run straight to the boards afterwards.

I think this is my fifth year using 360math. Every year I told myself that my students are not even capable of solving systems. So then why do I waste my time having them solve systems using word problems? I tried skipping word problems altogether. My colleagues would agree with me. I knew I was right. I felt it was the previous math teachers' fault.

But you see, I have a daughter who is in 6th grade. And a son who is in 5th grade. And I help them with math at home.

I realized my kids have a hard time with word problems. I wasn't going to blame their teachers for this.

So this year, I decided that I'm going to use word problems 80 percent of the time in my classroom. Cuz I want my students to stop asking me where they would use math in the real world. I believe I'm at week 4 in the school year. I've only spent 2 days WITHOUT word problems.

Students tell me I make their life difficult. They say they feel like they're in an English class. But no one has yet asked me how Algebra is used in the real world.

I started week one with this question from my Pearson textbook. I just introduced the rules of using the board in pairs. I didn't teach anything. I told them to do whatever they want on the boards to solve this question and give me an answer. My students were lost. They just drew the picture they saw on the board.

It was the third day of school so they all tried to do something for me. I walked up to some groups and some knew the answer already. I told them to show me the work on the board. Then I asked them if they could maybe make me a table or a graph. We spent a whopping four days on the board with the same question with me walking around and suggesting they do certain things until we came up with a table, a graph and an equation.

Some students complained that I'm a horrible teacher because I didn't teach them anything. Others felt good about themselves because I was apparently not a teacher and somehow they figured out how to solve this.

On the fifth day, I had them sit on their desks and take notes from me. Students told me I am teaching only because I am afraid they will snitch on me to the principal. I told them to go snitch anyway. I tried to help the students understand what the x and the y axis means, what the y intercept and the slope represents. And I had them explain the answer they found in words so other people who do not know Algebra would understand them.

On the sixth day, I gave them 5 word problems. Three weeks already passed. They only solved about one problem a day. They took their first test. There was only one word problem on the test. I do not need more than one to see if they got that one standard or not.

I was really shocked to learn that most students know how to graph and get the answer, but do not know what the slope represents, what the x and y axis represents and even what the answer means. But for some reason, the lower level students who didn't know how to graph got the correct answer and knew what it represented. They used tables to get their answer.

I don't know if my students are learning more. I don't know if I am doing the right thing. But I know that the SBAC tests students on communicating and reasoning. I am a math CAASPP rater and I know that even if my students don't know how to graph, if they can get to the answer, they'll get credit on many portions of the performance task as long as they understand what they are reading and have a working strategy to get to the answer.

So here it is. My new use of #360math. Having students make sense of everything behind the numbers. And I pledge to use at least 80 percent of my time teaching word problems to my students so they understand that numbers are just another representation of information we use everyday.