Thursday, April 25, 2013

Remembering why I teach...

Today was a day that didn't feel right all day long.  I was a bit grumpy and things that normally didn't bother me, sure did today.  Today, being Thursday, meant that it was "Hot Topic Thursdays" for my seventh grade students.  I was dragging by the end of the day and just wanted to go home, when one of my seventh grade girls came through my door and with an excited voice said, "Hot Topic Thursday".  Had to smile at the fact that someone was excited to do math.

"Hot Topic Thursdays" is my attempt to get more students to come for help.  Instead of just saying come anytime and ask a question, I gave them the topic of conversation.  If they need help with that area of math, they can come and we'll work on it.  It has been pretty successful in the first few weeks.  I have had between four to six students come and for a class of twenty-five, that's a decent turn out.

We started in on our topic of distributive property and combining like terms.  Using algebra tiles and lots of examples we worked through problems.  One of the students in the group all of a sudden looked at me and said, "Wouldn't it be faster to just multiply?" and I almost jumped out of my skin.  They were seeing it.  Another student, was quietly watching more than doing during the explanation.  Towards the end of our time I let them play some games to practice their skills and my student with the watchful eye, was modeling the expressions and explaining them to others!  I watched and listened and the student had it.  Everything I had been saying had been absorbed, processed, and was now being applied.  I was a proud momma bear as I watched the learning happen.

It is in these moments that the crabbiness subsides, even if everything went wrong all day long.  Because, in that moment of watching my students, everything was right and I had a part in making it that way.  Here's hoping for another day like this tomorrow!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

System of Equations Review

This was a quick and easy review that I made for my Algebra students while a substitute was in my classroom.  The students rolled integer dice to fill in the blanks.  Then they had to graph their system, solve it by substitution, and finally, solve by elimination.  My goal was that they would hopefully see that there was one method that was easier and start to wonder why.  We'll see what they thought  when I go back on Monday!
This is just a part of the review.  I can't upload a pdf.  There were two others on the back for them to work on.  If you like the pdf, I'll figure out a way to get it to you.

Cutting and Pasting 101...

Well, over the last two weeks I've learned that my 8th graders have forgotten how to cut and paste from kindergarten.  We made an accordion foldable for using substitution to solve a system of equations.  I anticipated that it would take 15 minutes to assemble and then 15 minutes to go through.  Hmm...that was really good in theory.  The assembly took 30 minutes.  So, I'm revamping this one for next year.

It helped the kids to understand substitution and it was nice that they could view two steps at a time.  The kids seemed to like that about the accordion style.  You can take a look at what it looked like below.  It takes two pieces of paper to get all of the steps down.  Next year, I think I will turn it into a chart.  Most likely will be faster to complete.  However, if kids are making them all year, then it might be a lot faster.  I only started doing this with 8th grade this past trimester.

The cover says "Steps for Solving Systems of Equations by Substitution"

The steps are down the left hand side and then an example is down the right hand side.  Next year, I will have 2 examples.  One will be like y= 2x-3 and y=5x+9 and the other will be like 3x+2y=10 and 4x-5y=13.
   A few days later, we made foldables for elimination by addition and subtraction and by multiplication.  We waited a few days because my school uses Saxon.  So they had other lessons on other topics in between the substitution and elimination lessons.  These foldables went a little faster, but I had the charts cut out and and booklets put together.  I only have 30 kids, so it wasn't so bad to do.  This format seemed a lot better for the kiddos.  So I am keeping that in mind for the future.

Here is what that foldable looked like.

The two columns are labeled "Addition Example" and "Subtraction Example".  The steps on the left I made using Creately.

The two columns on the chart are labeled " Multiply 1 Equation" and "Multiply 2 Equations".  Again, the steps were made using Creately.

Here are the files for the different foldables that are pictured here.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Friday Success

So, this week I was trying to use foldables for notes instead of just letting my 8th grade Algebra students write their own notes like I have been.  On Friday, we finished our second foldable of the week (crazy week with field trips canceling a few our classes).  After making the foldable, I have been having the students work on a skills sheet that I am calling "math workshop" for lack of a better title right now.  While students were working on the skill sheets and using their foldables (rarely saw them referring to their notes before without encouragement), I started hearing, "Oh! I get it.  It's like the example under the third flap." or "Hey, I actually get it!".  I had more than one student say that this lesson was easy.  I was getting more and more excited with each positive that they gave.

This year has been a struggle for me to teach math in a way that it hasn't been before.  I really felt like I lost my math groove.  What I realized on Friday was that I had been holding myself to a program too strictly.  When I followed the prescribed lesson, but put my twist on it, things started to click and I was so happy and sad that I didn't figure it out earlier.  Now that we are on a roll, I want to keep the momentum going and finish strong at the end of the year.

Here are some photos of the foldables we made this week.  I am sorry about the picture quality on some of them.  It was the best photo I could get.
This is what I wanted the students page to look like in their notebook.  The two vocabulary words are Frayer Models folded in half so we could fir more than one on a page

This is the simple foldable that we did for the first day.  The students filled in the example part of the foldable the rest was typed in for them.
These two pictures are our foldable for direct variation.  There were five examples in the textbook and I made each one a flap of the foldable.  I also had the paper not folded exactly in half so we could write the definition and direct variation equations at the top and it would be visible for the students.