Total 39 Posts

## Great Classroom Action

Jennifer Abel creates a promising variety of card sort activity:

Basically, after dealing the cards, the basic idea is for kids to pass one card to the left while at the same time receiving one card from the player to their right. The object of the game is to collect all cards with the same suit/type/category. Here are two examples that I recently created for next year.

Julie Morgan offers three sharp lesson-closing activities. My favorite is “Guess My Number”:

I choose a number between 1 and 1000 and write it on a piece of paper. Each group takes it in turns to ask me a questions about my number. The questions can vary from “is it even?” to “what do the digits add up to?” to “is it a palindrome?” (my classes know I like palindromes!) When a group thinks they have figured it out they write it down and bring it up to me. Each group is only allowed three attempts so cannot keep guessing randomly. I like this for emphasising mathematical knowledge such as multiples, primes, squares, etc.

Pam Rawson contributes to #LessonClose with both a flowchart that illustrates her thought process at the end of classes and then some example exit polls for both “content” and “process” objectives:

As a member of the Better Math Teaching Network, I had to come up with a plan – something in my practice that I can tweak, test, and adjust with ease. So, I decided to focus on class closure. Since I don’t have an actual process for this, I had to think intentionally about what I might be able to do. I created this process map.

Robert Kaplinsky offers the #ObserveMe challenge:

We can make the idea of peer observations commonplace. It’s time to take the first step.

## Great Classroom Action

Annie Forest gives you ten ideas for your last week of class:

Here is my criteria for what makes a good mathy activities for the end of the school year: no/low tech; still incorporate math or problem solving in some way; fun and engaging.

Hey I’ll pitch one in! Here’s an eight-year-old blog post of mine. Every student starts with a 2D paper circle and by the end they’ve collaborated to construct a 3D icosahedron!

Marissa Walczak started carrying around a whiteboard as she helps students with their classwork:

If I wanted to show something to students I would always have to ask if I could write on their paper (which I really don’t ever want to do), or I’d have to say “wait for one sec” and then I’d go grab a piece of scratch paper, or I’d draw something on the board and then it’s far away from the group and then everyone sees it even though I don’t want everyone to see it.

Christine Redemske’s class takes Popcorn Picker to the literal limit, making cylinders that are shorter and shorter and wider and wider.

Tina Cardone gets a lot of mileage out of a very simply-stated arithmetic problem:

In the next question students needed to decide what half of 2^50 would look like. All around the room students wrote 2^25. But children! We just talked about that! And then I realized that 1) it’s far from intuitive, that’s why they included more questions in the book to solidify this idea and 2) the language changed.

## 2015 Remainders

Let’s close out 2015. In this remainders edition:

• Eight new blog subscriptions from November & December.
• Five essential 2015 posts from this blog.
• Three bloggers I envy.
• Seventeen Great Classroom Action posts I never got around to posting.

Blogging

• We successfully goaded Brett Gilland into tweeting and blogging. His writing features art, wit, and insight for days. Best follow of my fall quarter.
• Jason D’Arcangelo is an elementary math coach, making him rare company online.
• Kendra Lomax does interesting work in elementary math education also, most recently with the University of Washington’s Teacher Education by Design project.
• Damian Watson just came off a two-year blogging hiatus with a post featuring Malcolm Swan, Andrew Stadel, and cognitive conflict, which pushes all three of my buttons.
• Meryl Polak likewise came off a maternity leave to post about her experience designing and implementing a 3 Act Math task.
• Geoff Wake was one of my colleagues at the Shell Centre when I set up a tent in their offices several years ago. Great guy. Interesting thinker. I’m excited to see him maintaining a blog.
• Jenn Vadnais does consistently interesting work with the Desmos Activity Builder. I’m tuned in, hoping to learn how she works.
• Glen Lewis blogs thoughtfully about technology, learning, and engagement in math education.

These blogs are each low volume, producing maybe one post per month. There is zero risk of getting overwhelmed here. Just toss them in Feedly or some other RSS reader and enjoy their insight whenever they find the time to share it.

Honorable Mentions

I don’t have a lot of envy in me for other Internet math ed types – their followers, retweets, subscribers, etc. Just keep working. What does turn me green, what I do covet, though, is another blogger’s ability to stir up conversation, to mobilize and collect the intellect of his or her readers. In 2015, that was Dylan Kane, the blogger whose posts invariably had me clicking through to the comments to see what he managed to provoke from his readers, then scratching my head trying to figure out how he did it.

If your heart belongs to elementary math education, the best moderators I have found there are Tracy Zager and Joe Schwartz.

My Year in Review

If you’ve come to this blog only recently, here are five posts that received a lot of traffic and commentary this year:

Looking for favorites from the wider online math education community? Check out the #MTBOS2015 hashtag. If I had to award my own MVP, it’d be Elizabeth Statmore’s “How People Learn” and how people learn where she turns essential research into manageable practice.

Great Classroom Action

And now, shamefully presented without commentary, seventeen posts I read in 2015 that had me check myself and think, “That classroom action is great!” I haven’t shared these yet and it’s time to clean the cabinet.

## Great Classroom Action

Scott Keltner sent a drone up in the sky while his students plotted themselves down below. I emailed Scott and asked for his lesson plan and he sent back something involving playing cards and, frankly, none of it made any sense to me and I seriously don’t understand how the downside of cost, time, and effort could possibly outweigh the upside of drones (!) but I’m so curious. Bug Scott via Twitter to write up what he did here.

Julie Reulbach used zombies to create a need for logarithms. Zombies are, obviously, catnip for some students, but that isn’t what caught my eye here. Julie understood that logarithms are a shortcut for inverting an exponential equation. And if you’d like to create a need for a shortcut it’s helpful for students to experience the longcut, however briefly. Watch her work.

Ollie Lovell used one of my unposted tasks with a group of students in Myanmar who spoke very limited English and whose classroom had no electricity. Imagine how your favorite lessons would have to change under those constraints and then read how Ollie changed his. I learned a lot.

Sarah Hagan shares a game from S T called Greed, which helped turn her students’ perception of box-and-whisker plots from useless to useful. Crucially, the game exploits the need for box-and-whisker plots, which is comparison between multiple sets. Creating a box-and-whisker plot for a single set of data will feel pointless, same as teaching someone to use a carrot peeler by using it to paint a house. That’s not what it’s for!

## Classkick Defeats The Mind-Reading Math Robots

Classkick allows you to give your students written feedback on work you assign on iPads. Crucially, that student work can be handwritten, which is (potentially) more valuable for feedback than multiple choice work. I thought it looked promising and I wrote about some of its promise last September.

Ruth Eichholtz didn’t find it as useful in class (where it’s hard to focus on a dashboard) as she did out of class, when she took a personal day:

I had my iPad at home and had iPads brought to the students at the beginning of the lesson. They were monitored at the start by a substitute teacher, who made sure they were present and that they received my email instructions. And then they joined my lesson on Classkick and worked, for 75 minutes, with me. As the students worked through each review problem, I could see their progress. I could make comments on their solution methods, correct their mistakes, and praise their successes. A few times, I tried to tell them they could use pencil & paper and just resort to Classkick when they needed help, but every single one chose to work on the iPad for the entire lesson!

I’m pessimistic about any vision of math education that has a robot grading the work of millions of students. These robots just aren’t good enough yet.

I’m intrigued, however, by this vision of math education that has one expert human analyzing and responding to the handwritten mathematical thinking of many more students than could fit in the same room at the same time. Let’s push ahead a little farther on that path.

Featured Comment

The first thing I thought about after seeing the tutorial was that I could start a mini Saturday school lesson for those students that need or want the help. Also, some of my students have a lot of after school activities, I have meetings and trainings, so I could see setting a time where we could review some work.