Monday, January 30, 2017

GCF Candy Tax

Have you read Math = Love's Candy Tax analogy for GCF?  I love it - I've used it every year since I read that blog post and this year, I made some cute notes to go with it.
Here is the gist of Sarah's Candy Tax Analogy, in my own words: When I take my kids trick-or-treating, I impose a candy tax on them for all the work I have to do as a parent. Because I'm fair, I take evenly from both my kids, but because I'm greedy, I take as much as I can. We do the first example and the kids are furious about this candy tax, because you take all of Susie's M&Ms.  I tell them, "That's her lesson to trick-or-treat harder next Halloween." Most of the students easily see that you cannot take any Milky Way or Pay Day since they don't both have them (not a shared term).

These doodle notes also seemed to help hook the idea in their brain, which is so handy when I refer back to GCF as Candy Tax as we continue factoring with the idea of "What do these terms have in common?" The kids also love have places to add pops of color and engage their right brain.


We practiced finding the GCF with this fun maze from Amazing Mathematics. I love a maze for the first time they practice something like this because it's much less intimidating for students to decide among possible GCFs than to write one on their own.

Then we filled out this table for practicing the connection between factoring and distributing. I'm not sure where I found this one, but it's great for connecting the idea of factor as the undoing of distribution.


For students who needed more scaffolding, we broke it down like this. And it was a great chance to refer back to those Laws of Exponents Notes.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Day I Stopped Bringing Papers Home to Grade


One of my least favorite teacher tasks is grading papers. I try to get all my school work done at school (I have a one-year old and four-year old, so not much school work gets accomplished at home). Since I gave a short Polynomials Quiz to round out the week, I decided to bring the quizzes home to grade. Of course they sat in my school bag all weekend without ever being touched - I totally forgot they were even there. Monday morning, I'm unpacking my bag and I pull out an empty water bottle.


It's 7 am on a Monday morning, so my brain is not firing at 100% and I'm trying to remember if I put an empty water bottle in my bag. The bag didn't even feel wet. That's because I had 140 quizzes in my bag to soak it up!


I wanted to throw the whole soggy mess right into the trash can, but instead I put it down and went about teaching my first two classes. Luckily I had "pl-unch" on that Monday {planning and lunch together ;)} so with a two-hour break, I decided to lay the quizzes out to dry. They covered almost every surface in my room.


I decided to open the window to speed up the process and the wind caught it and blew it right off the hinge. So I also got to make an embarrassing phone call to the front office and basically tell them I am an idiot.


Then I walked around with my marker and started grading. Almost every paper had a least one dry corner where I could write the score and look how cool the papers look when you write on them wet. One student asked if I graded them with watercolor paints and another asked if I was so upset with the quiz grades that I threw them in the lake. #thingsteenagerssay.

Someone with a badge that said, "glazer" later showed up to fix my window, and give me a mini-lecture about not opening windows during wind advisories, which I totally deserved after he had to stand on a ladder next to my open second story window and screw a hinge back together.


Morale of the story - Stop bring papers home to grade!! :)



Monday, January 9, 2017

Low-Tech Student Response System



For the past two years, I've had clickers. I adore them. I could ask a multiple-choice question during instruction and receive instant feedback about what my students thought. I could even print fancy graphs to impress my administrators with my use of data-driven instruction. Then along came our district's mandatory update to Windows 10, which does not play nice with my amazing clickers. And I've been pouting even since. Each time I open a PowerPoint from last year, I see these beautiful multiple-choice questions and I angrily delete them or re-write them.

This week, I was introducing Polynomials, and I had great multiple-choice questions already formatted and ready to go. I decided to leave them in and just have students raise their hand for the correct answer. Lame, I know. 

We did these fun {free} notes to introduce the vocabulary and then it was time to practice with multiple choice, and I had a stroke of genius. I went to my supply cabinet and took out a stack of index card. I told students to write the letter A large with a marker. Then, turn it 90 degrees and write B (yes, upsidedown!). Then flip it and do the same with C and D. 


I posed the question, and they then held up their answer choice so that I could see it. 



I was able to quickly assess what students thought (just like my clickers used to allow me to do) and collect data that helps me drive instruction. I can't print out fancy-pants graph (one point clickers). BUT unlike the clickers, were I could only see a break-down of which students responded with each answer after the lesson, the index cards allow me a quick visual of who needs extra help (one point cards). Plus they actually WORK! (100 points cards) - and they will work with all future Windows updates as well ;) 


At the end of 1st period, I collected the cards and reused them throughout the day.  The students had much more fun with this than just raising their hand, and I saw less guessing/cheating/looking around. Another win for active engagement!

Here are the questions I used about classifying polynomials if you want to try them out. 
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