#MTBoS30 Day 16: Easy Peasy Differentiation

Julie Morgan posted as part of #MTBoS about Challenge Grids about a week ago and as a second year teacher currently teaching all collaborative classes I soaked the idea right up. It was crazy easy to create (I mean, all you do is take a worksheet with a bunch of “boring problems”) and it saved a lot of paper (which is something I’m really trying hard to stop wasting).

As a class we worked through one problem, solving by factoring and using the quadratic formula and checking the answer by graphing. Students were at their desks with dry erase markers and worked on these problems on their desks. I walked around and would answer questions they had and checked their answers. The student that received the most points will get a piece of pie tomorrow – I’m always talking about making food so most of them are interested in trying it.

Julie had mentioned having a better mix of problems in her original post, so I made sure that I had more medium problems than easy or difficult ones. The only other thing I would do next time is give students a minimum number of problems to complete or a minimum number of points they needed to earn because a couple of students were perfectly content completing the 4 easy problems and stopping there… this isn’t their first time seeing quadratics so I should be expecting them and encouraging them to push themselves into the problems that require more work. But I will definitely be using this idea again in the future!

#MTBoS30 Day 10: Down the Final Stretch

We started SOL Review a while ago. Spiraling has been a thing in some warmups and on assessments, and after spring break each student was given a personalized SOL review packet to work on during AEP. But real SOL prep started on Monday.

Yesterday and today my students took a 44 question practice SOL. It still amazes me the difference in speeds that these kids work. I had some students finish all 44 questions in about 45 minutes total, and other students only got through about half of the questions in the more than two hours provided to them. It’s a good thing that our students have all day to work because if there was a time limit some of these students would simply not finish (which is an entirely separate issue that I may or may not blog about in the future). The highest score was a 28, but that student was one of the ones that didn’t finish. The lowest score was a 9. It’s worth noting that our current passing threshold for the Algebra I SOL is a 50% as well (again, another issue warranting a different post).

My teaching BFF took the time last year to create a spreadsheet that has the standards related to each question and then I formatted it to tell me each question’s average score. There was one question this year that 88% of my students got correct. Another that 0% got right. ZERO. So you can see how this helps me figure out what needs reviewing.

After school today I took all of these results and figured out which standards could be reviewed in half a day and which would take 1-2 full classes. Then I mapped out the next 14 days and figured out when/how many review games to include as well. We’re going to play Zombie Graveyard, do a Kahoot, and have an auction – hopefully these will all go smoothly! But then I read THIS AWESOME BLOG POST and I’m definitely going to try implementing this during review. It seems like a fun way to keep students from hating life as we review and finish up the school year and to give some more rewards for completing work and doing well during review games.

It gets a little discouraging when a student gets a 9/44 on a practice test, but I can’t let it get to me too much because I have to get the students to overcome that. I think it’s possible. Maybe I’m crazy.


Zombie Graveyard

I haven’t posted in a couple of weeks due to some traveling but I wanted to make sure that I posted about one of my favorite (and my students favorite) review/practice problem games.

The last day of our unit on Polygons in Geometry was spent on area and perimeter. Students start learning about area and perimeter in elementary school, so most of this is review. The only new thing is the formula for area of a regular polygon. We did two problems using this formula together, and discussed the important of units before beginning the game.

Zombie Graveyard is pretty simple. The goal of the game is to be the last student alive (or the student with the most lives left if you run out of time).

  1. Write down each students name on a white board that is easily accessible to the students. Give each student an X to represent each life you want them to have. The number of lives will depend on how long you want the game to last and how many student you have.
  2. Students, on individual whiteboards, attempt to find the answers to a problem displayed on the board/screen. I gave my students 45 seconds to complete perimeter problems and 1-2 minutes to complete area problems. This is a faster pace than what I normally play at because this is an advanced-pace course and the nature of the topic was review.
  3. Call on students randomly to show you their answers. This year I used the Class Cards app to select 5 random students. Last year I used the random number generator on my calculator and called students by their seat numbers.
  4. Students who have gotten the answer correct get to go up to the white board and take away a life from anyone.
  5. Once you’ve lost all of your lives, you’re dead. But that’s not the end of the game! Oh no. You have become the undead – a zombie – and zombies, should they get a problem correct when they are randomly selected, now get to take away TWO lives.
  6. Keep completing problems until you only have one person left alive!

My students love this game every time we play. I think it’s by far their favorite way to do simple “plug-and-chug” practice problems, and I try to play it once a month with at least one of my classes. It does require lots of student and teacher control, but the students know that the game can end any time it gets too out of hand and we will go back to individual practice problems that are turned in for a grade.

Last year I played this for the first time with simplifying powers in Algebra I. I plan on playing it again later this month for Surface Area and Volume, and am always looking for more concepts that it can be used for!