Quick 30 second IBM ad on the uses of math:
Quick 30 second IBM ad on the uses of math:
For the classroom
Mathionaire Here’s the math version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire. Pre-loaded with questions, it will make a fun end of year review game for grade 6 or 7 math classes. I only went through the games a few times, it appears to have a question bank to draw from so if you play multiple times, there will be different questions.
For the classroom or students
Multiple Choice Review
Jeffeson Lab Bank of previous Virginia State SOL questions in the original multiple choice format.
Around my third year of teaching, I started giving notebook quizzes and have kept this procedure ever since. (Not an “open notes” quiz, it’s basically just a notebook check). Many teachers I talk to don’t this, but I like notebook quizzes for two reasons. First, students are more diligent about taking notes and staying organized. Second, this is one of the ways my students are held accountable in my class for their Do-Nows or Warm-Ups, since I rarely collect or grade them.
A few teachers actually collect student notebooks, but I find the prospect of having to go through 35 notebooks very daunting!
A notebook quiz in my class consists of basic questions such as “What was the answer to do now #2 on the 17th?” or “In the notes section on the 14th, example 2 was a rectangle. One of the dimensions was (2x + 1). What was the other dimension?”
When I decide it’s time for a notebook quiz, I simply choose a student’s notebook, making sure it looks reasonable in regards to being dated, with organized do-nows, notes, etc.
The person whose notebook I’ve used gets a 100 by default. When the quizzes are done, we do a paper swap and grade them as a class. I don’t have to be organized, I don’t have to create a quiz in advance, and I don’t have to grade them.
This also has helped in regards to student absences since students are responsible for getting any notes they may have missed while they were out.
I only do this about once every 3 weeks and never announce them in advance.
NOTE: First, of course, I have to lay down the groundwork for the students during the first few weeks of class. Most students have poor note-taking skills and have to be taught to date their notes, label the sections such as “Do Now” or “Notes,” number their problems, etc.
I used to never have much success with writing in math. The majority of what I got back read something like this:
“To solve a two step equation … first you subtract 2, then you divide by 6 and the answer is 3. That’s how you solve a two-step equation.”
So I ended up with stacks of papers that read like this, and really, what do I do with these? It simply showed me that the student knows the arithmetic of how to solve this particular two step equation. As far as it being a method for assessing student learning, I usually knew beforehand which students knew how to solve 2 step equations and which students struggled – simply from having walked around the room during independent practice.
Then I did one writing assignment that produced wonderful results. I told the students there was a Pre-Algebra class or another Algebra class in the building that was learning about two-step equations (or whatever topic I wanted them to write about), and they were having a hard time of it. So their assignment was to write a letter to a “fellow student” and share what they have learned and know about solving two-steps. I then gave them a list of requirements: they must use the words constant, coefficient, isolating the variable, explain how to check a solution, etc.
And those results were wonderful, I think because the students knew the letters were actually going to be read by somebody who might find them useful. Students who usually wrote big to make it look like they wrote more than they did were now trying to write smaller and smaller to cram more words at the bottom of the page. They added illustrations and elaborated and produced beautiful products.
The only catch is that this is a one time deal. In other words, you can only disguise a writing assignment as a letter once. Do it again and the quality quickly goes downhill.
Make sure you do actually give these letters to a fellow math teacher. It makes a wonderful assignment for the receiving teacher as students can check for errors, etc.
Finally, another thing this taught me is that if you want to improve the quality of a non-letter writing prompt, or any summarizing assignment in general, provide a list of requirements.
I have rarely had the need to bring a stack of tests or quizzes home to grade. In fact, the majority are graded before class is over.
It helps that I can grade papers very quickly. And no, they’re never multiple choice or on a scan tron, I’m a firm believer of open ended questions when it comes to assessing students.
This is how I do it: I sit in front of the room on my stool as the students take their test or quiz. (Most of the time, I’m doing the test myself to create a key to use and to check, yet again, that there are no typos in the problems). They bring them up to me when they finish, and I grade them then and there. Here’s why I thought to comment on this procedure.
First is that the students love the immediate feedback. When my students first realize this is how I do things, they always comment on some teacher from a previous year who took weeks to return things to them.
But most importantly, it helps with classroom management. Students are restless after taking a long assessment, and they think they can whisper to their neighbor, whether their neighbor is finished or not. But my students know they’ll have to wait the next day to find out their grade if they make even one peep before the whole class is done. They hate this, especially when they know their graded paper is in my hand. I no longer have issues with talking during a test.
And I’ve never had a problem with a student rushing through just to get a grade. Students who take the whole period know that they can come back at the next class change and I’ll have theirs scored already, too.
Of course, I teach Algebra 1 and Pre-Algebra. I doubt I’d be able to do this with Calculus or Algebra II. And I do not in the least envy the essays English teachers have to pour through.
I played around with some animation gadgets today. The first one I found was Go! Animate and here is my goofy attempt (The beginning is annoying because Jack Sparrow says boo hoo way too many times – in the Preview, he kept moving his mouth for about 15 seconds before it would go on to the next line, so I was trying to fill that time lag. Apparently, when you press save, it edits all that out, but I didn’t know that):
It was relatively simple but the results were a little less than impressive. It could make a good summary project, students could make an animation about how to solve an equation or graph a line, the possibilities are endless. And the free basic package would be all that students would need, you just type in the dialogue and it does everything else for you.
Best of all, this would only take up a portion of one class period because of how simple it is. The hardest part is summarizing everything in ten dialogue scripts. If you have a computer lab or access to laptop carts, this might be something to look into.
Here’s another video made by someone else. I don’t know why but it cracks me up. It’s about direct variation.
Just thought I’d post this link to my favorite math poster set:
It’s from London’s 2000 campaign to promote Math and Sciences. I love these posters (so much better than the corny cartoony character posters you typically see in teacher stores). Anyways, it is from London, and even though it says 31.50 pounds (conversion anyone?) I think it might be a little bit more since they’re shipping it overseas. But well worth it! They do list the dimensions, but they were smaller than I had pictured them. There are a total of 12 of them, though, and they do brighten up the room.
I’m a Europhile, so it didn’t matter to me, but in London, they call it “MATHS” so your students will ask you about that.
This is another good site, though it’s a bit pricier since they make posters to order:
more math posters