Monday, July 30, 2012

Made 4 Math July 30th

Sticker Survey:

I stole this idea from Square Root of Negative One.

What you see here are posters that will be hanging in my classroom during the first day of school. 
I am teaching 5 sections this year, so these stickers are going to work out perfectly:  One color for each section.  Each student in Period 1 will receive 5 red stickers, Period 2: 5 blue stickers,etc.  One for each of the posters.  I wrote the questions so that the students will only have one answer for question. 

Students walk around the room and place one sticker on each poster to indicate their answer.  No one knows how individuals answered, only how the class answered. 

This will also work out well, since one of the first outcomes I teach in Algebra 1B is probability.  Now we have some data collected that we can analyse!! 

I'm interested to see the different in the grade questions between my Algebra and Pre-Calculus classes.  I will update you with that information when I have it. 

In other news....

I've been reading about all my fellow bloggers being bargain shoppers and decided to jump on that bandwagon - gladly!!

Look what I found in my favorite classroom colors:

Small baskets in traffic light colors!!!!  Oh am I a happy girl.  $0.88 a piece at Walmart.  Score!

I love to give exit tickets.  They truly help me create my lesson plans for the next day.  Sometimes as the students are walking out of class, I instruct them to place their exit ticket on one of three piles; red, yellow, or green.  I like to see how students view their abilities compared to how I view their abilities.  I labeled those piles by writing the words, "red", "yellow", or "green" on a sticky note. No more!  These baskets are taking the place of those sticky notes and will be so much better to collect as the students are walking past the table on the way out of the room.

I almost can't wait for next Monday!!!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Information Overload!!!

I innocently logged in to check on my blog this morning and was greeted with 4 new posts from my reading list.  Four!!  Typically I see one new post every day or two.  I've been sitting here for a few hours reading, pinning, and head spinning all the information.  I thought I would pass this misery along to my readers.

I have never heard of whiteboarding and was intrigued while reading about it over at Infinite Sums.
I found a nice definition of whiteboarding here.  Check it out.

Then my fellow bloggers had me thinking about the first few days of school.  I know that for most of us, this is already on our minds,  me included.
Here is my post about supplies.
How about a way to seat your students?  Check out a few ideas here.
Want to collect student information?  My Web 2.0 Journey has a suggestion for you.

Did you ever hear of schoology?  Not me.  I read about it in My Web 2.0 Journey's latest post and had to check it out.  It looks like a great concept, but I would love to see my own grade book incorporated.  That's probably asking too much.  For those of you who don't use standards-based grading Schoology is worth looking at.

Want to use interactive notebooks in your classroom?  They seem to be all the rage right now.  I love the concept, but I'm too attached to my 3-ring binder to go to a composition book.  This doesn't mean I can't do an interactive notebook with my students - I can.  I just need to tweak what I already have in place.
I love the idea of students numbering the pages and having a table on contents.
I love that there is a designated place for teacher input and student output.
I plan to give each student a page protector that will hold rules, classroom procedures, contact information, grading policies, etc.  Then let the interaction begin!!!

In addition to feeling the pressure to make something for every Monday (pressure in a good way), now I need to come up with My Favorite Friday.  I better get busy!!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

School Supplies

I find the first few days of school frustrating.  Students changing their schedules and I don't have a stable class list for a few days, establishing classroom rules and procedures, communicating with parents about supplies needed, learning names, ahhhhh!!!

I'm hoping to squash one of those frustrations:  Communicating with parents about supplies needed.  We have this wonderful software that with the click of a mouse will e-mail all parents of our students.  The problem is the changing class list....I just realized this now.  See?  Frustration.

Anyway, let me keep going here.  I went to my local Walmart, took photos of all the supplies along with prices that I felt were necessary for my students, and posted them on my teacher website.
Take a look here.

Or here:

Welcome to the 2012-13 school year!  I'm excited to start a brand new year and nothing celebrates that excitement better than purchasing school supplies (in my mind anyway)!!!

I don't like it when parents/students waste money on school supplies that aren't used.  The following are supplies that students will be using in my classroom and are merely suggestions and not mandatory.

All of the items pictured were found at the Lehighton Walmart.

At the very least:
These are the three items that every student in my class should be equipped with...
A total of $8.99.

1)  A 1.5 inch 3-ring binder:  $3.78. 
I found these in the front of the store.
A 3-ring binder will be very helpful to the students as I give a lot of handouts.  
Loose leaf paper and lined notebooks are not necessary in my class.  

2)  Post-it Tabs:  $3.74.  
I found these in the office supply section.  The very (North-East) corner of the store.
My classes are broken down into outcomes.  It would be beneficial for students to separate each outcome with one a post-it tab.  
One pack of 36 tabs will be enough for the entire year. 

3)  Mechanical Pencils:  $1.47 for 10.  
These were located in the front of the store.
You can NEVER have enough pencils.

It would be nice if each student had...

Hey, everyone makes mistakes. $1.84
Found in the front of the store.

We do provide calculator at school.  However, the calculators must stay at school since we have a limited amount.

This is the calculator provided in class:
TI - 30XS    $13.87
It is not necessary to purchase this calculator unless you want it for use at home and other non-class times.
Front of the store.

TI-84 Plus:  $94.00
This is an excellent calculator to have for more advanced courses and college.
I will not be using this calculator in class, unless the calculator fairy pays me a visit.  
If you decide to purchase this type of calculator I will be able to assist you in using it.
Front of the store.

Please feel free to email me with any questions, concern, or comments.  

Monday, July 23, 2012

Exponent Game and Made4Math

It's Monday and I said I would participate in Made4Math.  I'm in game mode right now and I though we could work on a game together.

At the Edugaming workshop, I saw this going on at a nearby table and it got me thinking to my own game about exponents:

So far this game on the laws of exponents is a little quizzy.  That is, a question is presented and an answer is requested.  The advantage of this game is that there is more than one right answer and that is what makes it a little less quizzy.

Yes, I made up a word: quizzy.

A file folder for each student playing.
A piece of paper for each student playing.
The game cards.  You can find them here.  Make a few copies of the game cards, laminate if possible.
You will also need something for fraction bars/division (toothpicks) and multiplication (buttons).
Another piece of paper to keep score on.

Game Play:
This is negotiable.
Place students in groups of 3 to 4.
Give each student a few toothpicks, buttons, parenthesis, and their own set of exponents (2 - 9).
Shuffle the rest of the cards and deal 5 to each student.  (I haven't play-tested this game yet, so I'm not sure if 5 cards to too few, too many, or just right.  This is where you come in and help me make this game better.)
The rest of the deck is placed face-down and the first card is flipped over.
Each student had a file fold set up in front of them so that the other students can't see what they are working on.  (If the students are new to the law of exponents they could work in partners and/or have the laws printed on the inside of the file folder for reference).
With the cards they were dealt, the buttons, toothpicks, and exponents, the students create an expression equal to the card that is face up in the middle.
I would have the students create their expressions on top of a piece of paper.  This way when they want to show the other students their work, they can easily rotate the paper without messing up their expression.

Earning Points:
Again negotiable.
1 point for each card used.
1 point for each toothpick, button, and exponent card.
Student with the most points wins.

I was also thinking about making scoring similar to the game Scategories.  Where if another student has exactly what you have, neither student gets any points.


How would you use this in your classroom?
If you do use this, what were your results?
Is there a story that could go along with this game?
Anyone try it as a whole class?
Other thoughts, suggestions?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Edugaming Conclusion

Although I still have one more day in this workshop (one day in November), I wanted to do a little recap of the Edugaming workshop that I attended at the local community college.

I attended this same workshop last summer with some degree of success.  Actually, the game I created is currently in the grant process.  If all goes well, my game may be published!!!  I really want to share that game with you, but I don't know how that works with my publisher and all.

Anyway, before this workshop my thought of a good educational game is a quiz that is hidden behind glitter and glitz.  Seriously, you could take any quiz you gave your students, combine it with Candy Land, and poof, you have a great educational game.  Wrong.

One thing that stuck with me about an excellent educational game is that you are almost "tricking" your students into doing whatever it is you want them to learn.  I watch my son play video games.  When he was in Kindergarten, he would be trying to collect 100 coins.  One day I heard him trying to figure out how many more coins he needed to reach his goal.  Is the point of Super Mario Bros. Wii to teach students how to do basic arithmetic?  Intrinsic motivation.  Can't beat that!!!

Here is the game-making process as far as I understand it:

1) First, decide what topic you want students to practice.  This topic must be very small.  For example, my game is designed to practice slope and that's it.  Also, the topic has to be something the students struggle with.  If it's something they know, they'll be bored and not play your game.

2) Next, what actions are taken in the game to reinforce the topic from step 1?  This week, three other math teachers and I created a game to help students practice factoring quadratics with a lead coefficient of 1.  In this game, the action is factoring.

3) Keep in mind that it has to keep them coming back.  None of my students ever walk in the room and ask if we can play The Row Game, a quiz-like review game.  But they do ask to play Mafia, a party game.  Are my students going to play a game that I create on the weekend with their friends?  No, probably not.  But I do want to keep them wanting.

4) Now for the game mechanics.  Is it a board game?  a card game?  dice? spinners?

5) Play-testing.  I never realized how important play testing is.  The workshop this week was only 4 days, so my group and I played the game as much as possible between presentations, lunch, brainstorming, etc.  We must have played the game in entirety about 5 or 6 times.  Although I would love to have the game totally complete for my students, I will have to include them in the play-testing process.

6) Optional:  Create a story to go along with your game.  My slope game is called Bounty Hunter, because there are criminals and bounty hunters moving around the board.  The factoring game is called The FACTORy.  I'm also working on a game with a story with snakes and it's called Slither.  Is this glitter?  In my opinion, no, as long as the story fits the math well.
Not all great games need a story.  Checkers does not have a story.  Tetris does not have a story.

As far as I know, there is no template to create an effective educational game.  If there were, there would be more apps for us.  Did you ever search for a high school math app to use in your classroom?  The majority that I have found are glorified formula sheets.  Any math games that I have found are extremely elementary.  Perhaps because the people who know how to do the math are in the classroom and not out there creating the games.

I look forward to eventually sharing my games with you.  Publishing games seems to be a long and slooooooow process.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Edugaming Workshop

I am currently in the middle of a 4-day Edugaming Workshop and loving it.  I wouldn't consider myself a gamer, but I enjoy a good game.
The focus of this workshop is for educators to create game that are not quiz-like.  That is not an easy task.  In general you are trying to create a game to teach students and assess what they know but it can't be quiz-like.  Seems like an oxymoron, but it is possible, it just takes some thinking.

Here is an example of a quiz-like game.
A student picks up a card, answers the question, and if he is correct, then moves his piece of the board.

Here's another example:
Bang!  I wrote about this game previously in my Pinterest searchings.

Don't get me wrong, these quiz-like games are okay in the classroom, but you will find your students more engaged if it's not quizzy.

I have two more days of this workshop remaining.  I hope to have an update for you then.

Do you have any successful games that you use in your classroom?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Grade Conversions

Let's discuss how to convert all of those Ns, Ps, and Hs into a number grade.  Ideally, you don't want to do this, but I don't think students or parents are ready to not have number grades.

First let's talk about proficiency:
A student who is proficient is a student who learns what you teach and nothing more.  When our department had this discussion we decided that a student who is proficient in everything should receive a grade no higher than a C.  Remember, this student is not High Performance in anything.
We then discussed what a failing student would look like.  We agreed that in order to move to the next course, a student must be Proficient in 70% of all the outcomes.
Here's what we have so far in my district:
70% Proficient (no High Performance) = 75% grade (Lowest C possible)
100% Proficient (no High Performance) = 84% grade (Highest C possible)

Keep this in mind:  I don't care how many outcomes a student is High Performance in, if he is not Proficient in at least 70% of the outcomes, then he does not pass the course.

Now let's talk High Performance:
First thing I want to mention is that it is impossible for a student to be High Performance without first being Proficient.  So when I say that a student is High Performance, I mean he is Proficient AND High Performance.
I'm sure we can all agree that a student who is High Performance in all outcomes has a number grade of 100%.  What happens in-between is really up to you and your school.  But I will share with you what our department came up with.

Our conversion system is an if-then statement.

Do this:  Determine the percentage of outcomes that the student is Proficient, and the percentage of outcome he is High Performance.

IF he is less than 70% Proficient, THEN that's his grade.
For example, if a student is 65% Proficient and 40% High Performance, then his grade is 65%.  Back to the "Keep this in mind:" statement above.  I don't even look at the student's High Performance percentage if he is less than 70% Proficient.

If he is 70% or greater Proficient, then I have work to do:
First, add the two percentages together.
Next, use the following table to convert the grade.
For example, If a student is 80% Proficient and 30% High Performance, the total is 110.
This converts to a grade of 86% in my district.

Let's take a look at one of my students:

Out of the 39 outcomes, this student is Proficient in 37 of them.  He is 95% Proficient.

Out of the 39 outcomes, he is High Performance in 15 of them.  He is 38% High Performance.

He has a total of 133 (95+38).  
His grade converts to 90% using the above table.

A little quiz for you:
See if you can convert the following students' grades.
I'll post the answers later and reteach if necessary :)
Post your answers in the comments if you like.

Student 1:

Student 2:

Student 3:

Student 4:

Hangin' on Pinterest Again

I love a good mystery.  I found this blog post on Pinterest this morning.  Take a look.

In essence, there is a box with something in it.  There are four clues about the item.  The teacher hands out one clue to each student, they need to go find three other people who have the other clues and work together to figure out what's inside the box.

Obviously, her example is geared for an elementary classroom, but here's what I'm thinking:  The mystery item could be a number, a graph, a shape, an angle measure, etc.
Thinking off the top of my head, place a graph of a parabola in the box.
Clue 1:  It has a vertex
Clue 2:  It is symmetric
Clue 3:  Projectile motion
Clue 4:  Positive people smile, negative people frown.


If you can't see what it says under the picture here it is:
BANG. You take turns drawing cards out of a container. If you can read the sight word you keep the card. If not, the card goes back in. Whoever collects the most cards wins the game. If you draw one of the BANG cards, you have to put back all of the cards you have collected. COULD BE MODIFIED FOR MIDDLE SCHOOL--student must define the word to keep the card

I'm thinking this:  
I like the Bang cards, however we're not going to be using sight words, we are going to be using linear equations.  In the container are graphs of linear equations and the students need to say the slope-intercept form of the equation to keep the card.  


In the container are equations that students need to solve, if they solve correctly they keep the card.


In the container are two points and the students need to determine the slope of the line that passes through them.


A combination of all of the above.  


Look at what I just found:

It goes along with the mystery box above.  But in this one the students make the clues.  Duh!  Of course, make the students do the work.  

Here's what I'm thinking.  

The first time we do this, I would create the item and the clues just like above.

Maybe the next time we do it, I would create the items and let the students create the clues.

After that, the students would create the items and the clues.


Generate your own QR Code.

On this website, they use QR codes for Parent Night.

I did a google search and found this QR Code Generator

Although this is great for parents, why not use this for students too?  And not just for information about the teacher, but information about what they are currently learning in school?  


Printing on Post-it notes.  I'm sure we can use that for something!!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Want My Grade Book?

If you like the grade book that I use, you can contact either

Barbara Stankus:


Neil O'Connell:

and they can give you more information about purchasing the software.

BTW:  The software is called "PARLO Tracker"

Sunday, July 1, 2012

My Grade Book

I've had a few questions about my grade book.  So I thought it was time I showed it to you.

Here is my outcome on Solving Absolute Value Equations.  Please ignore the third student, he dropped the class at this point.  This is only a partial copy of my class, there were 18 students total enrolled, but this sample is a good representation of the whole class.  (When I put the whole class on here the image was too small to see).

Here's what the letters stand for:

U: Unrated
G: Green
Y: Yellow
R: Red
B: Blue
N: Not Yet Proficient
P: Proficient
H: High Performance

I started this outcome by having the students complete a worksheet with a few problems.  About half the class seemed to know what they were doing, so the next day I focused my teaching on any misconceptions and had the class do a second worksheet also focusing on those misconceptions.  And you can see those two lines in my grade book.
Line 1:  "WS 1"  3 greens, 3 yellows, and 1 student absent.
Line 2:  "WS 2"  4 greens and 3 yellows.

For some reason I felt the class was ready for a test and you can see that in line 3.  Unfortunately, I was wrong.  Only 2 out of these 7 students earned green.  One student was absent and never took a re-assessment on a Flashback :(

At this point I grade the outcome.  You can see that at the top of my grade book with the Ns, Ps, and Hs.  My grading is heavily dependent on the test grade.

*Note*  G, Y, R, and B are for individual assignments, N, P, and H are for outcomes.
*Also Note* The colors on the N, P, and H are for my benefit only (not the students).  I like to see at a very quick glance how the class did as a whole in a particular outcome.  If I see a lot of red, I have work to do!!

You can see in line 4:  "Retest" that most of the students took the time to do better on this outcome and bring their grade up from N to P.

Blue:  My tests are straight forward, no tricks or surprises for the students.  I save that for the high performance tests.  Proficient questions are based on the skills that I ask of the students.  High Performance questions are based on above and beyond skills.  Skills that I did not teach the students.  If a student can apply their knowledge, they are considered High Performance in that outcome.

*Yet Another Note*  A student may not be marked High Performance until they have proved they are Proficient in an outcome.

Click here to see the prescribed set of practice problems.
Click here to see the retest.
Click here to see the High Performance test.

I will post later about how our department converts all the Ns, Ps, and Hs into a number grade.

What I Learned from my High School Social Studies Teacher

Back in high school there was this Social Studies teacher (Let's call him Mr. A) that made teaching look easy....almost too easy;  like ...