Monday, March 31, 2014

McDonalds Monopoly Boards - Algebra Style

Algebra 1 is full of so many connections, but I feel that too often my students believe that each lesson is isolated, having nothing to do with the previous one.  In an effort to help my students make these connections, I stole the idea of the monopoly board for my classroom.

I know that if my students were motivated to sit down and try to figures these things out, they could.  If the students already know how to convert standard form of a linear equation to slope-intercept, and they can graph from from slope-intercept, then they don't need to show them how to graph from standard, or even how to write an equation from a graph.  Thus was born the Monopoly Board Algebra Style.

It's certainly not as flashy as McDonald's and I should probably work on that.  That would be cool. 

Each class is split into teams or 3 or 4 that work together to collect monopoly pieces and put them in the correct space on the board.  I teach the outcome in 4 lessons (or more for my lower level classes) and each lesson has an exit ticket with about 4-5 questions.  Here is what saves me a lot of time:  I don't write anything on their exit ticket, I only staple monopoly pieces to their papers as feedback.  If they got one question completely correct, they get 1 monopoly piece.  2 correct, 2 pieces, etc.  When they receive their exit ticket back in class the next day, they work together as a team to determine which questions they got right and to use their monopoly pieces together to tape on the board.  

The columns on the boards are Graph, Table, Slope, Intercepts, Standard Form, and Slope-Intercept Form.  Each row is given something different. 

Below is the file for you:

The first two pages of this file are the monopoly pieces.  I cut these apart, throw away the pieces that say 'given' and put the remaining pieces in a paper bag.
Pages 3 and 4 of the document are the monopoly board.  I copy these 1-2 sided and give one board to each group.

After the students are done learning the outcome, I collect their monopoly boards.  For each row that is complete and correct, I give each student in the group a piece of paper to write their name on. For instance, if a group got four rows completely correct, each member of the group would get four papers.  Then we have a chinese auction.

Using the classroom funds, I purchased scented markers, glow in the dark bracelets.  a whoopee cushion, mustache duct tape, and a notepad.  The students will put their papers in the paper bags for the items they would like to win.  I pick a name out the bag and that person gets the prize.

Yeah, yeah, the chinese auction is fun and I'm well aware of intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation.  But the real learning takes place when I hear the students talking about the monopoly pieces and where to put them.  Just getting started is a huge learning experience for them.  A nice little bonus:  I saw students trading duplicated pieces they had and even giving them away to other groups.  

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Systems of Linear Inequalities Game on Desmos

This game needs a name yet.  Your help is appreciated with that endeavor.

First I'll tell you how we played it in class, then I let you know what the students suggested, and finally I'll tell you want changes I think I'll try next time.

Initial Rules

Break the class into 5 teams.  I use 5 teams because desmos has 5 colors other than black (purple, blue, red, green, and orange).

Each team starts with 1 trailer (ordered pair): (0, 2) (0, 3) (0, 4) (0, 5) and (0, 6).  Each a different color.  

The inequalities y < 1/1 x + 0 and y > -1/1x + 0 are the two inequalities.

The overlapping shaded region is the area that is safe from tornadoes, so the players will want to move their trailers there or actually move the shaded region.

Each team rolls a die to see what they can do:

1) Change one of the slopes to whatever they want
2) Change one of the y-intercepts to whatever they want
3) Change the direction of one of the inequalities
4) Move a trailer to where ever they want (must be visible on the screen)
5) Get another trailer
6) Unleash a tornado. 

To unleash a tornado, I numbered each region of the graph that was created by the inequalities, except the overlapping shaded region, then rolled the die.  So if the regions were labeled 1, 2, and 3, and I rolled a 2, all the trailers in the region labeled '2' would be deleted.  If I rolled a 4, 5, or 6 then the tornado never formed.  

We played this for the entire period (45 minutes), and the team with the most trailers by the end of the class was the winner.  I had two teams win with 3 trailers each.

The Students' Suggestions

There should be more ways to unleash tornadoes.
We should start with 2 trailers.

What I Will Try Next Time:

Instead of rolling 1 die, each team will roll 2 and then decide which they want to use.  I think I will still begin the game the same way, but because there are two dice and more options, the players will have the opportunity to add more trailers and unleash more tornadoes.  

What I Loved About The Game:

Students were practicing skills they normally hate.  Such as:

Determining if an ordered pair is a solution to a system of inequalities.  We had great discussions about trailers being safe from tornadoes or not based on where they were located.  They asked if it was safe to be on the dotted line.  They asked if it was safe to be in any shaded region or just where they overlap.  

The students discussed what would happen if they changed the direction of the inequality in one equation as opposed to the other.  Would their other trailer be safe?  Where would the overlapping be?

They debated about how to change the y-intercept or the slope to make one of their trailers safe but not one of their opponent's.  

I can't get these discussions when I hand out worksheets, but tornadoes sweeping away their mobile homes, they're all over that.

Here's what our 'game board' looked like at the end of class:

Thoughts?  Comments?  What about a title for this?

*UPDATE* 3/29/2014

I played this game with a different class and we tried the following rules and it made the game more exciting.

1) Roll two dice, allow the students to determine which number they want to use.  If a 6 is rolled, a tornado must be started.  

2) When a 6 is rolled:  Number the unshaded regions so that all numbers 1-6 are used.  So if there are three unshaded regions label them 1&4, 2&5, and 3&6.  This way a tornado always forms.  

We also discussed ways to damage your opponents mobile home.  Perhaps there could be a way to steal their tires so they can't drive to another location.  

Have any of you played this game?  Any feedback for me (good or bad)?

Saturday, March 22, 2014

For My Step-Daughter

My step-daughter is in her third year of college.  Her major?  Education.  I wanted to give her some advice on getting a job, but decided to give this advice to everyone.  Please add your thoughts to the comments or provide a link if you have something to add.

Dear Brianna,

I'm so excited that in less than two years you will enter the great world of teaching.  You will hear many people try to talk you out of this, but I've seen you with kids, and teaching is where you belong.  Right now the job market is very competitive and I want to give you an advantage.

1) Start a professional blog.  I bet you think you have nothing to offer the blogging community or the readers because you don't have your own classroom.  You couldn't be farther from the truth.  Blogging gives you your own space to work through your ideas.  If you have an idea and want advice, like a lot of advice; blog about it.  Have a great lesson that you want to share?  That's the place.  Here's the best part, once you start sharing, you'll find a goldmine of others' ideas.  The ideas grow exponentially, it's overwhelming.  Prospective employers will love to see that you seek out your own (free) professional development online.  One blogger I know has been offered a teaching job because of her blog.  A job she never applied for.

2) Create a 'class' website.  This might seem silly: to create a website for imaginary students, but it's better to say at an interview "Here is what I have created." rather than "Here is what I plan to create."  Have a website where students (and even parents) can go for lessons, class news, links to other sites, etc.

3) Network with other teachers online.  In my opinion, twitter is the best place for this.  Follow teachers you admire, participate in education chats, offer solutions, ask questions, share, steal, and network.

4) Attend a professional conference.  Just like networking online, attending a professional conference is the face-to-face version.  I get so fired up after attending a conference I can't wait to get back to my classroom.  This is enthusiasm that can't be faked.  Any employer would be blind to not see it.

5) Be different.  Think outside the box and make yourself known.  What will make your resume stand out?  QR codes linking to you blog, website, and/or a video?  What will make your interview memorable?

6) Be confident.  I sit in on interviews in my district and nothing gets my attention first more than confidence.  Confidence helps with so many things in teaching.  It helps with classroom management, respect from colleagues, and positive attention from administrators.

7) Visit classrooms even when you don't have to.  I know that you are required to complete observations while you are in college, but don't stop there.  Even after you graduate, watch other teachers.  The thing that kills instruction is teaching in isolation.  Get out there and see what other teachers are doing.  Then steal their ideas.

I know that you are going to be an amazing classroom teacher.  Your students will be very lucky to even know you.  Welcome to a great profession!


Friday, March 21, 2014

Why One-Minute Student-Made Video are Valuable

I attended another BER conference this week.  "Best, New Strategies for Using iPads, Phones, Mobile Devices and Other Cutting-Edge Technology to Strengthen Classroom Content Learning" with Zachary Walker, Ph. D.

One of the take-aways that I got from this workshop was one-minute students-made videos.  It hit me when he made us do it at the seminar.  He told us to get out our devices and record each other talking about something we just learned and we were given a time limit to finish.  This short activity forced me to be focused and realize what the main points were.  AND since it's on video it could go public!!!

Yesterday I gave my students the assignment to create a one-minute video about how to find slope.  I gave this assignment when there were 10 minutes of class left and told them that we would be recording tomorrow with Educreations.  They were to use the remaining class time to figure out what they were going to say.  That's when the magic happened.  The students were going back through their notes and trying to really understand the lesson, they didn't want to look like idiots on the video.  They were asking each other questions, they were summarizing, it was truly amazing to see.  I couldn't help but mentally compare this assignment to a worksheet.

Here were my directions:

1) The video must be no longer than 1 minute.
2) You must talk about how to find slope given a table, an equation, ordered pairs, and a graph.
3) Everyone must speak in the video
4) I am posting your videos on twitter so that the world can see it.  I will also send the the hashtag to the administrators and your parents.

Here is a sampling of the videos.  You will be able to find them all on twitter with the hashtag #oswald032114

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Educreations and Absolute Value Equation Sample Videos

A reader asked me to share some of the videos that I'm using in my flipped lessons.  You are more than welcome to them, but I would like to introduce you to educreations if you haven't discovered it yet.

Once you are there you can search the many videos to see if someone has already created a video to suit your needs or of course make your own.

At the flipped classroom workshop I attended last month, the presenter suggested that your video include the following things:

  1. Learning Objectives
  2. Engagement - this might include multiple voices
  3. Delivery - stay on topic, stop the repetition.  In my words:  don't be annoying
  4. Content - make sure the students are learning something
  5. Assessment - what do they do after they watch the video?  

Below are two videos that Mr. Pod and I have created for our outcome on Absolute Value Equations.

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 ...