Friday, August 21, 2015

Survived Day One of Sixth Grade

I'm not gonna wasn't stellar.  I wasn't awful, but it wasn't exactly what I was aiming for.  They definitely have much, much more energy than I am used to.  But I'll adjust that.  I just have a more low key management style based on relationships and mutual respect, and I think I'm going to have to be a bit more authoritarian than I am typically comfortable with.  But I'm going to make mild adjustments today and go from there.

I didn't spend the day on rules and such.  There was a brief introduction.  They filled out a little questionnaire which included four agree/disagree statements about their attitudes toward math.  Then, they worked in their groups on the Marshmallow Challenge.  Time is more limited than I'm used to which meant that I had to cut time shorter than ideal to allow for the follow-up conversation that I was after.

Aside from my five classes (some of which grew quite a bit between seating chart and the start of class), I teach one Reteach class.  That is my largest group and they were quite rambunctious but it a not altogether bad way.  We opened with an Estimation 180 task and they were fantastic.  The discussions I heard in their groups were fabulous and when we started sharing estimations, some of them automatically justified their reasoning.  We honed up the precision with units a bit and they were golden for a first attempt.

Then they worked in their groups on the Four Fours Puzzle and went at it like champs.  I was worried that their background knowledge of grouping symbols might be too weak to make this work but it was right at the sweet spot.  They didn't go there automatically but with nudging, they were thrilled to remember how parenthesis could help them communicate the sequence they intended.  I was pretty proud of this group's start to the year.

So, there's that.  No flowery pictures or videos because time is at a premium.
Today's objectives:
(1) Strengthen behavioral expectations.
(2) Compile ideas on group norms from last night's homework.
(3) Discuss the importance of failure...complete with video clips and journals.  :)

Have a great day, y'all!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

My TMC Take-Aways

I found TMC15 much less overwhelming than previous ones in terms of information overload. I think that was at least partly due to the fact that I came in with a more limited goal and was, therefore, in a better position to filter all of the great ideas that were coming at me. My central goal was to make connections with other middle school teachers to expand my circle of go-to amazing people for ideas and advice. I definitely managed to accomplish that.

Take Away #1 - Zombie Apocalypse

Hedge had warned me that her and John were taking a risk in their approach and that I would either love it or hate it. Well, I definitely loved it! I am not necessarily a fan of the whole Zombie genre so I was lucky to have Laurie on my team. She was ultimately the victor in the week's activities so she knows her stuff. We were put into teams of four. I also had Timon and Lisa on my team. We were then guided through a series of activities based on the premise that a meteor had struck Los Angeles resulting in an outbreak of zombie like behavior that appeared to be spreading. We had to calculate how long we thought the outbreak would take to reach us at Harvey Mudd. We had to choose get away vehicles and justify our choices. We had to calculate how far we would be able to drive after seeing how much gas was in the vehicles we had stolen (randomly assigned). And then we had to use google maps to stake out a location that provided us with some safety as well as access to some resources that we may need.  Here is my group hard at work.

This is the link to the Wiki with all materials that Hedge and John used in our morning sessions. Here also are all of the tweets that we hashtagged out of our sessions (#TMZombie) including this amazing video of Timon as our team tried to determine the speed of an average Zombie.

Another team actually found a web resources indicating they move at 2 mph so our results were pretty close. ;)

I have to admit, I found myself getting really caught up in our mission and had to remind myself that I was supposed to be exploring ways to integrating this into my class. But I think that speaks well of the natural engagement level of these activities. The real take-away came from a lot of side conversations about how this could be implemented...cross-curricular connections as well as additional ideas for lessons based on the theme. I immediately texted my new grade level team who seemed enthusiastic to hear more about it. I've tried to start gathering ideas into a more organized set of information that we can use as brainstorming seeds for a cross-curricular end of the year adventure. Here is the link to that document which may (hopefully will) take a more cohesive organized form at some point.  

Take Away #2 - Contextualizing Nekkid Problems

blblab SMP 2

Take Away #3 - WorkStations

This is the link to the materials that Sadie and Mitzi used in their session. This includes materials for Fraction-Decimal-Percentage Track.  

Take Away #4 - New Ways to Utilize Estimation 180
Estimation 180 tasks in various ways (number lines with gallery walks, etc.)