Thursday, August 25, 2016

Teaching the SMPs

Casey (@cmmteach) asked that I share the foldable and card sort that I use for teaching the SMPs to my students.  There is nothing necessarily fabulous about the activities but it familiarizes them with the language that I try to refer back to throughout the year in class discussions.  This year, West Virginia has eliminated the Common Core Standards and replaced them with our College and Career Readiness Standards which read...exactly...the...same.  The political game.  Whatevs.  They renumbered them and they are calling the SMPs the "Mathematical Habits of Mind," so I am going to try to start referring to them as such in order to align with what my state/county expect.

Here is the foldable that I used last year and intend to use again this year:

It marked the first page in our INB prior to the Tables of Contents or any notes.  This year we are not going to try to complete all 8 in a single class session.  We are going to complete four one day and four the next so that we can talk a bit more about how we have been utilizing these skills in some of our opening activities.  I'm afraid this piece of what we do is a whole lot of me talking to them, but I'm laying a foundation and I do try to pull back from that more as the year progresses.

Last year, our classes were grouped by "ability" (I assume as determined by test scores but I was not privy to those conversations).  Regardless, the result was that I saw our more high achieving class of students twice a day.  This allowed me to have much richer conversations with them and explore some of those activities I would love to incorporate more of but never seem to have the chance (Looking at you, Mathalicious).

One example of a lesson that I did with them but not the others was our SMP Card Sort.  This year, I am going to attempt to do the MHM Card Sort (not sure how I feel about that acronym) with all of my classes.  I basically disassembled the SMP Posters that Chris Shore developed and use them.
The way I managed that last year was to hand the groups chunks at a time and have them match them up (i.e. the actual SMP and an "I statement", then the key word, then the key vocabulary, then the key questions, etc.).  To be honest, I'm not entirely sure how I am going to execute that this year because I'm looking at the practical need to have the materials back in an organized fashion for the next class and that doesn't seem reasonable given the time constraints.

This is part of what I have on top this week for Wednesday through Thursday.  But I am also introducing our Multiplication Opener Routine and attempting our first three Calculate then Contemplate lessons.  I suppose it may be a bit ambitious...I may be changing plans as it plays out.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Unit 0 - Nailing It Down (Blog 3 of 3)

So, this week I have been working on nailing down my introductory and here.  I plan to spend seven class days this year on introducing our class.  I know that there may be unanticipated interruptions (class meetings, drills, etc.) but at this point, I want to take my list of activities and sequence them to optimize the experience for students.  To recap, my overarching goals with this "unit" are:

  1. Begin with the idea of Growth Mindset as a foundation (mistakes have value!)
  2. Help students to learn what Collaboration looks like in our room
  3. Celebrate the value of Differing Perspectives in mathematics
  4. Set the tone that mathematics and problem solving is FUN
  5. Establish the basics of our Class Routines

These are the activities I pair down from a broader list of ideas:

That is still 12 nearly full day activities in only 7 days.  And it would've been nice to include a computer lab day as well.  Sigh.  Too little time for all the goodness I want my students to experience.  <3 span="">

Ok, initial thoughts:
  • THURSDAY (Day 1):  An activity from Get It Together.  Last year we did "Build It" by we may do "What is My Number" instead.  This would get them working in their home groups right away and talking with one another.  We could debrief with a discussion of how collaboration works best. - develop our group norms (Takeaway:  Collaboration works best when everyone contributes.)
  • FRIDAY (Day 2):  Introduce class procedures/required materials.  Take Growth Mindset quiz, watch Failure commercial, and read article.  Then watch the Death Crawl Scene to end class.  (Takeaway:  Mistakes have value.)
  • MONDAY (Day 3): Introduce this week's homework.  WODB.  Dot Talk.  First Number Talk.  (Takeaway:  We honor differing points of view.)  
  • TUESDAY (Day 4):  Introduce Instagram account.  Work on Estimation 180, Day 1.  This would get them working in their color groups on the large whiteboards.  It would also allow us to experience our first Gallery Walk and discuss those expectations.   (Takeaway:  Precision in communication is important.)
  • WEDNESDAY (Day 5):  Begin Opener Routine with Multiplication Chart; CthenC #1 Telescoping Sum; Interactive Notebook - SMP Foldable/First Four SMPs (Takeaways:  Ummm...patterns, structure, perseverance, communication, perspectives...lots of goodness here.  Using the SMPs to reitterate and reinforce the conversations we have had through the week thus far.)
  • THURSDAY (Day 6):  Continue Opener Routine with Multiplication Chart; CthenC #2 Tilted Square; Interactive Notebook - Second Four SMPs/Tables of Contents (Takeaways:  Same as Wednesday.)
  • FRIDAY (Day 7):  Homework Check; CthenC #3 Coin Problem; SMP Card Sort from @MathProject's SMP Posters (Takeaways:  Same as Wednesday.)
Those last three days may be overly ambitious.  But the Day 7 could be cut off to allow me to stretch out the earlier conversations as needed.  These are my thoughts at the moment.  Subject to change of course, but it is a starting point.  Tomorrow...back to the grind.  Here we go!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Unit 0 Still in Process - Activity Triage (Blog 2 of 3) my problem is that I think all of these experiences are incredibly valuable so it is difficult to cut things out.  However, if I can find appropriate points within the school year to insert some of them, they would serve the purpose of revisiting and reinforcing our class ideals and values so that would be good.  

So, here are all of the ideas contained within the last blog post.  I am going to try to make note of those that would fit organically throughout other parts of the curriculum to narrow down some options.

 Ideally a Part of Unit 0
Maybe Could Wait Until Later 
Would Fit Nicely Later 

Opening Week - Unit 0 (Blog 1 of 3)

I am incredibly crappy at blogging.  I didn't even write a #TMC16 reflection this year.  The pressure to put something out there that has value makes me uneasy, because everything...absolutely everything...I do is a work in progress.  So, I'm thinking maybe I need to stop worrying about the fact that people may read what I write and just use this space to help  me process my ideas.  So that's my goal today.  

I am trying to flesh out how I want to use the first seven days of class.  To recap, I am teaching sixth grade and we are (thankfully)  moving away from tracking the students in class.  As a result, I will have 5 heterogenously grouped classes this year, plus some additional enrichment/support mini-classes which I will tackle at another time.  The general way I break down my class is about two units each quarter:

  • First Nine Weeks:  Integer Concepts (including Coordinate Plane) and Decimal Computations
  • Second Nine Weeks:  Factors, Multiples, Fraction Calculation and Ratios 
  • Third Nine Weeks:  Algebraic Expressions and Algebraic Equations
  • Fourth Nine Weeks:  Geometry and Statistics
But I make it a point to spend a good week or more laying out expectations and setting the tone for my classroom before we get into a lot of new material or start our INBs.  This year, I will have 7 days to work with since I try to work in approximately week intervals throughout our regular material.  I'm trying to figure out how to merge the following three approaches:
  1. What I did last year
  2. Jo Boaler's Week of Inspiration (of which their now appear to be two: here and here)
  3. The Contemplate then Calculate introductory material (here).  
There is some overlap between Boaler's material and the CthenC stuff and likely between the two Jo Boaler's weeks themselves, but I haven't worked out where all of that is.  Here's a quick overview of what I am seeing:

 Jo Boaler Week 1
 Jo Boaler Week 2
Contemplate then Calculate 

  • Day 1 - Math Takes Practice (Journal/Video) and Telescoping Sum
  • Day 2 - Thinking Like Mathematicians (Quiz/Article) and Tilted Square
  • Day 3 - Working Like Mathematicians (Letter to Future Student) and Coin Problem 
  • All of the Growth Mindset Activities are Available Here

There is also probably overlap with some of what I did last year:

  • Day 1 - Introduce Myself Briefly, Marshmallow Challenge, Homework ("What are some ways your team was able to be successful working together?") - NOTE: I think there were other things we did that first day but I don't have that resource accessible at the moment
  • Day 2 - Groups Use Last Night's Homework to Create Group Norms, Student Journal ("Write about a time you have failed"), Failure Commercial, Student Journal Part Two ("How can failure be a good thing?"), Death Crawl Scene Video Clip  
  • Day 3 - Class Procedures/Routines, Get It Together Activity ("Build It!"), Revise Group Norms, Assign 1st Weekly Homework
  • Day 4 - Combine Group Norms Into "Our Class Norms," Which One Doesn't Belong (whole group practice), Which One Doesn't Belong (individual groups create)
  • Day 5 - Dot Talk (two examples), Number Talk (one example), Number Talk in Thinking Journal (organize in classroom)
  • Day 6 - Estimation 180 (Day 1) with Number Line Group Representations (group whiteboards), Gallery Walk, Class Discussion (labeling, precision, clarification in expressing ideas)
  • Day 7 - Set Up Interactive Notebook (foldable for SMPs and Tables of Contents), Complete Foldable for SMPs, Journal about SMP (Which do you think is most important and why?) - NOTE: Reteach class later in the day also completed a Card Sort based on @MathProject's SMP Posters

It might be helpful to clearly state my goals with this "Unit 0" because it is possible that I try to do too many things with it:
  1. Begin with the idea of Growth Mindset as a foundation (mistakes have value!)
  2. Help students to learn what Collaboration looks like in our room
  3. Celebrate the value of Differing Perspectives in mathematics
  4. Set the tone that mathematics and problem solving is FUN
  5. Establish the basics of our Class Routines 
OK...that may be as far as I can go right now.  I at least have all of the thoughts and ideas in one location and hopefully I can pick up later and flesh out how to merge them.  Any thoughts and input would be appreciated.  :)