Monday, October 27, 2014

Chapter Test Corrections Policy

If you got under a 3, or a B, on a chapter test I do allow you to make test corrections. To get between a 1/2 point to 1 full point above your current grade, you must do the following:

  1. Show all your work on binder paper and the test if there's a graph on it.
  2. Explain what you did incorrectly.
  3. It must be done with me in homework center (Monday school library, 3:15 to 4:15) or by appointment. You may do the test corrections on your own but we must setup a time outside of class to make sure you did them correctly and that you understand it better.

Friday, October 17, 2014

GCF, LCM: Confusion debunked

A GCF is the greatest common factor of two numbers. It's also sometimes called the GCD, or greatest common divisor. It's the largest number that two numbers can both be divided evenly by ("goes in to"). This number is useful when you are trying to simplify fractions because you would divide by a Giant One. For example, 36/48. The GCF of 36 and 48 is 12. Divide it by 12/12 and you get the simplified equivalent fraction of 3/4.

The LCM is the least common multiple. It's frequent use is to find the LCD or least common denominator of two unlike fractions. For example, if you wanted to add 1/12 to 1/15, you'd have to find the LCM of the denominators, 12 and 15. That's 60 so 1/12(5/5) and 1/15(4/4) gets you 5/60 + 4/60 which equals 9/60 or 3/20.

Here is a method a student taught me to find the LCM of larger numbers. This student clearly understood it:

Study Team Norms for Cooperative Learning

These are challenging for students to follow and for teachers to constantly encourage and enforce. It is so worth it for the culture and exchange of ideas though. I did not create these, I got it from the free professional development CPM offers every summer.

Means of Central Tendency Poems

I do not take credit for coming up with these. I found this from a math teacher from Thomas r pollicita middle school in Daly City when I subbed there a few times years ago. I made it into a poster.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Common Core 8 Chapter 2 Closure Activity: Hot Potato

Hot potato is a great activity to force participation amongst a group of 4 students. I give credit to CPM for suggesting it.

Each student gets their own colored pencil and must take turns rotating 1 paper to achieve a multistep task. After each step they rotate the paper. You hold the group accountable for a group grade and you see how they were all participating when they write each of their names in their colored pencil.

The goal here was for students to take a complicated equation and solve it showing all steps using algebra tiles, drawing them, writing the equation, and explaining their steps in words.

I allowed students to choose from 3 equations, all that had an expression in parentheses preceded by a subtraction sign so that they had to use the negative region of the equation mat. With tiles you are "legally" allowed to move tiles from negative to positive region or "flipping the tiles." This makes a connection that you are taking the opposite of each term of tiles in the negative region.

In the example below 3 + 2x - (x-1) becomes 3 + 2x - x + 1.

We also previewed checking their solution by substituting the solution back in to the equation for the variable. I merely asked "how do you know you are right?"

It re-enforces the rules of equality where you can remove or add balanced sets of variables or constants to both sides of an equals sign.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Jo Boaler Math Talk @ Presidio Middle School SF 10/2/14

Jo Boaler spoke to an audience of parents about the shift to Common Core and about fixed versus growth mindsets. She is a Stanford professor and founded the website which has a wealth of information and resources for teachers, parents, and students. I have taken her online MOOC and students can take her course for free via the web site. Coincidentally, I have also already read her great book, What's Math Got to Do with It?

She spoke at length of mistakes creating brain synapses and the brain's plasticity which lends itself to an amazing ability to learn.

Fortune 500 companies don't value computation skills anymore, problem solving and teamwork lead the list. Interpersonal skills (modeling and teaching etiquette, tact, and behavior anyone?) and of course oral communication is up there.

Research to back Common Core principles.

Mothers: take this advice. Even if you are terrible at math, HIDE it. Encourage your child.

Do's and don'ts for how parents can help their kids at home.

OK, if you can't get them off their smartphone, at least get them these apps.

Featured on BBC Radio 4 along with Sal Khan, though she doesn't recommend Khan ever to be used in classroom, which I agree with. Class time is VALUABLE time to be used for collaboration, synthesis, low floor high cieling problems. Link to her interview.

And finally, SF board of supervisors voted to detrack middle school classes. Acceleration point is in students' junior year of high school where they can compress 2 classes or they can continue their path and take AP Stats in their senior year.

At my school I am teaching one section of 32 students Math 7 and 8 curriculum this year and finishing Math 8 and CC Algebra next year. I am following CPM's 3 years in 2 compression guide.

I had a great time hearing her speak. I honestly believe the CPM curriculum backs a lot of the core values she talks about but there is no perfect curriculum. She mentioned that the best teachers use a variety of resources to introduce multidimensional math to students.