Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Classroom Management and Procedures

My philosophy on classroom management was first given any real foundation from my 2nd year of teaching at my first school, Burlingame Intermediate. The office was getting flooded with students kicked out of class with no understanding of what consequences had occurred prior to this action. So, the school hired Noah Salman of iunderstand.com. While some of the staff didn’t like his approach, I was convinced.

One big mistake we can mistake as teachers is engaging in a back and forth exchange with a student regarding behavior. He also said to be friendly, not friends with your students. Teachers without training in classroom management need training, and these are the tools he introduces. Mr. Salzman talked about using “Foggers” on students. These are quick responses that end an exchange that is unproductive for you, the student, and most importantly the rest of the class. Some of his examples are:

  1. I understand.
  2. I see.
  3. Uh huh.
  4. Mm Hmm…
  5. That’s not the point.
  6. Or plain old, silence. Do not respond.

Instead of responding a second time to a student, use a fogger. He did advise not to use a fogger more than 3 times, because then it’s a broken record and ineffective.

His first tool is the Teacher Creed. I introduce all this with my students within the first few days. It follows:

  1. As your teacher, I will not allow you to do anything that’s not in the best interest of this classroom.
  2. As your teacher, I will not allow you to stop anyone from learning for any reason whatsoever.
  3. As your teacher, I will not allow you to stop me from teaching for any reason whatsoever.
    1. No manipulations (excuses)
    2. Never question my management system while I am teaching.

His third tool is addressing the student without a fogger. Here is how to effectively address a student:
  1. State their name.
  2. Make eye contact.
  3. Proximity (move closer)
  4. Point to the rule and clearly state the rule.

Noah talked about roadblocks students have towards behaving and the excuses people use: he/she cannot behave, have emotional problems, inadequate parenting, poverty environment. This could be up for debate as to how with structure these will not prohibit a student from behaving.

The fourth tool is developing and posting a classroom management plan complete with rules, positives, consequences, and a severe clause. He believes there sould be a maximum of 5 rules. He also thinks that the 5th consequence is a referral to leave the room, but I make that my 3rd consequence. Having it as a 4th consequence would be a good compromise, but I like it as a 3rd. For rules to be effective, they must be observable, objective, and behavioral.

The rules that we developed as a staff are the ones I have continued to use which are:
  1. Follow instructions.
  2. Keep your hands, feet, and objects to yourself.
  3. No harassment or bullying of any kind.
  4. Arrive on time, prepared, and ready to learn.
  5. No distractions (gum, electronics without teacher permission, revealing clothing)

Below the Rules is the Positives. I have:
  1. Raffle tickets for drawing every 2 weeks
  2. Positive Phone Call home
  3. Happy teacher = happy student

These rules are discussed with students and I ask my students to interpret what these rules mean and what manipulations means in the teacher creed.

The biggest mistake any teacher can make is not having consequences. Without consequences, students will not follow the rules, continue breaking them, and a majority of the class will lose respect for the teacher and the learning environment will be lost.

The best advice I ever got was “As a teacher, you’re driving a stagecoach. Keep the reigns pulled tight as you begin. You can always loosen up the reigns later. Once you let go of the reigns, those horses (students) are gone.”

The consequences, that this year will be kept track of on a class roster clipboard by a different student each week are:

  1. Warning
  2. 5 minute timeout, completing written reflection of what you did to get the first and second warning. Pickup trash after class.
  3. Parent Phone Call Home / Referral (detention)

A severe clause would result in being sent to office with a referral.

Finally, last but not least is procedures. Mr. Salzman talked about teaching students a procedure using three criterion:
  1. Seatedness
  2. Materials
  3. Noise Level

This basically means where you should be seated, what materials you are supposed to have out, and the noise level, low, medium, or high.

Some example procedures are entering the classroom. I would line up the students outside to restate the procedure if they did not do it properly.

  1. Go to your seat.
  2. Take out your Estimation 180 worksheet and put a high, low, guess, and reason.
  3. Low noise level working independently.

I’ve used the Organizedbinder.com’s kick off procedure for this but this year I am going to start each day with estimating while I take attendance.

You can have procedures for Direction Instruction, Groupwork, Presentation, getting water, bathroom signout procedure, tardy procedure, and an absent policy (folder to check, etc.)

Noah Salzman made a distinction with his dismissal procedure. He has a procedure called pre-dismissal. This is a minute to go in class when you are putting your materials away and cleaning up your area.

For dismissal procedure, students will:

  1. Sit up in their seat and face forward.
  2. Clear your desk
  3. No talking

This goes along with the teacher dismisses you, not the bell. This gives you a chance to get the last word in and also to make sure kids don’t leave their table a mess (Resource Managers: did you do your job??).

Since all of these aspects are done in the first week, I have in the past done icebreakers like Name Game with students. You stand in a circle and the first person:

  1. States their name.
  2. Does a silent pantomine action (swinging a baseball bat)
  3. Then the whole group repeats your name and does the action you just did.
  4. At the end, you ask if anyone can state the name and action of every person in order in the room.

While you’re still in a circle, you can do a rhythm game called Slap, clap, snap, snap.

  1. Slap your thighs as you say my name is.
  2. Clap your hands and say your name.
  3. As you snap your fingers twice you say, “Who are you?”

Any feedback, positive, negative and/or constructive is appreciated.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Commutative versus Associative Property...

These properties with rather lengthy words are often mixed up. I'd like to invite teachers to comment or tweet me with how they would approach this and what they would or wouldn't do. This is a dialogue with T meaning teacher and S meaning student. I think this could be integrated into a multiplication number talk when it comes to the end of the dialogue.

T: What is another way to write 6 + 3 and still get the same answer?
S: (3+6)
T: That is a property in math called the commutative property. We can show it as an equation and a visual using integer tiles.

6 + 3 = 3 + 6
(++++++) + (+++) = (+++)(++++++)

T: How are they different? How are they the same?
S. They give you the same answer, 9. It doesn't matter which order you add in.

T: Right. So, the Commutative Property of addition states that you can add in any order, and still get the same answer. Commutative = different ORDER

...
T: Does this work for multiplication also?
S: Yes.

T: Can you give me an example?
S: Well, 3 times 4 is the same as 4 times 3.

T: OK, what are some ways we can write that.
S: 3x4=4x3, 4*3=3*4. 3(4)=4(3). 

T: All of those are good, remember to avoid using the x so we don't get it confused with a variable. Let's use the last way, with parentheses. How can we diagram the difference between those 2 expressions with integer tiles?

S: (May not know how to do this).

T: OK, multiplication is repeated addition so we can make three groups of 4 and 4 groups of 3.

3(4) = 4(3)
(++++)                    (+++)
(++++)                    (+++)
(++++)                    (+++)
                               (+++)

(pretend the parentheses are circles in the drawing)

T: Can someone summarize what this diagram means?
S: 3 times 4 is the same as 4 times 3. Both have a product of 12. So, the Commutative Property of multiplication says that you multiply in a different order and you still get the same answer.
T: Now we haven't talked about the other property. Which one have we not talked about and what do you think it means?
S: We haven't talked about the Associative Property.

T: Ok, what do we know about the order of operations?
S: (yelling) PEMDAS!! Parentheses first.

T: OK. So, which expression here is an easier computation: 19 + (36 + 4) or (19 + 36) + 4 and why?
S: The first one. 36 plus 4 makes 40 and I can add 40 and 19 in my head. 36 and 4 are friendly numbers.

T: How are the two expressions the same? How are they different?
S: The parentheses moved! That's a difference.... Something that's the same? Oh yeah, they get the same answer!

T: Are they in the same order?
S: Umm, yeah.

T: Right! So this demonstrates the Associative Property of Addition. Both expressions have the same answer and order, but different grouping. 

T: Now for our final property... Same question! Which of these expressions is an easier computation, when following the order of operations: 2*(5*16) or (2*5)*16?

S: I would say the second one. Two times 5 is easy 10. And when you multiply 10 by 16 all your doing is putting a zero at the end of the 16. The answer is 160.

T: Awesome. You just demonstrated the Associative Property of Multiplication.

This is a dialogue that has happened in my 7th grade class last year, probably not as smoothly though. Any feedback or questions are appreciated.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Book Sale Royalties after Writing Common Core Assessment Questions for CPM

I don't want to brag, but I am so proud of the fact that the work my colleagues and I did last summer in Sacramento resulted in a royalty check. I won't divulge for how much, but I was pleasantly pleased. It was about half of the stipend I got.

I thoroughly enjoy teaching so much of CPM (College Preparatory Math)'s curriculum, Courses 2 and 3 of Core Connections. I am super excited to teach our section of 3 years of math in 2 years the Common Core Algebra curriculum during their eighth grade year, my first time using this level.


Student Testimonials 2014-2015

My reason for posting these is to remind myself why I teach. It's to make an impact on students and know that they have improved their thinking and confidence in my class, as well as themselves as a person. I have to admit also that the students are given an 8th grade English assignment to write to a teacher who had an impact on them in their 3 years at middle school. Some of these students I taught in 7th and 8th grade.

Some themes I'm happy students mentioned, but slightly worry me, is the relaxed environment. I want them to feel comfortable in math class, but obviously not too much where it could become laziness.

Also, humor is important to me. Honoring their ability to be funny and hoping they understand my humor. Also, using humor as a way of managing the class I think helps students feel more comfortable.

One student mentioned that I was fair to all the students in the class and treated everyone with respect. That's an aspect of my teaching that I am constantly trying to develop. Another said that I have a positive attitude. This really motivates and encourages students a lot.

Of course, changing students views of math from one of their least favorite subjects to one they enjoy, is HUGELY important in the quest to foster more growth mindsets. To read that they genuinely looked forward to my class all day, that's what it's all about.