Monday, October 21, 2013

Proficiency Certificates

Because it is the end of the quarter, we had PD on Friday, part of which was some worktime to update grades.  All of the HS teachers at my school are supposed to have an updated "standards" document, that shows the level of proficiency each student has met for all standards or learning targets.  Mine is by learning targets (which are aligned to standards).  I had updated everything in PowerSchool, but needed to update my Google spreadsheet.  As I was doing this I noticed that there are several students who have achieved proficient (or above) on all learning targets this quarter.  I was really excited, so I decided to make little certificates and share it as a #Made4Math Monday :)

I made it up quickly on PowerPoint (it really isn't anything spectacular).  I printed 2 slides per page because I thought little ones were cuter :) Also I printed on green paper because kids love colored paper.  Here is a picture:

Download File Here
What I'm most excited about though is to give them to students.  I have never done anything like this before, but I think this is something worth rewarding.  I didn't consider whether or not they reassessed, just where they were at when the quarter ended.  I really think this is a good way of encouraging students to do better.  I haven't done much all year to encourage grades, and I don't want to start doing that.  Some of my students who have an A or A- will not be receiving one of these certificates because they scored a 2.5 on one of the learning targets.  I'm excited that I feel as though this is encouraging them to learn more rather than encouraging them to get a good grade.  And I truly believe that this is an award all my students are capable of earning.  That is why I am most excited to present the certificates, because I want to tell that to my students:  YOU CAN DO THIS NEXT QUARTER!

- Kathryn

Sunday, October 20, 2013


I'm trying to catch up on blogging...boy has it been too long!  I thought I'd share all the function work that we have been doing in Algebra lately.

Domain and Range:  We defined domain and range and practiced the definitions with tables/mapping diagrams to get them familiar with the words, but the main goal was to give the domain and range of graphs.  After some conversations with the Algebra 2 teacher, we decided to stick with continuous graphs and use compound inequality notation.

To help the students picture domain and range we created a foldable I have been looking forward to since I first read about it last year.  Sarah wrote about it here.  Here is where Sarah found the graphs.

I didn't like that the graphs took 5 pieces of paper.  I have 90 Algebra students, I can not copy that much paper.  I also felt like there was a lot of blank space, so I used my snipping tool and made my own version that was only 2 pages long.  I still only made enough for groups to share.  I numbered them so that they could tell which was the x-axis and so that they could write the domain and range on a separate paper.

Here are my materials:
It is still the best domain/range lesson that I have done.  I love it and plan to do it again next year.  A few things I would change:
  • There are a couple graphs I might switch out for others that were in the original document.
  • My students should be taught compound inequality notation, not just given blanks to fill in.
  • Introduce infinity AFTER practicing with non-infinite graphs.
Function/Not a Function:  At my school we are discussing different intervention techniques through a book study.  Most recently we were focused on vocabulary strategies.  I thought it was time to try out the Frayer model for vocabulary and you can see that below in our notes.  I maybe should have made it larger, but I think it's OK.

To practice determining function/not a function, students did a card sort I first read about from Sarah.  This is probably my second most anticipated lesson that I read about this summer.  Here is her post.  Here is where she got it.  Here is a link to the card sort.

Function Notation:  By the time we got to function notation, I felt as thought I had overused the copier, so I gave some regular notes.  I still tried to color-coat though :)  I used Sarah's notes (different Sarah) as a guide.  We did practice on a worksheet because I had a sub that day.

- Kathryn

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Integer Work

I hadn't planned on doing much with integers and order of operations, because I really wanted to stick to the Common Core curriculum.  However, as things got going I began to see integer operations really hurting my Topics students.  So I decided I really did need to backtrack and do some work with integers.  Here are some of the things we've done so far:

Manipulatives:  We worked with little pieces to show addition of integers.  I made a set of these for each of my students and had them show things like (-5) + 2 and (-4) + 10.  I even encouraged them to show me two things that added to 5 or -1.  They thought that sounded hard, but once they tried they realized it was easier than they thought it would be.  One student even commented "That was easier that it sounded!"  Slowly this has lead to drawing + and - signs instead of actually using the pieces, which is just as valuable.  I think this aligns very well with what the students have seen from the 7th and 8th grade teachers as far as integer addition.

Integer War:  Thanks to Lisa's post, I decided to play Integer War with my students.  I created a file for them to use to keep track that I thought would help see their progress.  I even have a picture of my practicum teacher working with them.

When kids finished their first game instead of asking, "What do we do when we're done?" They were asking, "Can we play again?" And at the end of class in order to get them to clean up I had to say, "I will not write you a pass to second hour.  You must leave now."  I think this was the best thing for them ever.  I even had two students come in during homeroom later to play their 5th game to determine an overall winner.

(With an odd number of students, I got to play a game, too.  I could do this because my practicum teacher was walking from group to group ensuring that they were on track.  Lucky to have 2 teachers in the room!)

Grudge:  Sarah's post reminded me of Nathan's post about the most fabulous game ever.  I had played it once at the end of last year, but had forgotten about it over the summer.  I decided to play with my students.  They loved it!  And it allows for lots of different challenge questions that all kids try because they want to get someone back.   I did have to make a modification this year.  The kids were taking  FOREVER to choose who to erase an X from and get back to their seats, so I timed them and said that if they weren't back in their seats then I would erase an X from them.  This got them scampering back to their seats right away (even if they were out of Xs).

The kids have been asking to play again every day since.  I think that is a good sign.  I want to find a good balance of when to play and when not to, so I keep telling them I'm waiting for the perfect time.

That's mostly what we've done for now.  Next week we will add subtraction of integers and parenthesis!  We might play Integer War again with subtraction.  I think that would be good for them at some point, but we do need some more instruction and "basic" practice first.  I'm looking for good subtraction of integer lessons.  Throw any ideas my way :)

- Kathryn