Over the course of the school year, I have been creating dividers for my interactive notebooks for my students. I adopted the divider that Sarah at Math=Love used in her classroom.
At the beginning of the year, I would give my students 10-12 minutes to write their own Top Ten. We would then spend sometime reviewing these items as a class and trying to come up with our own top ten list. This mostly did not work with 7th and 8th graders because they are not able to pull out major topics and summarize it into short phrases. This still needs to be modeled for them.
On our third unit, I started helping them pull out the main ideas and write their top ten with them. I would write it on the board and they would write it on the divider. I liked this way better that what I had been doing. Here are a couple of things that improved when I changed my practice:
- Instead of spending over 20 minutes on these t0p ten lists, I now spend about 13 minutes.
- Often when I had the students write their own lists, never fail I would end up spending time on something that wasn’t essential to the units topic. (I don’t mind working to understand incorrect thinking, but sometimes it would lead to extra conversations that were not essential to the unit we were working on.)
- My students struggled with completing unit projects because they did not have a specific list that had approved topics on it to work off of.
Now yesterday, we were completing our “Top Ten” in 7th grade math getting ready for our test on the “Ratios and Proportional Thinking” Unit. I was bored with life and looking for a way to engage a few more students. Let’s also be honest, my students were bored. I had written out my Top Ten list and knew what I wanted to be on the list when we finished. Instead of copying it over for the students, I ended up turning it into a little game show type of activity. (This just means I asked them questions and told them to “Come on down and get their prize.”) I gave students gold-tickets for correctly answering the questions and even when a student got something wrong, I wrote them a ticket and thanked them for reminding us that we are all learning.
As much as I hate bribing students to do math work, this time it worked to my advantage. I had a lot more students engaged in answering the questions as I posed them. They were so excited when they knew the answer. Today when we took the assessment and a student had a question, I was able to tell them exactly who answered gave us that piece of information during our “Top Ten” review and many of them remembered.
My coworker was in the room at the same time and she mentioned how much she loved that we did a “Top Ten”. She commented about how it made it easy for students to remember what would be on the assessment and review the essential information.
I will definitely keep this practice around. I will even throw in the attempt to make it a bit more engaging using the Quiz Show type of review!!