#1TMCThing

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Following Twitter Math Camp, I have been spending a significant amount of time reflecting on what I was going to bring back into my classroom for the coming school year. I have a lot of things that I am excited to use and narrowing it down to one thing is impossible. Therefore, I have decided that I am going to choose my top 5 things that I plan to implement.

Warm-Ups – Following Jessica Bogie’s (@algebrainiac1’s) model. I had seen Jessica’s post on her blog before TMC16 and had marked it as something that I wanted to explore. Hearing her presentation about her method for creating warm-ups and her success for warm-ups convinced me that it was something that I could make work for the upcoming school year. While I appreciate the ready made page for the week, I’m also wondering about the flexibility of using different things on different days. Would there be weeks that I want to change the order or use the same type of problem a couple of times in one week? Would it be better to have standard pages for thinks like Visual Patterns, WODB, or Estimation 180 that I put out as needed?

Nominations – Kathryn Belmonte (@iisanumber) gave a “My Favorite” presentation about using nominations in the classroom. She explained that after a series of lessons that are related or at the end of a unit, she asks the students to complete a review assignment. She has given them a list of choices and the students complete one of these choices and bring it into class on the due date. Then students open their notebooks to the assignment and complete a gallery walk. Students are given two post-it notes and are asked to give two compliments to their classmates as they walk around. Once students are back in their seats, the teacher asks for nominations. Students can nominate other students and students may decline the nomination. The nominated student shows their work on the document camera. It sounds like a great way to get students to think about and summarize their understandings.

The Mathematicians Project – I didn’t go to, but I heard about the Mathematicians Project that Annie Perkins (@Anniekperkins) presented. I had heard about this project before and I thought it was a fantastic idea. My school is predominately minority students. (Check out my nifty graph!)

From Minnesota School Report Card (as of July 25, 2016)

 We did a project a couple years ago where they researched a mathematician but most of those were “old-dead-white-dudes.” I think that spending some time talking about the mathematicians in this format would make allow my students to connect with the mathematician better. It will be a bit of work on my part to begin with, but once I get going and I collect some of this information it will be easy to use on several occasions. 

Partner Quizzes – Sarah Martin (@sarah3martin) and Meg Craig (@mathymeg07) had an an afternoon session about partner quizzes and assessment questions. Sarah talked about how she uses partner quizzes as an opportunity for students to work together on an assessment (more challenging than a traditional assessment). She then takes the assessment home and marks if something is wrong. Student then spend about 20 minutes the following day working through corrections. This sounds like a fantastic idea to get students engaged in discussion around the mathematics. My students typically work as islands and I know that as a teacher, I learn so much from talking to other teachers and discussing students with them. Why shouldn’t I provide my students with similar opportunities. We also spent some time thinking about and crafting our own questions for tests and quizzes to use during the upcoming school year. I plan to implement the partner quizzes during the school year. I’m thinking once every month.

Continued Blogging – Once every two weeks. This one is on me. I have a renewed energy for creating blogging. I started mid-year last year (following the NCTM regional conference) and I posted a few times. I was a little nervous about posting things and my administrator not appreciating the fact that I blogged. This nervousness disappeared when during my end of year review I mentioned my blog and she was impressed. She wanted to know how many people come to my blog and how many times I posted. I was a little embarrassed that the answer was not many visitors and not many posts, but hopefully that will change a little over the coming school year. I am planning to post once every two weeks and then toward the end of the school year to change to every week. I’m even putting a reminder in my school calendar to help me remember. I also believe that the blogging will help to serve as a reflection opportunity for myself to think about things that have worked and things that I would like to change for the future.

Probability

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We are wrapping up our unit on data analysis and probability. I’ll be honest, unless it is pretty straight forward, probability is not my strongest area. I had to do some relearning!

Earlier in the year we touched very briefly on probability and we talked about probability trees. My students kinda understood these tree diagrams, but it still confused many most of them.

We worked on understanding probability through the use of area models. This made a lot more sense to them than trying to use a probability tree. Here is a model.

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A area model representing rolling a dice and flipping a coin.

This was more visual for my students and made a lot more sense. The problem was that it only works for a two event situation. It will not work for three or four events. That means that when students get to a more complicated situation where they have to calculate the probability this strategy will not work. However, since two events falls within the scope of our standards, I have chosen to continue with this model. This also made it easy to highlight areas where the desired outcome occurred and then count the squares of the total number of outcomes possible.

Since my students need to see examples similar to those that they will be expected to complete during the assessment, I created a foldable for them to fill out. In my room, I am fortunate enough to have a document camera that I used to fill the foldable out on the board. We then added these to our interactive notebooks. Here is the foldable that I created.

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For many of my students this helped to organize our thoughts and strategies. There are some things that I would like to tweak about it, but it was a decent place to start. Here is the pdf for the foldable.

 

Scatterplots

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The 8th graders have recently been spending time learning to work with scatterplots. We reviewed scatterplots and what they looked like. The students are very competent in graphing points on the scatterplots. They had seen lines of best fit before but were struggling with the purpose of these lines.

We started with a review of some definitions. We talked about how the line of best fit could help us make a prediction of what to expect from the data. We then practiced drawing lines of best fit and creating equations for those lines.

I found an activity in the MTB0S about celebrity age guessing and making lines of best fit. I started by explaining to my students that I used to work at Valleyfair (a family amusement park in Shakopee, Minnesota.) I told them about my distaste of the guy that stood by the scale and tried to guess peoples age or weight. Basically he was/is annoying because he is constantly talking! I told them that I wanted to see if any of them could be the better guessers of age than he was. We went through a powerpoint of celebrities and students guessed the celebrities ages. They LOVED this! They also got into the idea of competing to see who would be the better guesser.

Once they had made all of their guesses, they spent some time entering their data into a table on Desmos. I they taught them how to create a line of best fit in slope-intercept form using sliders for m and b. We then exported their pictures to a padlet page where we could look at all the lines of best fit together. This was about all the time that we had, so we didn’t get to voting on who was the best guesser, but they still enjoyed working with Desmos and guessing peoples ages. It also made it so that they all had different answers to the problems and couldn’t copy what their friends answered.

I moved on to an activity from Math=Love about Best Line of Best Fit. We started with a desmos file that had a scatterplot already created on it. I printed this off for my students and they wrote directly on the paper to create lines of best fit. There was a five minute individual work time followed by some table time where they worked. The students had to create the equation for their line of best fit and since I only had one computer, I entered everyone’s equation in. This was a little time consuming since once I wrote the equation in and they saw it on the screen they thought they could make it better. I gave them some more time at their table to perfect their line of best fit and adjusted the equation in Desmos according to their specifications.

I was the only adult in the classroom so we did not have an unbiased judge, but some of the students got into the competitive nature of this activity. We displayed two lines of best fit and then had a discussion as a class about which line was better and why. We got very picky about which line we preferred. I also threw in some lines that were poor choices to see how they responded. (They rocked these problems!)

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Our Best Lines of Best Fit Contest (there were a couple more, but I forgot to click save.)

Our scatterplot unit ended with using some of the worksheets that I got off of teachers pay teachers that guided the students through creating equations of lines of best fit. These were nice because the students had to graph the points and then had to draw the line of best fit before deciding on the slope. Once they created their line of best fit, they had to use the line to determine what the data would yield for an unknown quantity. Here’s a link to the product by Mathink.

Thought for next year… my students tend to believe that the line of best fit has to have at least one or two dots on the line. This does make it easier for when they have to pick points that are on the line of best fit they can easily calculate slope. This is a challenge though since lines of best fit do not always have a point from the data set that lands directly on them.