Monday, August 24, 2015

MTBoS Love - 3 Act Math

3 Act Math lessons are a great way to introduce a unit.  It is especially cool when you can create a real need for the math that students are about to learn either by making it possible to find a solution or by making the solution easier to find.

The basic concept is 

Act 1:  Show some sort of media image or video and let kids ask questions.  Choose a question to try to answer.  

Act 2:  Have kids tell you what other info they need to answer their question.  Research or provide that information.

Act 3:  Reveal the solution.

The whole process takes quite a while, so you can't do this every day and make it through all of your content.  However, I like to use these on the first day to introduce a new chapter.  

Here are some of my favorite 3-act collections

Thursday, August 20, 2015

MTBoS Love - A Plethora of Activity Resources

The only 'bad' thing about the MTBoS might be that there is soooo much out there and it can be hard to keep up with it all.  OK, really it is impossible to keep up with it all.  Here are some of my go to resources that I search when I have a lesson coming up but I don't have anything interesting to do with students on that particular topic.

Common Core Problem Based Curriculum Maps - Geoff Krall of Emergent Math has organized thousands of problem based tasks.  He has sorted them by grade level, Common Core standard, and subject.  Seriously, so much good stuff that my mind explodes every time I visit the page.

Desmos Activities - Interesting activities that are ready to use in your classroom.  Until recently there were only a few activities posted, all of high quality of course.  Lately however, new activities are being posted more often. Yay!

The Math Projects Journal Lessons/Curriculum Maps - Chris Shore has organized projects for middle school and high school.  He has included both and Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2 sequence as well as an integrated sequence.

Robert Kaplinsky's Lessons - Robert has complete lessons that teachers can use without spending hours collecting media resources and data (because he has already done it for you).  Most lessons start with a situation and the statement of a problem.  Robert includes tons of images, videos, desmos graphs, questions to ask,... everything you could possibly ask for.

And last but not least, virtual filing cabinets like Sam Shah's.  Virtual filing cabinets care exactly what they sound like.  Typically they are one page on someone's blog where they organize all of the lessons that they teach by sequence and include links to resources that they use for each lesson.  I chose to link Sam's virtual filing cabinet because his "top drawer" is a list of other people's cabinets!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

MTBoS Love - Reason and Wonder

Reason and Wonder is great resource for engaging lessons.  Each lesson starts with an interesting image.  Students are asked what they notice about the image and what they wonder about the image.  Michael Fenton, writes the lessons in such a way as to promote student curiosity and the tasks are inherently interesting.

These follow a 3-act set up in which the teacher allows students to generate questions about the topic.  The question to be explored is predetermined, but students will likely ask the desired question if they are encouraged to ask as many questions as they can.

The thing I like best about Michael's lessons is that they are classroom ready.  Many of the other 3-act lesson collections are great too, but these are very complete with lots of media files, desmos files, and presentation slides.

I have only tried the Charge! lesson in my classroom so far, but I look forward to exploring more of Michael's lessons.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

MTBoS Love - Open Middle

Open Middle is one of my favorite resources.  Most of the tasks could take 20 minutes to complete but I usually start by using one as a warm-up.

The key characteristics of these problems are

  • the beginning and ending are closed (all kids start with the same prompt and arrive at the same result)
  • the middle is open (there are many paths to the correct solution),  
  • the problems have a low floor and high ceiling (it is easy to understand and find one solution but harder to find the best solution)
  • they involve finding the maximum/minimum values (kids see this as a competition to see who can find the best solution)
My students seem to really like these because they feel successful in finding one solution even if they don't find the best solution.  After giving the kids time to think on their own and then work as a team, I ask for one team solution.  I praise that team for finding a solution that works.  Then I ask if anyone can top their performance.  Other teams that may have better solutions take pride in their work, but every solution is valued.

The creators of the site offer this worksheet that emphasizes the try and refine/guess, check, improve method.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

MTBoS Love - Which One Doesn't Belong

*singing* One of these things is not like the others.  One of these things just doesn't belong...

Which One Doesn't Belong is a fairly new resources.  As usual, I stumbled upon this jem while catching up on tweets one day.  I use these as warm-ups about once per week in my 9-12 classroom.  I am not concerned that the topic we are studying is represented in the set, but rather that students think of multiple solutions.  That is my favorite part of using these sets.  I encourage students to come up with a reason why any of the 4 pictures could be the one that doesn't belong.

I love that there is often an obvious solution so all students can find success but there are multiple answers for students who are ready to think more deeply.  I have not tried the incomplete sets yet, but I think those would be awesome for higher order thinking skills as would making up your own WODB set.