Thursday, July 28, 2016

Practice Structures - Chains

I especially like activities that are self checking, but don't totally give away the solutions.  For examples, a worksheet with a answerbank, but the answers are scrambled.  This allows students to have an idea that they are on the right track.

Chains simply involve using task cards in such a way that the solution to the previous question is on the next card.  Some people makes theirs with a start and end card.  I typically create mine in a loop and students start with any card.

Most often, I create them in powerpoint, print the 4 slides per page in landscape, then cut in half twice to create the cards.

Here is an example from geometry on properties of parallelograms.

Here is an example from algebra on finding the vertex of a parabola.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Practice Structures - Tarsia Puzzles

One of the pre-service teachers that I mentored introduced me to the free Tarsia Software.  It is one of the coolest things ever.  You have probably seen puzzles like this

online.  You may have bought a premade puzzle or slaved in a word processing program with tons of text boxes and graphics to create your won.  The Tarsia software just does this for you.  It has an equation editor, which is amazing.  You type in your questions and answers and the program creates a table with the problems/solutions, a puzzle to be printed out (mixed up pieces) and a solution puzzle (pieces put together).  It's mind blowing really.

I have not found a way to upload these to google docs with out printing to pdf :(  However, Mr. Barton has made lots of tarsia puzzles and uploaded them on his website.

When I use these in class, I typically give each group of 3 their own puzzle.  I usually print them one the smallest output and then copy 2 to 1 one sided.  This creates a puzzle that can be glued onto a standard sheet of construction paper.  I suppose if you wanted the novelty of the giant puzzle, you could just give each student one piece and have them solve just the problems on their piece and then work as a class to assemble the puzzle. Just a warning.  These can be very time consuming and easily take an entire 50 minute period for students to complete.


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Practice Structures - Board Games

The next practice structure that I'd like to share is having kids play board games.  This is just another alternative to a worksheet.  I take the problems from a practice worksheet and put them onto powerpoint slides, print them in landscape four to a slide, and cut the printed page into quarters with one problem per piece.

For the board games, I have purchased a few cheap childhood games from stores like 5 below or walmart.  Right now I have Candy Land, Trouble and Snakes & Ladders.  You can also find lots of free printable game boards through a quick google search.  I have printed some of these out in color and laminated them to be used multiple times.

For accountability, I usually just give the students a place to record their work.  I also try to provide an answer key so that students can check their work.

In general I have all students try the same problem at the same time.  Then they check the answer and anyone that got the problem correct takes a turn in the game.

Here are the game cards for a game on biconditionals and definitions for geometry.
Here are the game cards for a game on multiplying and dividing rational expressions for algebra.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Practice Structures - My Ship Sails

The next practice structure I'd like to share is a card game called My Ship Sails.  I had never played this game as a child, but came across it while looking for ways to gamify my classroom more.  Here is a link on how to play the traditional game.

This game would work well for any topic where kids need to be able to categorize or differentiate similar concepts.  Traditionally, there are four suits in a deck of cards, but I suppose you could create a game with three or five suits just as easily.

Basically, after dealing the cards, the idea is for kids to pass one card to the left while at the same time receiving one card from the player to their right.  The object of the game is to collect all cards with the same suit/type/category. Here are two examples that I recently created for next year.

This game is for geometry.  Each card has a conditional statement and then one of the following:  the hypothesis, the conclusion, a counterexample, or the converse.  Those would be the suits that students would try to collect throughout the game.

This game is for algebra 2.  Each card has either a graph or an equation of a polynomial function.  Students try to collect all the functions with the same end behavior.

I have not played this game with students yet, but I plan to this coming school year.  If you have feedback, please share!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Practice Structures - Error Analysis

Practice Structures - Error Analysis

Error analysis is one of my favorite practice structures because of the conversations.  My students typically find it very difficult.  They sometimes think that problems that have been done correctly are incorrect if steps are skipped in the written solution.  Other times they think incorrect solutions are correct because I try to make common mistakes.  One of the most interesting things that happens is that kids end up appreciating the work done by their teachers while correcting quizzes.  They almost always express that the toughest part is trying to figure out why the fictional person make a certain mistake in the work.

In the past, I have typed up my error analysis problems.  However, I have switched to handwriting the work.  It seems more authentic and for some reason it is easier for the students to differentiate between the question and the solution.  I use Doceri to create the document.  It is a paid app, but well worth the investment as I use it daily during the school year.

Here is an example of an error analysis assignment that I give in geometry.
Segment Addition and Midpoint

Here is an example from algebra.
Multiplying Polynomials

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Practice Structures - Color By Number

Another practice structure that I use about once per chapter is color-by-number.  I typically find the coloring pages on Pinterest.  Here is the board that I have been using to collect images for future activities.

I usually choose with the problems by using Kuta software or by pulling from a pre-existing worksheet.

I number the problems to match the numbers in the color-by-number picture.  Then I match the answers to the appropriate color.  Students solve each problem, locate the matching answer and color the numbers in the picture with that matching color.

Somewhat surprisingly, these activities are well liked by my students.  If too much time passes, they ask about when we will do another.  I personally like the pictures that you can not identify until after they are colored, but my students seem to prefer cartoon characters.

Here is one example that I used last year to have students practice factoring trinomials in quadratic form.

Here is one on finding the areas of regular polygons using trigonometry.


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Practice Structures - Old Maid

My goal during the summer is to blog at least once a week.  I've failed pretty miserably with this so far this year.  One of my goals was to blog about my favorite practice structures.  Let's be honest, a lot of the content in high school math is either inapplicable (I'm looking at you polynomial long division) or requires lots of practice to build fluency.  So, although I do like to try to do one project with honest to goodness real world application for each unit or marking period, I still need something engaging to do with kids to help them practice.

The practice structure that I am sharing today is Old Maid.

I love having my kids practice the most basic skills (ones that require little to no writing) by playing card games.  One sad side note is that I usually need to give directions on how to play these games because apparently, parents don't play games with their kids anymore.

So, I just now created a new version of Old Maid for my first unit in algebra 2 for next year.  I googled for directions for the game, an image for my cards, and a worksheet that had the types of problems that I wanted to practice.

Then I opened a powerpoint and went copy/paste crazy, did a little editing, and voila, a new game.

I will use this game at my collaborative station in my hybrid learning classroom. This means that I will need to copy and cut out 3 decks of cards, which is not too bad.  I'll print them in landscape orientation with 4 slides per page.  Then I'll just make 2 cuts down the middle vertically and horizontally.

If you want to know what the heck hybrid learning is can read more here, especially the posted from 7/3/15-7/9/15.

Here is the finished product.  Enjoy!