These are a Few of my Favorite Things.

As a part of Week 2 of the ExploreMTBoS 2016 Blogging, I’m sharing a few of my favorite things!

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My Favorite App: PLICKER

plickersWay back in September, I wrote about some new things that I was trying this year. Among them was using PLICKERS (paper clickers) for formative assessments and providing students with on demand feedback. Almost 5 months in, they are going strong and plickers are one of the tools I use ALL of the time and my students love them too! I can easily scan their answers using my phone and students can see the frequency for each choice. I can choose to reveal the answer or not. However, it’s not about getting the correct answer! Here is why I love plickers!

  • Plickers have been a kick off point leading to conversations about strategies used.
  • I especially LOVE it when the answer that was most frequently chosen by the class leads to a conversation around misconception or common error that is made.
  • Students get to debate! Sometimes I have students justify their answers and try to convince each other why their answer makes the most sense.
  • Inspired by estimation180, sometimes, we use it to reason about the “reasonableness” of the choices and decide why a choice is “too high”, “too low” or “just right”

My Favorite Product: Clear Neon Lights (as known in Ms. K’s class but aka C-Line Ticket Holders)

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I use these almost every day. They’re clear pocket inserts with unlimited uses from impromptu mini-whiteboards, collection folders, instruction/guideline holders, protection sheets, etc.

My favorite review/practice activity: Add ’em Up!
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Like most things I do in my classroom, Add ’em Up is something I’ve taken from someone in the #mtbos community. Thanks to Sara Vanderwef, I now have a go to review activity that really gets ALL of my students engaged. Whenever I do an ‘add em up review, I never have to worry about any off task behavior which in middle school land is pretty awesome! This is the gist of the activity modified from Sara’s blog. (which you should totally explore because she has some really amazing I-am-totally-gonna-do-that-because-it’s-freakin’-awesome kinda stuff)

  • This task is used for math problems that have one number solution.
  • Students are placed in groups of 4. (I also have students work in groups of 5 and have two students work as a team)
  • Groups get the large whiteboards (2′ by 2.5′) and 4 colored dry erase markers.
  • Each group also gets 4 task cards. Each student solves ONE card in their section of the board using their colored marker (but they can help each other).
  • As students work, I go around and write the sum of all four answers in the middle of their board.
  • After everyone has gotten their answers, it’s time to ADD ’em UP and if the questions were solved correctly, their sum should match the one written in the middle.
  • If it doesn’t match, students go back and determine where the mistake was made and correct it.

It’s really easy to prepare! I’ve been using them a lot on percent problem tasks. I usually create 2-3 sets with each set being more challenging than the prior set and that has them going for about 40-45 minutes.

My students are still getting used to communicating as they are working, but once they get their sum and it doesn’t match, it creates this ITCH in them to determine where the mistake was made and they begin collaborating (and sometimes arguing, but how cool is that?!). What I love about this activity is that it is MORE than just getting the correct answer. While that is a part of it, it forces my students to work together and help each other. I hear students explaining their thinking process to their peers. I have students ask each other clarifying question or tell each other, “that doesn’t make sense!” I have students refer to each other and their interactive notebooks before I step in, so it allows me to focus on students that are struggling a great deal and offer them one on one support.

And while we’re talking about my favorite things, got to include Miloh. My favorite reliever of stress and frustration!

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Week One: One Good Thing!

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Last week, I pledged to participate in explore #mtbos’s blogging initiation. I’m really glad blogging about one good thing is one of the options this week. It reminded me to dig up an old blog I used to keep (infrequently) for myself my first year of teaching: now renamed Positive Vibes. I’ve copied over my one good thing from this week.

One Good Thing: Persistence Means Not Giving Up!

I gave my students their performance task this week. This is the first time (ever) that I have completely let go and did not offer explicit help. I stole something I got from my colleague that she uses for students to write independently called “Try 3 before Me”. Instead of asking 3 people for help, the students are doing three specific things before they can ask for help. For my students that included utilizing their INB, math work book, creating a K-W-L chart, and mindful breathing. Their options were outlined on a poster.

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As students worked I circulated and answered only clarifying questions or re-read the question. I did ask some probing questions to some of my students who were ready to extend their thinking, but I kept hands off as much as I could. I was really proud to see the persistence of my students the past two days. By no means is their work perfect, but students were using the resources I provided, attempted problems, and struggled through them without giving up! I’m also proud of myself for letting go because it’s really hard to see students struggle. 

This upcoming week, I hope to blog a day in my life…but I’ll do that when I am a bit more sane.

2016 Blogging “re-INITIATION”

I think I can…I know I can.

I, Sahar Khatri resolve to blog in 2016 in order to open my classroom up and share my thoughts with other teachers. I hope to accomplish this goal by participating in the January Blogging Initiation hosted by Explore
MTBoS
.

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You, too, could join in on this exciting adventure. All you have to do is dust off your blog and get ready for the first prompt to arrive January 10th!