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!

fav things

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!
add em up

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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