Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Better Warm Ups

I'm trying to do a better job of keeping warm-ups more interesting this year. Instead of just throwing a question up that mirrored the previous day's work, I'm mixing it up a bit.

In Ohio, every junior will be taking the ACT in the spring. And since I spend my day with (mostly) juniors, I thought incorporating some ACT prep would be a good thing to do. So every Wednesday-ish we do some ACT questions (which were so generously donated by Meg Craig!). I used Plickers for the first several weeks; tomorrow I'm going to switch it up and do Socrative.

Last Friday my 4th grader came home from school with a 3x3 grid and asked me if I could put the numbers 1 - 9 in them so that every row, column, and diagonal had a sum of 15. (Using every number once.) She said it was a problem given to them in math that day and no one, including their substitute, could solve it.  That was a great one for yesterday!  Some of my students worked and got it in a timely manner, some did better once they had the middle square, and some never got there at all. But they all worked on it!

Some students asked me to give puzzles more often, so I'll have to add that to my list.

Last Thursday my 4th grader (she's a wealth of questions) came home from school and told me that she'd read a book that day.  She loves to read and does so very quickly, so I wasn't surprised. She'd told me that before. But then I asked what book and she answered, "Harry Potter." Um, what?! I thought maybe it was an abridged junior version or something until she pulled out that 800-page monster out of her backpack (it was book #5 if you're wondering). She claims to have read at the babysitter's in the morning for about an hour, on the bus on the way home for almost an hour, and then walking up the driveway (we have a long driveway but it's not that long). So that was today's warm up: How many words per minute would she have had to read?  We even gave her the whole 10 hours that she was gone from the house.

This actually segued into the thought of the world's fastest reader Howard Berg (which I searched an found a YouTube clip of)

and then the next clip on YouTube was a 13-year old girl on Johnny Carson back in the day.  Of course the kids had never heard of Johnny Carson, but whatever. It was a fun discussion.

My Precalc warm up wasn't as fun today - I asked the kids to find the intersection of a line and a circle (we'd just discussed the equation of a circle yesterday). I loved how it incorporated writing equations of circles, solving a system of equations, and the quadratic formula all in one fun problem. But they didn't agree with the fun thing.

I pulled in desmos to show how they could've used it and skipped all the algebra...

Friday, September 23, 2016

Re-Thinking Re-Quizzing

All of the Honors Precalculus students are assigned summer work. I know - doesn't that stink?! For the past several years we've set up assignments in MathXL so that the questions are automatically graded, though the students still have to turn in work when school starts in the fall.

Although this year we had issues with MathXL because the kids waited until the last minute to do the assignments (shocker) and their accounts had expired. So that was fun.

Anyway, during the first week of school I gave a quiz over the material covered in those assignments - linear functions, quadratics (factoring, completing the square, quadratic formula), and some other random stuff like rational functions, solving radical equations, etc. A lot of stuff that is going to be vital they know how to do.

It's sad how low some of the scores were for these students who are in the upper level course and (if they do well) will be taking AP Calc next year.

For this quiz only, I offer the option to retake some questions. But I didn't want to re-grade them all! So I decided to try it electronically.

Step 1:
I created a google form (that I posted on Schoology, our LMS) for the kids to indicate up to 5 questions that they'd like a re-do on (there were only 15 on the quiz itself).  This gave me a nice spreadsheet so I knew exactly who was doing what.

Step 2:
I created assignments in Delta Math that matched those questions. I told them that they needed to do the practice problems for the questions they were going to re-do. My intent was to check to make sure they'd done them but that seemed overwhelming for me. So I'm just going to hope that they got some extra practice.

Step 3:
I created a separate quiz in Schoology for each of the questions. I have the option of doing true/false, multiple choice, ordering, and fill in the blank (all of which are automatically graded); I can also give them short answer questions which I would have to go back and assign a grade for (no way).

Step 4:
I individually assigned the problems to the kids who had signed up for them, so all they saw as an option to do were the questions they had signed up for.

So today was requiz day, and I was holding my breath. Would this work out well?

Thankfully, the answer was yes!  I fixed some details today so that their scores would feed into the Schoology gradebook (which I'll have to transfer into our "real" gradebook) but it wasn't a big deal.  This was a bit of upfront work, but now the hard stuff is done and I won't have to re-do it for next year. Woo hoo!

I am allowing my Math 3 kids to requiz topics this year, and this is totally how I'm going to do it from now on. I'll ask them to submit their work when they're done (so I can give it a quick glance) but the days of double-grading problems are over!