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Saturday, October 19, 2013

MTBoS and Twitter changing teaching one tweet at a time.

 For the MTBoS Challenge I tweeted for help regarding my classroom warm-ups. I tweeted my problem this week to a few people because I still have students that are not thinking or even trying, they are just putting down anything to look done. Its frustrating because when I look at their answers and read it to them they will be like, yea...oh well no that is not right. And then they erase it and fix it. I didn't tell them it was wrong, I did not explain how to solve it. Talking one on one with the teacher caused them  to think. As soon as they did that they were able to correctly solve the problem. So how do I get them to think? To care about learning. Some suggestions from Twitter was to put a problem that was solved incorrectly and have students correct the problem. I like this idea. Its something I do occasionally as a walk-about activity when reviewing for a test but had not thought to do on a warm-up.  Another idea was to include a problem with the answer and have students explain why it is the answer. I will definitely include these ideas in future warm-ups.I don't want to change the overall problems as I am not picking exceedingly difficult problems, I am just revisiting problems many got wrong on the test or previous quiz. I can make two different warm-ups if needed, but honestly I am already overwhelmed with all the new things I am doing this year to enhance learning in my inclusion classes I am not sure I can handle one more thing. I do have to learn how to share the load with the special ed teacher I work with. I am so used to doing everything myself but we can certainly share grading and creating of assignments. I like the warm-up suggestions but for some of my students getting to access that thing between their ears is like pulling teeth from ....Idk...something w/o teeth.  For pre-algebra warm-ups worked well. Students completed warm-up and I checked homework and attendance. We went over the homework and the warm-up and students would ask questions when they could not find their mistakes.  Yea!   Math 7 students are a different animal entirely. Some like math, many do not often because of past struggles. Because the warm-up itself is not graded I found many of my students put in little effort. When we go over the answers they didn't correct them on their papers. When I quizzed them at the end of the week grades showed no real improvement. Data was showing the warm-ups were not working. Therefore I started out this year without any warm-ups. Problem was students were fooling around when I went around to stamp homework for completeness, and plus I was wasting precious math time. So what to do? I decided to create different warm-ups this year.  I took an idea I read on the Whole Brain Teaching . It talked about having students identify multiple choice answers as smarty, trickster, or doofus and why. If nothing else it would prevent students from just circling an answer(s) on a multiple choice or multiple answer problems.  I give three warm-up questions. I make one multiple choice and the students have to write why it is doofus, trickster or smarty. Oh did I forget to mention how much 7th graders hate to write?  The first week I had them try them and as a group we came up with reasons and students that had no answers were to write these on their warm-ups. We talked about how a problem that is a trickster to one student might be a doofus problem to another student.  What tricks me does not necessary trick you and vice versa.  Of course some doofus answers will  be doofus to everyone when they make absolutely no sense. I knew the first week would be hard. But I figured down the road there will be a pay-off. If I can get the students to think about the math...and not just write anything that pops in their head I am going in the right direction. Week #2 I had to push students that were actually writing to give real math answers not just its doofus because its the wrong answer. Why is it wrong? How do you know? These students were and are rising to the task. I am hoping that as they share why they think an answer is doofus or  trickster with the class then  other students will hear their reasons and learn. I can hope can't I? There are still many students with blank explanations. A few students that process slowly I have asked them to explain only two answers that I choose. Less stressful for them but shows me where they are when I read their explanation.  The problem is that this three problem warm-up is taking too much of the class time. Students were also resistant to doing the work so I had to resort to collecting it daily to see who was/not actually completing it. I found one student that looked like he was working but had completed nothing. Nothing!! Not even the non writing problems. What made it worse is that this student does not struggle and we had gone over the answers so he could have just written them in! Okay rant over.The sad thing is that there is a special ed teacher and I am circulating and helping students during this time. But he is on our radar now!  Week # 3 I only had two out of the four days with a multiple choice/explain your answer . One for each day was taking too long, but I am not willing to give it up as I see improvement on students being able to explain their reasons.     Back to the MTBoS and what I love about Twitter is seeing many other teachers struggle with some of the same issues. It  helps to know I am not alone. They are trying to improve and inspire, which inspires me to not give up. Tweeting to people I don't know is a little hard as by nature I am not out-going. I have lurked on Twitter for a year but this MTBoS Challenge is helping to realize that its okay to jump into a conversation and its okay to ask people whose blogs I read for ideas even if they have no idea who I am. If they have time they will reply, if not other teachers will likely toss out some ideas. 

AFTER THOUGHT:Something I just thought of to encourage a culture of thinking: I can make a wall of quotes from the DMR's. I can quote students by name(with their permission of course) with the good math explanation they gave. Some of  my students will try harder to be quoted, and other students that struggle will read what good reasoning looks like. Hmmm might be a good thing.