What To Do After The TESTING!The testing will soon be completed. The pressure relieved. The “aftermath” is about to ensue. Whoo Hoo! Summer vacay is in sight! No late night grading. No early morning rush out the door to get there early and set up for the day.
May also brings the rising of the sap and restlessness in students that may stir up all sorts of unwanted behaviors. You may hear colleagues discussing this in the teacher’s lunchroom. Some will admit that they just "write kids up -- the ones they know to be “ring leaders” of disruption. Some may gloat over their last day packets of worksheets to keep good worker kids busy and bad lazy kids home. And still others may plan to pull out Disney videos and games to keep their kids occupied. They used to warn me to don more serious warlike gear than my usual loosey goosey cooperative learning garb I'd been sporting all year.
Can you believe I listened to them? I did.
Oh, I thought about it at great length. I didn’t want to write kids up or catch them being bad. I didn’t want to waste their time with videos and games either. Did I want them to waste time on worksheets? I rationalized that the packet thing would be good review of what we covered that year. Maybe I could even throw in some pages to get a jump start on the next year! Ok, it was on. Me, my purple master copy books, and the “ditto machine.” (We’re talkn’ back in the day here.)
Well, I found out the only thing that students liked about the ditto sheets was the smell when they were fresh off the press. Quicker than the sheets could dry, the interest in completing them faded away. So there I was with grumpy, whiny, antsy students who were burned out on worksheets, written practice and testing. One student flatly refused pointing out, “If we already know this and took the test, why are we doing it again?” I knew I needed a plan B.
Plan B started out as a String Art Unit that incorporated all the concepts we had recently learned in geometry. Each year I created more units until I had enough to let students choose two or three to complete during the month of May. The idea was not to give up teaching math, but to extend and enrich understanding of selected major concepts through a project that required creative problem solving. I called them May Math Mini Units. They became totally engaging. Students skipping other classes would wander in from the video and packet classrooms and beg to be a part of our mini units. Students would enter my class in the fall and ask me if I was the teacher that did the mini units and what mini units would they get to do this year.
Why were they so successful? I think it had largely to do with the fact that they all incorporated five components that engage students with math.
Projects allow students to create a product and take away something tangible that they associate with the application of math. Don’t forget to keep some samples to display next year as examples of how math is used! Projects can also produce an event or a much needed improvement in the community or environment.
Design projects in which students have the chance to make choices based on their own preferences. Choose the color of string you want, choose your design, choose 2 dimensional or 3 dimensional. Choose whether to make a game or dictionary to demonstrate the geometry terms. Students are more likely to be engaged by a project or activity of their own choosing that fits their learning style.
Anything outside of the intense test practice they have been going through is bound to be fun. However, make your unit include the things you know your students like to do. Outdoors, food, games, teams, chances to win prizes, etc.
The projects you undertake here should be of relevance to your content as well as relevant to your students. Take into consideration the time of the year, what is happening in your school and community, and in the news. What are major concerns of your students? What do they like to do? With whom do they like to spend their time? What kind of music do they listen to? What do they watch on TV? How involved are they with technology?
If students are going to feel antsy and the weather makes them want to be outside, work it! Plan activities in your unit that involve physical activity and outdoor time, perhaps a culminating activity that involves some type of games outdoors or away from school.
Some ideas for Mini Units
You can get great ideas for mini units from the internet or teacher magazines. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when you are first getting started. Here are just a few topic ideas that I have used over the years.
Paper Flying Machines (AIMS is a good resources for this)
Toothpick Bridges (Books and internet ideas on this)
Math Games Tournaments
String Art 2 and 3 Dimensional
Community Service Projects
Summer Business Plan
Last Day Celebration and Feast
Create a Wacky Invention
If you like these ideas, watch for next week’s newsletter.
I’ll choose one or two and give detailed directions that you can use to make a mini unit happen for your class this year. Just think, you’ll be waving goodbye on that last day thinking, “Why didn’t I do this earlier?”
Come back each week for more daily activities! (Scroll down for the new additions!!)
Celebrate each day of April by connecting math to a real world event that previously occurred on the same day. Select events that you think will interest your students for various reasons.
It's easy to find these historical events. You can use a Google search to help you. Or just push the EASY button and use the ideas below!
Be sure to check out all grade levels. Sometimes you'll see an off grade level idea and immediately see how to tweak it to fit your students! Even if you use only one idea, your April is sure to be the best month yet for you and your students! Enjoy.
April 4, 1974 Hank Aaron tied Babe Ruth's famous home run record of 714!
April 5, 1896 First Modern Day Olympic Games in Athens
April 6, 1930 Hostess Twinkie's Birthday!
April 7, 1969 Happy Birthday to the Internet! (official date see publication RFC 1)
April 8, 1974 Hank Aaron hits his 715th home run! Record Breaker!
April 11, 1921 First Sports Broadcast on the Radio
April 12, 1955 Polio vaccine is declared safe and effective
Elementary My search came up with many Pinterest boards related to the term “GERMS”
April 13, 1902 James C. Penny opens his first store.
After reading this article, have students brainstorm and put together a plan for opening their own school store. Ask them what mathematics they would need to use.
April 14, 1849 First edition of Webster's Dictionary!
Elementary, Middle, and yes, even High School! Fun ideas for using dictionaries mathematically. Use math vocabulary words for # 3,4,6!
April 15, 1955 McDonald's Corporation founded. Have a Big Math Day.
So many lesson ideas on this one!!
Elementary do you know about this? Does McDonald’s Sell Cheese Burgers?
April 18, 1775 Paul Revere Day! (The famous Midnight Ride!)
Story and Map all levels.
Oh, the math you can make with this!!
Use the 3 Act Math Model with this. Just give students the map and ask them to construct the problem.
April 19, 1919 First successful parachute jump and free fall
All levels fun interactive experience designing a parachute
April 20, 1926 Sound added to film for the first time
Are you thinking math video connection here?
Here’s a quick read to find out about the history of the transition from silent to sound
No button, just CLICK >>>>>> ALL Levels
All Levels Fun Idea
Create a math video – Students work in groups or create one class video to represent a big math concept they have studied.
Show an example first and challenge them to get creative!
Here’s a blog article where one teacher dishes on how he does this rather simply!
No button, just CLICK >>>>> http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2011/08/11/move-over-sal-khan-sixth-graders-create-their-own-math-videos/
Here’s an example of one of his student made videos:
No button, just CLICK >>>>> http://mathtrain.tv/play.php?vid=91
Play with this year, and next year, look out! Think about starting this strategy early on to hook your “i-Gen” kiddos ! You could collect a whole series of videos on all the major standards that they’ll see on your state exam. Then play them back for review.
April 21, Rome is founded (Yes, it was Rome was founded ON a day not IN a day! lol)
This is a perfect day to compare our number system to Roman Numerals! (Looking at other number systems helps students understand our number system!)
April 22, 1970 First Earth Day Celebrated Happy Earth Day!
You’ll find great activities here Pick and Choose!
April 25, 1507 German cartographer Martin Waldseemuller 1st to use the name America on his world map Universalis Cosmographia
Awesome activities on Cartography for everyone!
April 26, 1900 Charles Richter's Birthday and Richter Scale Day, seismologist who developed the earthquake magnitude scale
Earthquake topic search results for all levels
April 27, 1982 The computer mouse is introduced
Totally cool video that shows how a mathematical equation is behind the design of computer pointing devices.
April 28, 2003 Apple iTunes Music Store opens and sells 1,000,000 songs in a week!
Tons of free math games and practice on iTunes. Check out these three top rated!
April 29, 1975 US Army pulls out of Viet Nam
3rd Grade Vietnamese children were given this problem: Can you solve it?
One super fun way to review big ideas is to do so with pictures. One picture really is worth way more than a thousand- word lecture or a thousand practice worksheets! (And by the way, this strategy works just as well for introducing big ideas!)
Let's say you want to introduce or review a big idea such as the Distributive Property.
Here's how you might proceed.
Show students pictures of distribution. Google "images of distributive property" or just look around and collect some on your cell phone. I used both methods combined for my examples in this post. Include one or two that are not examples. Ask them, “Which pictures do you think show distribution?” Give them a few moments to look at them and formulate answers and reasoning. Then have students share their thoughts. Be sure to get thorough explanations of why some are examples of distribution and others are not.
Here are two examples of photos showing distribution:
Have students explain the picture above to a partner and then have several students share out to the class.
Next, give students a similar situation with a menu. Direct them to write their own statements and pictures representing the Distributive Property. Be sure to allow them to share their work and post it!
Here is an example of a menu you could use:
To extend this idea even further, you could refer students to the brainstorm list and have them select a situation and write a statement and picture to represent the situation with the Distributive Property.
These are actual examples students created:
If you're wondering if you really have time for kids to draw pictures in math class, consider this. Do you have time to reteach and reteach and they still don't "get it?" Sometimes you have to slow down to speed up. Another huge point is that anytime you employ RIFT (Relevance, Interest, Fun, and/or Technology) engagement goes through the roof. Let's face it. You have to play to win, and you have to engage to teach. Have fun engaging your students with some pictures this week!
>>>>>>> Share in the comments your great tweaks on this idea when you use it this week!
Do you wait for holidays to pass so you can get on with real teaching again?
How about a mind shift on this that boosts engagement, rigor, and deeper long term results?
I used to despise the holidays and special days for interrupting my pacing and wasting my precious instructional time. I'd either plow through the scheduled lesson anyway amid grumbles and shutdowns or I'd give in and wait for holidays and special days to pass.
Wow! Someone needed to hit me upside the head with a shillelagh! I missed the whole point and certainly the fun of teaching!
Thank goodness I came to understand that student engagement so often hinges on finding timely, relevant, fun, and interesting connections to "hook" learners. The very situations we despise as interruptions are actually LEVERAGE to engage students with instruction and deepen mathematical content they will retain and cherish forever.
Why am I telling you this now? Because another holiday is here in March to remind us that there will always be another holiday, another assembly, another pep rally, another.......... .
You can use it as an excuse not to forge ahead with your "regular" instruction, or you can seize the day and create a phenomenal lesson that they will love, remember and thus, LEARN enough to fill their pot of gold!!
Here are a few ideas to get you and your students thinking mathematically about Luck, Rainbows, and Pots of Gold!
This article explains the real reason why my sisters and I used to find so many four leaf clovers in my Grandpa Cordes's lawn. (He told us it was because he was a florist and a German Leprechaun!)
>>>>>>>What Is The Probability of Finding A Four Leaf Clover?
This blog tells you how to find a four leaf clover.
>>>>>>>>How To Find A Four Leaf Clover
Did you know that rainbows in entirety are actually circular shaped? Ok, are you having a math aha here! You're about to capture some lucky charms here!
Here is a way too cool video about the rainbow math connection.
>>>>>>> Hooky Rainbow and Math Video
Experiment on how to make rainbows (5 different ways!)
>>>>>>> Making rainbows
More great ideas here from K-12
>>>>>>> Mathy Rainbow Stuff!
>>>>>>> More Mathy Rainbow Stuff!
Pot of Gold:
>>>>>>>> Elementary Math Ideas
Middle and High School
Use the following free printable to generate word problems on any current topic of study.
Love this idea because you are be as clever as a Leprechan in getting students to delve into the magic of creating their own word problems. This in turn helps them understand the language and construction of the word problems they may encounter on upcoming state tests. Make this extra fun by having students take the quiz then draw a lucky number from a pot of gold that corresponds with an item from the quiz. Students then compose a problem related to the current or past topic of study about that quiz item. What an amazing pot of gold you're sitting on!!
There is no better way to understand word problems than to write them.
>>>>>>>> Saint Patrick's Day Trivia for Writing Word Problems.
Hope you enjoy these ideas and go have a magically delicious math day on March 17th and every day!
Here are five smart no-stress steps you can take to regain control of the situation. An added bonus is that these five steps are totally worth your while. Not only will you feel satisfied that you are preparing your students for the challenge ahead, but you can also rest easy knowing that you are immersing your students in some rigorous life skill lessons as well.
Here's What To Do!
Create Your Own test plan that includes the following Key Elements:
Ok, so now how do you build and carry out this plan?
So glad you asked!
You are invited to a FREE webinar where I show you step by step exactly how to do this.
Simply click the button below for more details!
When you register, you'll receive a FREE copy of
Math MAP Attacks Grade 6-8 TEST PREP with Teacher Guide
and a Copy of Linda's Famous RED Hot Think Pair Share Cheat Sheet!