Day 38 – Problem of the Month – Student success!!! :)

After the second round of trying, students are finally getting the fact that I mean I will grade by my rubric when they hand in the Problem of the Month.  I have done projects for 4 years and this is the first time I am getting student responses that solid.  They are trying hard and getting better and better grades.

I believe my due date policy is the difference.  Each problem of the month is due on the last day of the month.  If a student turns in the project by that day, I will grade in pencil and give them one week to make corrections.  I will accept projects up to a week late, but the grade will be in pen and no edits will be allowed.

Out of all of the challenges that I have this year, I am thrilled by my little successes 🙂

Day 37 – Postulates, Axioms and Theorems oh my

Today, I had my first taste of proof and it was not pretty.   I made a rookie mistake of not thinking through the whole lesson.  If I did, I would have copied the material for them to paste in to their notebooks.  Beyond that, I did not expect how difficult the concept of proof would be.  As I go through the year of learning how to teach Geometry, I think this will be one of the many lessons I learn and I look forward to learning.

I am testing some materials from the Meaningful Math Curriculum for Geometry this year and this is the first lesson I found a way to fit into my unit plan.  I was impressed by the questioning behind the axiom exercise and I look forward to using it some more in the upcoming days/weeks.

Day 36 – Practice and Schoology

During the past few weeks, one of the struggles that I have had is getting enough practice in the classroom on the topics necessary to be successful in the regents.  After going through the base topics with the students, I am realizing that they need additional practice.  A bit of research later, I realized that exported test questions in Examview format and with a couple of moves I have a library of all of the questions on  It will take some time for all of the library to be built, and with completion students can practice on any topic.  This will resolve my Monday issues when I cannot teach my 8th period class and for my class that needs to take the regents again.  Students seem to have success logging on.  Let’s see how successful this is.

Day 35 – Unit 2 starts…

Unit 2 scares me.  I have not done proofs in almost 20 years and it is densely populated with proofs.  I am not concerned about understanding them myself.  I am not concerned about teaching them, that much.  I am really concerned that I have to teach proofs with Triangle congruence, Parallel and Intersecting lines and Parallelograms in less than 25 days.  I see this as being a hurdle.  Today, we had a small glimpse of how difficult it will be for students on a pre-assessment.  They really have little to no exposure on the topic. (no surprise)

In other classes, I did my first 3 act task.  It went off ok.  I definitely see room for improvement.  I also discovered schoology which I plan to use for practice for NYS Regents.  I will report on progress with the website as students try it.

Day 33 – Transformation Reengagement

Using a strategy that I found effective in the past, I had all of the students retake the Initial assessment and go through the responses for all of the assessment.  Students get to see how much they have learned and feel some pride.  I then had the students create challenge questions for their partners.  However, the protocol that I used did not work.  I motivated the students too much to create a difficult problem to stump their partner.  They refused to give the problem to their partner because it was not difficult enough.  

Here are the rules I set up… If you set up a problem (that you create a correct answer key) that they can solve, they get a point.  If you set up a problem (that you create a correct answer key) that they cannot solve, you get a point. If you set up a problem (that you create an incorrect answer key) that they can solve, they get a point and you lose 2 points. If you set up a problem (that you create an incorrect answer key) that they cannot solve, no one gets a point. 

I think this idea is motivating for students, I will have to rethink the rules of the process.

Day 32 – Notes Review

I decided to set a day aside to have students review their notes, determine what they did not know and improve on their notes.  Whenever I put together a loose lesson, I do not get as good as a result as I would like.  Students ended up chatting while I was hoping to get through the lesson.  I like the idea of having students review notes, but I do not know if they gain much from it.  I have to find the proper motivation and structure to make this happen.

Day 31 – FAL

I was a bit concerned about the start of the lesson, given that I did not have any kind of Do Now.  For the day, I should have been concerned more about forgetting keys, leaving cut out copies in a locked drawer and having a half hour to make it right before the lesson.  As a teacher, we get these moments of necessary efficiency that we push through and make things happen.  This was one of those moments.

Right before the bell, I entered the class with all of the materials and the students went straight to work.  I am finding that in a small classroom packed with students, I just cannot get to all of the students to gauge their thinking.  This is sad and challenging.  FAL lessons help them gauge each other’s thinking and promote learning.  Over the span of the half hour, all of the groups produced a chart paper with their best efforts.  

I then tried a new gallery walk protocol.  I had half of the group defend the work and half of the group go and collect ideas.  The goal of all of the groups was to get a perfect poster.  The flaw in my plan was to forget to give the whiteboards to all of the students for collecting information.  This cut off the opportunity for them to improve as much as possible.  Another chance to improve.

Day 30 – Start of an FAL

So, last year I taught Algebra to students that had a tutor for every four students through the MSPinNYC2 Model.  For the MARS FAL lessons, all I had to do was have the tutors grade the pre-assessment, cut out all of the manipulatives and hand them out at the appropriate times.  Given the sheer number of items and volume of grading this one lesson can create, I was looking to streamline the lesson.

I first decided that students needed to review the feedback at the front of the classroom.  The FAL today was Representing and Combining Transformations.  I took the pre-assessment and created a feedback slide.  One hour later, I realized that this was not a great use of time this year, but could be next year.  

As I was going through the lesson, students were somewhat engaged (tough challenge with standing room only in a class of 34) with the feedback slide and were interested in the answers.  We continued with the mini-lesson.  Tomorrow, I will unleash the chart paper, glue and little pieces of paper.  I look forward to it.

Day 29 – Group Test

After a great session with Chris Mikles a couple of days earlier, I decided to have a group open note test.  The whole idea was to create a medium stakes environment and have the students see how good their notes are.  They spent 10 minutes editing their notebooks and then worked really hard on the problems on the test.  Some of the challenges were some students trying to chat with other tables which I addressed with losing a point on the test for the whole group.  Also, I think having less questions and more worthy questions will give a lot more value to the test.  This will be great for evidence for reengagement before an individual test.