December 6, 2015

Scaling the Teaching Curve: Sharing Session

Last night, after a full day of doing math and talking about teaching, nearly everyone still had more to give! We gathered at St. Mark's lovely Choate House for dinner and a sharing session.

The sharing session was like an Ignite without slides - there were ten presenters and they all went fast! Too fast for me to tweet in between introducing each of them. Instead I took notes and will share them with you now. Hopefully we will get links for everyone's materials soon if they aren't included here.

Nick L: Using Voice Memos for Student Feedback
After looking at a student assignment, Nick uses his phone to record comments in a voice memo as an mp4 file which he then emails to the student. A voice recording allows him to convey tone, seems more personalized and encourages him to highlight student successes in addition to areas for revision. His students have also taken to asking questions via voice memo which is easier than attempting to type math notation into an email.

Kate H: Jigsaw
Students sit in groups and the whole group solves one problem (but different groups solve different problems). Then the teacher gives explicit instruction on how to be a good teacher - not telling the answer or showing the strategy. Once they are ready to be helpful group members, students shuffle their groupings so that each table has one expert on each problem. They work through all the problems, with a different student playing the role of teacher for each problem.

Dan H: 36 Questions to Fall in Love (with your students)
Do you have any students that you struggle to like? Do you ever have students who you struggle to like even by the end of the year? The NYTimes article is intended for romantic partners, but Dan discovered that it is a great way to get to know your students in a deeper way. He gave students 5 minutes of quiet writing time at the beginning of class, then 2 minutes to share with a neighbor. He shared his own answer to the question and then collected student responses to read later. By the end of the year he was truly sorry to see his students go!

Seth B: Team Based Learning
Seth's PreCalculus classes have students work in groups of four, groups that are assigned in September and they stay in for the entire year. He'd read research stating that social experiences help with retention and collaboration helps with understand so he thought he would hit both of those by doing group work. Students are assigned group pre-tests and group problem sets. Then anyone in the group can be called on to present to the class. They spend time explicitly talking about how to function in a group and students find their groove when they stay with the same people, to the point that they were aghast when he asked if they wanted to change groups mid-year. Students give each other a grade on how much they contributed to the problem set in an interesting way - each student has 100 points to allot to their three team members in any way they see fit. The most balanced groups collaborate on this aspect as well so each person gets a 34 once!

Karen B: Modeling in PreCalculus
Students do some sort of modeling project every week in this class. At the end of the year instead of an exam, students choose a modeling project. They present their final product to a panel of teachers.

Jennifer F: Activity Builder in Desmos
Jennifer started students on a polygraph then had them explore rational functions by building and describing them. She put two students at each computer which encouraged discussion.

Dianna S: Graphing Videos
With her class of students who are English language learners, who have learning disabilities, and who feed into her Algebra class from several schools, Dianna needs activities that are accessible. She started by showing students and then tasked each student with coming up with a unique context for a piecewise linear function (including a horizontal segment). For example, one group had a dog going down the stairs, stop to eat a treat, then continue down the stairs. Interestingly, another group used a student moving around a track - the video shows elliptical motion but the function is linear - a common misconception! To aid students in making quality projects she has each group conference with her after making a plan.

Wendy M: Problem Solving Elective
For juniors and seniors who aren't on the traditional track, Wendy's school offers a problem solving course. She uses the book Crossing the River with Dogs. It's filled with chapters on problem solving strategies and the problems don't necessarily require Algebra or Geometry background. She found her students felt really successful with the problems in this book which was not the case in their past math classes.

Heather K: Interview Grid
Students answer an open question (Always, Sometimes, Never or and record their answer. Then they interview two classmates before having another opportunity to answer the question (possibly changing their answer based on what they heard from other students). This strategy is adapted from an ELL strategy - Level 1 or 2 students would copy their partner's answer word for word while higher level students would paraphrase or summarize.

Finally, a group of us shared about and

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