Category Archives: Other

My Favorite Test Question

Flipping my Calculus classroom has been quite the adventure in the first three weeks. I love that my students are engaging with my videos and we can spend so much more time practicing instead of taking notes. I’ve also been able to prioritize building culture – if that’s weird drawings, bad puns or my greeting of “Hello” – which some students are obsessed with. Flipping my class allows me to be me a little more easily because I feel that I have time and I’m looking at how every person and group is working on mathematics

This culture has bled into our first test – I added my new favorite test question. I read about this somewhere on the #MTBoS in the past year

“7. Draw a picture of an elephant in/on a spaceship”

Below, are my favorites:

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WODB: Superheros

Last year, when I taught Algebra 1, I used Which One Doesn’t Belong once a week. It had a ton of potential and students frequently surprised me with their insights and ideas. However, I didn’t have students norm or practice with a low stakes and low math WODB to learn the routine. I made this one today with a much lower bar of entry to find multiple reasons and to find a reason why each doesn’t belong. This way, I can teach students the routine and that they should be finding a reason why each does not belong instead of finding one reason and “being done”. Screen Shot 2016-07-17 at 1.39.18 PM.png

I’ll be using this during the first week of school in my Algebra 1 course to help set the expectation for every time we do a WODB and build culture. This is my time creating a WODB, so if you have feedback I’d appreciate it 🙂

(All images are labeled for reuse, and sources can be found in this PPT)

Using Jigsaws Decreases Prejudice

I’ve been reading Robert Cialdini’s Influence for the past couple weeks which is about how we are designed to comply with certain requests.  I read this tonight and am blown away and had to blog to think through this:

Studies have shown that, compared to other classrooms in the same school using the traditional competitive method, jigsaw learning stimulated significantly more friendship and less prejudice between ethnic groups. Besides this vital reduction in hostility, there were other advantages: Self-esteem, liking for school, and test scores improved for minority students. And the white students benefited, too. Their self-esteem and liking for school went up, and their test performance was at least as high as that of whites in the traditional classes.

Cialdini PhD, Robert B. (2009-05-28). Influence (Kindle Locations 2955-2958). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition. [emphasis mine]

I’m blown away by the consequences of this study he summarizes way too briefly.  I can decrease hostility by having students  get information from one another through the jigsaw method (where each person in a group is responsible for a different part of a passage or problem).  WHAT!?!?! Oh, and test scores will increase for everyone?!?!

This to me asks so many questions:
+ Is it any cooperative group work where you have to get information from “teammates” that would have this outcome? What other kinds of assignments could add onto this impact?
+ Why haven’t I been told this before when I’ve been introduced to the method many, many times?
+ Could jigsawing reduce fighting between students (or even groups of students like gangs) at school? Or, if not reduce fighting at least promote cooperation in classrooms?
+ What impact could a dedication to this one cooperative learning strategy have on my school?
+ Are there great examples of jigsawing in math classrooms out there?  I can think of some ideas (different problems or parts of problems in each group or possibly reading a text/problem).

I’ll definitely be spending some time jigsawing all year because there look to be huge benefits.  We’ll see what happens!

Aside: Cialdini cites the study and another study on group behavior in this part of the text.  I can find the reference for you if you’d like – its a little hard on the kindle.

PARCC PBA: The Field Test

Today began a six week period of testing at my school – and we kicked it off with the future in mind.  My students took the PARCC PBA Field Test and I have a ton of thoughts floating in my head, but here’s the gist.

+ Technology makes the test hard – I felt like I was testing student endurance dealing with the computer than their math.  I saw some students shut down and give up.

+ There is no way we can test like we have in the past – an entire cohort or state at one time.  My school (7-12 with 120 in a grade) doesn’t have the space to create designated testing rooms to use for all our students – we had 80 students testing at once and that is probably the upper limit.  I don’t enjoy thinking about the schedule we’ll craft for next year (someone may have mentioned my name in that conversation – hahaha).  I also don’t like considering how much instructional time may be lost for these tests.

+ I spent 40 minutes of a 55 minute session on the phone with truly wonderful and patient people trouble shooting an issue. It made it difficult to do the other job I had – administer a secure test.  Thankfully I had a proctor in the room to assist.

Even though my school, district, PARCC and Pearson have a long way to go I’m still optimistic for where we are going.  I still believe in PARCC assessments.  Students need a curriculum engaged with technology and a test to reflect that and PARCC does that.  I know we’ll find a way to make technology smooth.  We’ll sort out schedules – that’s just a giant puzzle 🙂

In other, related news, I created a survey for field tested students about how they think we should change our instruction.  I’m excited to share this with my colleagues and have data to talk about our conversation.  After we get all the data (over the next months) I’ll examine it, share with my school to see what students think we should do in our classrooms.