Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Daily Structure

If you know me at all, you know I love structure. Actually, that is one of the reasons I love mathematics so much is all the structures you can find. So it probably isn't surprising that I like to think about how I structure different things in my classroom from the big picture. I'm finding this especially important since I teach a 90 minute block and last year switched to an A-day/B-day block for some of my classes.

First, I'm not saying this is what we will do every day, some days will be more heavily weighted for one section and sometimes say with early release I might scrap a section but overall I've tried to come up with a plan that serves several purposes:

1) Give better more timely feedback
2) Do a spaced review on topics we've done the week before and about a month before
3) Take up less paper 
4) Stagger the lesson and its practice to be on separate days to allow for the brain to forget and consolidate information when we return to it the next day.

Of course I came up with a color diagram that shows it better than I can explain it. 

Same color = same topic. 

Ideally I'd like to start playing with this with the actual topics before school starts, but I might be being optimistic. 

Quiz - I'm going to do peer "grading" by that I just mean trade and mark correct/incorrect, it's not going to go in the gradebook but I will glance at them to ensure accuracy but I want students to be getting immediate feedback here. I'm going to be making a big deal about the shift towards learning and the importance of "testing" oneself (retrieval) for learning versus a focus on the grade. 
Practice from the Day before -  Usually this will be some sort of activity (showdown, speed dating, #vnps which I'm hoping to get them moving during because...90 minutes) This also gives me a chance to reteach students who were absent!
Investigation/New lesson - Putting this right after practice I think will really help show the connections between what they learned previously - since they just practiced it! I don't do investigations every lesson, but it can be something as simple as a notice/wonder, WODB, or connecting representations prompt. Followed by any notes/direct instruction for the topic.  
Math Maintenance/Ticket Out - Since I'm getting laptops I'm going to try something new. I'm going to try to use Edulastic to give formative assessments on that. Occasionally I'll mix it up and do something "fun" but that will be our go to. I'm also going to try to focus on *one* topic for each math maintenance versus the mix it usually was. This will make it easier for me to a) reteach b) use assessments already in Edulastic (also it has really cool tech enhanced options) and c) gradually scale up the difficulty of questions when they see it again (about a month later) in math maintenance. I'll also include a couple questions from the current day's new lessons as my formative assessment from the day. I want to focus on an item that shows me any misconceptions they have an one summarizing/synthesis question. Combined these mostly for ease of giving feedback. Edulastic is like Google forms on steroids and I particularly like a) it automatically grades b) I can see just students who missed a particular question and then give them specific feedback c) I can give feedback to a student as a whole. It also integrates with Google Classroom as I can a) import rosters and b)they can just click a link and not have to sign in to something separately/remember even more usernames/passwords.  

Homework - I am going to give out homework but not focus on collecting/grading it. Those will be my normal lagging (spaced and interleaved) homework ala Henry Picciotto that is approximately 2 from that day, 4 review, 2 much earlier type questions. I'm going to post the solutions in Google Classroom so they can check their work and bring in any questions. I'm planning on dedicating the last chunk of pages in their NB to that so then if they aren't doing well on tests I can say "show me your homework section"...oh it's blank? There might be our problem. 


  1. An idea for peer quizzes/activity: Convergent Mastery Quizzes. My kids LOVED them! The gist of it is 4 quizzes of the same length and material, that take no longer than ~7 min each to complete. Once you get a 100% you get to stop taking them. The goal is to do better each time. In my school we used PBIS tickets as a reward so 1 ticket for 100% and 1 ticket for improvement. I collected the quizzes at the end - but they we formatives. :)

    1. Hey! I've been hearing about that this summer and had forgotten them so thanks for reminding me! These would actually be great to change up my math maintenance every now and again since I have a little more time in that part of class than the quiz time which will be fairly short (5-10 min). Thanks again for the suggestion =)

  2. How do you start the cycle off in the beginning of the year? A little bit of content the first day mixed in with start of the year stuff? I'm rolling this out with my Foundations kids this semester and trying to visualize what the first week might look like. I'm trying to incorporate relationship building and fun initial math activities during the first week until their schedules settle down but I also don't like waiting for the second week to really start... Kinda thinking out loud here. Any thoughts/suggestions?