Thursday, January 28, 2016

5th Grade Fun

Yesterday was AWESOME!

I had the great fortune of visiting Jen Sandland's classroom in the morning.
Jen is a 5th grade teacher in my district. Her students and I spent an hour having a blast:
Jen's students have done a few Estimation 180 challenges this year. Therefore, I assumed they already knew my height. WRONG! So, we started with estimating my height. The best part of the conversation was helping students deliver their answers like 6.2 as 6 foot 2 inches. It was sooooo cool to hear students catch themselves, and work at eliminating the decimal point when referring to feet and inches. Once they found out my height, I took three student volunteers for the class to estimate their heights?

The tallest student, (we'll call her Jane), came in at a towering 5'2".  I was holding a part of  the clothesline in my hand as the remainder of it was outstretched on the floor. I asked the class:
"How many Janes would make the length of the clothesline?"

Oh, man. You should have seen these kids talking about this? Some made guesses like four or five Janes. Naturally, I asked, "So how long are four Janes? How long are five Janes?"

I wish I took a picture of our model, but it looked something like this:

One student explained his method of adding the feet first and then the inches. It was amazing! So we came up with the length of the clothesline as a range of 20'8" to 25'10". I then had two students help me measure the clothesline against Jane's height and we almost got five Janes. That makes sense because the rope is actually 25 feet long.

We used the clothesline to talk about Day 150 on Estimation 180.
What will be the value of the finished cent sign?

The thinking, strategies, and conversations were so cool. We placed our too lows, too highs, and just rights on the clothesline. We talked about order, magnitude, and spacing. If you do Day 150 with students and you're watching the answer as a class,
Cent Sign of Pennies from Mr.Stadel on Vimeo.

Give students a chance to revise their initial estimates. It's such a powerful experience. Pause those video answers and let students change their answers once they have more information.

Before my farewell, the students asked me a few questions:
How'd you make the video to the pennies answer?
Take a picture of the complete layout. Subtract a penny. Take another picture. Repeat.

What program do you use to make the counters on Estimation 180 videos?
Apple's Motion

What are your favorite Estimation 180's?
The music challenges. HANDS DOWN!

Did you always like math?
No. I loved music and art in school. I was just good at remembering math rules. Now, I love getting better and understanding numbers.

My question to them:
What is your favorite thing about numbers?

They are expected to answer this when I return to their class. When I return, I'd love to just blend in, if that's possible, while they are doing math centers or other activities and learn from them. Man, these kids were so fun to hang out with for an hour.

Thanks Jen! Keep up the fantastic work you're doing with them!


Monday, January 25, 2016

Tech Tool Criteria

Why get out of bed tomorrow and teach math?
I love student thinking because it helps drive my math instruction.
*this is just one reason for me

So when it comes to tech tools in the math class, I need tech tools that allow me to focus on student thinking because student thinking will better drive my math instruction.

Here's my criteria:
In order to focus on student thinking, my tech tools need to :
  • SORT
Let me explain:
  • I need tech tools that capture student thinking as best possible. And I mean ALL students.
  • I need tech tools that sort the student thinking efficiently and effectively. 
  • I need tech tools that allow me to quickly assess what students are thinking. In REAL-TIME.
  • I need tech tools that allow the students and me (the teacher) to discuss the thinking and mathematics that has been captured, sorted, and assessed.
My next post will include:
  • my rubric
  • examples of tools that currently DO and DON'T meet my criteria 
What's your criteria?

Student thinking,

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Integers [temperatures]

Yesterday, I co-taught an integers activity with a colleague. It was a blast! Before I share the lesson, I'll back up and give the backstory on the context. During winter break, I ventured over to Brian Head, Utah to do some snowboarding. I knew it was going to be cold so I went into the trip with the intention to frequently check my phone's weather app and take screenshots of temperatures. I figured I might be able to make an activity out of it and/or use it with 6th graders at some point when discussing integers. (official lesson page with resources)

My fellow displayed this slide and asked, "What do you notice? What do you wonder?"
(the 3 in the lower right is the slide number)

Students noticed and wondered great things. Here are just a few:
  • What's the temperature at 9am?
  • Why is it warmer on the days it is supposed to snow?
  • Thursday is the only day with a negative temperature.
  • It's 4:13 am.
  • It's zero degrees at 5am.
  • It's cold!
  • How cold does it get?
We established that -4 degrees Fahrenheit is cold, below zero, and the temperature at 4:13 am. Let's plot this on a vertical number line today, just like a thermometer. Does -4 degrees go above or below -5 on the vertical number line?

I told students that we're going to show them five more times and their temperatures throughout the day. Most importantly, I asked students to first predict the temperatures at those given times (tap into student intuition). Here are the times:
  • 6:00 am
  • 7:00 am
  • 9:30 am
  • 2:30 pm
  • 8:00 pm
Essentially, we're tapping into student intuition, a free resource in our classrooms. I want them to predict the story of temperatures and degree change for the remainder of the day. If anyone has experienced winter weather, they know it gets cold at night and warmer during the day, possibly peaking midday. It's a small part of the activity to keep it moving along and gain student investment.

Here come the temperatures. For each time and temperature revealed, here's what were going to do:
  • Plot the temperature on your vertical number line.
  • Find the degree change between the last temperature given.
  • At the end, we'll find the largest difference in temperature during the day.

Here's a few of our whiteboard representations:

This was a simple and fun context to work with integers and the vertical number line. I also took screenshots of the temperatures in Celsius and might be able to make a Math 8 activity out of it. Here's the desmos rough draft.

The best part for me (as a teacher) was listening to students make sense of the temperature changes and explaining their thinking. There were so many opportunities to help students with their vocabulary. For example, when asked, "what's the difference between 12 degrees and -8 degrees?" it was interesting to hear how students wanted to change -8 to a positive in order to add it to 12. There was our intro to absolute value and a number's distance from zero. Love it!

One student came up to me on his way out and showed me his paper,
"Hey Mr. Stadel, I predicted the temperature correctly for each time!"
I asked, "Do you want to pick my Powerball lottery numbers for this week?"
He declined. Drat.

Again, official lesson page with resources here.

Brrrrrrr! it's cold,