Friday, January 8, 2016

Make It Happen

"This could have easily been a two- or three-day activity."

I literally just met with a fellow who made this comment after we debriefed on an activity she prepared for her sixth grade students. This comment was the result of how rich the activity was. The math was rich, students were collaborating, there was student thinking, great visual representations and she did a wonderful job facilitating the activity based on 6.NS.C.6.A.

I'm sure you can relate with the sentiments expressed by this teacher. You had an activity where students would benefit from it and you wish it could go on forever. I remember experiencing this too. Here are two solutions to this [great] challenge:

Subtract your homework, guided practice, and housekeeping stuff from your Classroom Clock for that day (and maybe the next day).
*I'll blog more about my definition of a Classroom Clock soon.

Do bits and pieces of this type of activity most days of the year so students are more and more familiar with these concepts and practices.

I prefer the long-term goal! (and assigning extremely little-to-no homework EVERY day)

In this case, the teacher prepared a Pear Deck activity where students would drag colored lines to represent the placement of fractions and their opposites on a number line.

The ratio of students to devices was 4:1. After each Pear Deck slide, the teacher provided a validation slide displaying the correct placement of each line. In addition to the pear Deck activity, she also had a clothesline number line across her room where students interacted with these same fractions in a different yet still dynamic way.

The teacher's learning objectives were met with this activity, but let's move toward retention. We talked about doing this more each day. (long-term solution). Here are some specific ways:

  • Make these activities the two-three minute warm-up at the beginning of class each day. 
  • Do them as a transition in your class. For example, "I need you to put your notebook away, get your whiteboards out, and when you're ready, place 3/10 and 7/5 on a number line." 
  • Make them an exit activity before student leave for the day.
If you agree to provide students with access to rich math, find ways to make it happen more often.



  1. Very helpful tips.
    Keep it up man!

    1. Thanks Stephen. I'm proud of my fellow. She's doing well.

  2. Great example of taking a classic Illustrative Math(?) task and applying it with Peardeck!

    1. To my knowledge, it wasn't an Illustrative Math task. It was something we co-planned together. Pear Deck was a great way for the students to interact and collaborate with the content.