Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Week Eleven - Nov 12-16, 2012

This week was probably our best week by far!

My team and I decided to try a new schedule.  I teach 3 fifth grade math classes.  Instead of having a rotation where I teach all classes in one day we decided to try a schedule where on Monday I teach my homeroom Math ALL day.  Tuesday I teach another class math all day, Wednesday I teach another class math all day, and Thursday and Friday are our regular "normal" days where we see all three classes in one day.  We figured it would give us more time to really do projects and delve into information (especially in their reading and Science classes).

The schedule worked out AMAZINGLY and now we're going to implement that schedule every week!  For the first part of the week we finished learning about fractions.

One activity I did was give groups of students a plate full of M&M minis and they had to sort the M&Ms and write a fraction for the amount of each color and a fraction for the primary colors and secondary colors. Then they had to simply the fractions.

We then took pattern blocks and used an activity I found on The Teaching Channel (www.teachingchannel.org) and the kids really loved this and found it very challenging!

After that I had asked the students to bring in lemons and sugar because they had to make homemade lemonade.  They were split into groups and each group was given the same amount of lemons.  I cut the lemons and they had to squeeze them into measuring cups and write a fraction for the amount of lemon juice they had collected.  That was what we kept the SAME for every group.  Then I gave them the freedom of choosing how much water and how much sugar they wanted to add.  The only catch was they weren't allowed to taste the lemonade!  It was very interesting to see their thought process and how some groups added way too much sugar or not enough water.  When everyone had written the fractional amount of water and sugar they added we then all tasted our lemonade at the same time.  It was hilarious to watch their faces as some of their lemonade was very sour or way too sweet.  The group with the best lemonade got to take cups of their lemonade to the office staff to let them all try it while the other groups were given the opportunity to "fix" their lemonade.  The students LOVED this activity.

The final activity we did was I gave each group four sticky notes.  They had to write four different fractions.  Each fraction had to have a different denominator and the denominator couldn't be larger than 9.  Each fraction also had to be a proper fraction.  After they made the four fractions they had to order the fractions from greatest to least using the strategies they had learned in class.

The next day after doing all the activities we took our Fraction Exam.  Keeping in mind I had not even spent ONE day on test formatted questions, I was so nervous.  I had never taught a complete lesson without ever showing the kids a test formatted question.  Well, I will tell you this, I will NEVER teach test formatted questions again!

Last year on the exact same Fraction Exam (when I wasn't flipping) I was at 78% passing, with 23% commended.  THIS year WITH Flipping my Class, I am at 100% passing with 75% commended.  I was sooooo excited.  I cannot even explain it.  It just proves that when you just teach the skills the way their supposed to be taught, the test just comes right along with it.  I was also thrilled to have the highest scores out of our 5 elementary schools!  It was a great week for sure!

We also got our iPhone 4's this week!  In June I helped fill out a $100,000 technology grant for the flipped classroom!  Well we WON the grant and with the money purchased and iPhone 4 for every 5th grader with pre-installed Verizon data.  The data plan is filtered (like our school internet), and the phones can't call or text. The kids are LOVING them and the interaction is incredible.  I can't wait to use them more and more in my class!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Week Ten - Nov 5-Nov 9, 2012

Another good week!

There are still so many holes in my student's education that I'm having to spend A LOT of time on remedial math :(

Monday was more or less another housekeeping day.  We went over homework, passed out papers, etc.  The students are doing really good about watching their videos lately as they've been having one almost every night.

We're learning about Fractions right now and adding/subtracting fractions so on Tuesday I laid out 81 pieces of candy on the floor (I did not tell them how many pieces), and a few other small items (pencils and such).  I told them to split into groups and then they had to categorize the items on the floor however they wanted writing each category as a fraction.  They weren't allowed to send more than one person up to the floor to count items.  They also couldn't bring their paper to the floor.  So they had to be really creative about how they went about this.  Some groups came up with really creative categorization while some just did like "chocolate" and "not chocolate" grouping.  We discussed how you need to add each fraction and hopefully end up with 81/81 to show that that equals a whole and that you included all the information!  It was a lot of fun for the kids.

I had a sub later that week but it worked perfectly because he showed a video, my kids took a quiz, and I got to Skype in to my class and review the quiz!

We also read the book this week "The Dot" by Peter Reynolds.  I LOVE this book.  I recently heard about it from Andrea Keller @akbusybees and we read it, discussed creativity and not quitting and I assigned students the task of creating their own "dot".  The kids did AMAZING!  I've posted several pictures on my twitter account (@TechNinjaTodd).  My kids are gonna hang them around the school so the other grade levels can view our "Dot Art Gallery".  I loved this assignment.  Yes, it had nothing at all to do with math, but it was so much fun and really allowed my students to show their creativity.  So much fun!

I also tried a new idea this week.  After giving my quiz on Thursday I took the students who did really well on it and sent them to other grade levels to be "helpers" while I worked with a small group.  I had emailed the whole staff earlier in the week asking who would like volunteer kids in their room as helps.  Teachers sent me how many they wanted and times, and I sent them kids all day Friday so I could work with smaller groups of students.  It worked out SO well, I will def be doing this every Friday!

One more week til Thanksgiving!  Oh and on a side note, every 5th grader will be getting a Verizon enabled iPhone 4 NEXT WEEK!!  From the $100,000 flip grant I was awarded.  I can't wait til the kids get those in their hands.  And no they won't be able to text or call, just access internet and apps!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Week Nine - Oct 29-Nov 2, 2012

Another fun week!

Monday we had another "house cleaning" day.  We went over the CBA from Thursday, did new vocabulary cards, and worked on FastMath (a program that helps students memorize their multiplication facts).

Tuesday I was out at ANOTHER training, but the students didn't miss a beat.  They watched a lesson I had recorded, then the sub worked with them on the math as I skyped into each class to check on them, review them, and answer any questions they had.  It was great!

Wednesday was a 1/2 day so classes were a little shorter.  But at my training from they day before I learned about a "Stamp Activity".  During the training several 7th grade teachers said their students would never be able to handle it.  I disagreed and said even 5th graders could handle it.  So I tried it with my class today.  And not surprisingly I DID have a group figure it out!!  That is proof that we can never count out kids based on their age.  They CAN do it if given the chance, you just have to push them!

Thursday and Friday we began Fractions and I recorded some new videos.  It's always funny to me how the kids are now begging me for videos to watch!  I love their hunger for learning now.  It's so encouraging!

I'm excited about next week!!