Monday, February 25, 2013

Week Twenty-Two, February 18-22, 2013

So life has been extra crazy lately and I have been trying desperately to update this blog!  Whew!  So here goes....

Last week was....interesting...

Monday we didn't have school.  On Tuesday I worked with the students setting goals, and calming any nerves in preparation for their Spring Benchmark that was to take place on Wednesday.

So on Wednesday we took our Spring Math Benchmark...the kids worked SUPER hard and I was so proud of the work I was seeing.  BUT, when we got scores back, I was not thrilled.  Now let me preface by saying this was a brand new Benchmark that myself and 5 other educators wrote.  We tried to make the questions much more difficult so it would be an accurate representation of the STAAR (our state test).  Well after taking the exam AND looking at the scores from the other elementarys in my district, it was clear that we made the exam way too hard.  I had 40% passing;40%???? Seriously??  Many of the questions were 3-5 steps long, so yes we see the error of our ways, haha.

But it was a great discussion for me and my students to have.  Instead of being "beat down" by our scores we've taken it as a challenge that we will do better.  Am I going to start teaching test formatted questions??  NO WAY!  The other schools did and their scores were far below mine, so I will continue on without teaching any test formatted questions.

Thursday they took their Reading Benchmark, and then Friday we had to do a TELPAS writing and my class learned how to Tweet!  Because yes, we now have our own class twitter account!! Check it out :) @ClassNesloney

I'm excited about this next week as we continue on our journey of learning and having fun with math!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Week Twenty - February 4-8, 2013

Let me preface this post by saying that I was only at my campus on Monday, because Tuesday through Friday I was at TCEA (my state's Technology Conference) and Saturday I attended my Region IV Math Conference.  You can read about my trip to those by following this link

But on Monday my students started a project that was VERY indepth and they worked on that project all week with the substitute, and none of them have finished!

I needed a great activity to do with my students to review them for their Spring Benchmark coming up.  Since I no longer teacher test formatted questions I scrambled my brain thinking of the best way to review all the material.  Then I remembered another teacher I know had mention making board games!  So, that's what they've been doing.

Students are in groups of four and each group is responsible for creating a board game.  They have to design the game board, come up with a name, come up with rules for the game, game pieces, and then create question cards for the game.  I gave them all of our State Standards for 5th grade and they are creating a total of 120 questions (10 for each TEK).  After they're done creating their questions, we're going to exchange board games and play each other's games.

They are having a blast doing it, and I can't way to be back next week to see what they've done and to take some pictures to share with all of you!  So this post is short and sweet :)

Friday, February 1, 2013

Week Nineteen - Jan 28 - Feb 1, 2013

Another amazing week.  The week started out with some pretty incredible Skype activities (which you can read about in my previous post).

In addition to Skyping with a class from Sweden and Olympic Gold Medalist Steve Mesler, our class was also fortunate enough to Skype with a college student from Venezuela.

Now, I've had several comments of "how does any of this have to do with math??  Aren't you supposed to be teaching??", and my answer to that is "How could I NOT let my students take part"?  My students are gaining connections and experiences from interacting with people from all over the world.  Their learning that people from every country have many differences from us, but also many similiarities.  I'm trying to give my students experiences that not only will make them a better and more well rounded citizen but also make them ENJOY coming to school and to my class.  If my students love coming to my class, then the "teaching math" part comes even easier.  I intentionally make time for things like this in my class because I've seen the benefit.  Teachers should be about so much more then teaching "what's going to be on the test".  I have found time to teach everything I'm supposed to, AND have my kids do activiities like Skype, so I really see no issue here....

So now that I'm off my soap-box, haha.  The rest of the week we completed two different big activities. One of the biggest things I learned from my benchmark data at Christmas was that my students were having more difficultiy with reading and understanding than the actual math.  So I tried to design a project where they had to read and complete all the steps perfectly with the directions to get the right solution.  Here is the paper I passed out to them...

I had the students draw a group members body on chart paper, and then pick from the supplies given on the best way to measure ACCURATELY the perimeter of that person's body and then find the conversion and convert the measurement.  It was a blast and the kids really enjoyed it!  It also provided me with many opportunities to discuss with groups the importance of following the directions and reading carefully, because many of them were missing little things to do that were in the instructions.

After that project I had the kids split into partners and I gave them a grid of 36 numbers.  Way more than they would ever have to work with, but I wanted to challenge them.  I had them find the median, mode, and range of that list (it was interesting to see some cut the numbers out, while others re-wrote them).

After that, I asked them to use the same numbers to find the probability of choosing an even number.  Then I had them find the probability of finding a prime number. They also had to make sure their fraction that they were making was simplified as well to get credit.

The thinking process was great and the kids were really working hard and with urgency....but it helped that I told them whoever got it right first got points for their "house"!

Since I have officially covered everything in 5th grade Texas Standards now, I'm just working on finding different activities for the students to take the knowledge they've learned and use it deeper than ever before.  I am trying to push my student's thinking.  I want them to be able to dissect and work through any situation using math, rather than make sure they can answer some test questions.

I truly believe that by developing this deeper and investigative understanding of math, the test questions will come so much easier to them!


If you're interested in the Flipped Classroom, sign up for the FREE Webinar with Sophia coming February 20th!  Click here

Or check out my sessions at TCEA next week!