Monthly Archives: March 2013

Chalk Talk part 2 #makthinkvis

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Another task I presented students in the form of a Chalk Talk

We had previously used a patty paper lesson to construct our kites. image

Simply enough, we constructed the kite by first creating an obtuse angle, with different side lengths. Folding along AC, tracing original obtuse angle using a straightedge to form the kite. Immediately students made comments about the line of symmetry. They were given time to investigate side lengths, angles, diagonals, etc. forming ideas and testing them to prove properties.

Their Chalk Talk task was to devise a plan to calculate the area of a kite.

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Most every group approached the problem by dissecting the kite into right triangles, then combining areas. Several approached dissection as top triangle/bottom triangle, but would have to adjust their thinking when I asked them test their idea with specific total diagonal lengths. Some even extended the kite to create a rectangle. In the end, our discussion centered around 3 statements/procedures for finding area of a kite.

1/2(d1*d2) (d1*d2)/2 d1*d2

Allow them to determine which will /will not work and share evidence as to their conclusions. (Hello! MP3 critique reasoning of others.)

Sure, it would have been quicker to say here’s the formula, here’s a worksheet, practice, learn it. But its so much more fun “listening” to their Chalk Talk. Again, the end discussion is key-allowing them to think / work through each group’s findings, address any misconceptions and finally coming to a concensus as a class.

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Chalk Talk part 1 #makthinkvis

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I have wanted to try Chalk Talk, a strategy from our #makthinkvis bookchat, for several weeks.  However, I wanted it to be an authentic learning experience rather than a contrived activity just to say we did it.  This past 2 weeks, I found myself able to use it in 2 very different contexts.  Chalk Talk requires students to communicate written dialogue, no verbal.

The first was at the end of a unit of study.  I used the “2 Minute Assessment Grid” discussed here,

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as a reflection tool for my students a couple of days before the unit assessment.  At the end of the previous post, I wondered how to address student questions/misconceptions.  I chose to recopy the questions onto a post it, placed in the middle of a dry erase poster.  Students were curious as they entered the room that afternoon and saw the posters hanging around.

Students took a dry erase marker and were instructed to respond without verbally talking, to suggest, explain, give examples or ask questions on the posters. 

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Notice 2 posters were red.  I explained to students that red flags went up for me as I read the statements from their classmates post-it note reflection on the 2MAG. 

After students had opportunities to respond on each poster, we carouselled around to read responses.  I’ll be honest, I was hoping for more guidance, in depth statements from them.  There were some good examples, but majority were point-blank, straight forward surface statements without in depth explanations.  However, as we discussed the posters, I felt the thoughtful ideas came through.  “Here’s how I remember this…”, “If you can think of it this way…”

Which shows most of them can verbally give ideas, explanations but written is not as strong.  How do we assess them? High stakes testing is almost always written.  Another reason I am not am not a fan.  It just seems unfair we judge students and even teachers based on written, mc tests that don’t allow opportunity to showcase strengths of all students.

Overall, I feel like this task gave students a chance to address those ideas they were still fuzzy on, gaining suggestions from classmates, whether written in the Chalk Talk or our wrap up discussion.  On our unit assessment, questions that targeted the concepts from Chalk Talk, students performed very well on.  I do feel the opportunity to discuss/process verbally as the follow-up is key. A wrap upmdiscussion gave me opportunity to address any unclear / incorrect comments as well.

I look forward to finding more opportunities to use Chalk Talk to move learning forward and make thinking visible.

Triangle Centers #made4math Monday

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I stumbled upon a learning task this weekend on a Georgia DOE site involving triangle centers.  The task is simply to choose a location for an amusement located between 3 cities.  Yep. Simple enough, until I sat down and started deciding how I would approach the situation.

The final task is for students to write a memo with their recommendation when cost of building new roads is taken in to account.

Here is copy…

Triangle Centers Task

I am looking forward to reading what recommendations my students give and their reasons why!

Providing Students Time to Reflect #makthinkvis

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Making Thinking Visible online chat has really challenged me to think differently this semester about my questioning, looking for opportunities for students to share their ideas but most importantly, giving them time to reflect.

To begin our unit on triangles, I used the Generate-Sort-Connect-Elaborate, with plans to elaborate towards the end of the unit. As a class, I simply went around the room, each student generating an idea/concept related to triangles and I added what they shared to the list.  I placed students in groups of 3 and asked them to sort the ideas any way they wanted and to connect each set of ideas to the triangle central theme.

Most had measuring, classifying/types, etc. However, several had made some connections back to our Day 1 activity with the Chaos game, Sierpinksi’s Triangle, Midsegments and their properties.

Today, in class, I asked them to flip back to INB page 47 and take a couple of minutes to do nothing but read through their original concept maps/webs. Before I could give them further instructions, one asked if they could add to it? Of course! That’s exactly what I want you to do! I’ll see if I can manage some before/after pics.  The following few minutes were great. Listening to them think and share outloud. One even said, “Man, I’ve sure learned a lot!”

The next task is one I read about inmy reader a few weeks ago. I apologize, if you blogged about this and I’ve forgotten your name, but I really, really liked it! I gave each student 4 sticky notes, directing them to place a + sign in the corner of one, ? on another, ! on the third and finally a student asked, “you’re not going to make me draw a lightbulb are you?!?”

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I explained what each note would include:

+ One Improvement – this could be either an improvement they still needed to make OR an improvement I could make in teaching the unit. A student asked if it could be something they improved on during the unit..sure!

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! What NOT to forget!

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? A question they still have.

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Lightbulb moment during the unit…

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I gave them some time to flip back through their INBs, instructed them to place their notes on the board in the back of the room.  A few asked if they could bring theirs in tomorrow. 

A quick glance showed that many still are not comfortable with proofs, a few are having trouble with the ‘names’ of triangle centers. I am more concerend they know/understand each of the centers’ special properties for problem solving. There were a variety of lightbulb moments.  And even a few misconceptions are obvious in some of their responses.

My plan is to address common questions as whole class.  I had originally thought I would respond to the individual questions/misconceptions by using different color sticky notes up on the board.  However, now, I’m thinking I may recopy some of the misconceptions onto dry erase boards and use them in a chalk talk carousel activity. 

To begin, have a variety of comments, some I agree with and others I am concerned with.  Give students red, yellow, green stickers – they carousel through the statements, placing green on those they agree with, yellow or red on those they have questions about.  Would this or the chalk talk be more beneificial here? 

Environment for Thinking Part 2 – Step Inside Room 123 #makthinkvis

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If you knew nothing about me, but you walked in my classroom – I wonder…

What you would see?  What would you notice?
What do you think is going on?
What does it make you wonder? What questions do you want to ask?

What does it say about about me as a teacher, about the learning opportunities I provide my students?

As you walk in to Room 123:
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Standing at the back, looking to the front:
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Standing by exterior wall:
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Front looking to back:
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From a couple of weeks ago…triangle congruencies:
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Question from student led to this sketch…original question stated shortest distance from B to AC was 5 in., how many places could D be located so BD would be 6 inches. Student asked would angle b ever be right angle? Another question, how long would AD have to be in order for angle B to be obtuse?
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I’ll be honest, as I stood in the middle of my room, looking around, I was disappointed. On this particular day, there was little evidence of student learning/thinking. There’s not a lot of wall space in the square 23×23 ft. room.

Where? How? What types of evidence of student thinking and learning do you have up in your room?

The idea was not to necessarily to display student products, but learning tasks, chalk talks, documentation of discussions, concept maps that is left up for students to view/have access to during a unit of study. I welcome ideas, suggestions of ways I could improve…

Environment – Shaping a Culture of Thinking #makthinkvis

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This semester I have been participating in an online chat #makthinkvis with @lizdk and others addressing the book Making Thinking Visible by Ritchart, Church, et al.  Its been very challenging at times-pushing me think outisde my norm for ways to integrate these thinking routines into my instruction.  As well as causing me to step outside my comfort zone as I attempt to put them into action.

I had intended to blog about my experiences and reflections as I’ve tried these thinking routines, however, time seems to  evade me.  Hopefully, I can find time here and there before the end of the semester to get a few things shared.

As we finished up chapter 7 this past week, one idea from page 243 keeps coming to mind.  A key force that shapes the culture of thinking is the environment.  Sure, we all come in our classrooms, organizing, putting some thought into the layout, neat desk (maybe on open house night, but definitely not now for me), where/how papers are turned in, supplies, flow of the room, etc.

But if someone walked in my classroom, after hours, empty of students, no teacher around, what would serve as evidence of learning/thinking?  How much could you discern about the thinking and learning that goes on in my classroom just by stepping inside?

Sure, they may see an agenda and “I can” statements posted daily – but is that evidence of student thinking/learning?

What is hanging on my walls? And who put it there?

What does the room arrangement say about student interactions?

Where is my desk? Can this indicate anything about our learning environment?

If there is nothing on my walls, what does that communicate?

If you knew nothing about me, but you walked in my classroom – I wonder…

What you would see?  What would you notice?
What do you think is going on?
What does it make you wonder? What questions do you want to ask?

What does it say about about me as a teacher, about the learning opportunities I provide my students?

I wonder what evidence of thinking and learning you might find…

Pictures to come later…I invite you back to step inside my classroom soon!