Challenges Of An Inquiry-Based Math Classroom- PART 1

Challenges Of An Inquiry-Based Math Classroom- PART 1

I'm about to finish my 4th year of teaching.  This was my first year as a middle school math teacher and my first year really trying to create an inquiry-based math classroom.  It's hard. What is an inquiry based math classroom? I generally see it as getting students curious about mathematics and driven to understand and explore and willing to fail. How do you generate curiosity and inquiry about mathematics? I did several things this year.  At the root of a lot of it, I made space for discussion and dialogue in small and large groups.  When presented with most problems in class,…
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Using Evernote To Help Students Study For Final Exams

Using Evernote To Help Students Study For Final Exams

To help my students review for their final exam, I gave them a copy of the mid-term that covered our first semester's concepts, as well as a review packet for concepts we discussed 2nd semester. Originally I was going to have the answer key in class available to any students who wanted to check their work.  The packets weren't for a grade, just a resource for them.  A couple students suggested I put the answer key online, which is something I've done in the past. I pulled up Evernote and I'd used the document camera before, but I'd usually have…
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A Couple Engaging End-Of-Year Math Review Methods

A Couple Engaging End-Of-Year Math Review Methods

Today in Pre-Algebra, we finished up our lesson on using proportions to find percents and then spent the rest of the class reviewing for the proportions text next class.  Students gave a lot of positive feedback on the way we did both these activities.  Nothing super ground breaking but engaging and provided great opportunity for me to do informal formative assessments. POST IT PROBLEMS I had 5 proportion problems for students to do.  I paired them up and they were to do the following: try to solve the problem independently discuss their methods with their partner when they both finished come…
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“The Best Discussion I’ve Ever Had”

“The Best Discussion I’ve Ever Had”

I just got out of my 6th grade Math Skills class. We finished up the Proportions project (something akin to THIS) and spent half the class getting their final papers printed and putting the project papers up in the hall. I thought it would be hard to really have an engaging lesson afterwards as they were a bit hyped up but we refocused and got started on our lesson on converting percents. Being that it was our first lesson on percents, I had a few opening questions just to get their minds geared into thinking about what percents actually were:…
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So Failing Exams Can Be A Good Thing?

So Failing Exams Can Be A Good Thing?

I recently read the New York Times article 'Why Flunking Exams Is Actually A Good Thing' by Benedict Carey.  A pretty insightful read.  Found things I was doing, things I had done, and things I plan to do. Carey proposed having a pre-course exam could be helpful.  He stated: A test can be an intro to what students should learn instead of a final judgement on what they did not. I thought maybe a pre-course exam for my math classes but definitely multiple choice (probably use a Google Form).  If not for the whole course, at least for each unit.…
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5 Ways To See If Your Students Are Learning

5 Ways To See If Your Students Are Learning

I recently wrote a reflection on a prompt given by our middle school director on how I know students are learning.  He's followed up and given us a couple articles to read.  I reflected on what I felt I was already doing, what I've done before but stopped, and what I should start doing. The first article was an excerpt from Checking For Understanding by Fisher & Frey.  The second article was the New York Times article Why Flunking Exams Is Actually A Good Thing by Benedict Carey. This entry is on the first article. Checking For Understanding by Fisher…
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Are Classroom Games Contrary to Intrinsic Motivation?

Are Classroom Games Contrary to Intrinsic Motivation?

In my first year of teaching, I played games as a review activity several times, usually for math.  I did table vs. table, boys vs. girls, white shirts vs. blue shirts, etc.  A few things happened that made me avoid games as a review activity for a while. I found that everyone would depend on the fastest problem solver for the answer.  They either disregarded their own answer or didn’t try altogether.  I thought “maybe I should have everyone come to a consensus and they all have to write down the work in their journal.”  That turned into slower paced students…
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So How Exactly Should We Teach Math?

So How Exactly Should We Teach Math?

This summer, I read a book on how to conduct your math class in a workshop manner where emphasis is on student thinking and less on just getting the right answer.  As soon as I finished the book, THIS article went viral on why America students sort of stink at math.  I also saw a handful of videos by math teachers who seem to be moving in the right direction.  It all left me with a ton of thoughts and questions about math education. How do you effectively teach math? I reflected on the various ways I’ve taught math for the past…
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