Man, this is the latest I’ve done a weekly blog reflection. It’s Tuesday of the following week. I remember about mid-week last week I thought ‘I should really include this in my blog’ but I forgot what I was referring to. Dang it.
This year I’m actually getting to my geometry units in both my 6th grade and 7th grade math classes. I didn’t get to them last year due to being in a new school, wasting a lot time with the inefficient way I did classroom economy, and still learning the art of a discussion-based classroom. Needless to say, I’m doing a bit of the same things in both classes since my 7th graders didn’t see any of this last year.
6TH GRADE MATH SKILLS
I think the moment I wanted to reflect on came from my 6th grade math class. They do fairly well when told ‘here’s the assignment, feel free to work independently or with a partner.’ They have great discussions and stay on task fairly well. It gets a bit loud in the room but I’m more OK with that when they’re discussing the math. Whenever we come back to a whole group discussion though, it’s practically crickets. Someone shares a thought and no one has anything to say, be it a question, a different method, or anything. It ends up being me asking clarifying questions. I’d say the focus is about split during this group discussions; some students just seem to check out and the rest are genuinely following along, but just aren’t adding anything. I’ve been having to try and listen in on their peer conversations to see what little nuggets I want to ask students to share. I tried that this week. “Dev, can you share how you noticed two of your geometry definitions were the same definition and how you changed them.”
It’s generally the same 3-5 students who do volunteer to want to share their thinking. I don’t have as much trouble with this in any of my 7th grade Pre-Algebra classes, even though I’ve had all the same talks about growth mindset and value in sharing ideas even when we’re unsure, etc.
Being that it’s the end of the year, I really didn’t want to just do some slideshows with notes then have them work on the assignment. I figured since the first couple of lessons in geometry should be review, I would do sort of a flipped classroom model (wrote extensively about doing this in the past). We made geometry books (idea from Julie Ruelbach) where they could write their definitions and pictures and all. I made this Evernote note as a guide.
I had a collection of Khan Academy videos I had them watch and put notes in their books. They were to watch the videos at home and work on the assignment in class. Both my students who had a lot of background knowledge as well as my students who normally struggle to keep up gave positive feedback to doing it this way; freedom to go at their own pace. Will be doing more whole group lessons as we get into some of the newer content, including this Table for 22 activity to conceptually get at the heart of area vs. perimeter before we start exploring the area of other shapes.
I kind of feel like it’s cheating using the Khan videos. In the past, I’ve made all the videos myself because it helps maintain that relationship of ‘I’m still your teacher.’ Didn’t have the time to do that this time around. At the same time, the first lesson was the only one I made them watch the videos. The other lessons I’m providing ‘supplemental resources’ but told them they can use any resource they find as long as they understand what they’re writing in their journals. It’s helping them learn how to find the right information they need…I hope.
We’re doing the same thing in Pre-Algebra, just going a little quicker and more in depth. They won’t actually be starting to fill in the books until today.