Friday, December 4, 2009

The Power of Goal Setting!

I am not a big reader.  I do not like reading books very much.  My lack of focus sets in making it difficult to persevere through novels, even ones I particularly enjoy.   Barnes and Noble purchases can be found unread in every room of my house. Overdue library books are on the coffee table, partially read.

Twitter and Facebook are the greatest inventions of all times.  140 characters, short blurbs with links if you want to read on are my type of reading. Thank goodness for the 21st Century. Uncle John's Bathroom Reader (The Twitter and Facebook of the 20th Century) was my favorite college read;  short, to the point, satisfying.  Newspapers are pretty good as well.  I'm too cheap to subscribe to them anymore though.  The iPhone covers most of the sources I need.

As a teacher my job is to help students become exceptional readers who can connect and interpret, analyze and write about a variety of texts.

How can I do this?

I do use the other students in the room.  The influence of readers around the room is a great incentive to those few who are unmotivated and unfocused (like me).  The students discuss and recommend novels and series daily. Unfortunately, watching and listening to others does not necessarily get some where they need to be.

That's where I come in.  Oh boy.  This is the hard part.  One student came to me on the very first day of school.  He told me that he hates reading.  Hates reading?  This is going to be a long year I thought. My response to him at the time was that hopefully we can change that this year. He looked quite skeptical.  I was quite skeptical.

We have an excellent program called Accelerated Reader.  (Click on the link to learn more information.) This program helps students become phenomenal readers in a fairly authentic and self-motivating way that I was quite skeptical about from the start.  My views have changed significantly since our students have found great success. The students set personal goals that they try to attain each marking period.

This boy did not respond well to this motivation.  So we went to the next step.  He chose a book. We did some math, he loves math.  We divided the number of pages in the book by how many days he wanted to take to complete it.  Then a sticky note was placed for each day on the goal page.  I checked in with him each day.  He finished one day early and said that he felt proud of himself for this big accomplishment.  He said that it was not as hard as he thought, and it was "pretty fun".   The final thing he said was "I didn't realize I could read a book so quickly".


I need to take my own advice.

Trashketball and Monday Morning Quarterbacks!

Today we played a quick game to help students understand the connections between fractions, decimals, and percents.  The students all know how to convert with ease between them.  Now we are focusing on real-world examples.

One thing I thought of on the way to school to make it interesting was to take five shots at a trash can and record your ratio (fraction) after each shot.  The students stand about five feet away from the can and take shots with recycled paper.  They record each students' scores as well.

Here were my scores:  1/1, 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, 1/5
I made my first shot, then missed the next four.

So what were the decimals and percents.
After the first shot, 1.0 or 100%, Then 50%, Then 33.3%, Then 25%, Then 20%.

The students then followed to complete this task.  (Most fared better than me.)

At the end of the lesson, one of the students said we should call this "Trashketball".
A quick google search found this to be a game developed by math teachers already for all kinds of math activities.  How cool.  I will be sure to  try some of their suggestions.

On Monday we will branch off into looking at the group as a whole, simplifying the fractions, comparing fractions within and between groups, adding and subtracting fractions.

Thanks to those of you who shared ideas. A former colleague sent along a great football idea.  Can't wait to try this Mrs. M.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Quest for Ideas to Shake this Turkey Funk

We are working on decimals, fractions, and problem solving in class.

I am feeling quite uninspired with ideas.  It must be the Thanksgiving fog I'm still living in.

I need your help.

I need a diverse group of people to respond to tell me how they use fractions, decimals, percents, with problem solving (because it is all problem solving) in their occupations or hobbies.

Don't worry if it doesn't apply to the sixth grade set.  That will be my job to make it real.  It just may shake me from this "Turkey Funk".

Happy December.

Did you know that if you add consecutive odd numbers starting with one they equal squares?

1+3= 4 (2 squared)
1+3+5 = 9 (3 squared)
follow the pattern.

Pretty neat!