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  • Katrien Vance

    November 2, 2019 at 10:42 pm

    Now I have taught the first unit twice, and I felt I did a much better job the second time.  Humbling, but good to know. You can’t always teach things twice, but you can prep so thoroughly that it feels as if you’ve taught it already.

    I prepared better and anticipated better this time.  I re-ordered things and did a better job building concepts piece by piece.  This let me make better use of the resources I had flagged, such as Desmos activities and others.  

    My colleague and I then did a 3-day review activity with both groups.  First, we gave them a list of all of the vocab, skills, procedures, and concepts we felt we had covered.  Then we did a “Math Cafe,” an activity I saw modeled at the PEN conference in Minneapolis.  Students made groups and made a “reservation” as a “party of 3” or “party of 4.”  We set up tables with tablecloths and “Party of 4” signs on them, with rulers, calculators, protractors, and graph paper where the condiments would be.  

    Students came in and sat down at their tables and looked at a printed menu of math problems, broken into Appetizers, Main Courses, and Desserts.  The problems were listed by learning goal, so, for example, Appetizer 1 was “I can use a protractor to measure an angle.”  Students chose a problem to work on as a team.  They had to do 3 or 4 appetizers before moving on to main courses and then 3 or 4 main courses before moving on to dessert (it took two days for everyone to get to dessert).  My colleague Maggie and I went from table to table taking “orders” and checking answers when parties said they were finished with a problem. We asked every person at the table to explain some portion of each answer.  More than once, the team at the table taught one of their classmates how to do something right before our eyes (always something that we thought we had taught, but, you know…).  We sent a few problems home as “leftovers” with each student, to check in on some independent skills. 

    When I asked the kids how they liked it, they said, “That was fun!”  The class period went by really quickly, and none of them realized they had done a test’s worth of math problems. The teacher who showed me this activity uses it as a scored assessment; we don’t give grades, but it was a great way to see what kids knew and didn’t know.