Classroom

Star Wars – 8 Jedi Math Practices #MTBoS #msmathchat

I am blown away by the response to my Jedi posters, and am grateful that people are asking for the files and have already put them up in their classrooms! A special shoutout goes to @JustinAion and @jrobbins00 for being major “sneezers” to make this possible!

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Taking this to the next step, I created slides that can be printed on 11×17 inch paper so I could post them around the room.  I also included the technical wording of the mathematical practices on the slide so I could say, “Let’s persevere in solving these problems, work past the point you want to give up!” Or “Give me a viable argument, tell me how you did this.”  Hopefully this could provide a bridge to other classes as they move on.

Here is the link to download the slides, both in 11×17, and a smaller format to use on a presentation. I have also included a blank slide if you need it.

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Mindset – Jedi Edition #July2014Challenge

#MTBoS30 Day 11

At a Professional Development workshop for the district this summer, we were introduced to Carol Dweck’s Mindset. We were given a copy of her book, and I believe there was a bit of buy-in from the teachers there.  I mentioned before that I wanted to do a Star Wars theme this year including a Jedi rubric for Standards-Based Grading.

In doing some more reflection on mindset, I decided to take a couple of different graphics and mash them together in order to refer to “fixed” and “growth” mindsets in my classroom.

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Kindness in Teaching #July2014Challenge

#MTBoS30 Day 9

Kindness must be used with wisdom within a structure of justice and fairness. Consider the role of a teacher. Love moves and empowers a teacher to be kind toward all the students; otherwise it will be mere favoritism toward some. Kindness moves the teacher to encourage the dull and the average as well as the bright students. But if kindness forgets about honesty, it will turn into cruelty. For instance, a teacher criticizes a student essay honestly, toughly, pointedly. Not to do this is to rob the student of a chance to grow through an interchange of power. But there must also be a gentleness, a feeling for the student’s anxiety about his own abilities. And so kindness searches for something in the essay that can be praised, at least for its potential. Kindness compels the teacher to look until finding something worth commendation. —Lewis Smedes Love Within Limits p. 17.

I met with a mentor today, a first meeting hopefully that will last for awhile, and he reminded me about truly caring for students.  He said something along the lines of “The one thing I want to impart to every new teacher that I get a chance to talk to is to love the students. Show them you care. When you show them you care, they will go the distance for you.” 

I get that. I really do. I know that students need love and care shown to them. I know that students will go the distance for you when they know they are safe and free to make mistakes and you won’t judge them for it.  I know it, but it is sometimes hard to show it. 

There are those moments in teaching when a class mistreats your sub, bombs a test in which you went over every single type of question twice, when a student you have given multiple opportunities to throws you under the bus for whatever reason. Those moments are difficult to show love, compassion, and kindness. What is easy to forget is that students will test you to see if your love is conditional. Students will try to prove that there is a limit to how much you care for them. It could be just another excuse for them to quit when they think you have on them. 

I read the above quote and realize yet again what is at stake in the classroom. It is more than high-stakes testing, Marzano performance observations, and whatever subject you are teaching. What is at stake is the value of a single person. Every student will remember something from you. Sometimes it is your sense of humor (or lack of it!). Sometimes it is your manner of teaching or the tasks you give. Most often, it is how you treated them.  

I had a professor in Seminary who was one of the kindest men you could ever meet. A friend of mine said about him, “Even if you raise your hand and absolutely butcher the answer to the question he just asked, he’ll make you feel really good even when you’re wrong.” 

The self-worth of a student is constantly in flux due to social media, their home-life, their relationships, their performance in the classroom or the athletic field.  In my classroom however, I have the power to control what I say, how I react, and how I treat that student. Whether or not my words or actions change them at that moment, I can’t control. But I do know, that love and kindness have the power to change a person for a long time. Each student is deserving of that love, no matter what. 

 

In a classroom not too far away…#mtbos30

 

Last year, in my first year as a Math teacher, I wanted to create an atmosphere that was a bit more interesting than just a math classroom. Superhero movies were coming out left and right, so I wondered if I could come up with some sort of tie to it, and here’s what I came up with:

  1. Superheroes solve problems.
  2. Math has problems.
  3. You solve math problems.
  4. Therefore you are, a superhero!

Cheesy, I know.  I had great plans to come up with superhero questions to post on my board, but after I posted my first one, I didn’t do it again. I had the room setup with tables, and above each table I hung a mobile of some comic book pages from a specific superhero group. The groups were: X-Men, Justice League, Fantastic Four, Avengers, Transformers, and Teen Titans. During the first half of the year, whenever I called on a table to give a specific answer, I would call out the team name. I created these by buying some comic books from the store, cutting out the pages, and then taking some foamcore and cutting pieces and taping them into boxes, and then I attached the pages with the spray glue.

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It definitely generated some interest, and I had several conversations with students during the year of “who is better, Deadpool or Superman?” I caught several of the students just gazing at the comic book mobiles before, during, and after class. I think if I would have stuck with it, it could have been cooler.

This year, I played with a new theme, possibly one involving tools, trying to get students to see that they have different tools to use in their math tool box to create solutions to problems. But then I saw this post, and I knew what I had to do next:

 

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jedi rubricI love the Jedi Master rubric, and feel that it is something that we can do to carry it through the year.  It’s all a great idea now, but we shall see how it works throughout the rest of the year.

 

 

 

 

*Update – 7/5/14  – I didn’t know if it would be helpful, but I decided to go ahead and post a few of the files I used for my superhero theme last year.