March of the Turtles!

So the other day I decided to check on my “Slow Turtles.”

IMG_1884

Gotta love my co-workers.  She wore this shirt the day that I asked my second round of “What animal are you in Math?” reflection question.  Although she didn’t know I was asking it that day or what the real meaning of the shirt could be in my class, our students did.  I had quite a few of them ask me if I had her wear it that day, if only I was that good…..

Here is the reflection questions:

When I walk into math class I feel like a(n) _______________.  fill in the blank with a type of animal

Explain why you feel like this animal.  What are some of your shared traits?

What animal do you think would be best for math class?

Explain why you think that.

I wrote an initial blog on this question here.

Ultimately I would have liked to work in my old school to do a follow-up to this question.  As it stands, I only had 3 students who were present in class the first time I asked this reflection question (and those were ones who left and are now back).  I would like to see how student’s opinions of themselves change over the course of the class, and this is a good way they can associate certain trait to themselves without using tags like “dumb”, “looser” or “geek”.

Last time the animals listed was:

  • Cat: Tries to cozy up to others to get help
  • Turtle: Slow and steady at math
  • Owl: Math comes easy
  • Hawk: Mind flies away on other things that interest him, usually many times during the class
  • Sloth: Slow, sluggish
  • Bear: Feels annoyed by others and wants to physically interact with them
  • Deer: Headlights?
  • Snail: Slow and small
  • Squirrel: Did someone say Nut?
  • Elephant: Feels huge in class, smart but not fast
  • Mouse: Small, quiet, unobserved
  • Gazelle: Quick, but not always going in the right direction

Many of my students at that time felt slow and sluggish at math.

This time the list of animals is:

  • Lion: Fast at finishing my work
  • Eagle: They have wisdom
  • Pug: They are sloppy
  • Dog: They are smart, they learn in groups
  • Wolf: Smart, cunning, travel and learn in packs
  • Koala: Quiet
  • Gorilla: Math makes me mad
  • Monkey: Smart
  • Cheetah: Fast
  • Bear: I like to hibernate
  • Turtle: Slow
  • Squirrel: Not smart
  • Gazelle: Jump high- reaching for higher goals
  • Jaguar: Speedy and tactical

Even though the animal types changed, the attributes assigned to each of them didn’t.  I’m not sure if it is because I have had many of these students for the past month or so, but I had 10 students pick monkey, 8 students pick wolf/dog, 5 choose eagle and 4 choose jaguar.  Their overall feeling of math is that they are smart and they are able to “Do Math.”  The wolf/dog reasoning surprised me, but it was a true trait.  Many students in my class now feel that they learn math better in groups- not because they copy answers but they can talk with each other to solve problems (that made me do a goofy happy-dance after school).  This group has been great for classroom discussions, I have only had to throw out a spark and they build on that- so much so that my main difficulty is to reign them back from their brainstorming a little so they can clearly communicate the concept and it’s connections.  It has been a refreshing yet fun few weeks (great turn around from when I had the P90X dilemma- with thanks to Justin, Megan and Christopher).

Last time the Animals listed as good math aspects:

  • Cheetah: Quick with precision
  • Horse: Swift and beautiful
  • Bear: Powerful, finds intelligent ways to overcome obstacles
  • Tiger: Quick and agile
  • Owl: Smart
  • Turtle: Slow and steady wins the race
  • Eagle: Sharp, quick reactions, fast processes
  • Hawk: Sharp, quick reactions, fast processes
  • Bunny: Cute and cuddly, but fast
  • Cougar: Quick for small bursts needed to solve problems
  • Wolf: Cunning
  • Lion: King of Math
  • Monkey: Playfully smart

Many students at that time though FAST is the main component to successful math.

This time Mathy Animals were:

  • Gorilla: Close to a human in terms of intelligence
  • Chimpanzee/Monkey: Close to a human in terms of intelligence
  • Cat: Smart
  • Crow: Smart
  • Wolf/Dog: Smart
  • Eagle: Wisdom
  • Shark: Fast, Smart

The thing that surprised me other than the very short list of “math animals” was the shift of focus away from being fast to being smart.  Taking notes from Jo Boaler, I wanted to know if they considered smart in terms of natural talent or a trait you could develop.  An overwhelming majority of the students redefined smart as being able to problem solve, and that it was something attainable- not something you were born with.  I am very proud of these kids, with all the negatives that are present in their lives right now they are very positive about their ability in class.  I am not taking the credit for this at all, rather I feel blessed that I have these students with this great mentality at the end of the year.  Seeing such enthusiasm effectively battles the end of year grind that many teachers and students feel.  These students have given me a slightly different vision (which I prefer individually and professionally) for my students than “slow and steady.”

 Wolf-Pack

Math Reflection 180: Days 96-100

Day 96:

What did you observe in math class today?

Was is related to math? Explain.

How did it effect you or your thinking?


Day 97:

What did you observe in class today?

How is it related to what you observed yesterday?

How did it effect you or your thinking?


Day 98:

When observing, what do you think you should focus on?

What thing(s) make that hard to do?

What can help you to observe better?


Day 99:

How can observing help you in math class?

What will you focus on tomorrow?


Day 100:

What did you intend to focus on today?

How well did you meet that goal? Explain.

Did it effect your learning? Explain why or why not.

Math Reflection 180: Days 91-95

Day 91:

What was today’s math objective?

What prior knowledge did you have?

What things did you learn?

How are those connected?


Day 92:

What was today’s math objective?

What prior knowledge did you have?

What things did you learn?

How are the past two days related?


Day 93:

What was today’s math objective?

What was yesterday’s objective?

What was Monday’s objective?

How is the week related so far?

What do you expect for tomorrow?


Day 94:

What prior knowledge did you need for math today?

How did that connect with today’s lesson?


Day 95:

Is there an “order” that you need to learn math concepts in?

Write a short paragraph to justify your opinion.

 

 

Math Reflection 180: Days 86-90

Day 86:

You have been in math class for half a year.  What has been the ONE activity, lesson or project that you enjoyed the most?

Why did you enjoy it?

What was the mathematical objective of the activity, lesson or project?


Day 87:

Yesterday you talked about an activity, lesson or project you enjoyed the most in math class this year.  What was the mathematical objective you learned from it?

How has that concept connected to other mathematical concepts this year?

Do you anticipate to use this concept later this year?  How?


Day 88:

Yesterday you talked about an activity, lesson or project you enjoyed the most in math class this year.  What was the mathematical objective you learned from it?

How has that concept been isolated from other mathematical concepts this year?

Do you think that this concept can connect to those concepts?  How?


Day 89:

When you think of Math class, what happens in that class?

What type of activities would you do in that Math class?

What type of problems would you work on in that Math class?


Day 90:

What would you like your Math class to look like this last half of the year?

What types of activities should you do in Math class?

What types of problems should you work on in Math class?

How would that help you (or other students) learn math?

Math Reflection 180: Days 81-85

Day 81:

Provide an example of the problem/problems you worked on today.

What is a common error (or one that you made) when working on these problems?

Why is that error commonly made?


Day 82:

Provide an example of a mistake you (or your partner) made on a math problem today.

What does that error tell you about your understanding of the mathematics needed to solve the problem?


Day 83:

How do you feel about making mistakes in Math class?  Explain.


Day 84:

Is making mistakes important to learning (not just mathematics)?  Explain and justify your answer.


Day 85:

How has this week changed your view about making mistakes in Math class?

Math Reflection 180: Days 76 – 80

Day 76:

In your own words, describe the objective of the day.

Write down your partner’s description.

Compare/Contrast your descriptions, why do you think yours is different than your partners?


Day 77:

Create an example problem for today’s lesson.

Have your partner solve your problem.

Describe how your partner solved the problem.

Was this the way you thought about the problem?  Explain.

(this reflection activity takes a bit longer to complete in class)


Day 78:

What things did you notice during today’s lesson?

What things did your partner notice?

Was there anything in common?  Why do you think that happened?

What things were different?  Why did your partner notice different things than you?


Day 79:

<give students a slightly different problem variation of the objective of the day>

Talk with a partner

How would you attempt to solve this problem?  Why?


Day 80:

Partner work

What things work well with partner work?

What things do not work well?

When solving mathematics problems, what is the best use of a partner?

Math Reflection 180: Days 71-75

Day 71:

What was the objective of the day today?

How would you teach a 2nd grade student this concept?  What types of materials would you need?  What activities would you do?

Explain why you think that your lesson for 2nd graders is appropriate for their age.


Day 72:

What was the objective of the day yesterday?

How would you teach a 7th grade student this concept?  What types of materials would you need?  What activities would you do?

Explain why you think that your lesson for 7th graders is appropriate for their age.


Day 73:

What was the objective of the day on Monday?

How would you teach a 11th grade student this concept?  What types of materials would you need?  What activities would you do?

Explain why you think that your lesson for 11th graders is appropriate for their age.


Day 74:

(Hand back student’s reflections from this week)

These are the reflections you did this week, read through your ideas for lessons for 2nd, 7th and 11th grade students.

Compare/contrast your plans, how does learning math change as you progress through school?


Day 75:

When learning a new mathematical concept, what is one thing that helps you make connections to the material presented in class?

How does that relate to the plans you made this week?