Monday, July 8, 2013

The "7th Grade Double Period Every Day Hybrid Flipped Classroom" Plan

Although the title of this post may sound very tongue-in-cheek, or sarcastic, it isn't meant to be.  This IS my plan for this upcoming school year.  It is ambitious, it may be outrageous, but this is the plane I built, and my departure time is set for August!

 A few things I believe in:
1.  I believe that students crave a change of scenery and a change of tasks.
2. I believe that students crave independence and can handle it when they are treated as if they can.
3. I believe that students can do math work for 1.5 hours each day.
4. I believe in the KISS method.

My Plan

1/2 Sheet & WA:  I always have a 1/2 sheet of math problems pertaining to a certain skill for the students to complete as soon as they walk in the door.  I do this to set the pace for the students and let them know that it is OK to get to work right away.  I mainly use for my material.  I print the answers on the back so they can check.  WA stands for "Weekly Assignment". I create my own worksheet of problems dealing with our most recent topics.  It boils down to a problem-of-the-day.  As soon as a student completes it, they raise their hand and I check it.  If it is correct, I initial it and they are now allowed to get up and check/help other students.  I call it "Chain Reaction Checking".  It allows students to teach/help/confer with each other.  Within 5 minutes, 80% of the room has had their paper checked!

Matrix Math: This is something new I want to try this year.  Each day I am having a different 10 minute problem solving session.

MONDAY: TWEET SIZED MESSAGE: Twitter allows only 140 characters, so I wondered if students were given a math concept like PEMDAS, could they write the shortest/most informative explanation of that topic?

TUESDAY: TANGRAMS: I am looking to build off of the suggestions of  to have more tangrams!

WEDNESDAY: WORK IT OUT:  I am looking to have students work on traditional skills but work them backwards.  For example, giving them partially filled in integer equations that they need to determine the missing number.

THURSDAY: THINK ABOUT IT: I love  Specifically, this gif really got me thinking and wondering!  l really want to know what students will say about this pic and others from 101.  I am also going to greedily use this to gauge what possible future 3-acts the kids would enjoy!

FRIDAY: ESTIMATION 180: I had a great time with students last year using this and I want to continue!


For the remainder of the double period, we will be following a HYBRID MODEL

 One station will be a project group with me.  We will be doing 3-act tasks!

One station will be working on traditional math lessons.  I use a FLIPPED classroom model for this.  I video my lessons for the students to watch at home.  They then use the class time to work on their homework.  I also provide answer keys with each assignment so they can get immediate feedback.  

Finally, the last station will be an INDEPENDENT COMPUTER station using ST Math.  This is a really neat program that goes about teaching math concepts by intuition and reasoning.  

I will keep you posted on how things go!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Value of Estimation

I have never been good at estimating.  Never once did I even try to estimate my answers in college.  I was always a formula guy.  I would substitute the variable and make the formula/equation do what it do (as Ray Charles would say).  Luckily for me I was introduced to twitter by my district's tech coach  and on there I found  .  I read his posts and came across his idea of daily estimations(estimation180).  I wasn't convinced of the benefit of having students do this.  Not until I talked with a coworker, , did I see the power this could have.  Pat relayed how his students were starting to estimate out their math answers before starting their calculations in class.  He said that he simply would put the image up at the start and have the kids make their estimates and be done in the first couple minutes of class.

This inspired me!  I am all about implementing a low input <=> HIGH OUTPUT product into my class.  So, I started.  Each day I would start class with an image on the projector with the daily estimation problem.  Kids would come in and know they had a minute to write down their guess before I showed them the result. (BTW: I am Type A, so they have a document to fill in!)
I also wanted them to analyze their guess.  After each answer I had them write a +/- number to show how above/below their estimate was to the actual answer.  Finally, after 20 days of estimating, I would have them average their +/- numbers to get their average 'error'.  My highest student error was in the 1,000's and my lowest was 0.4.

Now, I have not yet had kids translate this estimation into their regular daily lessons, but I believe it will happen.  Like anything it is a process.  Slow and steady wins the race!

Finally, I saw a post on Twitter about a calculator that won't give you the actual answer until you type in your best estimate.  This nearly floored me.  Talk about having the best of both worlds: using a calculator to speed up your work, but also THINKING while using a calculator!

Evolution of Problem Solving?

I have started doing a better job implementing #3act lessons into my curriculum.  My launch party began with #cupstack.  The kids were hooked with the first act.  They were so sure this would be easy! Then they started.  The #mathmistakes and great discussions were copious to say the least.  

This prompted me to think about the 'evoloution' of problem solving in math.  So many times I have created a problem and thought, "this is a great chance for the kids to use the Pythagorean Theorem!"  Wanna know something?  They wouldn't!!!  They would immediately use guess and check or say, "I think it is x because it looks like it is that long!"
So here is my stab at what I think could be the  of math problem solving.

Bottom Tier:  ESTIMATE
I never gave much credence to estimating your answer first.  I was always a formula type, plug-and-chug guy.  But, thanks to and  I have found the importance of having students give their best intuitive estimate before they begin.  It gives even your most struggling students the chance to have an answer, a thought, or an inroad!  (Very little input required. Student wants to literally count/hold each item. Very unsure if their answer is even remotely close.)

Next Tier:  GUESS & CHECK
I see the next level learner/solver as the person who will do some calculation to prove that an answer is correct.  Now, most times they are not exactly sure how to check what they just guessed, but through proper discussion they can follow what check they need to do in order to prove/disprove their calculated answer.  From there, they simply adjust their initial input up or down to get closer.  (Again, little input required.  But, this can be a very tedious process! Still requires hands on manipulatives. Holds a blind confidence that their answer is correct.)

Next Tier:  PLAN & TEST
Although similar to the 'Guess & Checker', the planner and tester is more calculating.  They actually have an idea of what calculation must be applied to an input. They have seen some piece of information that they have deemed relevant that the 'Guess & Checker' has overlooked.  (More input is required.  Student doesn't need to touch manipulatives except to do his final test. More confident that their answer is correct, but if it is not, may not be sure what went wrong.)

The self-actualization segment if you will.  This is where a student doesn't have to touch a single item.  They know what mathematical property they need to solve the problem that has been posed.  They are confident in their calculations.  They are even more confident that they don't have to test their answer, because they know the math just proved what the answer must be!  (zen)

The difficult part as a teacher is finding a way to get kids to use 'Pythagorean Theorem' when they should be using it, WITHOUT me telling them to use it!

We work to teach them how to use the tools correctly. 
How do we teach them when to use each tool?

Isn't this the goal of a math class?  

We want them to be able to USE math, not just DO math.  

Hello. My name is Jon Long. I teach math.

My name is Jon Long. @mrjonlong

 I am a Middle School Math teacher.

I believe in the constant search for improvement.

I believe in sharing.

 I believe in technology.

This is my first blog.

 I upload my lessons to YouTube (#flipclass).

 I follow (@esteiner51, @fawnpnguyen, @nathankraft1, @msripple, @mpershan, @pabrandt06, @approx_normal, @mseideman, @L_Hilt, @Mathalicious, @tim_leister, @mr_stadel, @ddmeyer) on twitter and I am a better teacher for it.

 I have been reintroduced to 'PERPLEXITY' by the use of #3act lessons and!

I have been reminded of the importance of 'ESTIMATION' by the use of!

 I have incorporated #STEM projects into my class to make math meaningful.

I have ideas and thoughts on the last 15 years of my teaching career and about the next 15 years.

I would like to share these thoughts with you.