Ah, poor neglected blog. I have so many posts half written, waiting to go up. With all the formatting and explaining, they go to the back burner when school gets busy. The posts are either really complicated and time consuming or I get into the “its not exciting enough to blog about” mindset for the quicker posts. I’d like that not to be an excuse. Although I pride myself in trying to create engaging, rich tasks for my students most days, there are definitely days when we have to relax.
I’m committing to posting more about those days too. The reality is that day to day can’t always be “Blog Worthy” and especially for newer MTBoS members, it can be hard to only read the elaborate successes. One of my favorites in the real life of a teacher blogs is Justin Aion’s Re-Learning to Teach where he blogs about all the ups and down in daily teaching life. But I have more trouble finding people that put up post with regular, not everything is an amazing re-tweetable activity, type of lessons that I could turn around and use in class. I’m sure they are out there and I’d love to know about them if you have any favorites. I’d like to try to do more of that. Blog about the lesson even if it wan’t the most spectacular activity. I know it won’t be daily, I have too many preps and I’m getting my masters to commit to that, but hopefully more than the once a month I’ve fallen into.
Yesterday was one of those days. We had finished all the classwork for a unit on quadrilaterals in Geometry and have 3 days until spring break. Add to that I had three new students in class that had never taken geometry who I did’t want to lose for a week. I decided to do a poster project. Each student picked a quadrilateral we had studied and were responsible for creating a poster with anything they felt others would want to know about it, especially someone studying for our unit test tomorrow.
We are a half live, half online school (Our students take math, language arts, and advisory/life skills in person and the other three classes online) so I figure they needed some time to get up, stretch and decompress and the students apparently love to color, or at least most of them. The new students were able to jump in by using someones notebook or the computer for research and complete a poster as well. No pressure, but not wasted time. The new students want to contribute without being made feel dumb. They were excited to have some of best work up.
After about 30 or so minutes, we hung the posters in the hall and did a gallery walk. Students left comments on each poster, either something new they learned, something they had a question about, or, in a few cases and error that had been made. The questions were great because they highlighted the need clear mathematical communication in statements and diagrams – often both people were trying to say the same thing but with different symbols. We had student-student talks to clear up any confusion and a quick whole class wrap up before heading back in the room. The gallery walk is a much used format for a reason. Students are up, looking at lots of math, and talking to each other about math.
Lastly, we jumped back to a few ‘puzzle’ problem where I gave one angle of side in a picture and they had to fill out as many others as they could. (We call them puzzles because somehow that makes math problems more exciting?) A few students flipped through notes, but many went back into the hall to look at the posters when they got stuck which was fun. And now I think most of them are ready to test and the new students were able to pick up some base of knowledge to build from, each getting about half of the puzzles complete which is great for one day of class.
The lesson took no prep other than having poster paper, markers, and sticky notes and was a great review day which allowed the students to talk ownership of the material. I don’t normally have a whole dedicated review day, but due to timing it make sense. And the students liked it enough that we might do it again next unit regardless if spring break is looming.