Partner Cards

In my Algebra 1 classes, I have been struggling all year long with motivation. I have some students that just refuse to do anything. It has been very frustrating, and can be very discouraging. As a first-year teacher, this is something that I hope to improve on A LOT over the next couple of years. I have some ideas on how to improve on this from the very start next year, but that will have to wait until August!

One thing that I have found is that my students LOVE to work in groups or with partners. This almost always gets (almost) all of my students actually working and trying. I love group/partner work, too! It gives students a chance to talk about what we are doing, give each other feedback, find mistakes, and so much more! It also keeps most students engaged so that I have the time to walk around and give 1-on-1 attention to the students that need it. I love it!

One of the biggest downsides of partner/group work, though, is that sometimes the students tend to get off-topic. I would give warnings, and I started telling students that each group would get 1 reminder/warning to get back on topic, and after that warning, if they needed another reminder, then the students would have to go back to their own seats and work individually.

This worked for the most part, but I couldn’t always keep track of what exactly counted as a ‘warning’ or which groups I had already given a warning to… then I came up with the idea for Partner Cards!

1428676916433577574714I printed these cards out on colored card stock. Each pair or group gets 2 cards – one green and one red. If I give a group their first warning, I take the green card. If I have to give them a second reminder, I take the red card and the students have to go back to their seats and work individually.

The cards MUST be on the table and visible to me while the students are working. If I can’t see the cards, then the students shouldn’t even be sitting together – they should be back in their own seat working individually. This helps to keep the students from hiding the cards so that I can’t take them.

This actually works! I hear the students start to get off-topic, and I will hear one say, “Stop! She’s gonna take our card!” I love it! It has helped my students to hold each other accountable, keep themselves on the task at hand, and makes it more concrete and visible when the group gets a warning!

It was very easy to make, but if you want to download the partner cards that I made click here!

Let me know what you think, if you have any ideas that might help, or if this helps you in your own classroom!

-Emily

Flip Flopping Inequalities

As we have been working on inequalities in my Algebra 1 class, my students have been having trouble understanding the concept that if 1 > j, then j < 1. To me, it makes sense. If 1 is greater than j, then that means that j has to be less than 1. But for my Algebra kids, that abstract reasoning is just not quite there.

But then, I had a brilliant idea! Height! I picked two students – one really tall, and one really short. We’ll say their names are Chris (the tall one) and Jane (the short one). We made an inequality. If Chris is taller than Jane, then C > J. From that, since we know that Chris is taller than Jane, it made sense to the students that Jane HAS to be shorter than Chris, so they wrote an inequality for that! J < C.

Then we talked about age. If Chris is older than Jane, then C > J. Since Chris is older, than Jane MUST be younger than Chris, so J < C.

We did a few examples like this, and it then talking about flip-flopping the inequalities. When you flip-flip the side of the inequality, then you also have to flip-flop the sign!

This really helped the students to understand the ‘Flop Flop Order Matters’ sheet that we did, which you can find the link to in my previous blog post.

This definitely helped though!

It is such a great feeling when students are struggling with something, and you just don’t know what to do, then you switch it up, and students start getting those ‘Ah-Ha!’ moments! I LOVE seeing Ah-Ha moments!

It’s Been Awhile…

So, it has been a long while since the last post! Over the summer, I had no idea what I was going to be teaching this year, so I really had no idea what to post.

Last year, I started teaching at a school halfway through the year. But now, I am officially through the 1st quarter of my first full year of teaching. In my own real classroom! Boy, have I learned A LOT! It has been good, bad, and ugly. I have definitely learned a ton already, but I have also learned just how far I have to go.

This is my first-ever experience with freshmen – they are like a different breed of people! I am figuring out this breed, though! This year, I am also in a school with a very different culture, which I am still getting used to.

I am going to start making posts regularly, and the things that I do that work, I will post up here for everyone else to use! One thing that I tend to do a lot of, though, is use other peoples’ lessons, foldables, templates, and ideas. There are so many good resources out there, and I wish that I had the time to sort through all of them and find all of the amazing ones to use!

I am going to get back to my search now! I promise that I will be back soon!

-Emily

Another Thing That I (think I) Want to Do

As a recent college graduate (Clemson University, December 2013, GO TIGERS) and a new teacher, I have had many successes, many failures, many lessons learned, and many more to come. I plan on this blog being a way for me to keep track of and share my day-to-day adventures as a new high school teacher, share lessons and ideas that go really well, and maybe help guide someone else that is in a similar position!