- It needs to be a triple scoop word.
- It needs to be a word they actually want to use.
In our Daily Five we have word work. My class didn't like this word because we are supposed to be excited about being discoverers and explorers so we decided "Word Wonder" was a more fitting title. I am cool with that kiddos. They are working on building their own vocabulary. This looks like using vocabulary.com to find new interesting words, and then taking some of the ones that catch their attention most and adding it to their personal dictionary (see the images above). I set up two qualifications for a word to enter the book.
Number talks, if you haven't heard of them, you should. This is a chance for students to explore strategies of mental math. We share all of the different ways that we can understand operations of numbers. The goal is to see numbers as something that you can break apart and put back together. Does 24.9x4 sound really difficult. Well, 4x0.1 is easy and so is 25x4, then just subtract! Maybe you have a different strategy, that's awesome, let's hear it!
I try hard to avoid falling into the "Woe is me" teacher mentality. I love what I do. I think that image is funny, and rings somewhat true, but it really isn't that bad (I know teachers everywhere don't want this secret out).* That all being said, it is draining. I am trying to be a good teacher, husband, friend, musician, athlete, pop culture consumer, and gamer, but those are a lot of plates to keep spinning, and it is not easily done. So that means certain things slide. The daily blog that you have been doing all year; pumping some iron to make sure you don't become the Pillsbury dough boy; saying no to another chocolate bar from the Halloween left overs all: these things all become herculean efforts because you have spent every ounce of your energy pouring into students. After all that, somehow you are still behind. It can become easy to be a bad teacher because no matter what effort you put in, you still have catching up to do. Somehow, when you get into the room, you get them in an activity, and you hear something brilliant said from a twelve year old, it just becomes all worth it.
Perseverance is a tough thing to learn. I think because it is something you simply have to practice, and be aware that you are practicing. My colleague introduced me to something called the Daily Five . It is a program that gets kids to practice academic perseverance. It is based on reading and writing, but there is a mathematical version of it. What I love about having students participate in this, is that the goal isn't necessarily to be quiet for a long time, but to actually stay focused. I tell them that when I was a student I used to plead and beg with my mom to watch TV while I did homework. When I didn't get it done she would quarantine me to the dining room, close the door from the TV, and low and behold, I got stuff done. I am still learning the how to persevere in my own work (even after being out of my parents house for over a decade). I tell students that we need to be honest with ourselves. For me I need to be honest that I cannot get any meaningful amount of assessment done if I do not set a timer, and say, "I am going to focus on this for an extended amount of time." When I do that I get herculean results of perseverance. So in class we talk about strategies for this. We track our efforts to see if we are improving. They love trying to beat themselves, but we talk about how the graph, even though it shows ups and downs, it is a general growth occurring. This is what growth mindset is all about, seeing the improvement, setting strategies for growth, and celebrating the climb.
There are so many notice and wonders you can do with these two images, but I only showed them the population density image. We have been looking at early human migration out of Africa and talking about all the causes that move people to and from places. Then we looked at the population density graph. We made estimates of what caused this graph, and students came up with temperature. We compared it with a graph of temperature and could see some striking patterns except for that weird "triangle" in the prairies. Why would people live there? Lots of students came up with the idea of resources. YES, YES STUDENT YOU UNDERSTAND! It is cool when they get the chance to apply what they are learning in class to think about what is happening even, today. What else do you think we could look at to bring about these discussions?
anyqs, I haven't used that term in awhile. Today in Science we worked on asking questions and talked about the difference between an open ended question, and a closed question. We talked about the benefits and drawbacks of each type, and why it is important to focus on both types of questions. I introduced this with a picture of some cluster of stars and writing "The entire universe is made of matter." There job was to generate as many questions as they could in a group and withhold judgement of the questions. They will then work on translating them from open to closed and closed to open. They will use some of these questions toward research that they are going to be doing on matter. I cannot wait to see what this brings out for the students.
If you have never heard of a 180 blog, let me fill you in. #teach180 is all about sharing your daily life in teaching. It is a way of small form blogging, reflecting on what you are doing, and sharing with the world. Check out these...