INTRODUCTION: Professional Development (PD)


Before I begin with this post, let me admit that I am not the best presenter. A lot of the time I over plan (so passionate!) or forget key points (because I don't like note cards). As I finished our district's PD this week, along with attending CAMT last month, I am reminded of the SINS OF PRESENTATIONS.

  1. Smile (make us feel welcomed)
  2. Do not say "umm" (if you can avoid it.. if it is in every sentence, you don't know what you are talking about well enough to present on it).
  3. Power Points should not have a zillion words on it (font size 24 should be the smallest size)
  4. Do not use green backgrounds with red text, or similar disgusting combinations on power points.
  5. Do not talk like a robot (being too calm and mellow can make one fall asleep).
  6. Do not talk too fast or too loud (if you over emphasize EVERY other WORD it BECOMES annoying AND does NOT grab OUR attention AND devalues THE key POINTS). 
  7. Be passionate about what you are presenting (again, this does not mean loud).
  8. Vary activities, get us moving or have time for discussion.
  9. Do not make us walk around the room a bunch of times, once is enough.
  10. Do not force us to share thoughts every 5 minutes.
  11. Organize your handouts (if giving more than one, put them in order instead of making us grab one piece of paper from 5 stacks.. use a stapler).
  12. Repeat concepts (refer back to previous things you talked about, remind us the long analogy you gave at the beginning of the presentation and how it relates). 
  13. Create open ended questions (never ask a question that has one right answer, ask questions that can lead to good discussion).
  14. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE (if presenting on grading styles, know the district's grading policy that you are in). 

DIY GAMES: Clothespins Stem and Leaf Plot (Stemplot)

Clothespins? I have a dryer!

I found myself loving clothespins to match games, and I started just buying a cheap pack of 100 from Walmart for $1.88 plus tax. To make two sets of this game, you need one pack of the clothespins.

Once you buy your clothespins (or take them from the laundry room), make sure you look at them. Some people like to dye them, some people like to write directly on them. I find that when I write on them, the ink smears and it just doesn't look neat. I also like to color code my sets (different colors) in case some pieces get mixed up. For this reason, I would tackle two things at once: print different sets on colored paper (not card stock).
If there is an "ugly side" then I would cover that side with paper (something you cannot do if you just dye them).

If there is a "bad side" I would just use it as a chip clip for around the house; you do not wan't it breaking in a student's hands or worse.. having to reprint the paper just to replace ONE pin!

Are you ready? 
There are only 3 steps (besides cutting):

I know what you are thinking from this picture: ONE DROP DOES A LOT!
Well, I feel that I do not want to spend another 30 minutes making this game, and I do not want them to peel. So, I dabbed some glue and then smeared it. My favorite glue to use is Aleene's "Original Tacky Glue" (it is in that copper color bottle). Make sure you put the answers in the right direction! Otherwise it will be upside down.

If you would like this set (good for two stations or one long station), please go to my TPT page and download the file for free . Give me 5 stars because I'm so awesome, and maybe I will make another how-to page for another game.

Now, you may have played the game on your own and discovered an extra pin!

Hope you had fun! More importantly, I hope your students did, while reviewing/learning stemplots.

If there are any other games you want me to make, let me know! I can sure try! And of course, it will be a free download.

PD: Project, Problem, and Inquiry Based Learning.

Well today I gave my FIRST presentation outside of the district.

As usual, I was more nervous to present in front of adults than students.

Sometimes I fear I might go too fast in a presentation or use terminology that people are not that familiar with. I know I am also opinionated about certain strategies (TAKE NOTES! NOTES ARE THE BEST! NOTE TAKING!). Well, I hope I did a good presentation, a lot of people were taking photos and notes during the presentation, I think they really liked parts of it, but I hope it helped.

I started the presentation with games (download some here for free) and candy, although hardly any of the candy was eaten. It was one of the last sessions on the last day of CAMT 2014, and I know everyone's brain was fried like my own with all this knowledge.

My presentation was on Problems Based on Learning, basically incorporating Project, Problem, and Inquiry based learning techniques to have successful, yet purposeful projects in the math classroom. My main goal was to show them how you can create an Open-Ended project based on the TEKS, and with repetitive instructional strategies and flexibility in student presentation, have students create higher level projects and actually learn the content. And I mean, all the content you wanted them to, not just the parts they found interesting. Below is a link to the presentation, although some slides were removed and the font may appear different on your computer.

Introduction: DIY GAMES

Many people ask me what are good games to play and how do I come up with them.
For the most part, I don't come up with them, I'm sure really good at searching the internet.
I started playing games to review for math club. Then, students who were coming in for tutoring became jealous and wanted to play. Wouldn't you know it! Games are good for all ability levels!
However, lately I have found what works best (for me):

Rules for SUCCESSFUL Small Group Games:

  1. Games should take 5-20 minutes to play
  2. Differentiate between 1 -4 players*
  3. Most should be done mentally or with minimal scratch paper
  4. Games should always review learned material
  5. They can have more than one answer, but usually best to have one
  6. Self correcting puzzles are the best, but be wary of cheaters
  7. Best if done in stations (centers), so that the entire class is not playing it all at once
*Some games are designed to be an entire class game, that is more of a direct teach/ large group strategy.

With that said, my favorite types of games tend to be matching games (dominoes, tarisa, clothespin, etc.), but I also love some good higher level dice games (that actually deal with the content and are not merely a mental wake up). I've bought a lot of games in my time, had students make many, and designed some myself. I prefer to design them myself, so that I can make them print in Verdana (my favorite font for math, with it's equal width and height thickness) and at a reasonable size. I also like to print them on cardstock (or laminate), but can deal with pieces getting lost more than if I actually buy a game and the students misplace those pieces. 

I hope this helps! Let me know how you handle games in your room or some of your favorites.