Sunday, August 29, 2010

Metric System Concept Map

A few days ago, students completed what could be considered my best processing activity ever planned to date. It was creative, rigorous, and required deep understanding of the topic.

On the right side of their notebook, students recorded notes on relationships between metric units. We practiced with conversions together (if a seat belt is 3 meters long, how many centimeters? how many millimeters?). Students need to be comfortable converting between measured units in the lab and then units required for formulas. They also need to be grounded in a firm understanding of the metric system, and be able to articulate larger than/smaller than comparisons.

I first introduced the assignment with a simple concept map, to illustrate what a concept map is.

The left side processing activity was a concept map with four boxes: kilometer, meter, centimeter, millimeter. Students connected the boxes with ten arrows total: six arrows with larger than/smaller than comparisons, four arrows with conversions (for example, 3 meters = 300 centimeters).

Monday, August 23, 2010

Processing Activity for Tomorrow

I've been tossing around an idea in my mind about the processing activity for tomorrow. One of my goals it to make my processing assignments more creative.

Today we practiced measuring length using a ruler and metric units. Instead of having students measure a bunk of stuff, I used an advertisement as a hook and told students we would be using our measurement skills to test the claim. The package of dinosaur grow capsules says that the dinos will double in size, and we will measure to see if this is true.

Today we took our initial measurements of length and width, and tomorrow students will take their final measurements. My plan for the left-side processing activity is to have students create a colorful, eye-catching advertisement that incorporates their data and makes a true claim.

One of today's challenges was the number of students who seemed annoyed that I was teaching such a basic skill. However, most (almost all) students did not correctly answer the questions on the diagnostic exam. I suppose it would have been wise to share this with them. During guided practice, I did include some common measurement mistakes and ask students to correct them.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Supply Bags for Student Groups

I have a colleague who implemented this system, and it seemed to work really well. I've modified it for my own classroom this year, and will be introducing it this week.

Every day last year, I had students pick up necessary supplies as they walked in the door. The supplies were a bit different each day, but were generally items like glue, scissors, colored pencils, markers, or rulers.

Instead of having students pick up these items as they enter class, each group will share a uniform supply bag containing a wide array of necessary supplies. I even found small, inexpensive pencil sharpeners to alleviate the need to stand up and sharpen during class. At each of my student tables, there is a place for storage which is where the supply bags will stay.

I do have a hesitation about implementing this: How will I monitor theft/destruction of supplies? I might scaffold this system in the beginning, and collect the supply bags at the end of each class (or the day) to do a quick visual check and redirect student behavior based on what I see.