cheesemonkey wonders

cheesemonkey wonders

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Ode on a six-ootsie Tootsie — a love poem to @Trianglemancsd

What an amazing but crazy first week! OK, sure, it was only two days long, but still...

Sick of reading and rereading the various classroom and school rules, I wanted to dive into some mathematics lest I drive myself and my kids totally nuts. So I decided to use Christopher Danielson's Tootsie Roll-sharing problem from his #TMC13 presentation, along with some of his "fun facts" background, as a first math day diagnostic activity and as a platform for introducing my new norms and rubric for collaboration.

Even though I felt like I was just throwing together a slide show launch during my first-period prep, it worked incredibly well!

My Keynote slides and a PDF version of the slide deck are on the Math Teacher Wiki.

Here it is in a nutshell: 

•    Visualize a 6-ootsie Tootsie
•    Now imagine 4 kids who want to share it equally and completely.
•    Can your group come up with AT LEAST TWO WAYS to accomplish this?

Both the 8th graders and the 6th graders had a lot of pretty deep conversations about whether you were thinking of sharing it in terms of number of ootsies or in terms of parts of a Tootsie. Wholes and parts, plus funny-sounding words and the chance to introduce the word synecdoche.

One of the nicest things about doing this was that it helped a lot of kids see that "complicated" and "deeper" are not necessarily the same thing. 

What's not to like?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Collaboration Literacy Part 2 — DRAFT Rubric: essential skills for mathematical learning groups

I have said this before: middle schoolers are extremely concrete thinkers. This is why I find it so helpful to have a clear and concrete rubric I can use to help them to understand assessment of their work as specifically as possible. I'm reasonably happy with the rubric I've revised over the years for problem-solving, as it seems to help students diagnose and understand what went wrong in their individual work and where they need to head. But I've realized I also needed a new rubric — one for what I've been calling "collaboration literacy" in this blog. My students need help naming and understanding the various component skills that make up being a healthy and valuable collaborator.

My draft of this rubric for collaboration, which is grounded in restorative practices, can be found on the MS Math Teacher's wiki. I would very much value your input and feedback on this tool and its ideas.

I don't want to spend a lot of time talking about how and why Complex Instruction does not work for me. Suffice it to say that the rigid assignment of individual roles is a deal breaker. If CI works for you, please accept that I am happy that you have something that works well for you in your teaching practice.

This rubric incorporates a lot of great ideas from a lot of sources I admire deeply, including the restorative practices people everywhere, Dr. Fred Joseph Orr, Max Ray and The Math Forum, Malcolm Swan, Judy Kysh/CPM, Brian R. Lawler, Dan Pink's book Drive, Sam J. Shah, Kate Nowak, Jason Buell, Megan Hayes-Golding, Ashli Black, Grace A. Chen, Breedeen Murray, Avery Pickford, "Sophie Germain," and yes, also the Complex Instruction folks. I hope it is worthy of all that they have taught me.