Monday, August 10, 2015

Checks for understanding

There are different ways that I check if my students understand what they are learning. Here is the list of my checks for understanding.

Exit Tickets - After my students watch a video on brainhoney I like to give them an exit ticket to see if they understood the activity. Sometimes I also use it as checks for understanding after students work in groups.
I don't just check if students understand the concept, but I also ask my students how well they focused in class and if they understood the learning target. You might wonder what CREST is, its an acronym for our school habits of mind. I modified this template from

Thumbs a meter - this a great quick way to see if my students understand what I am telling them. I ask students to show in front of their chest a thumb up, thumb sideways or thumb down. I usually use this after I give directions to see if students understand what they are suppose to do.

Fist to five - I use this to check students understanding of the learning target. I usually use fist to five check numerous times during the 45 minute class. I have a poster on my wall that I show to my students, totally stole the idea from pinterest.

Traffic Light - I use this after a hands on or group work activity. I give each student a sticky note and then ask them to complete one of the prompts based on the work they did in class that day.
Green - Today, I learned because...
Yellow - Today, I considered a question, an idea, or a new perspective...
Red - Today, my learning stopped because...
As they leave my room they post their sticky note on corresponding color of the poster that is on my door.

I came across this checks for understanding also while browsing pinterest, however after doing it for a year, I saw it in a video on teaching channel website. Here is the video:

3 - 2 - 1: I like to use this check for understanding after students watch a video. I ask them to write down 3 things that they learned, 2 vocabulary terms and their definitions, and 1 question that they had after watching the video. I have seen so many different variation of this check for understanding. You can have students define 3 vocabulary words, use 2 of them in a sentence, and 1 that still confuses them.

Socrative (Technology!!!):  Of course because we have technology I also use socrative. I like to ask questions on socrative after I do a mini lesson. Then we go over the results so I can clarify anything before students start working in their groups. This also helps me to see if I need to pull some students and work with them in a small group while others are watching a video or working in their groups. Sometimes its time consuming to create the quizzes on socrative, but I just came across a google sheet that has a shared quiz list. Check it out:

I am always open to trying new ways to asses my students, leave a comment with suggestions.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Tech tools in the classroom

In my classroom I have 1-1 chromebooks. I use brainhoney as my LMS, I used it last year and got pretty good at creating my own content in the course. My favorite part of brainhoney is the gradebook. My students loved seeing the up to date grades and feedback from assignments. They never had to ask me about their grades or their missing assignments so all of the work was on them. In geometry course I used Florida Virtual Course on brainhoney, but I did have to add few lessons that were not addressed as well as I felt they needed to be. I give my students a Cornell style guided notes so they can fill them out as they watch videos or read the content. I also give them approximate time to complete the notes. Even though I want my students to have flexible time to complete the notes, I do also have hands on activities that I want all my students to complete together, so for most part all students work on the same notes, activities at the same time. If I see that student is falling behind I am able to sit with them or a group of them and work together. I also have students stay after school 2 to 3 times a week to work on missing work.

I am working on Unit 1 notes/activity packet for geometry, will post it as soon as I am done.

Other tech tools that I use in the classroom:
Ti Npsire and the Navigator System: I use a lot of the activities from math nspired, especially in my Precalculus class last year, but would like to use more of geometry lessons this year as well. I also did a Pendulum Lab with the motion detectors, it was a hit. My students loved doing hands on activities. If I can plan ahead, I would like to put the worksheets for these nspire activities right in their note packets. I am still a newbie when it comes to the Navigator System. I hope to use it right from beginning with all my classes. It's probably going to take a week or so to distribute chromebooks to my students, so I can use that time to teach students how to use TI Nspire and do some nice interactive activities.

Desmos: I didn't use desmos with my geometry students because I used ti nspires, but in my Precalculus I gave students a painting from our local art museum and had them try to recreate some of it with functions on desmos. It was a great hit, I hope to incorporate desmos more in my class, but will have to see if I am actually teaching Precalculus again.

Geogebra: I loved using geogebra in my geometry class. I loved being able to create or copy others "worksheets", that is what you call the interactive activity in geogebra, and using html code to imbed them into brainhoney lesson. It made the lessons more interactive and my students loved them.

Edpuzzle: I used edpuzzle with all my videos. I would use a youtube or khan academy videos or create my own and upload them to Edpuzzle. I then would create few questions through out the video for students to answer. Using html I embed the videos into brainhoney. I loved that my students couldn't fast forward the video the first time watching it. I also loved the fact that I could cut the video and have students only watch portion of it. Edpuzzle also shows me how many students actually watched the videos and for how long as well as the answers to the questions that they answered. I felt that students were more accountable for their work and their learning, so I was able to help few students at a time and not worry that the other students were not doing their work, they new that I was seeing everything that they were doing.

Kahoot: I talked about this in the previous post. I learned about kahoot this past year and used it at the end of the year. My students got so competitive with it, I will absolutely use it this year as a review activity.

Socrative: I use socrative as a formative assessment after I do a mini lesson. I give my students a quick quiz and go over it. This helps me figure out if I need to pull few students to work in small group with me while others are moving on to watching a video or working in groups.

GoFormative: I am very excited about this tool. This is something I came across a month ago, so I have not used it in my classroom. After watching few tutorials I am excited to try it with my students this upcoming year. My favorite part of this tool is being able to upload a pdf document and make it interactive. I also like that I can post a question and have students draw an answer, great for geometry class.

What technology tools do you like to use in the classroom?

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Review Activities

There are a few activities that I have used last year with my students for review before a test or a quiz. Here is the list with student description of each one:

Give one, get one, move on (GoGoMo): 
1. On your handout write down 2 key learnings or important ideas about the topic.
2. Get up and mingle with your peers.
3. When I call about "GIVE ONE", form a pair and GIVE ONE person one item from your list, GET ONE idea from your partner. Record the idea on your sheet.
4. I will call out "MOVE ON", move and continue to mingle with your peers.
5. Repeat the process until all of the handout is complete.

Somethings to remember:
1. Everyone responds with content that was meaningful to them.
2. Everyone must participate.
3. Supports exchanges of different ideas.
4. If a student doesn't have a partner, form a group of three.
5. One answer per classmate.

Variation: There is a written version, where students write one key learning then pass the paper to someone else who writes another key learning and so on and so forth.

MATHO (math version of Bingo):
1. Number each box from 1 to 25, no free space.
2. With a random number generator, a student will choose a number. This number corresponds to a problem.
3. All students try solving the problem, putting your work and answer inside the box with that number.
4. Now another student uses a random number generator to pick another problem to complete.
5. Continue solving the problems and picking new once to complete until someone has a MATHO.

Variation: Instead of having students make a row vertically, horizontally or diagonally, you can also have them do just corners, x, etc...

1. Each group will answer a question on the review sheet.
2. Show me the work and the answer.
3. If the answer is incorrect, keep trying. If the answer is correct, elect a student to come up and try to score 5, 3, or 1 point shots.
4. Every person on the team has to have the opportunity to shoot.
5. Repeat the process until I tell you to stop.

Choose your own adventure (around the room):
1. You will find 10 multiple choice problems around the room.
2. Count off from 1 to 10 and go to that number problem.
3. Work on the problem and record both the problem number and the letter of the answer on your paper.
4. Now move to a problem specified by the answer.
5. Continue this process until all 10 problems have been completed.
6. If you find yourself back at the same number you already have worked on before working on all 10 problems, you have made an error along the way. You should retrace your steps to try to find your error.

Kahoot (Tech Activity!!!!):
1. Go to
2. Enter the displayed game-pin followed by your name.
3. Look on the smartboard for a question and the four answers. On your device you should see 4 answer buttons which correspond to the 4 displayed answer options on the smaprtboard.
4. Press on the button that you think corresponds to a correct answer. Now wait until everyone has answered.
5. These questions are timed and the faster you answer correctly, the more points you will get!
6. Continue the process until all the questions are answered.

Please leave a comment if you have other great suggestions for review activities.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

I am back!!!

So last year I tried to start a blog and of course as soon as school started I stopped writing. I have been reading blogs for the past 9 years, so why is it so hard for me to write my own? I have been pondering this question for sometime now. So, I will try again. Maybe if I have a purpose to this blogging, it might help me write more posts. My purpose this year will be to document, hopefully daily, what I am doing with my students. Last year I had an opportunity to do blended learning with geometry students and it went ok, but will be even better this year. Also, I incorporated a lot of hands-on engaging activities with my Precalculus students and I would like to share those with the world. Lets see if I can actually do it.

So for the first post of 2015 - 2016 school year, I would like to share some thoughts on activities that I have and would like to incorporate in my classroom. More lists, yeah!!!!

Lets start with Protocols. If you are not sure, protocols are just a name for activities that have a certain procedure to them. I learned about protocols when I started teaching in an Expeditionary Learning School. I love using protocols with my students, because I get 100% engagement and the students have such wonderful conversations during them. I do however change some of the protocols so they can work better in my classroom. So here is the list of protocols and the directions that I give my students:

Hosted Gallery Walk:
1. Work in your letter groups to complete two problems on chart paper (make sure you can explain what the group did to solve the problems). Post the chart papers on the wall.
2. Get into your number groups - you will host and attend a gallery walk
3. You will be given 5 min at each poster. The person from the group that has done the poster will be the host. The rest of the students will be the attendees.
4. Go to the first poster. Raise your hand if you are a host. Use clear voice and make eye contact as you present the content of your poster.
5. The rest of the students will be the attendees. You should be listening respectfully to the host. Copy down the completed problem on your notecatcher. Ask clarifying questions.
6. Now all groups move to the next poster on the right.
7. Raise your hand if you are a host. Use clear voice and make eye contact as you present the content of your poster.
8. The rest of the students will be the attendees. You should be listening respectfully to the host. Copy down the completed problem on your notecatcher. Ask clarifying questions.
9. Move to the right again and continue the process.

Gallery Walk with feedback: 
1. In your groups complete one problem and write it out on chart paper.  Post the chart paper on the wall.
2. Now you are going to leave feedback for other groups on their work.
3. Individually on each sticky note record feedback for the other groups.
    Include ONE of the following feedbacks:
(Delta) Something that may need to be changed.
(?) Question(s) that you may still have.
(!) Connection(s) that you have made with the your or another poster.

Carouse (my favorite):
1. Each group/pair gets a Different colored marker.
2. With your group/partner go to a poster.
3. Start labeling the poster and setting up equation to solve.
4. When I say stop, move one poster to the right, continue working on the problem that another group/pair started.
5. Continue to move to the right every time I tell you to stop. Finish the poster by checking your answer.
6. If you come to a poster that has already been completed, check all work and make a comment that it is completed.

Speed Dating:
1. Each student receives a card, works the problem on the card.
2. When completed, check your work with me.
3. Trade cards with the partner sitting across from you and work the problem on the new card.
4. You are now sitting across the "expert" for that problem. The "dates" can now discuss the problem until both dates are satisfied. Get your card back.
5. One row will now move one seat over.
6. Switch your card with your new date.
7. Continue the same process.

1. Your home group is denoted by a number, you will tell your home group all about your information on day 2.
2. Your expert groups is denoted by a letter. Get together with your expert group and using the links on my website, answer questions on your handout.
     - talk with your expert group
     - check your answers with your expert group
3. Go back to your home group and share out your answers.

Quiz - Quiz - Trade:
1. Pick up a card and solve the problem.
2. Find a partner and quiz them on your card. Then your partner quizzes you.
3. You must be paired up at all times. If you find yourself without a partner, put your hand in the air.
4. You can give your partner a clue to help them to get the answer right but not the answer itself.
5. Now find another person and continue the same process.
6. Be sensible moving around!
7. You are not allowed to return to someone you have already traded with.

Chalk Talk:
1. At your table you have a poster with a problem.
2. Write down anything that you know about this problem.
3. Every person has to participate.
4. You are responsible for writing, reading other people's comments and responding with writing.
5. All writing and responding is done in silence.

Round Table:
1. Complete your problem.
2. Pass your paper to the right.
3. Check the work of the other student and complete the second problem.
4. Continue the same procedure until you get your problem back.

Writing this out makes me feel really excited about this year, I can't wait to do all of them in my class.