Wednesday, July 13, 2011


I was mowing the lawn today (had to be done after returning home from our extended weekend trip to Houston to see my sister-in-law) and thinking. I have mostly pulled together SBG for next year (checked off my #summerlist for now), so the next thing I want to pull together is what the basic structure of my 50 minute class period is going to be. I had looked for some feedback from the twitterblogosphere but didn't get much. I had also checked out Dan Meyer's blog and the slides for his Algebra classes (when he taught) but I haven't looked at them in as much detail as I had wanted. A couple of weeks ago, @Fouss and @druinok were talking about setting up bellringers and I recalled the conversation. I think @Fouss had said something about wanting to do brain teaser type problems once a week, maybe on Wednesdays. @druinok came back with the suggestion to do them on Mondays and call it Mental Monday. So, that got me thinking...

Enough with the backstory...

Here's what I came up with:

Mental Monday - Brain Teasers as mentioned above. Anything goes here - Mensa, Martin Gardner, etc.

Testing Tuesday - All of my classes next year will have a test upcoming. Most of them are coming up on the OGT (Ohio Graduation Test - 10th grade) but if I end up doing the 7th grade Pre-Algebra, they will have the 7th Grade OAA. I am intending to pull questions from the released items of the OGT (or OAA) as well as ACT practice problems, since most of these students are intending to head to college. More on this in a moment...

What-We've-Been-Doin' Wednesday - These questions will come from the material we have discussed in the previous week (or two).

Testing Thursday - See Tuesday. I am thinking since our students have traditionally struggled with the short answer and extended response questions that for a while at least I will alternate between multiple choice and the "free response" type questions so our students will have seen them and gotten more comfortable with them.

Free-For-All Friday - Anything goes here. I could pick from recent review questions, additional testing practice (which could be helpful as we get closer to test dates), anything that seems interesting.

I am hoping that by specifying what I am doing on each day of the week, it will focus me on a) finding good questions, b) making a better effort at doing bellringers and c) making them effective.

On that last point - does anyone have suggestions on how to make them effective? With not grading them for points, I realize that I am going to mainly rely on establishing the culture and expectation that everyone do them. However, with 5 or 6 classes (since I am not totally certainly on the status of the 7th Grade Pre-Algebra at this moment) and probably somewhere around 120-150 students, writing feedback and handing back papers daily is incredibly time consuming. I had these initial thoughts:

1) Have students dedicate a spiral notebook (or section in their 3-ring binder) to bellringers.
2) Hand out a paper at the beginning of each week with sections marked off for each day (M-F) for students to work on. Jazz it up a bit with clip art, quotes, etc.

I still don't know what to do here with it. I want to have class discussion after students have completed the bellringer, questioning them as to why they think their answer is correct, etc. so students are comfortable with discussing math. However, I want to make sure that all students do the problems because I suspect that the students who need the bellringers the most may skip out on it. Please offer any suggestions or thoughts that could help me here in the comments. Thanks!

Well, that starts off my class. Now to figure out how to design the remainder of the 50 minute period...


KFouss said...

Love this! I'm definitely going to use the Mental Monday, What-we've-been-doing-Wednesday, and Free-for-all Friday. I'd love to dedicate Tues/Thurs to some review-type stuff, but I won't have any classes getting ready for the OGT so I'd like to think of another name for those days. (And just do review of stuff we've done in class or things I expect them to know. Or maybe even a preview of things to come!)

How about "Think-about-it Thursday"? That'd be good for the upcoming material!

And I like handing out a new page each week for the kids to work on.. clip art and quotes and such could make it fun. :)


SMiller said...

I check to see if they are doing the warm-up when I go around checking homework. I've usually treated bellringers/warm-ups as extra credit, but since I'm now treating homework as extra credit, I think I'm going to handle warm-ups as "classwork".

Since I can't really do make-up work on these things, I figured I'd set my scale so that attempting 75% = 100 (or something like that).

I like your classifications! Even though I'm on block scheduling, I may try something like that.