There have been many more opportunities for my students to “play” with math this year in my classroom. This has sort of happened by accident as I don’t feel that I have been super intentional about this, but this is definitely an area that I want to be more intentional about -creating more opportunities for all of my students to play with math. These times when students are playing with math have been some of my absolute favorite times in my classroom this year, and I want to find ways to incorporate this more regularly in my classroom and incorporate it into my curriculum compared to something that is done in spare moments.
My play table continues to be one of my favorite things in my room. I went to Target numerous times to find the Christmas building blocks and had them out the two weeks prior to Christmas break.
In the afternoon on the last day before break, we have different activities for students set up in different classrooms (decorating Christmas cookies with our cooks, a Christmas craft, a bean bag tournament, dodgeball, karaoke, a Christmas movie, etc.), and they get to hang out and go to the different activities. I had group of students ask if I would open up my room so they could continue working on building with the blocks. It was fun to see them all work together to create something.
Here’s their final creation.
After Christmas I had these hexagon blocks from Target out on the play table. They are several years old, and I keep waiting for Target to get them in again. One student came in after lunch the first day they were out, “Oh my gosh! Where did you get those? I need to add them to my birthday list!” When I told her they were old, she still wanted to take a picture of them to add to her birthday list.
I also had a student tell me that he got Kanoodle for Christmas after he played it in class. I love love love that my students are enjoying these mathy toys enough to want them at home!
Another thing my students have been loving are making flextangles. I’ve shared the video before, but I’ll share it again.
They’ve continued to ask to make these when they have some spare time. We just finished up fraction stations, and I had many students ask to make these when they finished.
I even had one student cut out the little tiny Pattern Guide in the corner of the template and glue that together to make one!
Balance. In the past year and a half, I’ve had MUCH better balance in my life. As much as that should be a good thing, I honestly struggled with it for quite a while. I’ve been meaning to write a post about this, but here it is in short. I felt like I wasn’t doing enough as a teacher since I rarely work on the weekends now or take things home with me. Because my weekends were finally a time for me to recharge personally rather than try to stay afloat as a teacher, I would spend Sunday nights dreading having to go back to work and felt guilty for not looking forward to going back to school. A couple weeks ago, I had a realization about this, and since then I’ve been able to truly enjoy my time at school AND my time at home. Again, that’s a post for another day, but it’s been SUCH a good thing for me to have had that realization.
I had a group of students that were ahead in one of my classes, so last minute I decided I wanted to see if I could try some coding with them. I’ve seen Ashley, one of the creators of the site CS and Math, post a lot about this on Twitter. I reached out to her, and she responded so quickly and was super helpful! I had pretty much no previous experience with Scratch, and it had been years since I’d taken computer science in my undergrad. In an hour or so, I was able to familiarize myself with Scratch thanks to this post. My students were able to figure out Scratch on their own thanks to the hyper doc in that post. Many of my students that tried this absolutely LOVED coding! This is definitely something I plan on incorporating more of in my classroom.
The following is part of what students create in the introduction hyper doc.
These next three are things that students created in this lesson.
We were testing in 7th grade. I overheard one of my students encouraging the girl sitting next to him to be positive about the test. From their conversation, I gathered that the girl often says she will do poorly on the test. He told her she can’t be positive about doing poorly either, since she often says things such as, “I am positive I won’t do well on this.” His then went on to say because a positive and a negative is still a negative. I had to smile at this. I loved that he was encouraging this student, and even incorporated math in his encouragement. 🙂
Last week I had my students create their own marbleslides. (See this post and this one.) This is one of my absolute favorite things I do with my students. Here are a few of their creations. Be on the lookout for a post on this in the future with more of their creations.
One student asked, “Why are you being so nice and letting us play games all hour?” I don’t know if he was implying that I’m usually not nice… 😉 I had some examples from last year up when he asked that, and my response was, “Look at all the math that is involved in this! I am more than happy to let you play with this all day!”