This past week was one of the best weeks I’ve had with my 6th graders in a long time. Sara Van Der Werf has said during PD to take note of the good moments in your classroom, the moments when students are engaged, because we want to recreate those moments!
When I think back on this past week in 6th grade, one thing stands out to me. Movement.
Nearly every day this past week, a good portion of the class my students were out of their desks practicing problems. I don’t think it’s a coincidence.
This is something I *know* I need to be doing, but I’ll be honest, I had gotten out of the habit of intentionally putting it in my lesson plans. Last year I had class sizes of around 33, and it was definitely more difficult to do these types of things both because of space as well as for behavior reasons. Because I hadn’t been using these types of things last year, I had sort of forgotten to be intentional about this, even with much smaller class sizes this year.
Here’s some of the activities we did this week to practice problems using greatest common factor and least common multiple.
Every student had a card with a different number on it. The numbers did not go in order and were random. Half of the numbers were printed on one color paper, the other half on another. Students were to pair up with someone who had the opposite color card as them, find the greatest common factor of the two numbers, check their answer using Desmos (Did you know you can type in gcf(24,32), and it will give you the greatest common factor?!), switch cards, and then find a new partner.
I did have a few cards left over so that if a group of students finished and there weren’t any other groups close to being ready, I could give them a new number so they could keep working.
VNPS. I admit, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve tried using Vertical Non-Permanent Surfaces with 6th graders, and the times that I have used it, I’ve used it with one of my sections that I thought could handle it, or with only a handful of students who had finished their other work. This was the first time I had tried it with all students in all of my sections. It was great! I will definitely be doing this again!
Loop Activity. We did a loop activity, or sometimes called a scavenger hunt. I hang pieces of paper with problems around the room and on each paper is the answer to the previous problem. If students do the problems correctly, they will loop back to the first problem after completing all of the problems. Here is the link to the post where I shared this activity.
Word Problems. When we did word problems, we didn’t spend a ton of time going over examples together as a class. We did two problems, and then students spent the remainder of the hour working on their own with partners. Even though we didn’t spend a ton of time as a large group, students still did great on their own.
Now, here’s to hoping I remember this in the future, even when I have larger class sizes!