Saturday, February 20, 2016

Desmos Marbleslides

Imagine this....students working in pairs or even groups of four in front of their computer. You hear, "What if we move the y-intercept and make it a negative since we have already tried changing the steepness." They click LAUNCH, get all the stars, and fist bump and high five! Another group checks the clock and sees they are running out of class time and hurry their group to think of something because they HAVE to figure this challenge out. It is magic! The dreamy kind of lesson where the kids are super engaged with a meaningful, challenging activity! Where even though they are having to make tedious changes to their dozens of equations they keep trying because they want to see their marble go through the stars.

What is this amazing activity? Desmos Marbleslides. Stop reading this and go read Dan Meyer's Blog about it. Then go play! It is so super fun! Marbleslides starts you off with this "even your baby cousin" could do it activity. The kids hit the launch button and they were immediately hooked!

The goal is to create equations of lines that will make the purple marble hit the stars. When it works, SUCCESS! flashes on the screen. I love that! 

I liked that I could see their attempts. It helped me see their thinking. It also showed how they worked the same challenge in different ways. I showed them screenshots of this and the conversations were amazing as they compared and argued about whose was the best. 

Desmos promises, "You'll laugh. You'll cheer. You'll pump your fist and raise the roof." I agree! My students agree! Go play!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Speed Dating in Room 126

Speed Dating! Yep! It was so super awesome! In this crazy time before we get out for holidays, my kids were so calm and focused! This may be the best activity ever!

(See how long this has been sitting in my drafts! I was talking about the holidays in December!)

Present day!

We have now used this activity two times. Volume cards before Christmas and as we finish up linear relationships, by popular demand, we did it again! I hope you are asking, "What is this speed dating in middle school you speak of?!" First, go visit Kate Nowak. She is the master math mind behind speed dating and does a much better job of explaining than I do.

Put your desks facing each other in 2 rows. I made two groups for my 32 kids. This desk arrangement alone got the students excited when they walked in the room. Each set has 16 cards. You will need enough cards to have one per student if you do it whole class. We had 2 groups so only half the number of cards were needed. Copy the cards on cardstock using two different colors. The cards have the problem on one side and the answer on the other. Here are the volume cards and linear relationship cards.

Kate suggested using different levels of difficulty on the problems so everyone finished at the same time. As I handed out the problems I kept this in mind when selecting a problem for each student. Give kids enough time to solve their problem becoming an expert on it. I told them they needed to be able to answer questions about their problem in order to help if someone got stuck. Once everyone has solved their problem, have them check their answer on the back of the card.

Ready for the fun part?! The kids exchange cards and work each other's problem in their interactive notebook. Here is the sheet we put in our notebooks. If they ask me a question, I refer them to the "expert" and encourage them to help. After giving them some time to figure it out on their own, I will come back around and check on them. When everyone has solved the problem, I ding the bell and everyone takes their original card and moves left. The student on the end gets bumped and circles to the other end.  Now everyone has a new partner and trades cards. We kept going until all the cards had been worked. A great way to practice problems or review at the end of the unit. Now, go speed date in your classroom!