Day 5: collaborating with the Marshmallow Challenge

When we have a full week of classes our block schedule runs A, B, A, B, Traditional, so today I saw all of my students. Each class is 41 minutes–just enough time to conduct the marshmallow challenge.

The challenge is a great activity to promote team building and collaboration. Students can use up to 20 spaghetti sticks, 1 yard of string and masking tape and 1 marshmallow mounted at the top. As one would expect some groups collaborated well and a few students were not fully engaged.

Here are the tallest structures from each class.

Period 5

Period 5 standard

Period 8

Period 8 standard

Period 9 pre-algebra

Period 9 pre-algebra


Day 4: Mathematical practices and graphing stories, continued

Today I saw my “B” day math students (we’re on a block schedule), which is my second section of standard math and my one section of pre-algebra. I’m noticing that the graphing stories are really pushing students to think differently.

S: Is this ok?

Me: Two of your graphs have the same slope. You need to create 3 different graphs. (I know it’s not for lack of direction; they need to think and examine in a variety of perspectives.)

S: Hmmh.

Plus many are labeling their axes with too much information. I’m looking for key word descriptions such as, “books read” instead of, “The number of books you read”. This is all helpful information however.

Homework was to finish the graphing stories. That allowed some time to jigsaw and share out the 8 mathematical practices. My Pre-algebra students only got to up practice #4, model with mathematics.

model with mathematics

Day 3: Finishing graphing stories; jigsawing the mathematical practices

The standard level class I had today did a nice job creating their own graphing stories. I introduced it yesterday and I was a bit concerned that it the idea was too abstract. It turned out they needed more time. Revisiting it today paid off.

Here are a few examples the students created. I asked them to try to do three different types of graphs. This particular class had better results with coming up with ideas that showed a  positive relationship.





With the time remaining the students reviewed the 8 mathematical practices using a jigsaw approach. Each of the eight groups was assigned a mathematical practice to explain and share with the class. It really helped to jog their memory because few could remember that the teachers referred to them often last year.

Day 2: Introducing creating your own graphing stories

Because it’s the first week of school we’re not jumping into the block schedule until Wednesday.

Today the students were introduced to creating your own graphing stories activity. It was a wonderful activity for my pre-algebra students to show them how math can interpret our world in different ways—using graphs. The activity appears to be a bit of a cognitive leap for some of my standard students. Perhaps the idea is a bit too abstract.

All the classes will have a quick recap on day 3. Maybe delaying it a day will give them the necessary time to process the idea before they’ll create their own.

Day 1: learning about each other

The students did a brief birthday line up where they shared something unusual about themselves with the persons standing on either side. They then shared at their tables either something interesting they learned in the birthday line up or share something new.

The remainder of the period was spent completing Dan Meyer’s Who I am handout.


I also had the students respond to the prompt: Describe a math class experience that was good or bad or describe your feelings about math.

Here are two:



Who has a growth mindset?

Day zero: Getting the room ready

We’re officially back to work on Friday with all day meetings and kids start Monday. Here’s day zero of my 7th grade math class.

It has taken me longer this year to get my classroom ready because I switched rooms along with grade levels and team configurations.

Here are a few pictures of my classroom.

Note the purple and yellow "wiggle" seat cushions by the window. To the left (out of view) is an exercise bike and a podium for kids who need more movement.

Note the purple and yellow “wiggle” seat cushions by the window. To the left (out of view) is an exercise bike and a podium. This is all for kids who need more movement.

The big, blue, empty bulletin board is reserved for student work. (I actually ran out of ideas but don't tell anyone.)

The big, blue, empty bulletin board is reserved for student work. (I actually ran out of ideas but don’t tell anyone.)

If you are wondering what why I have comic book and Super Mario characters suspended from the ceiling, I use them for groupings.

This is my go to poster.

This is my go-to poster.

I’m about 90% done. The only thing left is to finish two small bulletin boards.  When I take in the view I realize there’s not an original idea in my room. The door was stolen from Rachel. I added historians and literary critics because I’ll teach a section of each this year.

Highway robbery

Highway robbery when Rachel wasn’t looking.

The math practice posters are from Sarah.

A five finger discount and I got 8 of 'em from Sarah!

A five finger discount and I got 8 of ’em from Sarah!

The modes of representation are from a colleague. She doesn’t get a hyperlink.

Tapped into the shared folder for this one.

Tapped into the shared folder for this one.

I could go on.

Welcome to 180 days of math post-its!

First day with students: August 26

This blog will capture 180 days of 7th grade standard and pre-algebra math during the 2013-2014 school year. Some days will be better than others, hence the tagline: Some lessons may be stickier than others. I plan to include a brief description of the lesson objective, what the class did, and how it went. If this gig doesn’t wear me out too much I’ll also toss in photos and files related to the day’s classroom action.

Some of these posts may be brief, some may be lengthy. It will all depend on what’s worth showing and telling.

I also ramble here if you are interested.