# Day 25: flexible grouping for integer review

My counterpart and I experimented with flexible grouping today to review for an assessment on adding and subtracting integers. We split our classes in half based on student readiness. She sent me her less ready students, and I sent her my students who needed more of a challenge. We’ll be doing this again with another set of classes tomorrow. Already I know I’ll want to do some things differently–namely having students spend more time at each station.

I had seven groups of four in stations switching every 10 minutes. Three stations had online activities where students played Sheppard software’s integer addition and subtraction, which are leveled, plus an integer jeopardy game. Two stations played integer war and two had separate integer addition and subtraction worksheets.  I circulated to be sure students were showing work and checking for understanding.

As I was monitoring their progress I felt the lesson was rushed. Switching stations every ten minutes was too much.

The last 10 minutes was spent with whole class review. Students solved 8 problems and we checked answers. Most gave me a solid thumbs’ up.

I then referred to a half sheet on how to prepare for the assessment.

The best part of the lesson was students walked away knowing exactly what to prepare for, their strengths, their areas to work on, and how to use the textbook as a resource.

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# Day 24: integer multiplication/division and simplifying square roots

My sub today is incredibly reliable. She’s one of those gems who follow the lesson plan to the letter. I had our final school improvement plan meeting today so I left plans for the standard students to learn multiplying and dividing integers. The pre-algebra students were continuing their work on simplifying square roots and if time remained I left plans for them to learn converting non-terminating, repeating decimals into fractions.

Since tomorrow is an Institute, I’ll report more on Monday.

# Day 23: integer subtraction

Everyone had their homework! After going over it, I did a quick-check and they understand adding integers (hopefully forever, and not temporarily).  For the rest of the time the class worked on integer subtraction and discovering the rule.

I have a non-English speaking student in my class and the communication barrier is s-l-o-w-l-y lessening. While I can print out the textbook in Spanish, I really haven’t been able to help her in class because I don’t speak a word of Spanish. Today, however, was different.  I’m adamant about not imposing on other Spanish language students to be an interpreter, but today I asked for two words, and it made all the difference.

Is my spelling correct?

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# Day 22: integer subtraction and simplifying square roots

All the students in both classes today had their homework completed and we were able to move forward!

In my standard class today we focused on subtracting integers. The textbook says one class period, but that’s if you tell the students the rule instead of discovering it. They worked with the small dry erase boards while I posted problems on the screen. I was able to use my wireless tablet so I could walk around, keep kids on task, and check their work. I discovered just the right combination: plug, unplug, plug, unplug so that the projector would stop projecting a double image.

Pre-algebra kids did some rational number review with square and cubed roots, and rational vs. irrational numbers.

They should be ready for an assessment next week. I’m taking the kids beyond the grade level standard by introducing simplifying square roots.

We spent about 15 minutes on 7 examples, but the class wasn’t ready for homework. We’ll pick it up again on Thursday.

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# Day 21: integer addition when some don’t do their homework

I wish I knew how to move students forward when they haven’t practiced the current skill.  A handful of students didn’t attempt or complete the 8 practice problems I assigned on Thursday.  For the majority who did complete the homework, most had a difficult time modelling integer addition using a number line–even after I modeled 3 examples and discussed in-depth how the number movement begins at zero.

Their arrows made no sense.  Students don’t seem to be critical readers. They don’t look closely enough to see the nuance that the number line begins at zero. I didn’t take any pictures, but here’s an example one student’s work:

An example of a mistake I saw.

To top it off, many who did the homework weren’t making corrections. I checked each student’s corrections as we discussed each problem, nudging them to fix their mistakes. Very few were taking me up on my pleasant demeanor. I finally warned them, “If you don’t make corrections, I’ll count your homework as late. Then you’ll need to get a parent signature and you’re one step closer to a detention.” I deplore using threats, but they weren’t acting like responsible learners.

On the bright side I do have some students who are eager for a challenge. After we did some around the world practice problems, as described in the other classes, about 6 students took me up on an offer to complete the most challenging practice worksheet.

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# Day 20: Around the world with integer addition and square roots

It’s Friday and I wanted to get the kids up and moving around. After we reviewed the homework, both standard and pre-algebra students needed some additional practice on the concepts they’ve been studying so I assigned partners for board work.

Standard students working on integer addition.

The pairs took turns completing three problems on the white boards and I was able to check their understanding. When the three problems were completed, one partner stayed and the other joined a new partner in clockwise fashion. They then alternated completing the next three problems, and so on. Everyone talked math, got a chance to work with different people, and had a partner to help them if they needed it.

Pre-algebra students are getting the idea. It looks as if the problem #s have been included in the problem but they’re not. We still need to work on clarity and how to show work.

At first the students were confused on how the rotation worked, but once we did a round they easily got the hang of it. My pre-algebra class has 29 students so not everyone could work at the whiteboards mounted in the front and rear of the room so I broke out some 2’x2′ white boards and set them along the perimeter and on few desks to accommodate them.

It was a great way for me to see their work and help them as needed.

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# Day 19: integer addition

Not much to report today. This class had the same lesson as yesterday’s standard class. Since everyone had their number properties foldable I was able to move to the online activity sooner. We even able to get to a point of discovering the rule for adding integers with the same sign.

A thought just popped into my head, when there are extended periods of silence how do you know if students are thinking or just waiting for you to give them the answer. That happened today with discovering the rule for adding integers with the same sign. Eventually one or two students spoke up.

Should I have asked students to journal…”Tell me what you’re thinking.”

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