ASCD 2012 – Sunday

2nd day of the ASCD Conference in Philly.  Today I focused mostly on best practices sessions in math.

Enhancing Concept Development and Vocabulary Proficiency in Math Classrooms, facilitated by Dr. Donna Knoell

Across the board, a focus on vocabulary increases  student proficiency rates, yet we focus little on vocab in math classrooms.  Students need to have 8 to 10 meaningful exposures to vocab before students can apply in context.  For ESL learners, the number is 12 to 15.  We want students to be able to communicate their reasoning.

For example, in elementary school, students are often taught to fold paper “hot dog style and “hamburger style”.  But this short-cut has eliminated an opportunity to discuss and reinforce horizontal and vertical as necessary vocabulary.  The human mind innately seeks meaning.  We are often in such a hurry to move on, that we often forget to provide time to think about what our students have learned.  Talking math helps us cement our understanding of math ideas.  Challenge our students to defend ideas by utilizing math vocab appropriately.

Students can personalize their experience with math vocab words by maintaining a journal of new words, with definitions, picture and contextual sentences.  This caused me to reflect upon conversations I have with teachers at my high school, where teachers become frustrated by problems involving angles of elevation or depression, bearing, or the similar terms root, intercept and zero. As we expect our students to become more adept with communication, justification, and application, helping students develop an appropriate vocabulary toolbox becomes of greater importance.

Beyond the Textbook: Math Activities to Stretch Your Students Thinking, facilitated by Dan Rosenberg

A variety of games for grades 1-8, gathered via the “CASE method (copy and steal everything)”:

Battleship: students write an algebra equation in each position to represent “hits”.  To earn the cell, students must solve the problem correctly.

Dots: play the connect the dots and square capture game, but place integer values in the cells, which become point values as squares are captured.

One game I have used in class at the start of probability units is the “card prediction game”. Start by dealing out 10 cards face up.  Students can then predict what the next card (suit and rank) will be.  Points are earned by correctly predicting characteristics of the next card:

  • If the card they predict is the same color as the next card drawn, they earn 1 point
  • If the card they predict is the same suit as the next card drawn, they earn 3 points
  • It the card they predict is the same rank (i.e. king) as the next card, they earn 5 points
  • If the card they predict is the exact card drawn, they earn 10 points.

Play the game for 10 rounds and total your score.  It’s a nice game for discussing the vocabulary of suits, face cards, and values, along with the conditional probability of events, given past information.

Dan also presented some nice hooks for class, such as one involving a “proof” that the angles in a triangle sum to 180 degrees.  Have all students cut a large triangle from a piece of paper.  Mark each of the 3 angles. Then cut the large triangle into 3 small triangles.  The 3 marked angles can then be arranged to share a vertex, adjacent to one another, and will form a linear trio.

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The math games presented me remind me to do a blog post about the long-running BBC tv gameshow “Countdown”, where a numbers game is played.  Google the show on your own, or wait for my post about it next month.

Google vendor presentation

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Today I also participated in a presentation by reps from Google, where a number of tools were presented, which work with their Google docs.  Flubaroo is an extension which teachers can use to quickly grade responses students submit via a Google doc.  The extension will grade the assignment, then e-mail students with a detailed report of their progress.

Mail map merge will allow you to create a distribution list, and include a map to an invited location.  Pretty snazzy!

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