# Category: checks for understanding

## The Crucial First Five Minutes

Every veteran teacher understands that the first few minutes of a class set the tone for the rest of the period. This is why most schools insist on some form of the warm-up (also called bellringer or do-now) for students to complete at the beginning of the period. New teachers may have experienced this during student teaching, but do not understand all the reasons why it becomes an important part of the classroom routine. Why is a Warm-Up So Important? A daily warm-up for the first crucial five minutes actually serves several purposes: It sets the tone for the […]

Read More## Grades: The Impossible Mission

It is that time of the year when students are nicer, teachers are cranky and parents (who have never called) are now questioning the grades. No, it’s not holiday cheer, it is the end of the semester. Are grades important? I am not sure anymore. I know that much of a teachers’ time is spent preparing grades, communicating about grades, posting grades and defending grades. And the difficulty is that there are no correct answers—for anyone, especially the students. In recent years, a lot of focus has been placed on grading practices–and no one can agree on fair grading practices […]

Read More## Awesome Ideas for Linear Systems

Review Graphing Before Teaching Linear Systems The week before Thanksgiving we finished our unit on writing linear equations in all its forms. After a week off, I know I will need to review these concepts before plunging ahead to begin our unit on Linear Systems. Monday we will review graphing linear systems written in Slope-Intercept form. I plan to use an idea from a recent training. It focuses on multiple representations (my interpretation) and having students work in pairs to match up graphs to equations, except that there is an uneven match. Group Review Activity for Linear Systems For […]

Read More## Writing Linear Equations Thanksgiving Style

Students have problems writing equations. It seems to be because there are so many ways to do it. If they could have just one way of writing an equation, they could be successful. I embrace a variety of ways to solve problems, but this confuses my students. They like things simple. They can write an equation in slope-intercept form. But only if given the slope and the y-intercept. Well, some of them can. A few students are mixing up the two things. We have reviewed and practiced. We did some dice rolls as well. They need more practice and […]

Read More## 17 Ideas for Teaching Slope

I meet with new teachers weekly to discuss teaching strategies, tips, and lesson planning. This week the conversation turned to our next lesson which will be Slope of a line. Slope is a crucial topic for both middle school and high school students. Slope forms the basis for writing equations and graphing. Without an understanding of what it is and how to calculate it, the rest of the semester (and year) becomes much more difficult for students and teachers. Even though my pacing allows two days (what are they thinking????) for learning slope, students need much more than this to […]

Read More## Stay Sane in the Halloween Classroom

I love fall, the cooler weather, the crisp nights and the holidays. And apples. Especially apple pie. Kids love holidays as well. For the classroom, it becomes more difficult to keep students focused on math (or any other subject). Adding to the natural frenzy that Halloween brings, my high school allows students to come in costume, has a costume contest during lunch and other Halloween themed activities through the week. The school clubs all sell Candy-grams which are delivered during class, adding another interruption during the week. Clearly, they have all joined the “If you can’t beat them, join […]

Read More## Why I Refuse to Assign Homework This Year

As a math teacher, I am expected to assign homework. After all, math requires practice. I can liken that practice (in my mind) to a Olympic champion practicing the balance beam hours daily to perfect that one skill. The problem is—my students are not Olympic champions or even Olympic hopefuls. They have no interest in the balance beam or balancing equations. None. This year I am teaching what is commonly referred to as Repeat Algebra. I have 10thand 11th graders who have not passes Algebra and therefore are not on track for graduation. Let’s be honest, they have seen this same material […]

Read More## Ways to Use Digital Task Cards

I have been using a variety of digital resources for the last 5 years. Mostly online resources, which do a good job to reinforce teaching, provide independent practice that students need and give me some formative assessment on student learning. Yes, there are a lot of resources out there. But last summer, I found a new one and fell in love. I am obsessed with Boom CardsTM. If you are not familiar with these cards, settle back and I will give you the scoop. Boom Cards are digital task cards to be “played” on a device—think chrome book, iPad, phone, […]

Read More## Quick Assessments

I was going to save this for tomorrow and then call it Tech Tuesday, but I have learned not to procrastinate. A few weeks ago I was looking for a way to quickly assess my support class without it being formal, and without grading, and make it non threatening to students. Once upon a time, I had seen students clickers used in the classroom and wanted them desperately. I even went to a training, and entered every raffle I could find to win a class set. They are expensive. I never won. I am glad. Then a few weeks ago […]

Read More## This is HARD!

I have spent the last couple of hours trying to get the hang of creating this blog and actually saying something. So it would appear that I am not very tech savvy, but in reality I am usually very good, so either this is a mentally slow day for me, or I am just not getting something. But I finally got a pretty pink background which everyone says is “me”, and I am actually getting some words posted so I guess this turned out to be a good day. I have used my websites in the past to post activities, […]

Read More