New norms for this year

Here are some ideas (most stolen from blogs, thank you all so much!) which I intend to implement starting in the first week of school:

  • Slide-based lesson flow. I stole and modified this from Dan Meyer after discovering his blog a few years ago. Not a lecture-with-slides situation by any means, but I can hang a lesson structure on a slideshow as a way to maintain focus and archive what I did. So one slide has the opener, another may have a group task, another the individual practice problems, another the exit problem. I do occasionally include a mini-lecture about math history, philosophy, or the big picture, and I work hard to make sure these are both concise and interesting; slides help. Also, I tend to toggle back and forth between the current slide and Geogebra, for dynamic demonstrations. The overall goal is that these slideshows will all be saved and ready to reuse next year.
  • 2′ x 3′ whiteboards. I think we will call them “smartboards” in class. I loved this idea the first time I saw it here. Really appreciated Bowman’s detailed descriptions of their use in math class. Also, Kelly’s super-detailed account of the mistake game. I got the requisition and acquired these from Home Depot this summer, and have 10. These smartboards will be central in all my classes.
  • Donut points. A fun way to encourage students to keep a close eye on me, and increase awareness that mistakes are a normal part of math and life. Going to start out with two dozen donuts (caught mistakes) means I bring the real thing.
  • Class decks. I like playing cards and card magic a lot and in the past have done a few card-based lessons. This year I will be giving every kid a playing card on the first day, then handing out Sharpies for them to write their names on the front. When I collect the cards this will make a deck for each class, which I can use to randomly select students or make small groups. I imagine I will stick the appropriate class deck in my pocket at the start of each class and wield it during questioning.
  • Class blogs. Absenteeism can be a big problem at my school, and with the block schedule the stakes for missing a class are high. I really want students to take responsibility for finding out and making up work they missed, by which I do not mean coming to ask me. I created my school website with a blog for each class called “What did I miss?” I hope to archive a bit of each class there – by posting a photo of student whiteboard work, for example – along with homework assigned. My plan is to shift responsibility for this posting to students, on a rotating schedule, after the first weeks. If the tech comes together, there may be the option of posting captured boardwork directly.
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4 Responses to “New norms for this year”


  1. 1 Kelly O'Shea August 13, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    Yay for whiteboards and mistakes! 🙂

  2. 2 suevanhattum August 26, 2012 at 8:20 am

    Kate uses popsicle sticks, I use index cards, and you use playing cards. I kinda like the playing cards. Maybe I’ll switch to that next semester. I’m also trying to find a way to keep a record of our daily lessons, “if the tech comes together”.

    • 3 Paul Gitchos August 26, 2012 at 10:35 am

      What I like about the playing cards:
      1. I can keep the deck in my pocket while I teach class.
      2. I think there’s a little extra drama in riffling and drawing a card. Not that I always want that, but sometimes it’s nice.
      3. It is fun (and fast) to shuffle and deal out small groups.


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We are all born into this world, and at some point we will die and that will be that. In the meantime, let’s enjoy our minds and the wonderful and ridiculous things we can do with them. I don’t know about you, but I’m here to have FUN.
-Paul Lockhart

In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not.

-Yogi Berra


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