Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Traveling Tuesday

This is going to be a pretty low tech post, but hopefully you will see that it is just as relevant to the way my teaching has changed this past year.

After reading Brain Rules by John Medina in the summer of 2011, I realized that my students were sitting glued to their seats while they either listen to me or work with their classmates.  Medina suggests a set of rules to maximize brain power.  Although the rules all have significant connections to teaching and learning, the ones that seemed most fitting to my teaching are:
  • Rule #1 - Exercise boosts brain power 
  • Rule #4 - We don't pay attention to boring things.
  • Rule #9 - Stimulate more of the senses.
So since the beginning of the school year I have been trying to keep Tuesdays sacred as the day for my students to do something kinesthetic.  After doing the regular class routine of answering homework questions and a few more problems on a new or review topic, I ask the students to get up and walk around the room and solve the problems that I have taped to the walls, and sometimes the ceiling.  Some students grab a clipboard, others do their work in their own math notebook while most of the students choose to use a whiteboard tablet and marker.  The math problems are numbered, usually no more than ten, and students can start any where in the room at any number as long as they complete all of the problems.  While the students walk around to each problem, I get to observe them in a different way then I usually do.  I get to see who and how they work together.  I walk around answering questions and giving hints.  I find this activity gives me more opportunities for formative assessment.  Once the students complete the problems, they correct their answers to the solutions that I have projected to the Smartboard.

I took a picture of this week's Traveling Tuesday questions.  Some of my students requested that I make colorful hearts to attach to the walls in honor of Valentine's day.  When I walked in the room with the hearts I announced, "These are your valentines."

Here is the only tech part of this blog entry.... I took a picture of the hearts with my ipad and used the app Phoster to create the poster/picture below:

I am aware that although this activity is nothing more than a worksheet cut up and pasted around the room, it allows my students to use their brains differently then they usually do.  The topics that I cover are traditional math topics but taught and reviewed in a student centered, formative environment.