A Pat on the Back

I don’t know about you, but this time of year I can get a little bit negative. I tend to look back on the year and think of all the things I didn’t do, or the things I could have done better. Usually I try to turn this into motivation to do a better job next year, but the summer is a long time to sustain that energy and I tend to be overly ambitious in my goal-setting, so by the end of the next year I find myself in the same space.

So this year I’m flipping the script. I want to think about the things I did really well. I’m hoping that others will join in and we’ll get a little matheme going! If you do, pretty please link to my post so I can see all the awesome things you rocked this year.

Here’s mine:

Do Now’s

I don’t do a Do Now every day, but I’ve established a good routine for them nonetheless. All of my students in all of my classes know the drill and are able to participate in each step of the process (though not all choose to at all times, of course). I am able to leave classes with subs and know that students can lead the Do Now without me in charge. The fact that I’d established a clear routine really hit home with me at the beginning of third trimester–I had a class with no new-to-me students (a rarity at my school!)–and when I did my first Do Now students just dove right into the conversation without any prompting.

Here’s what I do:

  1. Write problems on the whiteboard; students get out a piece of paper and do the problems. Usually I write up around 5 problems (exercises, really).
  2. When students are wrapping up, I ask for volunteers to put the solution for one of the problems up on the whiteboard.
  3. When volunteers have put up their solutions we discuss them using the following three questions:
  • Do you agree or disagree?

Students give a thumbs up or a thumbs down to indicate their agreement/disagreement. If they aren’t sure, they put their thumb to the side. I usually count how many thumbs I see out loud to allow for wait time and to indicate to students if I’m (not) getting enough responses.

  • What can we say about the documentation of work?

This is where I call on students who don’t often volunteer–or at least I try to; sometimes I forget and just call on raised hands.

  • Did anyone do it differently?

Sometimes I ask this one and sometimes I don’t. We get some cool variations out in the open when there are multiple solution methods being used.


So that’s my Pat On The Back. What’s yours?

What did you do really well this year? What are you proud of?

I’d love to hear about it!

3 thoughts on “A Pat on the Back

  1. I’m curious. Does your school do any computer aided instruction (CAI) for remediation of math facts not learned? When I was in the classroom, I had kids losing all their time in class using finger counting strategies for math fact recall. The most recent brain science says that these students were using the space in their developing prefrontal cortexes that should have been available for conceptual learning for first- through third-grade facts. http://www.mathnook.com/blog is where I’ve blogged about the brain science that wasn’t available when I was in the urban classroom.

    • We do not. I guess we kind of go back and forth on this issue. How much do you “worry” about calculator dependence, how much do you accept it? I tend to fall into the camp of not worrying too much about whether or not a student is fluent in mental math. Though I have had some students in the past who were really bad–to a very troubling level–at this. My current school is a private school, and I have noticed that the students we admit from year to year seem to be getting stronger at mental math and algebraic fluency. So, that’s a really long-winded way of saying “I don’t really know.”

  2. Pingback: This Year, I’m Excited to Try … | Mister, is this right?

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