“Giftedness is not what you do or how hard you work. It is who you are. You think differently. You experience life intensely. You care about injustice. You seek meaning. You appreciate and strive for the exquisite. You are painfully sensitive. You are extremely complex. You cherish integrity. Your truth-telling has gotten you in trouble. Should 98% of the population find you odd, seek the company of those who love you just the way you are. You are not broken. You do not need to be fixed. You are utterly fascinating. Trust yourself!”

Linda Silverman~Gifted Development Center Denver

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Daily Math Routine

I do not want to bore my students (or take a lot of time out my math program as I find there are not enough hours in the day to cover the HUNDREDS of expectations in the Ontario curriculum). One day while browsing at the local Chapters bookstore, I found a book called "Daily Math" and had a quick scan through it. The book is made up of practice sheets and each day of the week is devoted to a different strand from the curriculum. Each day (except Friday) has 5 questions. I thought to myself..."Well for less than $15.00 what do I have to lose?"

I don't know about you but my students are also "dawdlers" in the morning. They have nothing to motivate them to get to their desks and get working while waiting for announcements and O'Canada to play. In my school there is usually a lag of about 10 minutes before morning exercises. I really cannot afford to lose the time, nor can I stand trying to corral almost 30 pre-teens every morning.

This lead me to using Daily Math as a morning motivator! Each evening, a student has the job to put out the next days "Daily Math" on the top of each student desk UPSIDE DOWN. They do this only after all the other students have left the room. I usually find that I choose a mathematically strong, motivated student who wants to hand out the papers and I keep an eye open to see if he/she looks at the question...so far none have!

When students arrive in the morning they need to "hustle" to get their "Daily Math" done. They only have until the announcements and O'Canada come on to complete the 5 questions. They may not work with a partner, but I do let them use calculators or manipulatives.

Once they have finished the 5 questions, the students line up in front of my "stool" (really a perch for me during lessons etc.)  I have a clipboard with the answer sheets and a recording sheet on it.  I mark the student work until I have 5 student markers (these are students who scored a perfect mark and have shown their work).  

Each student who becomes a marker gets to take a mini pylon cone from my little stash, and a RED PEN.  (OH YES, they LOVE those red pens let me tell you!)  These students place the cone on their desk and then as the students finish they go to a marker to have their work checked.   Once their work is marked, students hand in their Daily Math and prepare for the day ahead.

This process allows me to finish taking "silent attendance" and to record (on a class list on my clipboard) the marks of the students who have finished. I collect the questions from each student and review each student's work in detail. I make note of students who are struggling, and those who are making common errors.  Sometimes this leads me to an immediate "mini lesson" if the whole class or a large percentage of the students seem to be struggling with a question or concept. Other times, I can teach a small group lesson at my desk to a few students who have the same issues, or I can work with an individual one on one.

Student papers are kept clipped together in another bin behind my desk. Each Friday there are two extra questions for the students to complete. These are called "Brain Stretch" and they are often problem based. I sometimes give the students an extra few minutes to complete the work on Friday.  As part of our Friday routine, the students also get all the work from the week back and they do a self reflection on a sheet I have created for them. They record their mark each day out of /5 at the top of the page, then total the mark out of /25 for the week ( I don't count the brain stretch on Friday as part of the total). I have also taught the students how to convert the mark out of 25 to a percentage.  Below these calculations, they write a reflection on what they did well that week, what they found challenging, and how they are going to address any areas of difficulty.  I ask them to be very SPECIFIC about their plans for improvement (e.g. I am going to use flashcards to practice my multiplication tables, I am going to use the Math Frog website to practice the concept, I am going to use Geometer's Sketchpad to review my geometry concepts, etc.)

This process helps the students set goals for the following week and to reflect back on areas or concepts they are finding challenging.  I also have a"Parent Signature Requested" rubber stamp which I stamp on the reflection sheet. The students must have their parents review their work and return it to me on Monday signed by a parent.

Each student who returns their signed work on Monday gets a ticket for a weekly draw. The draw prizes are classroom privileges such as "swap your desk", "listen to your tunes", "super supplies bin".  I still expect all the students to return their work...but only those who return it on Monday morning get a ticket for the draw.  By the end of the year I had 100% of my class returning their work on Monday morning...I don't think it was because of the draw though...I think they just didn't want to hear me comment about it not being in on time.  I also track everything the students do, and I follow up with both students and parents, so I think that most in my class realized it was just better to have the work in on time.