This was my third year doing my Algebra Tiles Project. I changed it a bit, because we haven’t done solving equations, yet. This was my old post: Algebra Tiles for Combining Like Terms. It has all of the links to the documents. This year, they had to have at least one of each of the 6 tiles. In addition, their simplified expression couldn’t be 0, meaning it can’t all cancel out. This year they were much more creative, that is why I had to post it again!

Years ago, when I taught 6th grade math, I would do a decimal names project. When introducing decimals, I would have the students make letters in 100 square grids(Decimal Name Grids), represent them as decimals, sometimes as percents, and find the total. I got the idea from an enrichment worksheet from one our old textbooks. I would show an overhead of the worksheet to give them ideas about what the letters could look like.

As the years went on, I found myself making many of the letters for some of the kids. So I created a paper, that had all of the letters in the alphabet, in a block letter font, and made multiple copies to use as examples. I had fun making it, so then I started making more, in other styles. Some students borrow them, some make their own. It is up to them.

Anyhow, I decided to pull it out of my file cabinet the first week of school to quickly review decimal operations, instead of my regular old worksheet. I created a worksheet they had to fill out and glue to the back of their name. It requires the amount for each letter, the total, largest letter minus the smallest, largest letter times the smallest, and largest letter divided by the smallest (decimal name back).

It worked really well. I was able to see who needed some decimal help. I returned the name to the student to make changes. In fact, I do that for all of my projects. I keep returning the project to the student, until it is perfect.

First day we reviewed my updated brochure that I wrote about last year.

Next we made the awesome folding number puzzle that I borrowed from last year: Math in the Middle. It went well with our Mathematical Practices discussion about PERSERVERANCE.

Also during the week, I decided to do the get-to-know-you Bingo game. While thinking about what to put on the grid, I decided to do all things about me! So then the students can ask me to sign any one of the squares. It was really fun. Not only they were learning about each other, but they learned about me at the same time.

And then I had another great idea. I couldn’t do the same Bingo for my Algebra Support class, because they will have seen it in their regular Algebra class. So I took the Dan Meyer Who I Am forms that they had filled out, and made a Bingo card specific to the class, using facts about them. We will play that one on Monday.

I always grade homework on effort. I tried to use the “no homework binder” this year, but I was unsuccessful. I had so many students standing in line to sign the book, they were missing the whole warm-up. So I reverted back to my long-time method of wandering the classroom during warm-up time to check for completion.

Assignments usually have choice. Often I give some page numbers and have them choose at least 5 odd problems.

Since they are odds, they should check their answers in the back of the book, after each one, to see if they are doing it correctly.

The choice allows students who feel comfortable with the topic to choose a more challenging problem, or even to choose to do more problems (and yes, some students actually choose to do more problems, and the more difficult ones)

They do their on the page facing the notes page so they can refer to their notes.

I check their homework during warm-up. They do warm-up on the same page as the homework, so they should already have it open for me to glance at.

I just check to see if they did the problems. 2 points if completed, 1 point if some are complete, and 0 if little none are complete.

I bring my clipboard and only mark those that didn’t get 2 points and those that are absent.

Students can show me late homework for half credit.

Every once in awhile, I will assign specific problems because I would like to go over them in class.

Students may always ask to over a problem in class.

Homework is 10% of the grade, so some students think that they don’t need to do it. Not suprisingly, those students are the same ones that don’t do well on their assessments!

I use a version of Standards Based Grading which I spoke about in more detail in a previous post.

Here are the basics:

Separate assessment per California Standard

About 3 questions per assessment (1 basic, 1, proficient, 1 advanced)

Since they are so short, we can have them several times per week, the last 10 minutes of the period. (No giving up a whole class day for a test! Sometimes we do 2 in a day)

I force reassess each standard, in-class, often to check for retention and necessary reteaching

Newest score is entered in the gradebook

They may reassess before and/or after school most days

I use Kuta software and the textbook test-generator software to quickly regenerate assessments.

*The standards are weighted differently, depending on the number of questions of that type on the California State Test.

I must use the district online gradebook program.

Standard Assesments are 90% of the their grade. This tells me if they truly can do the standards.

Projects and homework are 10%.

Most homework is just glanced at for completion.

Projects that are not perfect are given back to the student to be resubmitted again, and again, until it is perfect.

Some of this will probably change for next year because of Common Core.

I learned this factoring method when I was in 8th grade Algebra, and still remember it after over 25 years. Each year I check for a better a method, and one year, I used a different method, but my students soon forgot how to do the new “method”, so I went back to Tic-Tac-Toe. It is not so much a “method” but a graphic organizer for the information.