So last Thursday I am sitting in my class on my prep when I get a visit by a teacher and my coach (what I affectionately call our ELA TOSA). "Are you doing anything exciting in class today? Can we come back again later?" Nooooo... today we are just reviewing, quizzing, and moving on to the next section. Nothing exciting, no tech, nothing flashy. Then 5th period rolls around... "Mr.Carganilla, aren't we going to do a Kahoot!? We always have a review before our quizzes." Nooooo... not today. Their quiz was on mean, median, mode, and range. They require good old fashioned pencil work, and I have found that my students usually prefer speed over quality (ie. doing scratch work) when it comes to online reviews. So I just gave them a few practice problems without a timer to work them out, and then we moved onto the quiz.
So now that I have told two people in one day that my class will be "normal" (boring?) today, I started to reflect back to what we have done prior. We had done quite a few different things for 20-30 minutes each leading up to the quiz. I started by having them work on an Iron Chef Slide Activity. Students were in groups of four and each assigned to work on one slide: either Mean, Median, Mode, or Range. We did it at the end of class, but each student had to take ownership of at least one definition, hopefully creating a little bit of space in their memory. It also gave students a little preview of what we would be working on.
The next class period I had them work on a Nearpod lesson. Nearpod gives them an interactive slide presentation with embedded CFUs where students can draw, use multiple choice, or type an answer to show what they have learned. It was a brief overview of the four topics with definitions for students to write down as reference, and examples for students to try on their own.
At our next class meeting (after the weekend), I gave my students an activity where they had to count colors of cereal pieces. They had to complete a table, then look for a mean, mode, and range. You can google search "mean median mode" activities and find plenty for m&m's or skittles. I just changed it up so that I could use cereal bought from the dollar tree (much more cost effective!). Students worked together in pairs, and of course, no groups had the same answers. On a side note: I was a little surprised that in several bags of 40+ pieces of cereal there would only be 1 blue. I was also surprised at how many students wanted to EAT them afterwards, even after several warnings against it...
At our fourth class meeting we added in IQR and I had them do some independent practice that included some critical thinking about defending answers. I was very impressed by how hard my students were working (even though it was a worksheet) and how any questions were being answered by the students around them.
So in our four class meetings prior to the assessment I had covered all of the 4 C's: Collaboration, Communication, Creativity, and some Critical Thinking; and also used tech, hands on manipulatives, and good old fashioned pencil & paper. And even though I gave them a "regular" review prior to the quiz, my students answered the call, and again they impressed me. In order to get 100% students had to use critical thinking and defend a choice using the answers from the quiz. I had almost twice as many students get 100% against the number of students that got a D or an F (and I'm talking about 5 classes of 36+).
As a teacher we are always looking for that "Perfect Recipe", whether it pertains to our mix of students, variety of assignments, blocks of time, question prompts, or assessment methods. And while it isn't good to always be second guessing yourself, it is good to feel confident in your mix and still look for new ways to tweek it. We start to lose our effectiveness when we think that we've done it all with no room for improvement.
So here are my questions for moving ahead: How can I get a few more of those D & F's to click over? (The eternal question). And how can I keep my variety as I move ahead? Statistics is a topic that is very applicable to real life and students have seen it before. I am sure all of that played a small part in their learning. How can I make Linear Systems just as approachable? This is one of the tougher units all year and I tend to handle it just like that. How can I take off the kid gloves and get them to dig in and find success? I am already thinking about new things I can do when we get to quadratics and parabolas, but what can I try tomorrow? I want to take advantage of the positive momentum that we've built and ride that wave.