Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Interactive Notebooks

I am fortunate to have an amazing co-worker to plan and plot alongside.  Her name is Jamie, and just being able to collaborate with her this first few months of school has been awesome!  She only teaches one 90 period of math and the rest science, but it's enough to get us talking to each other every day about lessons and how they went.  She showed me some interactive math and science notebooks she found on blogs, and we both agreed that this would be the perfect year to start them.  We have been given the go-ahead from our district heads that we can now use EDM as a general framework and supplement where necessary so as to cover the Ohio Standards and the Common Core...all at once!  An interactive notebook would be the perfect place to combine all of our accumulative notes and materials. 
Rules page and Table of Contents

After setting up the foundation of our notebooks, we began our first activity and first entry with a game we so creatively call "The Barrier Game."

Barrier Game game boards.  This was a great way to see how my  new students reacted to a challenge!

For this activity, I paired students up (remember, this was the first week of school. I didn't know personalities!) and gave them two different grids: one student received a blank 3x3 grid, while the second received a grid with simple math terms and symbols on it.  We then placed a folder between them so they couldn't see each other's board.  It was the second student's responsibility to communicate what his or her grid looked like while the first student drew it.  Some quickly discovered they weren't communicating efficiently.  They realized they needed to be more specific in their directions to their partner.  One student, Aaliyah, said to me "Ms. McHugh, Cale and I just aren't good partners.  He isn't drawing what I want him to!"  I asked if I could listen in on their conversation.  It turned out that Aaliyah was just telling him things like "Draw a square at the top."  Poor Cale didn't know where to draw his square!  When reflecting on the activity at the end, Aaliyah raised her hand and admitted "It wasn't that we were bad partners, I just need to be more specific when I communicate.  I wasn't giving him enough details!"  That was a wonderful "ah-ha" moment for the class.  Of course, I had some students get extremely frustrated with their partner.  I would like to do this activity again later in the year and see how they do.  They will be doing a LOT of partner/group work in my class, so they need to know how to communicate well!  After we reflected on the activity, we wrote down our thoughts in our notebooks.  Below is an example of an entry regarding the "Barrier Game."

Cale's reflection on his experience with Aaliyah

We also brainstormed ideas on how good mathematicians communicate.  I was really impressed with their ideas!

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