Sunday, February 24, 2013

Human Bingo- a Review Activity

On Thursday, we started class by playing Human Bingo.  We are currently working on the concept of percent of a number and have worked with a variety of "real life" activities involving this idea.  These ranged from "going shopping" where students went to Best Buy, Toys r Us, or Target online and "made" some purchases and then calculated a discount to a tax and tip activity where students took three people "out to dinner."  I wanted the kids to do some flat out number crunching with percents and so decided that Human Bingo would be a good activity to get us doing just that.  The students were moving about, doing the activity and I snapped a quick photo of one of their sheets with my iPad and made  this post on Twitter

 where I received a message back from Lisa Henry (@lmhenry9) who asked me about it after looking at the attached picture.

  Thus this post was born.  So for Lisa and anyone else looking for a nice review activity that gets kids up and moving and talking here is Human Bingo (borrowed quite liberally from Rick Wormelli.)

The whole idea of Human Bingo revolves around getting kids up and talking.  You start by giving each student a five by five  bingo board.  The nice part about the bingo boards is that they do not need to be different.  Here are a couple examples

Percent of a Number

Multiplying and dividing fractions

You should put a free space in the middle (everyone loves a free space!) and then place problems that you want to review around it.  I also like to put a couple silly things in (such as know the name of a person who signed the Declaration of Independence or has a dog at home) because I teach middle school and middle schoolers are pretty silly.  Once students have their bingo boards, they need to get up and get people to sign the squares.  Students can get whichever student they want to sign a spot but as you will see later, there is a rhyme and reason to the signing.  I do put a limit to students signing in that they may only sign twice on any one board (including their own.)  Since I'm in the classroom as are other adults (aides, special educator, etc) those people can sign too.  Once I feel that students have moved around enough and got plenty of signatures (and some have their whole board signed) I stop kids and have them go back to their seats.  This is where the bingo really begins.  I fire up the Smart Board and connect my iPad to it with the Decide Now app on it.

I spin the spinner and if a student's name comes up anyone who had that student sign their board can cover ONE (and only one) of the spots they signed.  I like to use Smarties candies as markers for this as the kids get to eat them after (yes I know I let them eat candy but its not THAT much).  We continue the spinning and marking (and the class progressively gets louder as kids start calling out names they need and cheering or groaning as names come up.)  Finally, someone gets a "bingo."  When that happens I have that students call out the name and problem of each part of their bingo.  As they do so, I call on the student who signed the board to correctly answer the problem, if they do so we continue on to see if a bingo was really made.  If they miss the problem, no bingo is made and we continue to play.  Lots of pressure on the kids to perform for one another but a lot of fun too.

As you can see from the above, there is certainly some strategy as students are moving around getting signatures.  Its probably helpful to ask me to sign a specific problem if there is a real tough one for instance.  I have a number of students who don't just take kids' word that they can solve problems but actually make them do it out (and along that line of thought, I have kids who "prove" to others they can do the problems by doing them out and bringing that paper around with them as they sign.)

I like this activity for a variety of reasons.  One as I might have mentioned a few times above :) it gets kids up and moving.  Two its differentiated, if kids struggle with problems they can work on and sign ones that they can do and if kids really know what they are doing, they can opt to doing more difficult problems.  Of course, there is also the part that it actually makes kids practice the skill because its not just their own selves who will be hurt by them not being able to do something but rather their classmates.  I continue to be amazed at how bad kids feel if they "let someone down."  It also amazes me that kids will try their hardest and not "throw" a question even though it isn't them that will end up winning.

I highly recommend this activity and would love to hear how other people put their spin on it.  Obviously there are a multitude of ways to change it.  The problems themselves, the number of times kids can sign, the way you pull names (popsicle sticks for instance) can all be changed.  If anyone uses this and makes their own boards, please share, I'd love to see them!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Math Homework- It shouldn't be readiness only!

Welcome back!  Let me first apologize for not posting in SO SO SO long.  Time has just caught up to me.  My district like so many others has been on the Common Core kick and thus we are having meeting after meeting about that which in turn is taking away time that I previously have had during the day and so I'm having less time to plan lessons.  I also volunteered to coach my little guy's basketball team.  (2nd and 3rd graders playing hoops, now there is something to see.)  In addition, it just seems that I'm wanting to spend more time making my lessons more interesting, more engaging, more everything including what today's MSSUN FUN post is about differentiating, especially math homework.  So on to the post

I find that differentiating math homework is an important role that we as teacher need to do.  Unfortunately for me, most of my differentiation of math homework tends to be solely for readiness. I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that that is actually the case for most teachers (at least from what I've seen.)  It seems that when most people talk differentiation that is the main area they are talking about.  For myself, I tend to make two or three "levels" of homework where I do different things to adapt the difficulty.  I might make the problems easier or more difficult by changing the numbers.  For instance on an adding fraction homework sheet, I might have the lower level doing problems with denominators of 2,4,6,8, and 12 while the higher level would work with all sorts of integer numbers.  I also at times have students who struggle with word problems not because they don't know the math but rather because they can't really read the problem.  In this case, I try to rewrite the problems and level the homework not with easier numbers but instead with easier to read word problems.  For longer assignments and projects that students do as part of homework, I try my hardest to make the whole thing is fit to their readiness level.  For instance, our end of fraction unit project consisted of a project making a recipe book where students changed the recipe size by multiplying by a fraction.  (Thanks to Becky Goerend (@MrsBMG)  for this great project!) For students who were struggling with the concept of fractions, I had them double, triple, and halve the recipe.  For more confident students, I changed the fractions to more challenging numbers such as 5/6 or 1and 2/3

The one thing I most certainly do not do when I differentiate homework for readiness is to give the more struggling students less problems and the students who understand more problems.  I want the kids to know that the homework is important for them to practice the skills we are working on in class and because they don't really get it doesn't mean they do less or because they do get it doesn't mean they should have to do more and more because they can.

I need to be better at providing some differentiation through choice.  I have at times given students options of different homework which I've tiered for readiness but I don't think I've done it enough.  It's surprising because almost every time the students opt for the homework that I would've given them anyway.  They really do have a good idea on their readiness level. The other way I use choice during homework would be on longer assignments.  For instance, in class we use choice boards at times.  Sometimes, students are wrapping up a part of a unit and they have to finish their choice board activity for homework.  The choice that they have been given in class then simply roles over as their homework.

The other area that I do NO differentiation for during homework is learning style.  In class, I'm able to provide the visual learners with stuff to do, the auditory learners with activities, and the kinesetic learners the appropriate learning opportunity.  However, I don't really know how to move this into homework.  Since we are a 1 to 1 school, I could probably incorporate the lap tops and have kids use Audacity or some such program to podcast answers, use Smart Notebook for the artistic to "draw" me some responses, and so on.  It seems daunting to move to such an idea because of the time it will take, both to create the varied assignments and to spend time providing feedback on them.  (I don't grade homework, I like to provide some comments to the students on it instead.)

I'd be interested in hearing from others about what sort of way they differentiate their homework, especially for learning style and for choice.  Looking forward to the conversation!