Misc. “Cheat Sheets”
These are short review documents I created for students who may need/want to review particular topics while doing their homework or studying for an exam.
Create a Multi-Purpose Room
Topics addressed: scale, ratios, area, perimeter
This idea was taken from blogger and math teacher Julie Reulbach. At the time, our school was going through a re-design and talks about new buildings were everywhere within the school community. Inspired by and piggybacking on this excitement, students were given a chance to design their own addition to our current school. In teams, they were tasked with designing a multi-purpose room (max 1,000 sqft) that met several requirements. Like Julie mentions in her post, my students struggled with realizing how small 1,000 square feet is.
After some planning and getting their plans approved by “the board” (myself and the inclusion teacher), students set out to create blueprints, complete with markings for furniture they picked out. Their work was presented in a gallery format, with administration and actual school board members invited to view & get inspiration.
- a note on furniture: For practice, we measured and calculated the scale size for the furniture in our classroom and had those measurements available for students to use. More adventurous students had the option to seek out online their own furniture. In those cases, students needed to put together a Google Doc, shared with me and the inclusion teacher, showing the piece of furniture, its actual dimensions, the scaled dimensions, and its URL.
My dream: Upon receiving a test/quiz, students would go review it and the loads of comments I left behind and magically learn from their errors.
My reality: Upon receiving a test/quiz, students tended to do one of a few things:
- Review the comments and their work and discover what went wrong and learn from those errors.
- Shrug and throw it into their bag, particularly if it was a “bad grade” and just settle with whatever they got.
- File a complaint with a parent, who would in turn file a complaint with me.
At one point, many of my students were just settling, frustrated that they “didn’t get math” and couldn’t “do math”, as evidence by their grade. I’m not a fan of extra credit work in general, but I do believe if students reflect on what happened on the exam and practice whatever they need to practice, they should be rewarded for their efforts. And my problem re-do packet was born.
My goal was to guide students in reflecting on what they did and give them a shot at re-doing their work. I made myself available for consultation if anyone wanted to ask questions or review what they’ve done. For every problem that was correctly re-done, and done with some demonstrated effort given, half-credit was awarded and applied towards their exam score. This was (mostly) an optional assignment for students; those who did poorly had their due dates modified and were required to spend some time with me reviewing the concepts.
I did have some uber grade conscious students submit work to bump up their already excellent score just a smidgen more. Fewer students hyperventilated and went through multi-day upset phases over seeing their average tank because of one exam. For students who genuinely struggled with the topics though, I saw overall improvements in not only their math skills but also in their attitudes. They got to see that extra work can yield positive results in class, both with grades as well as in skills gained. Some students eventually would take it upon themselves to get extra help PRIOR to exams and slowly weaned themselves away from this assignment being “mandatory” to being “optional”.