S.E.L. Dice

In the fall of 2019, as part of a regular professional development day in October my district had someone come in and work with us on Social Emotional Learning Standards. We participated in activities, collaborated and I left feeling ready to come up with some ways to more intentionally teach and reinforce social emotional learning in my classroom.

Dice

I spent the weekend reading through the materials and came up with an idea of S.E.L. dice. I found a template and printed it out on 6 different colors of thick colored paper, put the activities I thought I could manage on them and printed up a key for myself. Each table bin in my 8th grade classroom got a single die and we used them regularly. My original project is linked below. The GREAT things about it.

  1. No student ever crumpled or squashed one of my fragile dice. That meant so much to me that they cared for their table bins so well.
  2. It was right in front of us all the time so we used them a lot.
  3. Even though I didn’t have it set up in a way that we could just roll and use anything because of prep needed, the kids really liked being asked to pic a die. I’d say, “table group with the pink one pull out your die.” And then I’d ask them to turn to #3.

One Word Whip Around

I really wasn’t sure how it would go with the class. Some of the activities really require kids to put themselves out there. Others put me on the spot in the moment for my teaching. When we did the activity, “One Word Whip Around” as a faculty in our training we were asked to share our one word reflection from the lesson literally everyone was polite. There were a couple of words you could read into and think, “this person really didn’t enjoy this” but you had to know a backstory to even guess.

I wondered how this activity would go in grade 8? I was really afraid to try it as we stood in a circle on our first go round in Algebra at the end of a class. Kids started sharing words that summarized a takeaway from that day’s activity: Awesome! Fun! Meh. BORING. Cool. The range was there. I felt my face turn red as I heard Meh and Boring. I smiled when I heard Awesome. I realized it wasn’t always the kids that I though enjoyed the lesson that did. Some kids I thought were totally checked out had the most energetic takeaways. After the activity we felt closer – more connected.

Summer PD

I shared this with my principal, guidance counselor, grade 8 team and finally my math department. I asked my department if anyone wanted to collaborate with me to make it better. YES! Courtney was interested in developing this further as a summer professional development project. I had really just thrown my dice together and there was opportunity for more deliberate materials. We put in for a summer project. Then COVID hit and stayed we realized we needed this to be more digital than we had planned. This project was one of many pivots for the year.

The finished project

Our project is a Google Slides presentation that you can use in the classroom or virtually. You can use real dice or you can use the dice site we linked to in the program. You can use it as is or you can take it as a launching off pad! If you do the latter and make great improvements, I’d love for you to share it back with me so I can post it here as another option.

Some of our ideas we LOVE and some were our last attempts to finish in our 3 hours of work we were allotted (as with all things teaching we just stopped counting our hours once we hit our cap).

Teacher Version – explains the SEL in teacher terms.
Student Version – you can display as is to your class

Thank You

Thank you to Slides.go for the great free templates. Thank you to DiceApp.io for the dice app. Thank you to Trumansburg Central Schools and to our Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Pam Rapoza for approving our summer PD hours. And, thank you to Courtney Kempski for working with me on this. It was a lot of fun to collaborate together.

Shifts of Functions Project

This year during our virtual learning time, I took a project that I usually offer for extra credit and made it a class assignment. I decided that with the time we were all spending at home because there are no sports, in person social gatherings, concerts or opportunities to be out and about that it was the perfect time for kids to get to dive into a creative project. Algebra students had just finished studying shifts of functions, and we culminated that experience with a project.

The details

The project was a creative one. It had a simple goal: You will create an original piece of work using graphs from many “families of functions” as characters in your story. My hope for you in this project is that it is FUN, CREATIVE, and that it brings you JOY! Formats permitted include: poster, book or booklet, digital document, mixed media. The story required 6 pages or scenes and may be any genre. Ideas for topics include: How to book, original children’s storybook, existing children’s storybook, recipe book, current events, Anime or sports.

Example of student work. Read on to see the complete projects.

Your story needs to include at least 15 characters. Every character has its own equation, regardless of where it appears in the story. For example, if you decide you are y = x2+3 you are always that function.  You must use at least 3 of the following function families. You may include others if you like.

  • Quadratics
  • Square Roots
  • Absolute Value
  • Cubic Functions

              Quadratics                 Absolute Value               Cubic                           Square Root

         f(x) = a(x-h)2+k     f(x) = ax-h+k         f(x) = a(x-h)3+k        f(x) = ax-h+k

Your story may be about the topic of your choice, however, it must remain a PG-13 rated story. If you would feel embarrassed sharing the story with your parents or grandparents, it is not appropriate for this assignment. If you are in doubt, please check in with me.

Another image from student work. Complete projects are at the end of this post.

Grading

The project was worth 25 points. 3 of those points were from our Delta Math shifts assignment where the kids would demonstrate they had mastered the concept of shifting functions. In the future, I plan to change this to a 30 point project with 5 points given for mathematical equation accuracy.

LabelingEvery character’s equation is labeled in every scene. This can be a key on the page. It doesn’t have to disrupt the story and be right by the equation, but it does need to be clear. Graph paper is used for accuracy./5
StorytellingThe reader can follow the story and there is a clear purpose for each character in the story./5
AccuracyAll 3 graphing families are represented in a purposeful way. Note: you are welcome to do more than required here. If you include extra families, you will receive bonus points./5
ArtistryWe are all artists in our own way. To get full points in this category your story or poster needs a consistent artistic focus. The style should be evident throughout the work and not taper off toward the end./5
SubmissionTo receive full credit in this section you need to submit your project using one of the following: video, attached documents or photographs or physical drop off if that is your preferred method. You must also complete the Delta Math assignment. (Due Friday April 24th). That is worth 3 points of this 5 point section./5

My example story

To demonstrate the idea to my class, I wrote a story about my family’s experience during Covid-19. It is a true story featuring some of the highlights of our early time during this pandemic. We are a family of quadratics and other families are introduced with some of the characters.

My story

Student projects

I was blown away with what the kids turned in. As the submissions started to arrive, I was so excited!! Many had a great time with this. I enjoyed reading the different directions they went with this project. I received permission from several students to share their work. Select the links to view their projects.

Quadratic Formula Song

Normally when we learn in our actual classroom space when we get to learn the Quadratic formula in Algebra, I have the song playing as the students come in. This is not my original idea – in fact I learned the song when my daughter took Algebra. Her teacher played it day in and day out for them.

This year we were in our virtual learning environment when it was time to learn the formula. Naturally I still wanted to follow the tradition and play the song. However, when I went to find the song, I found A LOT of songs. There was the catchy, familiar version that I know and love set to the tune of “Pop Goes the Weasel” but there were also so many others out there. People sang it to the tune of Rolling in the Deep, there were rap versions and more. I found a few and popped them into a playlist on my YouTube channel and shared them with my students.

Continue reading “Quadratic Formula Song”

Math Memes

In the spring of 2019 I gave the students an assignment to create their own math memes with partners. These memes have been hanging on one of our hallway bulletin boards for the first couple months of this year. Here is a picture of our board. The kids did a really great job finding inspiration online and then creating their own versions! Check out all the pictures below. You can click on them to get a better view! Continue reading “Math Memes”

Meet our 7th Graders

7th grade is a year filled with a lot of excitement for kids! In Trumansburg it is the kids’ 3rd year of middle school, BUT this year is also the first opportunity to play modified sports. It is a year that kids are faced with balancing their work-load a little more as well. Like any year, they are learning more about themselves and what they enjoy in school.

In our school we have large bulletin boards in our hallways and thanks to our PTO they are now painted vibrant colors. Our floor’s boards are red! As part of 7th grade, I use our popsicle sticks from class to randomly invite two students for an “interview” every other Wednesday during lunch. These students can invite up to 3 friends each to join the group. We enjoy lunch and I bring in a big cookie for each student as they share about their favorite things in 7th grade. Continue reading “Meet our 7th Graders”

Whiteboard Equation Solving

You can use water-based markers on a whiteboard

It was a happy accident last year. A student (or maybe it was me I don’t actually remember) wrote on our classroom whiteboard in marker. Not dry erase marker. Oh dear!! We’ll have marker on our board forever, I thought. Before panicking though I grabbed some paper towels and a water spray bottle and was so happy to see that it came off!!

This mistake prompted me to use it as a teaching tool in the classroom. Continue reading “Whiteboard Equation Solving”

Thank you Middle School PTO for our calculators!

Calculators are a must have in seventh grade math class. Mrs. Dawson has math classes all throughout the day, and has found a system for making sure that calculators are always available when you need them. The students were asked to buy calculators, as well as the PTO kindly buying enough for everyone to use during class. They are a part of our shared bins on every table, which also includes highlighters, pens, sticky notes, scissors, pencil sharpeners and erasers. Most of these items the students were asked to help supply the classroom with, and they are definitely being put to good use. Continue reading “Thank you Middle School PTO for our calculators!”

A locker organizing idea

The other day I was standing outside my room and I saw one of my student’s lockers. It has a nice little bin of pencils so that he will always arrive prepared for class. I asked Adam if I could take a picture of his locker and he happily obliged.

I shared this with the classes and several kids wanted to have their locker photographed. Elanor also had an organization system but at the bottom of her locker. The other two lockers photographed are nice and neat, but these students don’t have anything stored in their lockers. Continue reading “A locker organizing idea”