Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Today was a white day.  This means that I see my "everyday" kids for 80 minutes, my Geometry kids for 80 minutes, and then my honors Algebra 2 kids for 80 minutes.  It's a very full day because I have prep first period and then go straight through mostly without a break.  (I do have 25 minutes for lunch in the middle of Geometry.)

It's also the last day before Thanksgiving break and although yesterday was Monday, today was "Friday" of a vacation week.  To say the kids had energy was an understatement ... but it was good energy!

So ... in my everyday class, we called it a study hall. I had kids making up yesterday's work, yesterday's activity for the kids who had finished their tests and -- yes, I had an activity for today but no, they had no interest in doing it.  And I had no interest in fighting that battle, and it was a good mix of places where everyone was with make-ups and so forth, so we took the day as a study hall.  IT WAS WONDERFUL!  Everyone, to a person, was working on SOMETHING productive, even if not for my class.  I was amazed.

And then we had Geometry.

We played ... dum dum dummmmmm... MATHketball*!  Oh my goodness, it was the best day ever!

Here are the rules:

The room was set up with desks in groups of 4. Kids sat where they wanted and that became their team.  I put up a problem on the document camera.  I set my timer and teams had one minute to solve it and race to me to present their answer.  They had to rotate who presented the answer.  If they got it right it was worth one point, and then they could ball up their work and take a shot at our handy-dandy $3 basketball hoop.  If they made the shot, they got an additional 3 points.  The shooter and presenter had to rotate, and if you didn't present within the minute you didn't get to present.  Key fact:  whatever paper you did the problem on, that was what you had to ball up and throw for your shot.  So using scraps wasn't advantageous, because it was incredibly hard to make the basket.  And thus, every group had a pile of computer paper to use and most groups used it instead of notebook paper.

It was a race against the clock and also a competition, because to make it interesting I made the "prize" 5 bonus points on the test we took last class.  (I almost never do this, but since the class had already done well on the test by my first cursory glance, I decided to be generous and was comfortable giving the points.)

When we got down to about 6 questions left the game was neck-in-neck, so we made all the questions worth double the points:  2 for getting the question and 8 for making the free throw.

And then, to really up the ante, for the last question teams could elect to keep the 2 point/8 point deal, or take the 2 points on the question and then go "all in" when trying for their basket.

My $3 craigslist find Nerf over-the-door basketball hoop (I covered the backboard in white paper because it was hideous...)

The back wall of my classroom has this half-size chalkboard and I use it every day to list our agenda for each class.  The board's wrapped with blue Christmas lights because the school colors are blue and white.  I forgot to take a photo of it earlier in the day, so here it is as I was walking out the door, all erased and lights already unplugged, sadly.  The stuff to the right is a shoe bag with simple calculators in it, and beyond that on the wall is our word wall with math vocabulary.

MATHketball was AWESOME!  Soooooo much fun.  Not a single person in the room didn't play (they couldn't "not play," because their team couldn't turn in a problem if it was their turn and they didn't go).  We did a really good mix of "Mathercise" questions from some fantastic resource books I bought ages ago.  They ask a general mix of review and reasoning and spatial reasoning questions, which meant that although the kids were working legitimate problems, it was not a "geometry" review game per se, (translation: it was something still important, but different enough to be exciting) and sometimes mixing things up like that is just what we need to keep things interesting and engaging.  Every once in a while I had to go to the board to explain a question (a few ratio/proportion questions were stumbling blocks, for example) but otherwise they were appropriately difficult and let me tell you, it was the Best. Class. Ever.

I'm pretty psyched, can you tell?!

Here are some photos.  Sadly I didn't get any action shots of the free throws...  we'll just have to play again!

Wow, this looks boring.  But you can see the problem on the document camera and the kids almost all working on it.  You can't HEAR the competition, but I can assure you that holy cow was it competitive -- and not the least bit quiet!

See the kids standing?  The question was one about direction.  You're facing North, do an about-face, turn 90 degrees to your left, etc. etc.  They were doing it!
I have the biggest classroom I've ever had.  (I am not kidding, and every day I am thankful for that fact.  We get to do all sorts of cool stuff because of it.  And it sure beats the heck out of my super-narrow, single-wide, no-windows trailer I had my second and third years of teaching!)  We moved all our groups towards the front of the room to allow for lots of space in the back for traffic -- to and from my area with the document camera, and to and from the table you see on the left, which served as the "free throw line," because everyone knows you can only lean over a table so much, but you can realllllly lean over a line.  Or maybe just I know that because I teach high schoolers and they will nudge and inch and cheat (in a fun way, not a mean way) every way they can!

Two kids are on their way to show me their team's work/answer, and one kid is stretching to make his free throw.  Hilarious!


don't say it too many times or you'll sound like you have a speech impediment!  haha! 

No comments:

Post a Comment