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Teachers share, nice example

January 19, 2008 pm31 10:52 pm
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That’s how it works, at least with ideas.

  • When we don’t know what to do, we ‘borrow’ what we saw our own teachers do when we were kids.
  • We have useful exchanges with colleagues. We discuss ideas that worked. We discuss (less often, should do it more) ideas that flopped.
  • Sometimes we have PD where we listen to the presenter’s ideas, and sometimes, the teachers in the room comment and share.
  • Ed courses should provide some of this, but, ahem. Ok.
  • We read books and take ideas. Maybe not so much.
  • And a few of us share via blogs. Which is why I am writing this post.

My school gives finals twice a year. They last 2:15. An exam designed for exactly that length, many students won’t finish; I want to test math, not speed. With a much shorter exam, the early finishers may disturb the late finishers, and in any event I will have stuck the proctor with a management problem.

Solution, design an exam for 80% of the time, allowing for those who work slower. Also, provide a time-absorbing bonus question. This can be tricky. Too hard, students won’t engage. Too easy, they will finish quickly and be idle.

So, aha, idea from… Denise from Let’s Play Math publicizes the 2008 Mathematics game. Take each of the digits, 2, 0, 0 and 8, and combine them to make all the numbers from 1 to 100. For my kiddies I made each one of them worth one tenth of one point.

At the bell, every kid was finishing the exam or working on the bonus. Beautiful. Thank you, Denise!

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. January 19, 2008 pm31 11:06 pm 11:06 pm

    I love that idea! I’m going to try to find something interesting like that for my spring semester test – thanks!!

  2. anon permalink
    January 19, 2008 pm31 11:34 pm 11:34 pm

    This may be old and used, but 14 years ago when I was in a math camp in elementary school they had us make the numbers 0-40 using four 4’s (and the exercise was appropriately titled 4 4’s). You could use +-*/! and square root. I have no idea how difficult it is for elementary students, but it kept us busy for at least a while. This could be useful in the situation.

  3. January 19, 2008 pm31 11:39 pm 11:39 pm

    The beauty of four fours is exactly that. We play from one to a hundred, and use it as a nice “all progress is good progress” activity early in the year. (in other words, every kid does something good, just some do more than others)

    And, since we’ve played this earlier, the kids know what to do with the 2008 bonus on the exam, without needing to ask questions.

    But that’s what I mean. You came here, read about one idea that worked, and shared another. The more we do that, the better off we will all be.

    I mentioned 4 fours back here: in this post

  4. January 20, 2008 am31 12:19 am 12:19 am

    Great idea, JD. I’m sure the early finishers enjoyed working on the puzzle and were happy for the chance at a little extra credit!

  5. Ben Chun permalink
    January 28, 2008 am31 4:40 am 4:40 am

    Another good time-absorber (and appropriate end-of-semester activity) is a class survey. I like to ask students to tell me how the class is going for them, and sometimes you can even sneak in a little self-reflection/evaluation as a survey question. This doesn’t take up a ton of time, but it’s a nice thing to give students some voice and send the message that their experience is something you think about and want to know about.

  6. January 28, 2008 am31 4:53 am 4:53 am

    Long time…

    We are on the same page. For my senior elective, there were extra problems that could be worth a few points, but also a survey, worth five. It was lots of “rate on a scale of 1 – 6” followed by room, each question, for comments. I told them that maximum credit would be awarded for useful comments (directed at improving the course next fall). They wrote, boy did they write. Almost every “rating” came with comment.

    Overall, they were fairly perceptive. A few ideas I will incorporate…

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