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You did it...almost.😖. You taught everything outlined in the curriculum for the end of year test...and your students nailed it.  Problem is, however, there are three weeks of school left, now what?  I stressed about this every single year. I tried different things every single year.  Here are some strategies and ideas to keep you sane. 

Strategies
1)  Routines.  This is probably the most important.  The last thing you want to do is make the class feel different to the students.  Not sticking to the routines you have established will result in students not knowing what to do, therefore they start acting out.  Treat every day like another day at school. 

2)  Expectations.  This goes along with number one.  Don't let your expectations slide, students will pick up on it and take advantage.  Expect that they continue to try their best.  Expect them to complete their work. Expect quality work from them every single time. 

3) Keep your students thinking.  I know you're tired, and I know your students are tired...but it's not over yet.  Do not assign busy work to your students.  Busy work is work that doesn't require much thought.  Your students will get bored and may perceive the work as unimportant.  Once the kids do not see the work as important...you're toast. 😲

Ideas
1) Just keep on teaching.  Some years I created my own end of year test that was given not three weeks before school was out, but with only a few days left.  I continued teaching, connecting, and reviewing their math up until MY end of year test, not the state test.  Giving it just a few days before school was out was just enough time to correct it, and review it with the students.  

2)  Cumulative project. A cumulative project in math would be a large project that ties in many concepts that your students learned during the year.  The great thing about cumulative projects is that students will be able to see how many of the math concepts intertwine and are used in the real-world.  May I suggest, however, that the project is planned out very well.  Know what your students will be doing every single day for the project.  When I did this, I feel like that is where I failed.  I had a cumulative project planned, and I gave specific dates for when they needed to have certain parts of the project completed, however, it was not planned daily.  The problem I encountered is that students were "enjoying" the end of the year, and then procrastinated the work time. So it was like a handful of days where they weren't working much, and a few days where it was like chaos, because they were all trying to get done on time.  So if you go this route, just make sure that every day has a specific task that needs to be complete.

3)  Smaller real-life tasks.  This is where I have felt the most successful with the end of year.  Real-life tasks also combine concepts that students have learned throughout the year.  However, they are not as large as the cumulative project.  They are real-life tasks that can be completed in one or two class periods.  Tasks such as budgeting, planning a trip, designing a scale model, etc...  They are engaging, yet not overwhelming. If you need help coming up with some end of year tasks  Click Here for some that I have created, and my students have loved.

You've made it this far....just keep swimming! 💜


After my second year of teaching my state switched to using the Common Core State Standards.  While the standards weren't too different from the standards we were already using, how they wanted us to teach math switched drastically.  No more feeding students algorithms, they wanted students to discover, apply and connect.  I was totally on board with this switch, but the problem was ALL of our textbooks were now considered old. I suddenly had no resources for my students to use.  However, that summer before school started I went to various classes that taught about how we would now be teaching math.  They also addressed the issue of our lack of resources.  They taught us how we could actually use our old resources but we just needed to reverse the questions.  This idea was brilliant!  Let me give an example,  a math question may have said something like, "Find the volume of this rectangular prism with a height of 3 inches, a width of 2 inches and a length of 10 inches."  Instead, reverse the question, "Create a rectangular prism that has a volume of 60 cubic inches. Justify your answer."  So much more reasoning goes into the second question.  

I used this idea of reverse questioning and created an activity called "What's the Question?"  Essentially, I give students the answer to the question, and they have to come up with the question.  Many times there is more than one answer, but as long as students can justify their reasoning it works for me.  

I am giving away a sample page so you can get an idea of this activity, and use it with your students.  You will see deep-thinking increase in your classroom!

CLICK HERE for "What's the Question?" sample page


I've been thinking a lot lately about statistics.  I have no stats on my thought, but I was thinking that statistics has to be the most versatile major.   If you majored in statistics you could probably look for a job in virtually any company.  Statistics is so vital and so useful for companies.  Also, on that thought, I recently read an article how statistics would be better taught in the social studies classroom. While I don't 100% agree with this idea, the author makes a good point.  Social studies is statistics in action. 

However, I think a better argument would be that math educators need to do a better job of applying statistics to the real world.  I have not had the opportunity to be in math classes around the country, although I would love to, but my overall feel is that statistics is being taught on a very superficial level.  I feel this because that's how I was taught, until my AP statistics class as a senior in high school, but up until that point statistics was very superficial.  Yes, I could find the mean, median, and mode, I could make a histogram, and even a box-and-whisker plot, but I had no idea why I would want to do those things.  I had no idea how much information I could pull from data.  I had no idea how truly useful statistics can be. 

The Millennial Generation is the generation of entrepreneurs.  As business owners, using statistics correctly can make your business flourish.  Ignoring the statistics of your company can cause your business to fail.  We can give our students a strong advantage for their futures if we delve into statistics with them more effectively.  

I'm interested in other people's opinions on my thoughts.  Feel free to comment!
Do you feel like you are constantly teaching and re-teaching how to solve equations?  Try this process and watch your students' eyes light up with understanding.  

Teaching mathematics should take the form of concrete -> symbolic -> abstract.  If you just jump right into teaching abstractly you will not reach all of your students.  In this post I will review how you can take solving equations through these 3 steps.  I have used this process in my classroom, and it has proved to be very effective.

I will go through this process with the equation x - 3 = 10

Before going through the process emphasize the meaning of the equal sign.  Many students will think that the equal sign means "the answer is".  Teach that the equal signs means that both sides are the same.  Many teachers relate this to a scale, which is a great visual.  The scale will become unbalanced if you only add or subtract from one side of the equal sign.

CONCRETE
To concretely solve this equation have students use Algebra tiles.  Tip:  Have students circle the terms separately, this will help them to not be confused with the signs.  Hopefully you have already talked about the additive inverse when teaching integers, if not, teach this property.  Tell students they can add or subtract anything from both sides until the variable is alone. 




SYMBOLIC
Now you will move to drawing symbols for the tiles.  I often still let students use the tiles if they need it to guide them in their thinking. I will have them draw a symbol for each tile.  Many students start by actually drawing the blocks, but they soon change to just writing the "1" or "-1". 



ABSTRACT
Next you will move to abstract.  Instead of writing "1  1  1" students will write "+3".



One more tip:  ALL students should start at the concrete level.  Allow students to move through the progression of concrete, symbolic, abstract at their own pace.  Allowing students to take they time they need at each level will help students to develop a deep understanding of the mathematics.  

This post is also featured on the TpT Blog
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