In my biography for this blog, I assert that I know middle school math better than anyone else. While this is something of a stretch, it is almost certainly true that I am more familiar with middle school math than you do, even if you happen to be a math teacher. Three years ago, I was teaching Greatest Common Factor and Least Common Multiple, and I told the students that I was demonstrating just a couple of ways to find them. One student asked if we could see some other methods, and the other students chimed in that they, too, would like a quick synopsis of other procedures. While it may seem unbelieveable that children would want to know more ways than I'd already taught them on this rather dry, not heavily applicable to the real-world skill, remember that they would do anything to get a teacher off-topic, if only for a moment. So, I indulged them, and while I was in the midst of my impromptu lesson I had one of those out-of-body experiences where I could see myself and I realized that I know a little too much about finding GCF and LCM. I was thinking, gee, Linda, how did you come to know so much about this topic, and isn't it a bit strange?
They try this problem, with their
fraction pieces and a timer
I have been wanting to write a guest blog, and my first post is for a "best practices" teaching website. In this effort, I have been taking screenshots of my smartboard lessons. These lessons represent years of work and experience, so why not show them off?
A slide and its progression.
From top to bottom:
the old style visual aid, wrapped in
rubber bands to hold it together;
the same prism, now on the
smart board, peeling off the layers,
breaking off the individual
cubes and displaying
Then, reveal correct answer, and misconception.
The screens I chose to show in the guest blog demonstrate the use of manipulatives in the classroom, which is considered a good practice, methods to dispel misconceptions, which is extremely difficult to do, and engaging, hand-on lessons, which, if you're a teacher, you know means headaches! I've developed these lessons for use with the smartboard, and there are hundreds of slides with cartoons, turn and talks, think pair shares, reflections, procedures, do nows and links to interactive websites. The instant access to visuals is a godsend for a teacher who is accustomed to having to draw such things as turnstiles and radiometers, to little effect. But even better are the interactive elements. The smartboard timers help keep students on task, and they even give me a better feel for how long three minutes really is. I no longer have to circle the classroom with a rectangular prism made of snap cubes in my hand, demonstrating what the dimensions of the prism are. I can spin spinners, flip coins, or toss dice without having to tell the students to "trust me, it's heads". I do not have to buy the incredibly expensive quad-ruled chart paper to teach the coordinate plane or graphing. And I don't have the aggravation of other teachers in my classroom blithely taking a sheet or two without permission and using them indiscriminately after I take such care to use them sparingly by plotting things in pencil and erasing it clean before the next class. That's over $2.00 a sheet, people! And, while I'm on the subject, do you have any idea how expensive overhead projector lightbulbs are? They're not cheap! Don't leave it on for the whole period, because the fan doesn't work and it's going to overheat! I'm not paid enough for these supplies!!!
Ahem, <straightening my tie>, where was I? I like the smartboard. For those of you who are interested, this is a tiny glimpse of my life as a teacher. For fellow teachers, if you'd like copies of my smartboard lessons, I'd be more than happy to share them. You don't even need a smartboard to use them, just a computer and a projector and a copy of the software. This is how I use it, because I no longer have a smartboard, either. I have most middle school math topics done, and a few 6th and 7th grade science lessons. Leave a comment and I'll send you them.
And if you're curious about the GCF and LCM, first off let me say that you're a bit strange, too. No, I'm kidding: intellectual curiosity is one of the great gifts of being a human. But follow this blog, and we just may cover it, like it or not!
I have crooked teeth from my parents and a wacky arm from a stroke. My daughter describes me as funny and smart, while she describes the other Linda from Mommy and Me as pretty and nice. So, I'm not pretty nor nice. I love the French people, French language (I'm fluent), French food, culture, architecture... In short, all of France! I'll read anything in front of me. I know more about middle school math than, well, anyone, INCLUDING my middle school math teacher husband (let's see if he reads this). I'm not happy if I'm not painting something.