They Called Me a Murderer

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As I circulated around the room the lyrics from a Notorious B.I.G. song kept playing in my head, “Somebody got to die!”

That sounds harsh, but its my truth.  We couldn’t continue like this, its had gone on long enough.

No, this isn’t the beginning of my mystery novel, it’s actually my thoughts as I circulated watching my students engage in a Desk Hop activity.  I learned about Desk Hop from a blog I read several years ago, I wish I could cite it but I cannot remember the blog:-/.  At any rate, students went from desk to desk answering questions involving percent increase and percent decrease.  Some were fairly simple while others required a bit more reasoning.  However, the reasoning was stunted with one phrase.  One phrase that cause them all to stop thinking in their tracks and wave the white flag of surrender, paralyzed in their positions.  I can’t possible walk them through the thought process forever.  That’s when I devised a plan to get away with murder.

It was easy, I just did it.  I killed “I don’t get it”.  We had a funeral for it so that the kids would have time to mourn the lost of their old friend, which I referred to as their frenemy.  Many of them called me a murderer as they “wept loudly”.

Lucky for us “I don’t get it” is survived by “Here’s what I know… Here’s what I don’t know…”  As students became acquainted with their new friends they began to realized when they identified what they knew, developing a plan was easier than “I don’t get it” let off to be.

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Rest in peace “I don’t get it”.  I for one will not miss you!

I Must Be Okay…

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It’s impossible to fit everything in.  You would think by 15 years in this game I should be okay with this phenomenon.  Everyday, I try to summarize my lessons with some form of formative assessment: sticky bars, muddiest point, exit ticket, something.  But no matter my best intentions, these summarizing activities are just writings on the daily agenda and not actions conducted by my students.

Beating myself up during self reflection, I can’t understand why everything isn’t happening the way I plan?  In a perfect classroom, all my lessons play out exactly how I think through them in my mind.  In a perfect classroom, students will apply the strategies we’ve explored in new situations.

Today it hit me!  I have to be okay with not finishing.  Now, I’m not talking about not finishing a naked math worksheet or a bunch of Kuta worksheet word problems.  Those are meant to be used for just a portion of a class period, if at all.  I’m referring to rich tasks like the 3 act tasks we were working on today.  Tomorrow, I planned to do another task relating to percent increase and percent decrease.  But why is that necessary?  Why can’t I allow students to continue to make sense of the task before moving on?  The purpose of the tasks in to put students in problematic situation for which they can apply their reasoning and strategies to prove their estimations.  If students think the activity is fun, why not allow them to continue enjoying the mathematics in which they are engaged?

So what I planned for tomorrow will not be used in its entirety.  The Earth will not stop on its axis and the students won’t die from continuing the activity.  Learning will still occur, thinking will be completed and we will be closer to mastery than we were the previous day.  I’ll also have time to summarize the lesson.

I can’t be so tied to the plans I’ve entered into my calendar that it keeps me from productive teaching and learning, from following the lead of my students.