Monday, July 25, 2016

Eight Ways to Get Secondary Students to Behave for a Substitute





Eight Ways to Get Secondary Students to Behave for a sub:

Teachers, let’s face it. It is easier to come to school sick than prepare for a sub. And the worst part is coming back to 3 pages of how poorly your class behaved. You will have notes about students who have never stepped a toe out of line and it will make you wonder what got into your students and make you sick at your stomach all at the same time. It happens to the best of us. J Be prepared for a sub by having these safe-guards in place.


1. Procedures. Procedures. Procedures.  I once had a teaching friend who had a schedule opposite of mine which allowed us to cover each other's classes. Every time he taught my class, he complimented me on the fact that my students came in and met the expectations as if they didn't notice he was there instead of me. He was so impressed with how well my students knew what to do with their homework without asking, how they knew to begin working quietly and what work they were to do and where to do it. I always answered him that I emphasize teaching and assessing procedures at the beginning of the year. We often discussed the amount of time it took to do all that. I assured him and I assure you that you will get that time back two-fold. There is nothing more important to the classroom function than procedures. It is also important that you are consistent in following through with the procedures. If you stay consistent with the procedures and behavioral expectations when you are present, students are more likely to stay in the habit of those expectations when you are gone. They will behave as a well-oiled machine. Looking to beef up the way you teach and assess your classroom procedures? Try this method here.


2. Accountability.  Ask the sub to leave feedback on all things- good and bad. Follow up with written referrals, home calls, detention, etc. for the students who misbehave. It is equally important that you follow up with the students whose names were left as being particularly helpful. A short note, a piece of candy, a HW pass, etc. go a long way with positive behavior for a sub.


3. Use a Sub Tub or a Sub Binder. Have a pre-determined plan in place for what your sub will use to guide their day. I set up my Sub Binder at the beginning of the year which details all the general information: schedule, class lists, procedures and rules, etc. This saves time when prepping for a sub because the only thing left is that day’s lesson and any special circumstance notes. This is a link to the covers I purchased, but there are hundreds of paid and free ideas on TpT. 


4. Carrot vs. Stick.  Choose the carrot. (This is more for secondary teachers with multiple classes.) Of course you need to deal with students who do not follow rules and meet the guidelines set forth for them, but there will be fewer of those students if you use a carrot, not a stick. I learned this from a sub several years ago and it has been one of my favorite tools in my toolkit. Before you are gone, when you are going over the procedure with students for what to do when you are absent, teach them the rules for a class competition. Rules are: the class that is the most helpful, most polite, on-task, well-behaved class according to the sub wins a prize. The sub has final say. Leave a note on the board that the “Class Competition is ON!” and students will hold each other very accountable. They encourage and remind each other so politely…it’s almost weird! I have had subs praise this technique and thank me for this, telling me how hard it is to choose the best class. It makes me so proud to come back to a note like that as opposed to one filled with negativity.



5. Clear expectations. (For students and sub) Plan ahead. When you teach those procedures at the beginning of the year, add in one or two specifically for having a sub. Let students know what you expect of them and the consequences for not meeting the expectations. Ideas for expectations would be something like, “Continue following classroom procedures as if I am here unless the sub tells you differently. Above all else, follow the sub’s directions.”


6. Give meaningful work.  Unless there is a special circumstance, avoid having the students learn any heavy, new material. That puts pressure on the sub and often leads to student confusion, which leads to student frustration. Then, the students either misbehave or shut down. Give them meaningful practice over content they are familiar/confident with. The practice should be reinforcement work without being rote or too repetitive. I try to stick with independent work unless your class has had time to master the procedures associated with cooperative learning.
Here are some suggested activities for Secondary Math:




7. Classroom jobs. -Assign or select a sub helper. If you already have established classroom jobs, have a sub helper as one of your assignments. How you select this student may be up to you- have students apply, select from a jar, select based on student’s ability to fill this role, select based on seat location/proximity to teacher desk, etc. However you select this student, make sure to emphasize the importance and responsibility of the job. Again, be clear with the expectations for this role and even offer an incentive for a job well done. If you don’t already have classroom jobs, consider having a student or students who would be great for this job.


8. Have your teachers friends check in. Establish a routine with your teacher bestie or a neighbor teacher that you check on each other’s classes when one of you is absent. Have them check in with the sub, introduce his or herself, and let the sub know they are available to help if needed. Also, set it up with this teacher friend that you can include their name and room number in the note to the sub.
Your substitutes will thank you and you can be absent without additional headaches!

Would you like additional tools to help you prepare for a sub? I love this blog post from Math Giraffe on how to build your emergency substitute kit!

I sincerely hope you have a terrific school year with few absences. But if you have to be gone, I think you will be prepared. :)



Saturday, March 19, 2016

Paper Plate Unit Circle


Teaching the unit circle should be so much more than memorizing. Unfortunately, that was how I learned it in Trig class. I don't remember all the details about it how it was presented, but I remember studying it and memorizing all the parts. I have seen tricks on Pinterest to help students memorize it and while there is some value in ways to help students remember things, this lesson will hopefully provide your students with a much deeper understanding of the parts of the unit circle, focusing on how the degrees, the coordinates, the special right triangles, and the circumference of the circle all relate...and it's hands-on and color-coded! There should be no need for memorizing!

HAVE FUN!


MATERIALS: plain paper plates, highlighters/colored markers/pencils, scissors, protractor, three different colors of copy paper
PREPARATION: (For full understanding, students should have already learned the special right triangles. They should know the relationship between the angle measures and side lengths. They should be easily able to find the leg lengths with a hypotenuse of one.) Copy the 45-45-90 triangles onto one colored paper (I used pink), the 30-60-90-A triangles onto another colored paper (I used yellow), and the 30-60-90-B triangles on to a third colored paper (I used blue). Ensure matching markers/highlighters for each colored paper you use.

Set-up, Degrees, and Coordinates



1. Distribute paper plates. Have students fold them in half and in half again. These creases represent the x- and y-axes.
2. With a black sharpie, trace the folds. Label one x-axis and the other y-axis. Label the origin (0,0).
3. Tell students, for the sake of this activity, the paper plate has a radius of one unit. Keep this reminder handy throughout the activity. Use the radius of one to discuss the coordinates created by the intersection of the axes with the edge of the plate. Label (1,0), (0,1), (-1,0), and (0,-1).
4. Have a brief discussion reminding students about the total degrees in a circle (for example: 360° in a circle, semi-circle has 180°, line has a measure of 180°, etc.) Tell them the point (1,0) represents the 0° location. With or without use of a protractor, have students discuss in groups or as a class, the degrees of each of the other coordinate points. Label all degrees: 0°, 90°, 180°, 270°, and 360°.


5. Have students fold their plates along the diagonal so that the 0° line touches the 90° and 180° line touches 270°. Then, fold along the opposite diagonal so the 90° line touches 180° and 0° touches 270°. Make creases. Trace these creases with a new color (preferably, the same color as the paper used to copy the 45-45-90 triangles.) Discuss the degrees of the new lines and label each using the same color. (45°, 135°, 225°, 315°)
6. Distribute one 45-45-90 triangle to each student. Label the right angle and the 45° angles. Using the hypotenuse length of one unit, have students determine the leg lengths and label the lengths in the boxes. (√2/2) Use those side lengths to investigate the coordinate points of the intersection of the lines that were just made with the paper plate. (For example, move horizontally along the x-axis √2/2 units and vertically along the y-axis √2/2 units to arrive at the intersection (√2/2, √2/2)). Use this triangle to find the coordinate points of all the new colored lines (45°, 135°, 225°, 315°)


7. Use a protractor to measure the 30° angle and make a tiny mark.  Do the same for 210°, which students can use the 30° from the 180° line for help. Make a fold on those marks. Label 30° and 210°. Use the protractor to make marks at 150° and 330°. Make a fold on those marks. Label 150° and 330°. Trace these creases with a unique color (preferably the same colored paper used to copy the 30-60-90-A triangles).


8. Distribute one 30-60-90-A triangle to each student. Label the 30°, the 60°, and 90° angles. Using the hypotenuse length of one unit, have students determine the leg lengths and label the lengths in the boxes. (1/2 and √3/2) Use those side lengths to investigate the coordinate points of the intersection of the lines that were just made with the paper plate. (For example, move horizontally along the x-axis √3/2 units and vertically along the y-axis 1/2 unit to arrive at the intersection (√3/2,1/2)). Use this triangle to find the coordinate points of all the new colored lines (30°, 150°, 210°, 330°).


9. Use a protractor to measure the 60° angle and make a tiny mark.  Do the same for 240°, which students can use the 60° from the 180° line for help. Make a fold on those marks. Label 60° and 240°. Use the protractor to make marks at 120° and 300°. Make a fold on those marks. Label 120° and 300°. Trace these creases with a unique color (preferably the same colored paper used to copy the 30-60-90-B triangles).


10. Distribute one 30-60-90-B triangle to each student. Label the 30°, the 60°, and 90° angles. Using the hypotenuse length of one unit, have students determine the leg lengths and label the lengths in the boxes. (1/2 and √3/2) Use those side lengths to investigate the coordinate points of the intersection of the lines that were just made with the paper plate. (For example, move horizontally along the x-axis 1/2 unit and vertically along the y-axis √3/2 units to arrive at the intersection (1/2,√3/2)). Use this triangle to find the coordinate points of all the new colored lines (60°, 120°, 240°, 300°).

Radians


1. Remind students of how to find circumference of a circle and connect that formula to the unit of radians. 
2. Use guided questioning to help them discover and label the remaining radians. For example:
     a. At 0°, how many radians have we traveled? 0 radians.
     b. After one full trip around the circle, how far have we traveled? 2 radians.
     c. If one full circumference around the circle is 2, how far is halfway around the circle?  radians.
     d. How many radians have you traveled to the 90° line? /2 radians.
     e. How many radians have you traveled to the 270° line? 1 and ½ radians or 3/2 radians.
 Continue with questioning until students catch on to how the fractions relate to the radians and they are all labeled.

I have created a document that includes the directions listed above, a template for the three types of triangles, and a blank unit circle to use as a quiz. You can download it for free from my Teachers Pay Teachers store. Enjoy!



Saturday, March 5, 2016

Eight Ways to Celebrate Pi Day

8 Ways to Celebrate Pi Day

  1. Discover Pi.  Tell your students they are mathematicians! Mathematicians discover patterns in nature and that’s all pi is. A number that occurs in nature! Provide students with several round objects, such as balls, lids, oranges, Frisbees, CDs, plates, etc. Using a paper tape measurer or some string, have them measure and record the circumference and diameter of each as precisely as they can. Have students divide the circumference by the diameter. The result should be an approximation of pi, 3.14 units!
  2. Dress up! Buy or make your own t-shirt. Accessorize with round jewelry. Get creative. Have the students design their own pi shirt and have a competition or a fashion show exhibiting their creativity! Coordinate with the art teacher for some extra fun cross-curricular ideas! Here is a link to some of my favorites: Etsy Pi Day Goodies
    my shirt and necklace last year
    pi day dress 2016
  3. Run a pi-K. Speaking of cross-curricular ideas, work with the PE teacher to organize a school-wide pi-K! (Instead of a 5K, students run 3.14 kilometers). The ideas with this are plentiful. You could make it a fundraiser or have it on a weekend where families can get involved.
  4. Eat pi(e)! Bring pies for your students! Or, get parent volunteers to donate them! If you don’t want to do pies, how about pizza pies? Or round shaped treats, like Moon Pies or Oatmeal Crème Pies? Let your creativity round wild. The students will love it!
  5. Decorate! Don’t forget to decorate your classroom, just like you would for other holidays! Let students create round art work, make your own, or download this freebie in my TpT store.
  6. Celebrate the history of pi. There are some misconceptions about how pi was discovered. Let students research the truth and make presentations or just have a class discussion. (Again, you could make this a cross-curricular connection with the history unit.)
  7. Compete! Have a memorization contest. My students always love this one! See who can memorize the most digits of pi! Make it a class competition and give a prize (perhaps a pie) to the winners.
  8. Write pi-kus. Then have a pi-etry slam. A pi-ku is a type of haiku that has 3 syllables in the first line, one in the second, and four in the third line. 
However you decide to celebrate with your students, be sure to make it fun! Students need to have a positive relationship with Math!