Storybird in the Math Classroom
Storybird is an amazing, free, online software that allows students to create their own stories using real artist's works and collaborate and share among their class. In math, it is always essential to get students to appreciate the real world contexts in which their work is derived. Storybird allows students to incorporate literacy and their own interests into the math that we are working on. It also allows for feedback from the teacher to make sure that the math value that students are getting out of their stories is pure and real. Students must work within a rubric to develop a starting number sentence or operation into a real context. The deep discussions around verbs and operations that occurs is invaluable for a synthesis of the math concepts. Oh, and it is reallly fun to read each others!
Student-Led Homework Review is a form of differentiation, where students with the same level of homework collaborate and review their homework assignment from the prior night. Since it would take too long to have teacher-led reviews for each group, we have students share their answers and help each other figure out the correct answers with their peers. Though I sometimes give them answer keys, I push students to discuss problems and figure out the correct solutions through their reasoning skills. This process encourages collaboration and accuracy in students' homework practice.
Friday Review is a one-day activity designed to address specific needs and growth areas for each student. Using very recent data (from Exit Tickets or formative assessments), I identify specific skills that each student needs reinforcement with. Throughout class, students rotate through either small group lessons with me or individualized activities at their tables. When students work with me, they work on remedial practice to make sure they fill in any gaps in their understanding. While working independently, students work on various activities, including targeted online practice, practice worksheets, and hands-on activities, all selected and designed based on assessment data. Though my students work with their peers at times, they rotate through activities based on their individualized schedules, working towards their personal goals. At the end of the block, all of my students take an Exit Ticket (please see the "Daily Exit Tickets" strategy video) to measure their mastery. This allows me to track their growth and to plan how to support students who need additional practice.
Fluency is important, and finding the time to practice it in class can be tough. Fortunately, my students and I came up with Face Off, a simple, gamefied way to practice multiples and other fluency. 3 students must participate, where two students meet eyes and count off multiples until one makes a mistake. The third person moderates with an answer sheet. This can be modified to practice multiplication facts, division, or fraction operations. I create official FaceOff times where we actually play a "season" and work through a tournament style competition, with students advancing as they defeat their peers. This investment is great, but the fact that it runs itself is even better for me! Students often can be seen Face-ing Off in line in the Cafeteria, on the way to Specials, or in the neighborhood.