Covid or not, ending school is always hard. To quell the stress and fatigue felt by her math students and herself, Michelle Russell is taking more time for quick fun activities. Students have enjoyed documenting the year, preparing tips for next year’s students, and playing math games.
Author: Michelle Russell
Lately Michelle Russell’s students aren’t just talking about how anxious math makes them; many are lamenting about how boring math is. Beyond trying to make math fun via puzzles and games, she’s now looking for methods to spark more intrinsic interest in the world of numbers.
Michelle Russell’s algebra students repeatedly encounter foundational skills they haven’t mastered, trapping them in ‘no man’s land’ – unable to use prior knowledge to grasp the new. Shifting from discouragement to action, she sets goals and makes a plan to help them catch up.
Michelle Russell’s math students were eager to learn as this school year began but found the mechanics of solving equations more challenging than Michelle’s pre-Covid classes. After research and talk with colleagues, she’s trying several strategies to give kids the grounding they need.
Michelle Russell typically has her classes do an end of the year survey. 2020-21 was unique and she knew her survey needed to be different, too. After sharing some of her students’ feelings and insights, Russell highlights lessons she’s learned and actions she’ll take.
With her students facing so many pandemic challenges, Michelle Russell decided to say ‘yes’ to as many requests as possible, whether it was late papers, school supplies, or a quick review minutes before a test. Here’s what she’s discovered about the value of answering YES.
How schools are handling standardized tests this pandemic year has really varied. Michelle Russell spent eight school days prepping students for her state’s math accountability exam, which they took last week. What paid off? What didn’t? Was it worth the time and effort?
Michelle Russell loves teaching statistics and her students enjoy it too. But it took her a few years to find activities that really engage them and that also reinforce the statistics standards they need to learn. Here are three ideas she recommends for the middle grades.
On her first day back Michelle Russell surveyed her students, looking for ways to improve her online teaching and – most of all – to find out how they’re doing in these difficult times. Some of their answers surprised her, and she’ll be more aware and proactive going forward.
Michelle Russell’s math students depend on her to be cheerful and happy in these difficult times. That can be a challenge, she admits, “but having some new (or not so new) activities to try gets me excited and energized to come to work. I figure that’s good for everybody!”