From get-acquainted activities like “Superhero registration” to first-week math games like “Four Fours,” teacher Michelle Russell takes readers through the steps of a new plan to start slow, welcome her students individually, and reassure the anxious ones that math can be fun.
Category: Meaningful Math
Michelle Russell’s blog
As the school year begins, Michelle Russell has plans to take Geoff Krall’s Necessary Conditions to class. She shares the norms, structures and routines she’ll implement starting day one, from establishing guidelines for group work to assuring academic safety.
Usually Michelle Russell uses Got It, Almost Got It, and Not Yet for quick formative assessments of her math students. With the school year behind her, she applies the process to her own teaching, finding some hits, some misses, and a starting place for future growth.
Michelle Russell’s plan to end the year with some “serious teaching” has quickly collapsed under the weight of special events. That’s okay. “It came to me eventually that I also want to enjoy the last few weeks I will have these students.” Here’s what she decided to do.
Geoff Krall’s valuable new book gets down to math “nuts and bolts,” writes teacher Michelle Russell. It’s not just about theory. It offers detailed strategies and ideas to create the three necessary conditions for students to begin to see themselves as mathematicians.
Michelle Russell says her classes were beginning the slide into pre-Spring Break slump when she opted to try some math games she’d been squirreling away for “later.” Both the Math Card War and One Incorrect activities proved engaging and useful as formative feedback.
Michelle Russell’s first try at giving a group math test – with students self selecting into groups of four – will add a new tool to her practice. She reports on how her students responded, what they achieved, and how she and the students evaluated the experience.
The link between teacher-student relationships and achievement is getting lots of press. Michelle Russell agrees her math students thrive when they find her likeable. How to up her likeability quotient? Attending to student concerns, not just pacing directives, to start.
Recently for the first time 10-year veteran Michelle Russell gave students extra credit for an optional assignment. It worked! And helped her realize she needed to examine other classroom practices to see if they had merit or were just old habits that needed rethinking.
Michelle Russell wants students to leave her class with more math confidence, not defeated and thinking “it’s just too hard.” She shares plans to implement spiraling, expand test retakes, share her own stories of struggle, and concentrate more on prerequisite knowledge.