Monday, March 16, 2015

Random Problem Check: Spark Student Motivation

I used an awesome freebie this week in teaching metric system conversion! Another plus was that it made our first day back from Spring Break a happy, non-stressful day!

I'm also linking up with Joanne! 
(Yea, yea. I know it's not Saturday, but oh well!)

My coworker, with the advanced  group, said that her kids had a hard time with it for some reason. Because of that and the difficulty they had with multiplying and dividing by 10 at the beginning of the year, I looked at what I could use to pre teach before our program lesson. I planned to start with the metric video from Then I found this measure conversion chart by Too Tired to Teach and it helped drive my lesson.
There are a couple of different mnemonics used to remember the most commonly used metric prefixes, but my favorite is

King Henry Died Unexpectedly Drinking Chocolate Milk
This freebie is slightly different using By instead of Unexpectedly, but the kids went with it.
If I had been really thinking about it, I would have dressed in black and treated the beginning of the lesson as a funeral, complete with chocolate milk as a refreshment. :)
We reviewed what each letter stood for and what each prefix means. Then we went right into how to use the mnemonic to help them convert. The chart has a great example that we walked through together. I had found a worksheet site that quickly created some conversion worksheets for me. (I already forgot which one it was. Oops.) 

I would write the problem on the board that we were going over. I was also very specific as to what they should be doing. We put our finger on the label we were starting at. We then decided if we had to move right or left to get to the label we needed. They showed me this by pointing either right or left. 
After we knew which direction we were headed, we counted how many "jumps" it took to get from our starting point to ending point. Students showed me on their fingers how many jumps it would take.

The next part was showing their work. They put their pencil wherever the decimal in the the starting number was. That meant that if the number didn't show a decimal, it was after the last digit. They then had to "jump" as many digits as they had to "jump" on their chart with their finger in the direction we had decided. If they didn't have enough digits, they had to add 0's so they could make their jump. I was very specific that I must see these jumps on their worksheet, even if they thought they could do it in their head. Lastly, they rewrote their new number next to their new label.

I was so excited that there were only a few students that seemed utterly confused by this. I took the last 5 minutes and had students work on finishing the worksheet independently. I told them that after the 5 minutes, I would call out some random problems that could be worth some treats. I figured that most off the students should be able to finish easily. While they were working, I worked with the few that were confused. What I noticed was that they seemed to be the only students who didn't go through the problems with us actually showing their work. Once I had them do that, the lightbulbs clicked!

At the end of the 5 minutes, I chose 3 problems. If a student got it correct, they lined up with their worksheet and received a couple of M&Ms. I'm not sure if it was giving them a specific amount of work time with a countdown clock or the chocolate, but I really liked that they didn't know which problems I was going to check. It also proved a point to a few of the students who dilly-dallied and didn't finished due to their choices. 

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