A thing that I discovered in 2016 was that I love teacher challenges. They give me a concrete thing that I can do to make myself reflect on and improve my teaching, and that other people are doing as well, so I can get inspiration.
So, when I saw that #MTBoS (Math Twitter Blogosphere) is doing a blog initiative for 2017, I immediately thought “it’s a challenge, so it will actually get me to blog regularly”. Then I actually read the post and saw that they’re asking the first post to be posted by the end of today and immediately thought “ehhhhhh.”
Then I remembered my 2017 phrase that I just blogged about last week of “action over inaction”, so thanks past me for giving me the motivation to just do this. This is all a longwinded intro to say HERE IS THE FIRST POST OF THE #MTBOS BLOG INITIATIVE 2017.
I love so many things about my classroom, so when pressed to think of my “favorite” thing, my mind jumped to five different projects, three different games, two forms of assignment, and about twenty seven different concepts that I love teaching. I could only decide what to blog about for “My Favorite” when I reframed the thought process to think about what my students would say is their favorite thing in my class. Then it was easy, because they say it often.
My favorite tool to use in my classroom is our tables. As dry erase boards.
I love the ease of saving paper for doing something fast, or for individualizing assignments. The students love feeling like they’re doing something they’re not supposed to do. I also think they love the impermanent feeling of it, knowing that they can easily take the eraser cloth or their sweatshirt sleeve and wipe out a mistake and try again, not having to mess with bad pencil erasers or the fact that they were writing in pen.
When we do question stack activities, or Ghosts in the Graveyard style reviews, or when we’re learning a new concept and I want them to try it before copying a correct solution into their notes, they write on the tables.
It also means that my often lazy students don’t have to make much of an effort to get out supplies, because they are already sitting at the table and I keep the markers and eraser cloths in clear purple Solo cups that sit perfectly in the cord holes that my classroom tables have. Some of my least motivated students will actually complete assignments on the tables because they don’t even have to move to get started.
I also see my students using the tables to try to work out solutions t0 whatever our current classroom challenge is in the last few minutes of a class, or even the few minutes before the bell rings at the start of class. Currently, I have up the $100 word challenge, but we just completed the 5-4-3-2-1 challenge and I’ll be posting the 2017 challenge when this quarter ends next week.
My favorite tool: my tables. So simple, but very effective.