Friday, January 11, 2013

Weekly Class Summary: Jan. 7-11

SOLs Covered: 7.4 & 8.3a Solving Practical Problems with Proportional Reasoning
Math Dictionary Sections: (21) Congruency & Similarity; (22) Estimation; (23) Estimating to Half or Whole; (24) Solving Problems with Decimals; (25) Add & Subtract Fractions; (26) Multiply & Divide Fractions; (27) Problem Solving with Percents
Upcoming Assessments: Consumer Applications Quiz (Fri. 1/18); Test 2.3 on RRP & Consumer Apps (Wed. 1/23)

This week had us continuing our work with ratios and rates, specifically working with them in proportions.  With proportions we spent quite a bit of time focusing on how to properly set up the ratios for each side of the proportion, color-coding the different parts of word problems to ensure that each piece of various word problems went into the correct spot.  For this reason, I recommend all students get a set of highlighters (multiple colors) if they do not already have them.  We used this same method when we covered similar figures, a topic that will pop up again in the third quarter when we get into our geometry unit.  At this time, we focused on finding missing sides while we will focus a bit more on how similar figures comes into play with transformations (dilations/compressions).

Students took the quiz on ratios, rates, and proportions on Thursday, however we will continue to work with them in conjunction with our unit on consumer applications, a.k.a. shopping/money math.  Personally, I feel this is one of the most important topics of the year since no matter what a student plans to do in the future, we all need to know how best to manage and budget our money.  Students received quite a few Math Dictionary sections this week to review some of the basic operations with fractions and decimals as these skills will be needed throughout the unit, but for 7th grade we spend a lot more time covering how percentages come into play with consumer applications.  We'll continue this unit throughout all of next week, having a quiz on Friday and then a test on the last two units of the term  the following week.

As we near the end of term, I encourage students and their parents/guardians alike to be vigilant in checking their grades and getting any missing assignments turned in for grading.  I've sent two grade reports home for this term at this point (three for any student with a D/F for the term/semester), but many students have not returned them with the requested parent signature.  At this point, I will be mailing copies home for any student with a D/F average for the term and/or semester, thus putting them at risk of failing for the year.  I've emailed the rest of the team teachers to let them know, so in all likelihood they will be adding their own reports to the envelope.  We want all the students to do their best, but we need both the students and their parents/guardians to work with us to ensure the students are successful.

This week I experimented with allowing students to use their various mobile devices (MP3 players, smart phones, tablets, eReaders) in class.  I posted the stipulations for their use on Edline/Edmodo at the beginning of the week, but here are the details again:
  1. Students must have permission from their parents/guardians to bring and use their devices in school.  I can show students how to connect to the school's Wi-Fi and give reminders about it, but if students fail to connect to the server, the data usage is their own responsibility.  Loss of or damage to the device is also the students responsibility.
  2. Students must get permission from me prior to getting the device out and using it.  They will only be given permission for the following things:
    • Listening to music during silent seatwork.
    • Checking Edmodo or Edline.
    • Using an app that's related to the class when all other work is completed:  ex. using a vocab card app or playing a math game, NOT playing Plants vs. Zombies or texting a friend.
  3. Getting permission to use the device does NOT grant permission to use the device anywhere outside of my class.  That is up to their other teachers to decide when, if ever, they are permitted to use devices in their classrooms.  Devices and earbuds/headphones must be put away prior to leaving my classroom.
So far it has been a huge success as it's motivated students to do their best (academically and behaviorally) to keep this privilege.  Students and parents/guardians should feel free to email me if they have any questions.  I've added two categories to the class Portaportal with links to a few educational apps for both iOS and Android devices and I have several links on eReading on the school Portaportal.  I'll continue to add resources to both that I think might help students improve their understanding of the the content and their appreciation for the class.  I'm also looking into possibly making my own apps, but that's just a little flicker of an idea and I haven't even begun to look further into it.  Students can however download their Math Dictionary to their devices if it can support PDFs.

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