So after two weeks of using Excel Math in the classroom, I have been able to use it several ways and thanks to the help and input of colleagues, been able to trouble shoot some issues.
I was on the money when I said my kids would like the Stretch problems! They have been a hit. Students work with their friends or individually to solve. One time they were so piqued by a problem, that they worked on it through out the day and would give me answers even after math was over.
Some surprises: I really enjoyed grading the test. It was so focused that I could pin point where my students weakness were. Plus they were able to finish in the time allotted and felt confident with their work.
What I had a hard time with was balancing our “Problem of the Day” and Excel, retaining some of our “traditions”, and all of the big number adding and subtracting bug me!
Next week I have looked ahead at the lessons. Only one will require a real mini lesson. The rest is review so I can give a micro-review after mental math and send them on their way, while I work with my first group. So for the majority of the days I will be able to fit Problem of the day back in.
To be able to make lessons more effective, I have divided up the group into two. Half works on excel and the other half comes to me for the excel lesson. Then we switch. It still leaves time for games whole group or small.
I was able to retain Jueves al Reves, but not our student generated problem day. I talked to another teacher and she mentioned that she might use our extra Friday time (30 minutes) for these. I also thought that I might bring it back by using the Story problem(from Excel) we did last week. Instead of giving them a new sheet to work on, I will give them a few of the problems that they wrote that go with the story problem and let them solve them. That way I can review that story problem and the information in it, but also include their writing.
As far as the sheets, my students really enjoy them. They have enough ‘tough’ problems that my students who are strong in adding and subtracting feel challenged, but also have enough ‘easy’ problems so that my weaker students aren’t left out. So I guess I will just have to get over all those big problems because the goal is that eventually all of them will be able to solve them! One way I get around it for weaker students is to tell them to first do “easy” problems, then to go to the big numbers. I never stress about a sheet being complete.
My goal this week before break is to fit problem of the day back in and create a real balance, as well as bring back student generated problems. This will be good for me because then I can walk away to break with a sense of routines for January.