When my school piloted the Common Core state standards before my district and before my state back in 2012, I was given a LOT of freedom to do what was needed to teach to these new, and awesome, standards. The freedom was incredible, and allowed me the opportunity to explore all kinds of avenues to find curriculum and resources. More than anything I gained confidence that as a professional, I had the skills and knowledge to create what was needed to address the standards at my grade level and teach MY students. That was powerful. And I continue to grow from that initial burst of confidence. I am the teacher, not the book.
Not every day back then was full of creative ingenuity, so I became a frequent Teachers Pay Teachers browser. Usually I would use TpT as inspiration. I rarely buy things on TpT, but the few things I have bought have been some of the best dollars I ever spent, especially all of the activities I own from All Things Algebra! I LOVE her (Gina Wilson) stuff, and today I want to highlight one of my favorite activities that she creates, MathLibs!
Her MathLibs are super popular in my classroom. We always try to do at least one MathLib every unit. The stations are just multiple choice, with the answers serving as the empty words of a traditional Madlib type sentence frame. Students love working at each of the stations, and get SO excited to come read me their finished sentence at the end of the day. Gina even includes editable slides when you purchase her activity so that you can change the answers to include teachers at your school or places in your community.
For 45 minutes last Friday, my Algebra class worked tirelessly to get through these stations about finding the equation of a line given two coordinate points. We usually model the first station together and talk about expectations for behavior and work quality and then I release them to work. They can work with who ever they want. They can move at their own pace. They can stand. Sit. Take a lap in between. It's a lot of freedom, but it looks and sounds like productivity.
The best part of the day? I get to just sit back, watch, and listen. Watching can be very powerful. I am watching to see what students need extra attention. What students are helping others. And it allows me to be available to students who need me, instead of just stuck up at the front of the board talking at them for 45 minutes. Boring. Listening allows me to hear misconceptions and errors in thinking and I begin to hear where their comfort level is at using the academic vocabulary on their own. With this activity I was really listening for students to be using phrases like "change in y" or "change in x" as well as things like "slope intercept form" instead of saying "the equation thingy". If they know it well enough to explain to others and use these phrases in their casual conversation with peers, I know that we are in a good place.
The district eventually chose curriculum (CMP3! for Pre Algebra and CPM for Algebra and above), but I still love to head back to TpT every now and then to see what fantastic resources are available from my peers and colleagues around the nation! Math teachers untie!
Check out All Things Algebra and her collection of MathLibs HERE!