Time is Money – A Fresh Start

While it is going to be my second year teaching, I’m starting at a brand new school and am really looking for a fresh start. There are two major things that I plan on implementing this year that I really hope improve my classes productivity and overall experience.

1. A Timer.

I want students to know that I value their time as well as my own, and I want them to know that in my class we use time wisely. Last year I would always say things like 5 more minutes and then what do ya know but 10 minutes would go by before I would actually buck up and tell them to quit what they were doing. I think because of this my students became more relaxed and knew they could take their good ole time. Not this year. I plan on implementing the timer on the first day to show that I mean business. Not only am I doing this for them, in terms of motivation, and as always preparing them for standardized testing, but I am doing this for me. A timer will give me more structure and help me pace my class. In terms of everyday class, I can say ok we are going to work on the warmup for 5 minutes, and set the timer. When its up so is the Warm-Up. Then I can set the timer for another 40 minutes – this will give me a ring a ding ding when it is time to close up class. I can give closure on the lesson, make sure all their notebooks are ready to go, and all supplies are put away. I can also use the timer and say ok peeps you got 20 minutes for this quiz – ready GO! The possibilities are endless and the more I think about it the more benefits I see.

Have you ever used a timer in your class? What benefits did you see or what did you not like about it?

2. Interactive Notebooks

So along with everyone else and their brother, I am going to give Interactive Notebooks (INBs) a shot (you can find out more information about what they are here). I think these are perfect for the classes I’ll be teaching which are Algebra 1 and Math 3. I think they will give the students great organization as well as a really useful tool that can be used in math classes in the future. I also think having a notebook like this will give students a lot of stability and a sense of consistency, without being necessarily consistent. I plan on incorporating all different kinds of ideas in my INBs, especially foldables. I used to think in college graphic organizers were things for 6 year olds because all they talked about were KWL charts – yawn. I love that foldables are a graphic organizer that have long term uses, especially when they are used to review concepts. I think students will immediately buy into them thinking they are an arts and craft project but really they are a way for students to keep all their thoughts and reflections in one place and in an order than should make sense to them.

Here are a couple of basics that I’ve made for my INBs:
Table of Contents

Intro to INBs: A total rip off of the one Sarah posted about here.

Rubric: Adapted from Megan’s Rubric which can be found here along with a TON of other INB resources.

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5 comments

  1. misscalcul8

    I also use a timer for individual think time. I will set the timer for 2 minutes and ask everyone to read the problem and think about it or try it on their own. When the timer goes off then they can turn to a neighbor and discuss and then we discuss as a class. Giving students silent time to think on their own brings a lot more depth to their responses and reminds us to shut up and let them for think for a dang minute. lol

  2. Steve Grossberg

    I also use the online stopwatch Lauren mentioned, for the same reasons as well as pretty much any time I want to “free” the students to work on something without me directing the class for a period of time. I personally don’t treat it as inflexibly as you are trying to do, but it depends on the activity. If my students are working in teams on a (big) problem for 20 minutes, I may not cut them off right when the stopwatch starts blinking 00:00 with a flashing red background. (I almost keep the sound muted and just keep the stopwatch projected.) If I a hearing good mathematical conversation and a glance at my lesson plan shows me a place where I can squeeze or skip something, I may either let it run with no comment at all (leaving up the flashing 00:00 so the students know they are on borrowed time) or grant a specific extension of whatever time feels appropriate.

    Your point system (25, 21, 17, 13, 9), while a nice arithmetic sequence, feels a little forced. I assume you are trying to make your grades fit into the Universal Percentage System, but it looks like a perfect fit for a 5-point Standards Based Grading scale. You may be avoiding that for any number of reasons, and if so no worries. Think about it for the long run though. Join the revolution and rise up against the tyranny of the UPS! (Not the shipping company. Those folks do a great job, really. Please don’t sue me, UPS.)

    Editor’s note: On your INB Scoring Criteria, you have the word “near” where you intend (I’m sure) to say “neat”.

    Thanks for sharing your materials and ideas. Keep it up!

  3. Carby

    The online-stopwatch is awesome. You change the timer to look like a bomb, hourglass, etc. I wouldn’t know what to do without it. Also, you can ask a student that you trust to keep track of time for you. I like the slideshows you have for INB. I particularly like the IN, OUT, and THROUGH explanation. Good stuff!

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