Tag Archives: marshmallow challenge

Reflections on the First Week of School

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Another first week of school under my belt!  I have already blogged about my first day of school here.  I was able to get all of the puzzle pieces up on a bulletin board.  Three students still have to hand in their pieces.  Students are already drawn to viewing what their classmates have put up.  It is great to have a small glimpse of what the students are like.

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On Wednesday, the second day of school, I had my 8th graders work in groups of 3 – 4 students to do the Marshmallow Challenge.  This year, I noticed that a lot of groups had one idea and didn’t test it out until we were more than half way through the activity.  When they finally let go of their construction and it fell, they didn’t have enough time to try something else.  Or, they didn’t try to make changes to the structure, but tried the same idea again.  This made for great discussions afterward.  To introduce integers with my 7th graders, I had them do this internet activity.  For homework, I had them do the mathematical autobiography from Sarah Hagan.  Thank you, Sarah!  I loved reading the responses that I got!  I made this spreadsheet so that I can uses their responses throughout the year.

Thursday was a day to begin the first units with 8th graders and set up the interactive notebooks with 7th graders.  Eventually, I might make INB with 8th graders, but I have enough on my plate this year.

Friday (TGIF!) was a day to cover textbooks.  I want all textbooks covered first with a paper grocery bag and then with a book sock.  I find that the paper bag keeps the binding in better shape and the book sock keeps the paper bag from ripping.  It sounds like an easy task.  However, there are always quite a few students who have trouble following my one-step-at-a-time instructions.  I was exhausted after repeating the same steps for six different classes!  I found it was best to take one day out of the schedule to do this as a class.  Otherwise, some students never get their book covered and I end up covering way too many books because students don’t know how to cover a book (seriously?).

After reading 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions, I tried to be more intentional in asking good questions to get the students thinking.  I waited longer for students to answer, I had students paraphrase other students’ answers, and I tried not to repeat a student’s answer.  I didn’t realized how many times I do that!  Eventually, I want students to talk more and carry the discussion.