For the past few years, we have taken a TriPod survey through Cambridge Education to help us gauge how our students feel in the classroom. The students' survey answers are anonymous but after a month or so, we get an email with our results. Not that I put a ton of stock in what a 9-10 year old child says about my classroom (because how do I know they weren't in a bad mood that day or hadn't had breakfast or whatever?), but it can be useful to see trends over time.
Last year my kiddos rated our class really low on "Choices". Basically on the survey they said they didn't feel like they'd had enough choice in the classroom. Each year we also have to have an instructional goal. In the past we've also had to have a student growth goal but this year, for tenured teachers, its just the one instructional goal. Knowing my kiddos thought they didn't have enough choice in the classroom last year, I decided Choice was something I wanted to focus on this year.
That said, I decided to focus on math with my choices. We are required to teach math for 90 minutes per day. In theory, 30 minutes of that would be "intervention" or small group time. What I decided to do instead was employ Choice Menus to allow the kids to work on the current learning topic but in a variety of ways -- games, extra practice worksheets, etc.
Last week, as I was trying to finish up my plans, I was struggling to make a new board. We're working on decimals and had already done one menu on decimals at the end of the marking period. I didn't want to do more worksheets and hope they figured it out. That's boring! So I looked on TeachersPayTeachers...knowing full well that someone else probably already created something I could use that would align to what I wanted.
Fortunately, I was right and came across this file by Southern Fried Teachin:
Oh. My. Word. This file is FANTASTIC. They are all project based and each board covers one concept. Since we are finishing up with decimals, my kiddos are doing the decimal place value board. They started them on Wednesday (our first day of school this week) and have been doing the planning phase. They are using the back of their math notebooks as planning space and once their plan has been "approved" (ie. my TA or myself have ensured the information is correct), they will get their chart paper, markers, etc so that they can actually create the projects.
My kids are LOVING this! I already have a friend who is done with all three of his plans and on Monday will be able to start on the actual projects themselves. The bonus is that these really show me if the kids grasped the concepts or not -- they can't just willy nilly their way through it as most of them require them to have some kind of explanation or other work.
I absolutely can not wait until the end of next week when the projects are due and I can take some pictures and show them off. If you're an upper grade teacher looking for some awesome math choices, check out this file.
*No, she is not paying me to say any of this nice stuff about her :)