Friday, April 20, 2012

NCTM presentation sneak peek!

Last year I had the privilege of going to the Annual NCTM conference in Indianapolis for the first time.  My colleague Julie and I were so inspired we sent a proposal to speak this year in Philadelphia and we were accepted!  The title of our presentation is called "Group Work That Works" and is all about... You guess it - group work!  Don't worry if you can not attend our presentation because I have already shared a lot of our ideas right here on the blog! Golden Groups, Smart Questions, or Marbles ring a bell?  I decided my lucky readers could get a sneak peak at one of the activities we will be doing at the conference.  We call the activity "silent conversations" but the idea came from an attempt to do a graffiti wall. 

One of the math coaches in my district shared the graffiti idea with me to help teach volume and surface area of different 3d objects.   She told me about these graffiti walls but I was having a hard time envisioning what she was talking about.  I decided to try the idea using a "worked example" for students to analyze and discuss through writing.  

Here is the first poster I created. 

When I started, the idea was for students to write all over the poster and then display the poster for whole group discussion.  This poster took me about an hour to make. Once it was created I was committed to the activity but I was NOT about to make 18 posters (6 for each class).   A light bulb went off and I realized I could laminate the poster.  The posters could not only be reused for each class BUT I could reuse the posters each YEAR! Brilliant idea if I say so myself :)

Here is a closer look.  
 All of the writing is mine and was written on the poster (before laminating).  Students responded to the questions with dry erase markers. 
This poster was obviously about volume of a sphere.  
Here are some more pictures after the posters have been written on. 

 I had a total of 5 posters and used the jigsaw method for each group.  To ensure accountability students used a graphic organizer to record the steps to solve the volume of the shape on their poster.  Each student was responsible to report back to their group and teach their group about the shape they had learned about.  After we discussed all the shapes in small groups and whole group (to clear up any misconceptions) I gave a quick 10 question quiz. 

During the activity I had a problem making sure all students were participating and given a chance to write.   I noticed the poster's writing was all in one direction making it hard for all four people to read the poster at the same time.  For our presentation we needed a function activity so we made new posters and placed the questions facing outward in all directions.  

Presentation Function posters

We tried these posters with our district's middle school teachers during our dry run of our presentation.  They loved it! 
We also included two rules for the activity.  
1) Each student must write two (mathematical)  questions. 
2) Each student must answer 2 questions (written by teacher or another student)

We have now tried this activity with 7th and 8th grade students at all ability levels and middle school teachers.  Students and teachers were very engaged during the activity!  I plan to do the poster activity again for my spring observation.  Stay tuned for an update! 

If you are going to Philadelphia for the Annual NCTM conference check out our presentation!  Our Presentation is 8:30 am on Thursday April 26th!


  1. Creative idea - I may try with my groups this year. Thanks! Keep posting; you have great ideas that I enjoy reading about.

  2. Great idea! I am definitely going to laminate something for a group activity.

  3. Does this work only on a heated laminator? We have a "cold" which is basically two sticky pieces. I'm curious how well dry erase markers work with that.

  4. I'm trying to find a cheaper way to laminate a poster that I made how do you do it without the expense of taking it to a printing place and having them laminate it for $50

  5. Would you be willing to share the resources that you used with your functions?