Kate Nowak's posts are optimstic, pragmatic, generous and immediately useful. I used her row game in class yesterday and it was the best new group work structure I've tried since I started teaching.
My whole class is (ideally) based on group work. My students should nearly always be talking to each other, comparing answers, helping when someone needs help, asking questions when they're confused, helping each other stay on task, etc. Sometimes this is natural, and mostly I see that this is how kids want to do math. Some training is helpful though.
While doing the row game yesterday with order of operations and signed arithmetic, I heard the best conversations I've heard in my new 9th grade classes. I witnessed serious debate, authentic and sustained engagement, passionate investment in each other's work, and evidence of a compelling motivation to deeply look at one another's work, since they hadn't themselves already done one another's problems.
Simple to create and direct, this activity is going to change my class. THANK YOU KATE!
Kate's current post is also beautiful and I'm going to use it in class imminently. I'm excited about the accessibility of the visuals and the ease with which I think kids can interpret and make meaning of them.
While I'm thanking Kate, I should also say that she is the reason I know about blogging in the first place, and the primary support for me starting this here blog, which I'm so glad I did.