Math = Love: Broken Circles and Rainbow Logic Group Work Reflections

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Broken Circles and Rainbow Logic Group Work Reflections

Today, I had grand plans to go over the syllabus, complete Broken Circles, and complete Rainbow Logic in one fifty minute class period.  In two of my math classes, we did the syllabus, Broken Circles, and PART of Rainbow Logic.  In my other three math classes, we only did the syllabus and Broken Circles. Oh, and I also gave students back the quizzes they wrote for me yesterday to have them graded.

This question broke my heart.  You'll notice that I chose to write my own answer in.

(If you haven't read the Broken Circles and Rainbow Logic posts, read them first!  Otherwise, you'll probably be super confused!)

After talking through our syllabus, I introduced my students to the four group work roles we'll be using this year.  Silly me thought that I could just go over the four group roles, hand my students the Broken Circles task card, and set them to work.

Let's just say I ONLY made this mistake 1st period.  With each subsequent run-through of the activity, I found that how I was introducing/setting up the activity with my students was becoming much more effective.  

The "No talking" and "No pointing or hand signals of any kind" rules were SUPER hard for my students to follow.  This really wasn't a surprise, though.  

There was much frustration among the students.  Kids would call me over and tell me that I must have cut the circles wrong because the activity was impossible.  I assured them that the activity worked and pointed to the other groups that had already finished.  

The students who received the "A" pieces did have a lot of trouble giving up their pieces to the other students.  Some groups were working for multiple minutes before the "A" person gave up any of their pieces.  They did all eventually figure it out, though.  (Full disclosure: one group was really struggling.  Eventually, I had to let that group start talking.)  

After blogging/tweeting about this activity, I had a lot of people try it and out let me know how long the activity took on twitter.  They all advised me that small groups (especially groups of three) could finish the activity in as little as 2 minutes.  

I arranged all of my students in groups of 4, 5, or 6 to keep them engaged for a bit longer.  I never timed my students, but I would guess it took groups 4-8 minutes to finish.  Then, I had them complete the reflection sheet as a group.  

Here's some pics of Broken Circles in action:

 It was so fun to watch the groups celebrate together after finishing their circles.  Since they were still in "no talking" mode, almost all of the groups raised up their hands in celebration.

After working through Broken Circles, I found that they adjusted to Rainbow Logic a bit better.  I think it could have gone even better if we hadn't been so rushed for time today.  One group really impressed me with how well they were playing their roles during the Rainbow Logic activity.

I borrowed dividers from my neighbor teacher to help the grid keeper hide their designs.

The one thing that my students really struggled with was figuring out the rules of the game just from reading the game's rules.  Thinking about how it went after school, I was reminded that board games are not as prevalent with most students these days.  I can remember spending a good fifteen or thirty minutes trying to figure out how to play a new board game by reading the rules with my sister as a kid.  My students have grown up with apps and computer games that walk you through a tutorial level.  (I realize this is a generalization that doesn't apply to all students!)

As groups worked to figure out the color placements, I challenged them to see if they could figure out the solutions in smaller and smaller numbers of questions.  One group in my trig class really impressed me by figuring out the pattern of the entire grid in only TWO questions!  My freshmen didn't have as great of discussions as my trig students, but I think that comes with age and maturity.  My trig students were really good at discussing their questions and making sure it was a group question.  My freshmen still need a lot of work on that.  One student would just blurt out a question, and the group would go along with it.  Just shows me another thing we need to work on!  

I ended up really, really, really loving this activity.  I think it's a definite keeper!

Here's some action pics:

I definitely have gotten through near as many activities as I thought we would so far.  Everything just takes twice as long as I think it will.  I guess it's better to overplan than underplan.  :)  

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