Saturday, March 30, 2013

Making a Change in Algebra 1

I just want to say thank you to all of you out there for your great ideas and passion for teaching. I feel rejuvenated and my Algebra 1 class is full of energy. Let me share some of the chaos as of late...


My students were having a hard time connecting the description of slopes with the actual graphs. While I was tutoring several students from other schools, one student shared an idea he learned of a skiing penguin for slope. My mind exploded with a story-Pedro the Penguin. I googled a skiing penguin as my inspiration to illustrate the rest of the story and my Algebra 1 girls wrote the story! We have no idea where the name Pedro came from.




We were solving equations and it came down to the day before the test. My students tell me that they do better solving on the marker boards, one question at a time, and with some sort of an engaging, high energy activity. Of course, right?!

Again, my brain goes into overdrive and out pops this insane idea of a giant board game.

I assigned the task to my geometry students and they succeeded. They put my tables into a closed rectangle, unrolled white poster paper all the way around, and taped it together. They finished by cutting and pasting colored squares for the track, circle for the start, mini squares for the safe zone, and a pentagon for home.

They decided to construct cubes of different colors for the playing pieces.

I googled sorry game cards and found some vintage printable cards.

Then, it was up to me to figure out how to use this for a review. Since I didn't assign a specific math concept to the game, I can reuse the board game for a multitude of activities (hopefully). I printed and pasted differing levels of equations on different colored index cards. I sat in the middle of the tables and rotated clockwise. On the first rotation, each student drew an equation and solved; and the second rotation was to verify solution and allow them to draw a sorry game card. (Idea: Have a leading student be the monkey in the middle.)

Troubleshooting: We quickly realized that the teacher looking up solutions took too long.

Solution: Each solution is written below the equation. Thus the solution was no longer the focus. The solving process became the focus of our time. WOW! You wouldn't believe the results. That small change resulted in student teaching students, collaboration, and justification of the process to me!

(Rule of Ms. Haley's class: Oral explanations only! You cannot write on others' marker boards/sheet protectors or touch others' calculators. All explanations and directions are to be given orally; therefore, students are putting any process into words.)