Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Days 16 - 19

Sorry, I got kinda busy the last couple of weeks, so I’m going to try to cover all of last week in this post (obviously not quite as in-depth as usual), and then try to catch up with individual posts for the four days this week. To save time I’m going to simply start linking to the individual days on the class blog where you can find links to the openers, lessons and videos, instead of linking them individually. I hope that works for you. Here we go.

Day 16
Today we took the assessment for Solving Equations with Variables on Both Sides. I was concerned about giving an assessment on a Monday for all the usual reasons, but with a four-day-a-week class and the frequency of my assessments, there’s really no good way around it. (Plus, philosophically, I don’t think it should make a difference giving an assessment on a Monday, it they know, they know it.) The results were pretty much what I expected, which was slightly disappointing. They didn’t do as well as I had hoped and it was clear that many of the students hadn’t thought about Algebra since they walked out the door at 8:20 am on Friday. I’m really struggling with the lack of effort some of the students are giving outside of class (and this seems to be a common complaint among other teachers of freshmen at my school this year).

After the assessment we did a quick review of graphing an equation by making a table, and then moved on to the lesson, which was a distance/rate/time problem that we attacked using recursive sequences. Once again I’m worried that I’m scaffolding this too much for them, but whenever I try to back off and let them take more ownership they flounder. This is going to be a continuing theme for me I think. My other concern today was their continued difficulties with the concept of speed and how you figure out how fast someone is going. We have already done a few distance/rate/time problems and I know they’ve done some in science before, plus I thought that speed was somewhat of an intuitive concept for most students. Yet they can’t seem to translate “how far I’ve gone and how long it took me” into actually calculate a rate.

Their homework was to watch the Graphing Linear Equations by Using a Table video as well as finish the lesson for the day. This was a little more than I intended to give them, but we didn’t get as far in class as I had hoped, and they do have two days to work on this. I encouraged them to come in on Tuesday (the day they don’t have me) for help if they were struggling.

Day 17
This was a day I had high hopes for in terms of engagement, as I invited in several folks (two assistant principals and our media specialist) to be guest participants in an activity. We walked down to our gym hallway where there was a little more room, I setup a 50 m tape and then the guests performed eight ten-second “walks” as the kids noted their position at each second. I had given the participants written directions ahead of time (“Start at 0. Walk at about 1 m/s for 3 seconds, then stop for 3 seconds, then walk at about 1 m/s for 4 more seconds”) and then I counted out the seconds and the students wrote down the positions.

This turned out to be more difficult for the students than I had expected, and then collating the data took a long time (which I did expect), so we’re going to finish this activity on Friday.

Their homework was to take the Graphing Linear Equations by Using a Table pre-assessment and to make sure they had all the data we collected written down.

Day 18
This was another Carnegie Hall day (“How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice) to give them some repetition of some skills and hopefully prepare them well for their assessment tomorrow. My class seems all over the place on their ability to plot points (something they’ve done before in multiple classes), and they are still struggling mightily with simply substituting in values and evaluating expressions correctly. I told them today that I’d love for them to be able to do this without a calculator but, if they find themselves getting things wrong often, I want them to use the calculator to be sure. So, do it in your head first, then verify with the calculator. I don’t think I convinced many of them.

Their homework tonight was to finish the review worksheet if they wanted to (we did most of the graphing problems in class, but then there was a spiral review of earlier topics), or they could save the non-graphing review problems for the weekend if they wanted to. Then they also needed to review for the assessment tomorrow. I feel like I’m communicating well in terms of what they should do to review for assessments, but I’m not sure I’m getting through.

Day 19
The assessment over Graphing Linear Equations by Using a Table was today – and, overall, they bombed it. Several factors here I think: Homecoming Week, two assessments in one week, me not standing over their shoulder making them do the homework, their difficulties in substituting and evaluating, and perhaps too high of expectations on my part in terms of their readiness to take ownership over their own learning. Back to the drawing board.

After the assessment we then worked with the data we collected on Wednesday and they seemed to be getting the hang of it. We had a shortened class due to the Homecoming Pep Assembly, so I once again left them with more of the lesson to finish for homework that I would like (this is getting to be a bad habit on my part – I really need to fix my timing issues). They also need to watch the next video, Graphing Linear Equations by Using Intercepts over the weekend.

I felt like this week was a step back for me and my class, hopefully next week will be better.

1 comment:

  1. Karl,

    Thanks for posting your thoughts and reflections. I really identified with a couple statements you made: "I’m really struggling with the lack of effort some of the students are giving outside of class"; "whenever I try to back off and let them take more ownership they flounder". It seems, in reading Anne's post last week, that she is struggling with the former as well. I am interested in how you proceed from here and where you have success in turning these couple things around. These both seem obstacles I typically face with freshmen, but perhaps this year moreso than in years past. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.