Okay, so clearly I didn’t get caught up on my blogging. Again, I’ll try to do a week in this post and then see if I can find time this weekend to do individual posts for this past week. Again, all links to the openers, lessons, assessments, and other stuff are contained in the class blog posts that are linked from each day.
Today’s opener contained a problem about the world’s largest chocolate bar (used it for dimensional analysis), as well as some intercept questions. The lesson was an application of slope-intercept involving me, calories and a treadmill. I think the students appreciated the context, especially when I explained that the numbers were reasonably accurate, but I still feel like I’m doing too much of the work/thinking. I also gave them the background information for our next Skype session, with an engineer from NREL that’s working on a geothermal hvac system at a new IKEA store that’s going up in our city.
Today’s opener contained another dimensional analysis problem, this time around texting and driving. Again, the students seemed interested in the context, and the fact that I can apparently find openers just about every day in the newspaper, but they still struggle mightily with actually completing them on their own. I’m wondering if perhaps I should start class by having them do jumping jacks instead.
The lesson for today involved weighing pennies and coming up with a linear equation to predict the weight based on the number of pennies (thanks to Frank who gave me the idea in a comment a while back). I had them place the pennies in a beaker before they weighed them so that I could manufacture a y-intercept other than zero, and I also made sure that each group had pennies that were either all pre-1982 or post-1982 (when the composition, and therefore the weight, changed).
This lesson went okay, but some of the groups collected such poor data that it was hard for them to get what I was hoping they would get. I think they more or less understood when we discussed it at the end, but I’m wondering if all the data collecting I’m having them do is perhaps getting in the way of their learning.
We assessed on Graphing Linear Equations Using Intercepts today. Once again I thought I had prepared them well and had constructed a straightforward (and easy) assessment. Turns out I was wrong, as there was still a wide range of performance on this assessment. Some students are clearly not studying at all for these assessment but, even if that’s the case, I would hope they would still be doing better based on what we’ve done in class.
I thought the lesson today was pretty interesting, as we looked at – and graphed – data based on the current tax bracket rates, the rates proposed by the Obama administration, and the rates if the current tax policy expires. We worked with the data first, before I told them what it was. I then asked them to guess what the data represented, and one of my students did guess (surprising even himself). Again, though, I’m worrying that while I find the context of these investigations very interesting, I’m not sure they do. We then looked at some linear wind chill data as well.
I’ve decided to try to make my openers take less time. For a while, at least, I’m removing the longer (and more interesting I think) problems in favor of problems that focus directly on the skills we’re learning. They just seem to be getting lost with the more in-depth problems, and then we also run out of time in class for our lessons, so I’m going to try this for a few weeks and see if it helps.
The lesson today gathered data on drop height versus bounce height for various types of balls (bouncy balls, tennis balls, etc.). This went okay, and they seemed to be getting the idea but, once again, at the end of the day I wonder if they would’ve gotten just as much or more out of it if I had just provided them the data instead of them collecting it.