Thursday, October 30, 2014

IMP Day 24 - Real-world percent increase/decrease

Today we had a morning assembly that went over into our time for our 2nd block class. Dr. Montgomery gave me the idea of doing a formative assessment to see if they got percent increase. I made up the following problem...

The students had to show their work and write an explanation. Some of the students had to clarify and/or rework but overall I felt very good about their comprehension of the work!

IMP Day 23 - If I Could See This Thing

Today was a frustrating day. We worked on If I Could See This Thing all block (1 hour and 25 minutes!!) and didn't finish! The "time allowed" in the pacing guide is like 25 minutes. So...I did try several different strategies today. The first thing we did was to allow them time to read the intro and excerpt silently then "notice and wonder" with a partner. We have never done the Noticing and Wondering strategy before. Afterwards I rolled my 8-sided dice to choose groups to share their findings and I recorded them on the board. I told the students that if they would research any of the "wonderings" and type up a summary that they could earn bonus points which are rare in my class. Then we used the same noticing and wondering strategy for #1. They did not notice and wonder the things I was hoping for. In my 2nd go around (with my 3rd block class) we popcorn read instead of reading silently. Also when we got to number 1 I did a better job of encouraging them to notice and wonder about the math part of the problem too!

We started number 2 but will have to finish tomorrow. Dr. Montgomery has made tombstones and death certificates for the students to use for their family members who "didn't make it."

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Day 22 IMP - Ox Expressions and Ox Expressions at Home

Today I started class by having each group compare to see who came up with the most meaningful algebraic expressions using the Ox Expressions chart. It was a sad comparison because the vast majority of my students did not do their homework. I had told them that the winner would receive bonus points to try to motivate them.

After they had time to compare, I took up each of the "winning" papers from each group and gave a piece of candy to each of those students (candy always motivates!). Then I put their papers under the document camera and we assessed each expression to see if it was meaningful. This was a tedious process but I am not sure how else to get them to go through and determine meaningful expressions! Unit analysis really helps! Again...we did unit analysis before we started the Meaningful Math books. I do not know if they REALLY understood it then and I am not sure how many students REALLY understand it now, but for the few that do it seems to help to verify whether or not expressions have useful meaning. Also...I talked about "like terms." For example, it means nothing to add the number of wagons plus the number of gallons of water a person drinks per day. I point out that adding wagons to gallons doesn't mean much. However, if you add the number of men plus the number of women plus the number of children it is MEANINGFUL because they are all the same unit - people!

After we trudged through determining whether or not the expressions were meaningful and found a winner for each class (one girl had 14!), I made them do the Ox Expressions at Home activity as a quiz. I look forward to seeing how well they did. These concepts seem to be difficult to "drive home."

Lastly, Dr. Montgomery, our instructional partner and former human anatomy and physiology teacher, came in and discussed the diseases in "If I Could See This Thing." She also has created death certificates and tombstones for me and Mrs. New to use with our classes. I have to prepare for tomorrow's lesson but I think a certain percentage of the people in our wagon trains have to die due to these diseases. More tomorrow...

Monday, October 27, 2014

Day 21 IMP - Kearney and Vermillion

Today I had my students finish To Kearney By Equation. We completed numbers 1 and 2 on Friday so they just needed to do numbers 3 and 4. I helped each class come up with an alternative formula where we used round trips for the profit equation instead of hours. This would have been a GREAT extension of the problem but I just kind of "happened" across it when I was trying to keep them from dealing with a fractional amount of time in hours. (That scares them!)

I almost led my 2nd block class astray because I asked them to compare which river crossing was cheaper between Kearney and Vermillion. THANKFULLY I caught onto the fact that in Kearney you are finding the amount of PROFIT for the Pappan Bros. and in Vermillion you are finding the amount it costs to cross the river. I was able to use this as a teaching point in both classes. We also defined formula and added it to the vocab list. I assigned Ox Expressions for homework and offered bonus points to the student who finds the most meaningful expressions...

**Hints for the future - I use what I have previously called Interactive Notebooks but since I have been using our new textbooks I have not been "giving notes" like I used to. We have not any more foldables...  However, the notebooks have come in handy because we create an entry for each activity in the table of contents and I hope it makes it easier for my students when it comes time to do their portfolios. In the future I would like to make a vocabulary entry at the beginning of each unit and leave enough room for them to go back and add vocab terms as we go through the lesson. Right now I have them listed and defined on chart paper in my room. However, when the unit is over I will take them down. I would like them to be able to have something to go back and review all vocab at once.

I have done ALOT of guiding (talking too much!) the last couple of class periods. My students still demonstrate their lack of number sense on a daily basis! I definitely need to work on my reactions so that I don't make crazy faces when they say something crazy! For some of the harder ideas I have a class discussion and the brightest 2 or 3 students end up answer the questions and "leading us home" to whatever idea I am looking for. I feel a little guilty about this but I am looking at it right now as an opportunity for my stronger math students to stretch. Once I guide them through questioning to whatever concept I am trying to reach I try to re-explain it to everyone. I am specifically referring to the "new formula" we developed for profit in Kearney which was profit = 2W-0.10T where T equals round trip. I thought this formula was easier to use but I tried to not just GIVE them the formula...

Friday, October 24, 2014

IMP Day 20 - 4 weeks... - To Kearney by Equation & Meaningful Conversations

It doesn't seem like we have been at this a month! I have had the books for 20 school days and the pacing chart says I should have finished in 14 days. UGH! I did miss 3 days for professional development so I am only 3 days behind. I also have not assigned much for homework. I will students just don't do their homework much. I am working on it.

This curriculum gives you so many opportunities to have meaningful conversations. I can understand why the title of the book is Meaningful Math! I love the tie in to the Westward Expansion because it has been a LONG time since I have had history. I am relearning too!

To Kearney by Equation once again took much longer than expected...and we aren't finished! It is very neat how the real-world equation is given within a context and then the students analyze what each part means. I took a good bit of time teaching the students how to take notes while they are reading a passage. Reading for information is a skill! Also, I love the tip from Jim Delawder about having a student to restate a passage in his own words. Today I did that after we read aloud in class and it is amazing how many people didn't have a clue. Hopefully I can help them to improve their listening and retention skills.

Trying to get students to work together and write their findings on 2x2 whiteboard can be like ROPING THE WIND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is my reflection from today's 5th period class today. Last class on a Friday afternoon...

Thursday, October 23, 2014

IMP Day 19 - Wow! Laced Travelers

Today I took entirely too long on Laced Travelers. However, I am beginning to realize how this curriculum gives me so many opportunities to identify my students' misconceptions. I have never really realized this before. They may be able to tell you their numerical answer. BUT they may have just gotten lucky because they just randomly added or multiplied or etc... When you ask them what that number really means is when the real meat of a discussion happens. In my other textbooks and tasks I often didn't have a meaning to refer back to. WOW! So many of my students were SO FAR OFF in the Laced Travelers activity. They just multiplied a couple of numbers and got an answer. There were multiple approaches that worked so I would ask them what that answer meant. I would also ask them if the answer was significant to the task. THEY DIDN'T KNOW... I did ALOT of talking today once we identified that their number sense was so far off on these problems. Maybe I talked too much...but I think they really learned something...I HOPE!

This activity probably took twice as long as it should but if felt meaningful...

I wrote the above paragraph after my 2ndd block class. Many of the same things occurred during my 3rd block class. They made up some great problems for #2. When we started creating variables they did things a little differently than my 2nd block. This led into a realization (by me) of how dimensional analysis can help a little with making sense of the algebraic expressions. We had covered dimensional analysis earlier in the year but it was a struggle for my students.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

IMP Day 18 - Laced Travelers, etc...

Today I started class by giving the students time to continue working on their Haybaler POW write-ups. I am finding it hard allowing students to struggle without telling them the answer. There comes a point with almost all of the more difficult problems where I just want to say, "Okay, now everyone watch me so I can tell you how to do this." It feels like I don't get "closure" on some of the problems. Is that a real thing? Teacher closure? I could define it by saying that it is when a teacher feels that he or she has sufficiently told the students what they need to know.

I try to have the students to share but I don't think I do a great job of that yet. I tend to allow them to share a little bit and then I repeat and extend. Repeating and extending is okay...I think. However, my students need more guidance in presenting their findings and I am not yet sure how to direct them. I am going to have to go search some of the resources that Jim shared with us last week.

After the time for writing the POW, I discussed the Diagonals Illuminated activity. Thing is...very few of my students spent any time finishing the activity for homework. That is so frustrating! Anyway, I had one student out of 60 who did come up with the function rule for the activity. He is such a good thinker! He gave me the pattern verbally and I wrote it as he was saying it. Then I gave him a few hints and he told me how to write the algebraic expression. I asked him if he wanted to share it with the class and he didn't want to. Therefore I shared his findings for him.

The last activity we did today was the Laced Travelers activity. It is neat how the authors used a similar situation but changed the way they gave the numbers. There is not an "algorithm" that is reapplied. They have to think through the information that is given and arrive at their answers. I had a few students to do this activity VERY quickly. I started giving candy to the ones who figured out how many men, women, and children went through Westport.

My 5th period class finished their Creating Families activity today. Some of them still didn't get their families correct according to the constraints. This is definitely a case where I really wanted to take their pencils out of there hands and just do it for them! I decided to just give them a grade today (everyone passed but the I deducted points for incorrect families) and then tomorrow I am going to do the kind of just go through creating each type of family with the students and give an example of each of the 4 types of families. While the information for the families is still on the board I am going to have them do the Hats activity. I hope this goes well. We will see...

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

IMP Day 17 - Shoelaces and Diagonals Illuminated and Creating Families (5th period)

Today I handed out my rubric for the Haybaler POW and then gave (through questioning and getting really excited when someone got close) them the hint that two of the bales are 39 and 41. HINT HINT HINT! Some of my students still didn't take the hint!

Then we read the intro to Setting Out with Variables and did the Shoelaces activity. I really liked this activity! Jim had warned us in training that many of the students were going to forget to calculate for 2 shoes in each pair and he was right! Reading the teacher's guide is VERY IMPORTANT for this activity because it has you lead the students through assigning variables and coming up with an algebraic expression for the amount of shoelaces each family needs to buy. *Family folders are needed for this activity because they figure how much they need for their own family first.* Then we talked about substitution...  Having not taught out of this book before I keep being anxious to see when the topic is going to be revisited. I know that the topics spiral but I wish I had time to investigate and see how they deepen as they go. Ain't nobody got time for that!!  (not right now anyway)

The next activity we did was Diagonals Illuminated. This activity revisits In-Out tables and creating a rule.

My 5th period started Creating Families today. I used Jim's method of grouping them randomly using playing cards and then assigning the type of family by suits. They relocated and worked on their families in the "new" groups so that they were working with the same constraints. I liked this much better than the way I did it with my 2nd and 3rd blocks.

I have also taken some advice from Theodora Psitos (a trainer with It's About Time) and started posting the definitions from the unit on chart paper. Today I would pause every time I came to one of the vocabulary words and point to the definition for them to read to me. I hope it helps!

Popcorn reading seems to work even though they groan a little when we start using it. I also find myself getting impatient and just reading it myself...ALOT. I noticed when we were in training and I was in "student mode" it took me several reads for the info to sink in. I figure that they don't pay great attention to detail the first time through anyway so I speed read to hurry up the process. #trueconfessions    I do read slower on the most important parts. I really rambled!

O yea!! We received the teaching kits from It's About Time last week for the PD. In the kit there were 2 books about the Oregon Trail and I read excerpts to my classes today. I didn't read long but it was fun. The book I read from has a collection of journals from the perspective a 15-year-old boy. I plan to read a little every day.

Monday, October 20, 2014

IMP Days 14-16 - Graphing Stories, Haybaler, and The Search for Dry Trails

Last week during our PD my students worked on graphing stories on pg. 42-47. I really had fun teaching graphing stories earlier in the year. After going over a few of the videos on I had my students complete some graphing stories worksheets that Lori White shared with me at AMSTI training this year. The graphs were the same as some I have used previous years but she had places for them to explain why one choice was correct and the other 3 were wrong. This approach gave us the opportunity to discuss the details of every single graph. THEN (my favorite part) we checked out the Ipads and we went outside to let them film their own graphing stories. The majority of them did some kind of flip or cartwheel. In those cases I had them to graph the relationship between the distance of their feet off the ground and time. The coolest one was one where 3 students were standing on a 2 foot wall and one student stayed on the wall and the other 2 flipped at different times. Then one jumped back on the wall and then back down to the ground. We graphed all three on the same coordinate plane in different colors. I think the students had almost as much fun as I did. I wish I would have made some of them bounce a ball and film it. One group did drop a pencil. This was a VERY fun activity. When the students finished graphing I played the video and we critiqued the graph as a class. This activity helped us to set the tone of "Mistakes are okay in here. Let's just learn how to correct them!"

Okay...back to the IMP curriculum...I made the graphing stories assignment for them to do while I was in PD because they should have been able to understand how to do them after the extensive time I have already spent teaching it (prior to using our new books).

Today I gave my students close to 30 minutes to continue working on the Haybaler POW. The one question I have kept asking my students is whether or not any 2 bales can have the same weight. Today, after encouraging them to just start testing values, I had one person in each of my 2 classes to realize that none of the hay bales could have the same weight because there are no 2 sums that are the same. I thought they would NEVER come to that on their own! I have also now had a couple of groups to come up with a solution.

The Search for Dry Trails really does not take long to go over. The students came up with their answers fairly quickly and we had a discussion and went over the definitions for mean and median. I ended up giving them additional time on Haybaler because we finished "The Search" so quickly.

Friday, October 17, 2014

IMP Training Day 2 - Confirming my AHA moment

Today we went through more of Overland Trail and part of The Pit and the Pendulum and the experience going through the units as a students were great! Having Jim Delawder there sharing his experiences with the curriculum provided invaluable knowledge. I loved being able to "pepper" him with questions about how to approach the lessons with our students. He also offered some practical advice on dealing with students working in groups. Ideas like using a folder for each group in which they put their papers that need to be turned in so that you have 7 people turning in work instead of 28. He also put the "group roles" on a piece of paper in their group folder. There would be times that he would tell the students that they could change roles as long as they wrote them down and put them in the folder. Materials, scribe, presenter, and questioner....??  Well, I may be emailing Jim and asking 1 more question. I have never been good at assigning group roles and sticking with them.

One of the things I enjoyed most today were some of the conversations we had bouncing ideas off of other math teachers. I have just recently come to the realization that for YEARS I have been teaching my students like I want to be taught. I was that student that loved math and just wanted you to show me an example so I could do my work. The problem is that the majority of students don't learn math the way I did. Sadly, the majority of students do not consider math their favorite subject. There are students that are just not going to "buy in" to learning math if they can not see how the math can be applied. Also, since math teachers have "math brains" it is very difficult for us to relate to students who do not. One of the hardest lessons I had to learn as a new teacher was that all of my students are not like me. What I mean by that is that they do not all do their homework or give their best. (They also didn't grow up in Mayberry...which is my joke for admitting that I grew up in an awesome home with no worries to speak of.) new realization is that I have to change the way I teach to reach the majority of my students instead of the minority. The IMP Meaningful Math program is providing me with the tools to reach ALL students. My "math brains" can soar and find deeper meanings while my struggling students will have a context in which to operate which will hopefully help them to connect with the math.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

IMP PD - Day 1

I can honestly say that a "textbook company" has never given us such meaningful and useful professional development before. It's About Time does not only provide you with a textbook that meets all the algebra standards and literacy standards in the course of study; they provide you with teacher PD that would benefit any algebra teachers because best teaching practices are modeled by the trainer. Jim Delawder is such an incredible, experienced teacher. He is very patient with all of our questions and very passionate and knowledgeable of IMP math.

Takeaways from today:

  • Divide the work and if there are more problems than there are groups you can have every group do the "leftover" problems
  • When I did Creating Families I could have used playing cards to group students by numbers and then regrouped them using the suits. For instance, I was a 2 of clubs. Originally all the 2s were grouped together. When we did creating families we were told that the clubs were doing the nonfamily. Then we regrouped by the type of family (or suit). That way the students all got to work with someone else who was creating the same type of family.
  • Ask a struggling student to just attempt to draw you a picture.
  • We can trust the curriculum...we can trust the curriculum...we can trust the curriculum.
  • Around the Horn POW is confusing and you will need manipulatives to model the situation!
I know that I learned so much more than what is listed above...I am just so tired right now I can't remember! It was very cool for Tom Laster to be visiting with us today also. He even took part in the PD. It is contagious to be around someone who is so passionate about STEM education. He has so many stories and examples of successful implementation of IMP. the way. The state of Alabama (and its math and science teachers) have been taking our AMSTI program for granted. The PD we receive at AMSTI is so similar to the PD provided today by It's About Time. WOW! 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

IMP Math Day 13 - Family Constraints and Planning for the Long Journey

I forgot to mention yesterday that I had a student come up to me and tell me that he had a solution to the Haybaler POW. I could tell that the handwriting was VERY neat for him so I asked him if someone else wrote it. He told me that he spent 3 and a half hours working on it and that his Mom finally helped him. It looked like they got the correct answer and they had also shown their work. I told him it was GREAT. It is cool to me that we have some math activities where I can tell them that it is okay to get help from someone as long as they explain their reasoning. I told him that when he does the POW Write-Up he will just include in there that his Mom helped him figure it out and explain how she helped. The greatest part of this is that I DID NOT tell them to complete the problem at home. The only thing I had told them to think about was whether or not 2 bales could have the same weight. I thought that they could at first but soon realized that they couldn't because there are 10 different weights. If there were 2 bales with the same weight there would have to be 2 sums that were the same.

Today we discussed the Family Constraints activity. I love the way the teacher's guide recommends you ask the students to create their own equations for the ages that they came up with for 2 and 3. We spent several minutes on discussing and extending this activity according to the activities recommended. I also added vocabulary terms to their notes (which again were recommended in the guide).

We also started work on the Planning for the Long Journey group activity. They were asked to brainstorm all the materials they need for the trip. It is odd to me that the price list is very limited. I'm not sure if this means that the students need to do research to be more accurate or if the activity is just meant to get students thinking about what it would take to make a 30-day trip on a wagon train. I may give the students the opportunity to extend this activity for bonus points...

**edit 9/2/15- when I did this activity this year Sonya New pointed out to me to MAKE SURE the students chose amounts for beans, gunpowder, and sugar because later we will calculate the amount their family needed.

I am excited today because It's About Time has sent Jim Delawder from New York City down to good ole Alabama to do some professional development for our new Meaningful Math Algebra books. I hope that he does not experience any culture shock. I also hope that he can understand my rather distinct Southern accent. Tom Laster is also here to meet our team of teachers, our instructional partner, and our principal. It is crazy that all of this has come about because Tom and I happened to get on the same elevator in Atlanta while attending the ISTE conference! We are very excited and somewhat nervous about piloting this curriculum. We want to do well and we want our students to excel.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

IMP Math Day 12 - Hats and Family Constraints

Today we finished up with Hats for the Families and then started working in Family Constraints. I have not been assigning much homework so far. I realize that I am going to have to in order to "catch up" since we started the book late. My struggle with that idea is that VERY FEW of my students usually complete their homework. Today Tom Laster from It's About Time sent me a brochure entitled "How to Help with Math Homework When the Answers Aren't in the Book" by William Blatner. This was such an awesome read. I loved that in the brochure it mentioned that students will be asked to spend 25 minutes on math homework. 25 minutes is not that long! I hope that if I do a good job communicating my homework expectations and stress to the students not to spend any more than 25 minutes on any one assignment that I can motivate my students to actually DO the homework. I believe the nature of the work, which is not a group of 20-25 problems, will help. When a student is asked to spend 25 minutes brainstorming ideas or documenting the things they have tried to solve a problem. Something that I have told my students over and over again since starting the new curriculum is DON'T ERASE! Because the curriculum is so focused on being able to discuss the process of approaching each problem and the different strategies you have used I have encouraged the students to only strike through or put an 'x' over any parts that they think are wrong. I wish I had thought of this before now. I have often told a student who has erased a problem and then asked for help that they should have left their work on their paper so I could help identify where they went wrong. However, my new favorite thing to say is DON'T ERASE!

Tonight as I was trying to prepare for the lessons I would like to do tomorrow I have again realized something VERY important. If you don't refer to the teacher's guides you will miss out on some really important teaching points for the lessons. Thankfully I looked before we finished discussing the Family Constraints activity. The students completed 2 and 3 on their own in class today. You will not find definitions in the lessons. There is a glossary in the back of the book; the important terms to go over are mentioned in the teacher's guides. So far this is the 2nd lesson which asks you to specifically review vocabulary.

Also, we had PD on formative assessment today. My new term for the day is 'descriptive feedback.' It really struck me when it was said that students need descriptive feedback AND the opportunity to revise after the feedback.

Monday, October 13, 2014

IMP Math Day 11...I think...Hats for the Family

Today is actually the day that I introduced the Haybaler POW. I explained to the students that it took me a couple of tries before I figured it out. I had to stop and retry the problem later with a different approach. I told my students today that there was not a teacher's edition for these new textbooks - there is only a teacher's guide. When I told them that I had to work through the problems myself I asked them if they liked that and most of them seemed to.

We also started working on the Hats for the Family activity. I found it very difficult to help "guide" the students without just working through it for them. I actually took a girl's pencil from her and showed her how to find the minimum number of people in the large family. Took her pencil!!  I didn't know how to tell her without showing her. But then I took that opportunity away from her and her group. Bad teacher! In the next class I did give them hints without completely working it out for them. I glanced at this activity without working through it myself. I understand why it is so important to work through the material yourself. It is difficult to guide them through the activity without just telling them how to find the answers if you didn't have to think through it yourself. I am excited that we are going to have our first PD on the curriculum this week. I think that we will feel much better about presenting the material after having a veteran IMP teacher go through some of it with us.

My 5th period working on Pulling Out Rules today. It was cool to see them arrive at the fact that to say the input was doubled was the same as saying to multiply the input by 2 AND to add the input to itself.

Friday, October 10, 2014

IMP Day 10 - Quiz on Patterns and rewrites

Today I gave my classes their POW write-ups on The Broken Eggs back. I found and altered a rubric for grading the write-up but my students didn't have it before they wrote. I did stress to them to address all parts in the write-up explanation in the book. I had some students write the 5 parts on chart paper and hang them in the room for easy reference. It would have been "better practice" for my students to have the rubrics before they wrote. I was sharing this with our Instructional Partner and she gave me the idea to just give them a completion grade on the first writing and give them the rubrics and allow them to "rewrite" their first write-up to make sure they have met all the pieces listed in the rubric. I hope that improvements were made.

I created a quiz that was similar to the questions in the What's Next and Pulling Out Rules activities. I am overall pleased with the results. I am also happy to report that Mr. Webb who is also new to this curriculum told me today that he can really see an increase in students' engagement. Mrs. New was also telling me today that she gave a quiz on exponents today and not one student in 2 classes missed the questions concerning what any number to the zero power equals. She was saying that she does not remember that ever happening before. She also pointed out that she has probably never spent this much time on exponent rules before. If they retain the information it will be worth it!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Day 9 of IMP - Creating Families - working with constraints

When I first looked at this activity I kind of thought it was just to do something a little different and have some cross-curricular work too. However, after helping the students work through the process of creating their families I appreciate more how this is intended to give a real-life context to working with inequalities. Making sense of words and phrases like at least, at most, between, less than, etc...

Sonya and I had created the charts for them to keep up with their family members easier and we also printed off a picture of a covered wagon that the students were able to decorate after they completed their work. This worked very well since some students finished much faster than others. However, I wish I had done a better job of making each group help each other after they finished created their own family. The group members who were responsible for the large families were (of course) always the last ones finished. I need to do a better job of reminding the group to help each other once they finish with the family that they were assigned.

I have also noticed that doing these types of problems make it so easy to talk about a real-life situation. For instance, before they left today I asked the students if anyone was interested in architecture or carpentry. I asked them if they were aware of the building codes that one must follow when building a new structure. I told them that they are constraints similar to the ones they had to follow today.

Above are some of the wagons where the students wrote the names and ages of their family members. Tomorrow I will be introducing the haybaler problem and I am a little concerned because I personally have not figured out the best way to approach the problem. Good thing it is a POW so I have some time to decide the best way to solve the problem (in my opinion). The students will probably figure out a much easier way on their own anyway! 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

IMP Day 8 - Keeping it Going, POW presentations

Today was a little crazy. We started our classes with the Keeping It Going activity. It was unique in that it combines the problems we did in the beginning where we are given a sequence of terms and asked to identify the pattern and find the next 3 terms with the problems where you are given an In-Out table and are asked to write the rule. Then we are asked to create an equation that works for the nth term. The easiest way to do this (in my opinion) is to create a table where the input is the term number and the output is the term itself. I had told my algebra teaching buddies earlier this year that I needed "tutoring" on teaching sequences. I had never thought of creating a table in this way before in order to help students to write a rule for a sequence where the variable represents the term number.

Today I had one group from each class present their solution for The Broken Eggs POW. One of the groups did especially well. There were 4 students and 3 out of the 4 talked about the approaches they used to solve the problem. Every one of them mentioned a strategy that had not been mentioned in class discussions. We had brought out in class that the answer had to end in a 1 but one student took that a step further to say that you had to multiply 7 by a number ending with a 3 in order to generate a product ending in 1. Another student actually wrote down times tables for the numbers 2-7 so he could compare the products. A third student mentioned that he created a table to organize his thoughts. The 4th student gave the solution. He was pretty shy about it as he is just not as confident in his math ability as the other 3 are. I gave them a few minutes to talk about how they were going to present their POW and gave them the idea to talk about their different approaches. This was a good group because 3 of the students really did set out independently (in their own ways) to start finding the solution. Sometimes you have a group where 1 or 2 students have a little bit of an idea how to work toward an answer and the other 2 or 3 are just waiting for the "better math students" to figure it out. In my opinion this is one of the biggest challenges of letting the students work in groups. However, those struggling math students would probably not be finding their way to solutions by themselves. So often they don't even have the confidence to try.

I have not yet figured out how I am going to assign grades for their presentations. I would like for the students to have measurable goals but I have not yet figured out how I am going to assign grades. I did create a rubric for their Broken Eggs Write-Up (or rather I googled it and found one that I altered a little to fit my needs - gotta love Google AND the people who share their material!).

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

IMP Day 7 ...kind of

Today we had a vertical alignment workshop. In the hopes of keeping us moving along in our new books I made some fill-in-the-blank items for the students to complete as they read through the material that introduces the Overland Trail activities. I felt so accomplished! Then, when I returned from our half-day workshop I learned that the substitute (who is an awesome lady) did not find the copies that I had left. What a bummer! It is a long story...and it really doesn't matter. I used my wonderful REMIND app and sent a message to the students who did not get the assignment for them to come by before they left today. Some of them did. Many of them did not. I will give them until Friday to turn it in.

Tomorrow I am going to have one group from each class present their findings for The Broken Eggs. Then we are going to watch an intro video for The Overland Trail and start work on creating our families. Mrs. New and I "shared our brains" (again) today and came up with a chart to help the students keep up with each of their families. The charts will hopefully make it easier for us to check to see if they have used the constraints properly.  I hope this activity "hooks" the rest of the nonbelievers into liking the new books. I did have a student ask me today when we started doing history in math class. I told him that we are doing some cross-curricular work that will make the math more MEANINGFUL. I'm not sure he is buying in yet...but I'm still working on him.

On another note...our PD today involved getting on a bus and riding through our school district. Although I was mostly aware of the living conditions of many of our students there were a few surprises today. I tell my students all the time that I grew up in Mayberry (I'm pretty sure they have no clue what I mean but at least there are still reruns of the Andy Griffith Show!). Today was a much-needed reminder that I can NOT compare my childhood experiences and school experiences with the majority of my students. God help me to help each student to feel loved and valued by me.

On another random note...we had our first TEDEd Club meeting today. Wow it sure was short! I am very excited about sponsoring this club at our school and look forward to being inspired by our students!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Day 6 IMP - Pulling Out Rules

Today my classes finished their in-class time for writing their POW Write-ups. Then we did the Pulling Out Rules activity. I was a little disappointed in my students' lack of persistence on finding the rules. A few of them got 1 or 2 of the first 3 but none of them got them all. I may have rushed through this activity a little bit. After giving the students about 15 minutes I had them share their answers within their groups. They are very reluctant to find patterns where you have to multiply then SUBTRACT for some reason. I asked for volunteers to share each answer and after the volunteering was over I assigned the last few problems to the remaining groups.

We also went over all of the vocabulary mentioned in the patterns activities. I did this in a very brief manner. I think I will give a quiz grade for the POW write-up and then give another brief quiz on Friday on finding patterns and writing function rules.

My 5th period class did Who's Who today. They did well with the activity. For some reason fewer of the students in this class started by drawing a diagram which seems like the easiest way to approach this problem. It is not like they were getting the answer WITHOUT drawing the diagram. They just sat there with nothing on their paper. I asked the class what they thought they could do to start organizing this information. One of the groups mentioned drawing a diagram. Since this was my favorite method they were the "group of the day!" I'm just kidding. However, they did find the solution first. Coincidence? I think not!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Reflections on Week 1 of IMP curriculum

The activities that I have done this week with my students were designed to get them used to the new curriculum and improve their confidence.  I think that more than that I have been able to ease into the curriculum as a teacher. I see that I have already done more of these things in one week than I did in the previous 7 combined:

  • Teach problem solving skills but NOT by telling them how to problem solve! The students were given a task and then as they figured out how to get closer to a solution I had them share with the class. I asked them to explain how they came up with the idea. I did often repeat  them and use more technical  math vocab but this was exciting to see them generate their own ways to approach tasks.
  • Have students think about the process of solving a problem and write in complete  sentences. They were asked to explain the process and write the solution in a complete sentence. This also helps me to cover literacy standards. 
  • Help students realize that math is not just about finding an answer and moving to the next problem. The way the curriculum presents the activities the idea that there can often be more than one valid answer is driven home, especially when the students can explain their reasoning. (We have been working on patterns and finding rules for function tables.)

Saturday, October 4, 2014

IMP Day 5 - Calculator Exploration...and The Broken Eggs

On Day 5 I chose to go ahead and do the Calculator Exploration with my classes. I was very tempted to skip it because we are going to have to trim some items in the books since we are starting 7 weeks late. However, it was a Friday and I thought the students might enjoy it. What is funny is they taught me things about the TI-83 calculators that I didn't know. I have never played with any of the Apps and of course this generation is all about Apps. I also learned how to dim and brighten the screen AND how to convert decimals to fractions and vice versa. I asked at the end of class how many students were more excited about our new books now that they realize that they will get to use the graphing calculators and about 5 or 6 raised their hands. That is improvement. Right now many of the students are not happy with our new books because they are more wordy and they are required to explain and describe their reasoning more. The way the curriculum is written we will EASILY be meeting our new literacy standards. I am excited about the amount of reflection and explaining that the book asks for because I was interested in having my students journal anyway. I just have a hard time implementing journals in my classroom.  After the calculator exploration I gave my students time to start writing their POW write up for The Broken Eggs.

Thursday I had a student in my 5th period class tell me that he had come up with a way to find an endless number of solutions to The Broken Eggs. He told me verbally but he lost me! I told him to write it down and put it on my desk (the bell was about to ring). He had written down to take the previous answer, multiply it by 2, and then add 119. I used 301 as the "previous answer" and used his method and it worked. I went and showed Sonya New to see if she could help me figure out how he came up with it. We were stumped! When he came to class on Friday I asked him to explain. He said that he found 301 by adding 7 over and over again. The class had already discussed that the answer had to be an odd multiple of 7. This young man had also decided that the number had to end with a 1 because to have 1 left over when putting the eggs in packages of 5 the number had to end in a 6 or a 1 and since the number had to be odd it had to end with a 1. So...he kept adding 7 until he came to the next multiple of 7 that ended in a 1 and it was 721. Then he said he was just playing with the numbers and decided to multiply 301 by 2 to see how close it was and it was 119 away. Then he decided to try to double 721 and add 119 to see if it worked to generate another solution and it did. WOW! That seems so random to me. I am still amazed.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

IMP Day 4 - Discussion of Inside Out and class challenge

Today I had the groups share their answers to their Inside Out assignment. I did things as lined out in the teacher guide except  when we went over number 6 and they were picking their in-out tables I told them if they stumped me I would give them the rest of the period off. Boy...they sure did work hard on their tables.

**I forgot to mention this when I originally posted this entry. I noticed that MANY of my students read the In-Out tables vertically instead of from In to Out. In other words, instead of stating a rule where something was being "done" to the in to get the out they would say each of the inputs are going up by 2 and each of the outputs are going up by 4...or something like that. I would congratulate them on finding a pattern that worked for the table but remind them that our task was to find the relationship between the In and the Out. I wonder how I could do a better job describing that in the future? Even when I realized the issue in my 2nd block class and tried to stress to my 3rd block to find the horizontal relationship between the inputs and the outputs I still had some do it vertically.

Today we talked with one of the IAT  trainers and she gave us some ways to move through the material a little faster since we started 7 weeks into the year. Some of her ideas were to split the assignment between  the groups. The other was to only do the formal POW write-up for one POW per unit.


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

IMP Day 3 - POW write up discussion, Who's Who, Inside Out

Today I started class by going over the 5 parts of the POW write up. I enjoyed being able to talk about the real world connections to scientists,  chemists,  teachers, managers,  inventors, etc... I'm loving how this curriculum is definitely helping us to address literacy standards!  After the POW discussion they did the Who's Who activity.  They did very well with this and I had someone come to the board and draw their diagram as I read the description.  I also questioned them as if I didn't understand.  We talked about the different approaches they took...some just recorded their thoughts in sentences but most drew a diagram.
Presenting her diagram and solution for Who's Who

The last activity we did today was Inside Out. I loved how the teacher's guide suggested you start with a mystery function.  I had fun with that! I also like the way the activity asks the students to describe the function in words.  I probably would have jumped ahead to writing an expression.

The thing I am most excited about is that my colleagues are getting excited about the new books and curriculum.  My previously unnamed teacher buddy who has always made me want to be a better teacher...Sonya New... (I asked her permission to use her says that the IMP curriculum is like riding a roller coaster.  She has some challenging classes behavior wise and she was ready to throw in the towel yesterday but today was terrific.  Mr. Webb...the other teacher I "coerced" into this new adventure was telling us today how his student engagement is much better. AND Ms. Whitt said she didn't think she would like the curriculum when she first looked at it but she really likes it. What a good day!

I just hope the students are really learning something! Will they remember these problem solving skills and use them later? Will they make higher test scores due to this new way of teaching? Will they learn algebra? Really learn it???? Time will tell.