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...