Sunday, November 23, 2014

Reflections after 8 weeks of IMP

Areas for improvement:

  • Getting students to present their work
  • Getting through the lessons on time
  • Managing vocabulary - stopping and explicitly teaching vocab after we have "had our hands" on a concept or idea
  • Getting students to do their homework
  • Ensuring all group members are working when given time to work individually or with their group
  • Telling them too early whether or not they are correct
  • Letting the students correct/critique each other
Areas I am making improvements:
  • I'm taking students' pencils out of their hands much less
  • I am recognizing that it is okay to let them put incorrect work on chart paper (this is hard for me) -  however, when I do this and I allow the students to discuss their "findings" the STUDENTS can critique and learn to analyze and discuss their ideas
  • I am beginning to allow myself to divide assignments up where I assign a few problems to each group instead of having everyone do every problem. Picking and choosing the assignments is hard though. There are some that I want each student to have at least read and "struggled with"  before anyone starts sharing their solutions.
  • Celebrating different approaches
  • Giving a quiz that has depth but using a rubric so that success on the quiz is easier to achieve. I used to be scared to put too many "hard ones" on a quiz or test for fear that I would set the students up for failure. However, with our new curriculum every activity we do is based off a word problem within the context of the unit. I have found that my students are much more willing to attempt word problems now. The quiz I gave Friday had 2 multi-step word problems on it. That was it. These are types of problems that the students would skip if it were a 20 problem test and the other 18 were just computational. I made a rubric for the 2 problems and gave 5 points for each item (labeling axes, scaling axes, plotting points correctly, drawing the line of best fit correctly, generating the rule for the line, etc...).
  • Trusting the curriculum...I must admit that this is more of a "forced" thing right now due to time. There are times I think about stopping and pulling out old tests or other standardized-test-like questions to see how the students will do on them. However, I don't have time since we started using the Meaningful Math books 7 weeks into the year. I do believe in the curriculum - more and more every day. I do think that my students have really engaged with the content and will have a much better shot at retaining the information because of the way it has been presented within the context and revisited several times. 
  • I remember our Instructional Partner, Dr. Montgomery, telling me a few times in the past to create a project that covers several standards at once (when I was stressing about covering everything in the COS). Well, most of the activities in this book do that. Therefore, even though the activities are in depth and at first difficult to the students, they will have the opportunity to become "fluent" in them because they get opportunities to do the same type of activity multiple times. There may be a few tweaks to the activity but the topics are usually revisited. Especially the big ones. 
  • I have often said that the 2 most important concepts I want my algebra students to be able to understand (and retain) is graphing and solving all types of equations. Well, as far as I can tell in our new standards these 2 topics should technically be mastered prior to entering algebra. My interpretation of the standards is that once in 9th grade they must learn to APPLY their knowledge of graphing and equations. WOW is that covered in these books! The majority of my students are not proficient at solving equations and graphing when they come to me but hopefully they will be stronger every year.

AP Teachers - IMP Curriculum might help you!!

For some reason today I was thinking about how the problems in our Meaningful Math Algebra books remind me of the tasks that students have to do on AP exams. I taught AP Calculus for several years and always felt like I had to cover the topics before I could have the students "tackle" the free response style questions. I came to realize that I really needed to practice those free response style questions throughout the year instead of waiting until the end. This reminds me of going to AMSTI training and feeling like I would have to teach the algebra topics before my students could do the activities in the IMP books. I often tell the other teachers at our school that I hope that they will see that our students leaving our algebra classes will be better students in general... More willing to tackle tough tasks... More practiced in explaining their reasoning.

I also think that these students will be much more prepared to tackle the multi-step, multi-concept AP questions they will encounter on AP exams. Many of the activities we are doing in our books combine several of the concepts that have been covered to date. Several of them require students to examine a word problem and then create a table and a graph. Then they are asked to answer questions about the situation AND write the rule or equation AND explain their reasoning. Because the majority of the assignments our algebra students are doing now require them to read a word problem and think through the problem. They have very few tasks where there are multiple problems of the same type that they just "run through." I can tell that many of my students have really grown in their confidence and willingness to tackle word problems. I know that I have never seen a textbook that I would favor as an AP teacher until now.

Friday, November 21, 2014

IMP Day...the math teacher in me makes me do this...39 - Quiz day

If any of you are reading this blog because you are teaching using the IMP books let me tell you about an awesome website that has great resources...The Greater Philadelphia Secondary Mathematics Project. Our trainer from It's About Time shared this website with us and it has some invaluable resources. I found some questions on there that I used for my quiz today on graphing. I only used two graphs but set up a rubric where they had a very good chance to pass (is that bad?) whether or not they could come up with the rule for the graph. I gave points for labeling the axes, scaling them correctly, plotting the points correctly, graphing the line of best fit, answering the question, and getting the rule. The 2nd problem gave the students a situation and they had to graph it, answer a question about it and give the rule.

I was really very pleased with the quizzes. Every student in the class can not get the rule for the graph yet, but they do SO much more with this word problem than I believe my previous students would ever have done. I hope to one day soon have the opportunity to find some multiple choice questions where students are given a graph and asked to find the equation that matches it and see how they do. We still have not "formally" learned slope-intercept form.

My 5th period did a Thanksgiving coordinate plane graphing activity today. It was the end of the day on Friday before Thanksgiving and I noticed as they worked on it that they NEEDED to review plotting points so I am glad we did it!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

IMP Math Day 38 - Finishing Fort Hall Businesses and POW Write-up

Today my 2nd and 3rd blocks finished up Fort Hall Businesses. The neat thing about these questions was that the starting points were not given. The students are given a couple of data points in the situation itself and one of the problems gives the rate of change but the second one doesn't. It is so rewarding to see the students work through these problems and figure them out. The odd thing is that my 2nd block class solved the problems using graphs and my 3rd block class mainly used In-Out tables or just reasoned through them.





#2 had to do with a movie theater selling tickets and it gave the amount in the cash register after 20 tickets were sold and then after 60 tickets were sold. This one gave my 2nd block alot of trouble (they didn't have as much time to work on it either) so I asked them how many points does it take to draw a line. I then had a coordinate plane that one of the groups had labeled but hadn't put a scale to it yet or graphed any points...they were frozen. I had talked with all of the groups doing #2 and we pulled out 2 ordered pairs from the information that was given so during the class discussion I showed them that one method of solving the problem would be to simply graph the ordered pairs and draw the line containing them. From this info we could answer the question of how much money was in the cash register to begin with. Then I guided them to find the amount of each ticket (slope) and we were able to write the rule for the graph. They are taking a quiz tomorrow on graphing and I can't wait to see how they do. I am anxious yet optimistic!


My 5th block took a quiz yesterday and I gave them feedback on their papers without assigning grades. Today I went over a similar assignment from the book (again) and then gave them their quizzes (with the feedback) back and told them to make corrections based on the feedback. Understanding variables is a difficult concept for 9th graders for some reason. I expect to have to offer a quiz retake but maybe I won't!

I read another encouraging POW Write-up today. An excerpt is below:

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

IMP Day 37 - Following Families and Fort Hall Businesses

Today we finished Following Families by answering questions 3 and 4 and finding the rules. We defined slope (informally) and parallel lines. It was fun to see them realize that #3 had a point where the families were the same distance from the river because the lines intersected. Also, in #4 some of the students' explanations included comments about the starting points for the amount of coffee being different and then they consumed the coffee at the same rate. This opened us up to talking about rate of change being the slope. Today we also got to discuss that the "starting point" on the graph is where it crosses the y-axis and that value needs to be written down first when writing the rule. I hope they became better rule writers today!

My 5th period was supposed to go over Ox Expressions at Home and then take a quiz today. They were not quiet while we were going over Ox Expressions so I decided to cut the discussion short and make them start the quiz. However, I am going to give them written feedback on the quiz and give them the opportunity to address the feedback. I will not assign them grades until they turn them in the 2nd time. I actually used pg. 110 as the quiz. I read the into on pg. 109 and discussed subscripts with them before they started the quiz so that wouldn't throw them off.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

I'm Calling Bullcrap! - Adventures in teaching IMP

Sonya New is my hero! I'm just saying... If it were not for Sonya I would not be the teacher I am today. She makes me want to be a better teacher. She makes me think! UGH! AND...she cracks me up sometimes.

Yesterday we were looking over some of the Meaningful Math Algebra lessons that we were going to be teaching the next few days. She had her honors algebra students complete the Who Will Make It activity for homework and she told me that they had asked if they could use a "squiggly line" between zero and the first output value so they didn't have to label all of the values in between. She told them no. However, when we were discussing it she said she wished she had let some of them go ahead and do it so that they would be able to talk about the inaccurate conclusions that would be drawn. She decided to do a graph with the "squiggly" and talk to them about it. Her graph is below:
The context of the story is to see who will make it to Green River before the flood that is predicted (by the almanac) to happen in 30 days. The y-axis is distance to the river and as you can see all 3 of her families make it to the river (the x-axis) way before 30 days. After discussing the class's answers she put her answer under the document camera and told the class that she had all of her families to make it before the flood. She said at first they were starting to erase their answers...they assumed she was right and they were wrong. However, she had one girl yell out, "I'm calling bullcrap!" and run up to the board to point at her "squiggly line" to say that Sonya's answer was wrong. I loved this story. I have told Sonya over and over again I wish she would blog about her personal "imp adventure" so that I could read all about it. We talk almost every day but we don't always have alot of time to go into detail. I told her I just had to tell this story. I loved that a student ran from the back of the room to prove that Sonya was wrong and she was right.

P.S. - I hope nobody is offended by the title...it is a renaming of a popular card game that has to do with calling someone's bluff when you think they are not telling the truth about their cards.

IMP Day 36 - Following Families on the Trail

With today's activity we venture from using discrete (nonlinear) data and finding the line of best fit to being given a starting point and a constant rate (average miles traveled per day or amount of coffee drank per day). The students were asked to graph the information and then answer some questions about the graphs. Lastly they were asked to write the rule for the graph.


These pictures are in reverse order to what they needed to be. We started the activity with "noticing and wondering" about the problem. I am trying to teach the students to "notice and wonder" about the parts of the problem that help them perform the mathematical task...we sometimes get sidetracked!

I was so excited to hear one of my students say, "I'm going to make me an In-Out table!" so I had to take a picture of her paper! The teaching guide for this lesson tells you to go ahead and tell the students to let July 12th as Day 0. I still have students that use the x-axis as a "data point" instead of letting it be zero. Many of them counted by 25s or 50s today and wrote 25 or 50 at the origin. Also I still had some students that didn't use consistent spacing. I sometimes wonder how many times we have to practice something for it to sink in! I am giving a quiz on Friday so I hope my students remember by then!

My 5th period students finished Ox Expressions and started Ox Expressions at Home. All of my classes were given an assignment to complete for homework and I am assigning a grade for it tomorrow. Lately I have only had 1 or 2 per class (of 20-28) attempt to complete any homework tasks. And I am not asking for them to do something that should take more than 15-20 minutes! I hope the grade motivates them to actually attempt the work. We shall see.

Monday, November 17, 2014

IMP Day 35 - The Basic Student Budget

Today was a neat lesson because the students were asked to "break away" from the Overland Trail theme and consider using lines of best fit to analyze data considering the budgets of 3 college students who share an apartment.

Common mistakes today:
1. "connecting the dots" instead of drawing a line of best fit
2. not extending the lines of best fit to touch the x and y axes...even though one of their data points was (0, $ that each student had at the beginning of the month)!!
3. Scaling their axes incorrectly - by this I mean one "box" was 100 and then later on they spread 100 over 2 boxes
4. When answering #3 several of the students looked at how much money the guys were projected to have on April 21st instead of how much extra they had on April 30th.
5. One student started all of her lines at some random starting point on the y-axis because her group had Who Will Make It last week and all of the families started 330 miles away from the Green River...

I got frustrated today because I expected a higher percentage of the students to "get it" since we have been working on similar types of problems for 2 or 3 days now. I was disappointed to see students connecting the dots and not extending their lines to the axes. I felt like I had done such a better job covering this because of the experiences they have already had with "lines of best fit." I also need help on reacting better when my students are way off the mark. I am so good sometimes...and then other times I know they can see it all over my face and hear it in my voice that I am frustrated... This is my confession day I guess!

On a positive note...I had some students that flew through the activity and had a very good conceptual understanding of what was going on! The rules were difficult for everyone but we went over them today and I know that we will continue to work on writing rules and equations as we go.



**It is good to use chart paper and leave some of the graphs hanging up in the room. I still had several graphs from Previous Travelers hanging up in the room so we used them to compare the graphs that start from the origin with those that don't (like in The Basic Student Budget).

My 5th period today did Vermillion Crossing in class and I introduced Ox Expressions and assigned it as a bonus for the student with the most meaningful algebraic expressions.

Friday, November 14, 2014

My apologies to AMSTI...I just didn't get it

The last few weeks I have really come to appreciate more and more what the AMSTI program has done for math teachers. If you happen to not be from the state of Alabama AMSTI is the Alabama Math Science and Technology Initiative. Participating schools send their math and science teachers for 2 weeks of training in the Summer (and the teachers get paid) and the teachers receive AMSTI kits with the materials needed to do the activities in their classrooms. My first Summer of AMSTI training I totally didn't get it. The math training consists of going through some of the activities from the IMP units (All About Alice, Cookies, the Pit and the Pendulum, Fireworks, etc...). The teachers usually receive two drop-in units (classroom sets). As a participant in the training I sat there and thought, "I don't have enough time to do these activities in the classroom! I don't even have time to cover the material I am supposed to cover WITHOUT all these activities!" I also thought that the activities were too difficult. However, I did leave AMSTI training with a determination to put my students in groups the following school year and stick with it for a year no matter what.

The following school year a colleague (Sonya New) and I really started looking for discovery or inquiry-based activities to use in our algebra classes. We took "baby steps" and really only used a handful that year but we really started seeing the value in them. Then I attended year 2 of AMSTI algebra training and was blown away! I had 100 light bulbs go off as I realized that our "AMSTI books" did have the discovery/inquiry-based type activities that we had been scouring the Internet to find. Tanya Barnes and Melanie Griffis encouraged me to just try the activities with my students (even though I was still afraid some of them were "over their heads"). They told me that I would be pleasantly surprised. I left training that year just thinking that we really needed to dig into our IMP units and see which units covered which standards. Following this revelation I had the "chance meeting" of the president of It's About Time (the company that publishes the IMP books) Tom Laster, in Atlanta at the ISTE conference. And now our algebra teachers are piloting the new Meaningful Math Algebra textbooks that take the traditional approach BUT use the IMP units that we had been receiving training on at AMSTI. Those "AMSTI units" are not just activities to "drop in."

I would like to publicly (or not so publicly since most of them will not read this blog post) apologize to the AMSTI trainers and organizers for being so slow to "get it." Now that I have been teaching the curriculum I realize that doing an activity here or there just does not do it justice. When you go from the beginning to the end of the unit and see the way concepts are developed and revisited the brilliance of the curriculum can be seen. I am learning so many things about developing a concept. For instance, I have always thought that the "line of best fit" was to be taught when I am covering the statistics section and scatterplots. I have never thought to use real data and graph it, find the line of best fit, and have the students discover the rule for the line. We have been doing this without the help from graphing calculators. My students have "had their hands" on so much graphing already and we have not formally talked about slope-intercept form one time. However, they can find a rule or equation for a graph and they can find the "rate of change" within a context. When we talk formally about slope-intercept form they are going to have such a firm foundation on which to understand the concept. I can't wait to go completely through the book and see all the other ways the mathematical concepts are developed. THANK YOU AMSTI AND IT'S ABOUT TIME!

IMP Day 34 - variety day!

My 2nd block class had to finish the Sublette's Cutoff/Who Will Make It activity today and then we discussed it. I had a class discussion yesterday with my 3rd block about these activities so I should have been better the 2nd time around. I felt that I was worse! I randomly called on a few students (using the dice) and their graphs needed a little work and then I got the information backwards as we were discussing it and then the whole thing was crazy. I hope by the end we learned a little bit about what is going on at the intercepts and how to use the "line of best fit" to predict!

My 3rd block was a little ahead so we got out the graphing calculators and did the "Graphing Calculator In-Outs" activity. This was a very good introductory activity with the calculators. I did lose a few students along the way and finally just told them to write down the correct answers when I told them to. HAHA! I am pretty sure I could have facilitated this better. Maybe I should have paused and allowed them time to get help from their group members. I tried to walk around and help everyone at the beginning but we would NEVER have gotten finished. I know...I was too impatient. My goal will be to pause and allow students to help each other more in the future. I didn't tell them not to help each other...but I didn't encourage it either.

My 5th block did "To Kearney by Equation" today. Today I lead them to the "new equation" for profit per trip AFTER they discovered that they are not given the captain's pay per minute and they are given round trips in minutes. They did fairly well. I still have a few that seem to sit and wait until they are told what the answer. I randomly call on people and sometimes I end up having to "help" a student find the answers from the beginning to the end because they haven't put much thought into it during the time they were supposed to be working!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

IMP Day 33 - Sublette's Cutoff or Who Will Make It? (5th period - Laced Travelers) - They don't need me!!!

Today I took the suggestion from Mr. Webb and Ms. Whitt and divided Sublette's Cutoff and Who Will Make It between the groups in my classes. In other words some groups did Sublette's Cutoff and some did Who Will Make It. The 2 activities were similar enough that I was able to introduce the activities pretty easily. They are asked to plot data for 3 different families and then draw 3 different lines of best fit. Then they are asked to answer questions and make estimations with the lines. I think that even I have a better understanding of why we do lines of best fit after teaching these last few activities. I know that I "knew" what it is for but I do not think that I have applied it within a context very many times. Over the course of this week my students will have used lines of best fit within at least 3 or 4 different contexts. The discussions about what the x and y intercepts were so meaningful and productive! We are really talking about slope and the y-intercepts without formally introducing the equation. It is so cool to see how the authors develop each of the concepts. I think it is hard to appreciate until you teach an entire unit.

Today after we finished graphing and "sharing out" the answers I asked the students to share with me the meaning for the x-intercept and the y-intercept. I had one student say, "The y-intercept is the starting point and the x-intercept is the ending point," and the BELL RUNG!!! UGH! I was very excited that she said that and I wanted to discuss it with the class...there is always tomorrow.

In 5th period today I did something different. I wrote the assignment on the board and referred the students to the assignment as they walked in the door. All I did was tell them to read over and it and put the "entry" into their notebooks. Dude! They got on it! I had one student figure out the answer to #1 (which deals with multiple constraints) by the time I had answered roll! AMAZING! As a whole they worked harder today than I have ever seen them work. Once the one student got the answer he walked around and helped other groups. I would ask them to explain how they got their answer and wouldn't give them candy (the great motivator) unless their explanations made sense. They don't need me! Well...not as much as I think they do. HAHA!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

IMP Day 32 - Previous Travelers (and Shoelaces with my 5th pd)

Today my 3rd block finished Previous Travelers. The last two class days my 2nd block class was cut for different reasons. Therefore they are behind! Anyway, in Previous Travelers the students plot some data points and then draw the line of best fit. Then there are instructed to find the equation for the line and lastly they have to predict the amount of supplies they need for their Overland Trail families. I only gave each group one of the 3 supply items to graph. That made it where each item had at least 2 groups graphing the data. The neat thing about that was that the two groups could compare information AND when I had that one group that was behind everyone else because they wouldn't get on task in a timely manner I just had them to sit down and we still had another group that finished. I had the students write the rule for their supply on their chart paper and pointed the information out to the class. Then I let them use the rules to predict the supplies for their families. I was proud of myself for "shortening" the assignment by not making each group do all three of the supplies. We "divided and conquered" but I still think that they got enough experience with the activity to get a feel for using the line of best fit. I had some time to get my 3rd block to reflect on what they had learned so far about graphing. A couple of them really impressed me by saying something about how we took discrete data and learned how to create an equation using the line of best fit. I didn't even mention the fact that the data was discrete so they made me proud!

Another "victory" today was that I completely finished Shoelaces (from beginning to end) in my 5th period class which is 55 minutes. I used the tips of some experienced IMP teachers and did not wait for each group to get every part of each question correct. I allowed time for "productive struggle" but then had a student to share their findings on the board. I think I am more relaxed about not waiting for each group to "get it" because I am more familiar with the way the book "circles around" on most of the important topics. We will have another activity (or sometimes several more) that will reinforce what we covered today. Shoelaces uses constraints again and introduces the students to using algebraic expressions in the place of more complicated verbal explanations.

Monday, November 10, 2014

IMP Day 31 - Previous Travelers and the progression for teaching students to graph

Today we started the "Traveling at a Constant Rate" portion of the Overland Trail unit. For Previous Travelers I gave each group one supply to graph. They were provided a table with 4 columns where the 1st one was the number of people and the other 3 told how much of each supply they used. I had them to write their In-Out tables for the supply they were graphing (beans, sugar, or gunpowder) and then graph the points on graph paper. A few things stood out to me:

1. I had several students put the number of people (the input) on the y-axis instead of the x-axis so we had a productive discussion about independent and dependent variables again.
2. I had one student want to have fewer points to graph so she added some of them together and graphed the sums instead...whoa!
3. We still had some people who did not scale their axes appropriately or didn't start with the origin as (0,0) so I got to address that.
4. It REALLY bothered them to have an input to repeat. There were multiple families where the inputs repeated and that threw them for a loop!
5. I discussed the fact (before they started graphing) that the data was discrete instead of continuous since you can't have fractional parts of a person. I wish I would have waited to see what they did with their graphs and let them answer that question for themselves!

We had a Veteran's Day assembly today so 2nd block didn't get to graph their points on chart paper but my 3rd block did. I am excited about doing the line of best fit tomorrow. I don't know if I have ever been "excited" about it before...having the students work within a context makes so much more sense! The way the book develops the idea of using approximations with the data since one rule won't perfectly match all data points is really neat.

Progression for teaching students to graph - We started with "graphing stories" where we interpreted graphs of situations and created graphs for certain situations. Then the book led the students to a discussion about scaling your axes correctly and when to use continuous or discrete points (The Issues Involved). Then the students were given graphs and asked to create tables and then rules for the graphs (Out Numbered). Then the students were given some rules (using In and Out instead of x and y first) and asked to graph them (From Rules to Graphs). Now, with this lesson (Previous Travelers) the authors point out that all "real" data doesn't fit nicely into a rule so approximation must be used. However, with a line of best fit we can still develop a "rule" for the data. There are so many real-life applications to this concept I don't know where to start. The one that comes to mind first is calculating insurance rates. But how about the first time the medical world found "normal" heart rates for certain ages?

My 5th period worked on the More Graphing Sketches activity. We will be finishing it tomorrow.

Friday, November 7, 2014

IMP Day 30 - You're the Storyteller and POW writeups

Today I had some fun with my classes. We made a "contest" out of beating Mr. Webb's class on making creative stories for the equations in You're the Storyteller: From Rules to Situations. I had one group do a rap and another do a video depicting a bank robbery. They were really entertaining and the students who were brave enough to do them had fun and were proud! The other groups just wrote the stories on chart paper. The "stories" on the chart paper below were the ones who also did the rap and the skit! It was loud and rowdy in my room today but it was alot of fun!

**My 2nd block class didn't get as much time to "have fun" because they had to finish up the quadratic graphs for From Rules to Graphs. Only a few students completed their homework (which was to graph (Out=In^2). None of them had the "u-shape." I decided to do a graph on chart paper on the board. I only had room to go up to 25 on the y-axis so they they were limited to x-values between -5 and 5. This was an interesting activity. I asked each student (28 total) to share an ordered pair that they got on their homework. It didn't take long for us to use up all the integers. I did have one student who used a decimal even before the integers were taken up so I made the remark that he sure was thinking "outside the box." I also told them numerous times that there were an infinite number of possibilities. When the students started getting the hang of it and we got all 28 points on the chart paper the u-shape was evident. We then discussed the difference in the equation for this u-shaped graph compared to the other equations and they came to realize it was the "squared part." I thought this was a very good investigation and we were able to explore the ideas of continuity and "infinite possibilities."




The most impressive part of my day was when I read the Haybaler POW writeup written by one of my 5th period students. It was AMAZING! Talking about understanding the whole point of a write up in the first place! I was inspired and amused throughout her writing! Here is a piece of her write-up. The sentence on the previous page discussed how she must first make sure she completely understands what the problem is asking.



I have come to the point where the POW write-ups are my favorite part of the IMP book (at least for today!). When reading them it is extremely easy to realize who is comprehending the math and the problem-solving process. Some of them (unfortunately) are so far out in left field I can not figure out why they would write such stuff. However, there are many who are increasing their math and problem-solving fluency just by doing the write-ups and having to think and reflect about their work. The ones who are in left field will hopefully start getting closer as the year goes on!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

IMP Day 29 - From Rules to Graphs and Instagram

Today I took a breath (I haven't slowed down and done this in a while) and allowed my class to use chart paper to share their graphs for  From Rules to Graphs. We had some good discussions about the graphs and whether or not they should have been continuous or discrete. My first class didn't get the u-shape of the quadratic graphs so I assigned the two quadratics again for homework (#2 and # 4b).

My second class happened to have 2 groups that graphed number 2 and when we combined the points from the 2 groups we "saw" the u shape of the graph. Both blocks were told to start thinking about stories that they could use for the equations in "You're the Storyteller." I had one student start rapping and I so wish I could get someone to do a rap or a song but I am afraid they won't follow through. We will see!

On a side note...some of my students have been trying to get me to get an Instagram account and use it instead of Twitter for posting "pictures of success" or other pics from class. I set one up last night and it was so funny how they reacted to me having an Instagram. I post pics to Twitter pretty often and we have started the hashtag #WeAreEtowah for sharing positive things going on at EHS. I had a "younger" teacher explain to me yesterday that Instagram, like Twitter, is set up where people can follow you and you don't have to follow them back. Also, you can post pictures to both Instagram and Twitter using Instagram. I am excited because I can post as many pics of my students on Instagram as I want now and they don't fill up the feeds of other teachers who follow me on Twitter (who may get tired of all the EHS pics!). BUT, when I do have some pics I want to share with my principal or other teachers on Twitter I can post both places when I want. Also, you can use hashtags in Instagram too! I'm sure that there are many people that already know all of this but I just thought I would "share." I would like to start using Instagram as a way for students to share their work with me on occasion.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

IMP Day 28 - Algebraic Expressions quiz retake, Out Numbered and From Rules to Graphs

Today I decided I would go over the Ox Expressions at Home assignment (which I gave as a quiz) in class and then give them a quiz retake. I had a different version of the quiz and let them take it. The majority of the class improved.  We then finished Out Numbered and started From Rules to Graphs.  I love the way this unit develops writing function rules and graphing!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

You have to like them to teach them

I am amazed at the turn around in one of my classes. At the beginning of the year I really struggled with this class. They were full of rowdy boys and I had a difficult time connecting with them. Honestly they got on my nerves! I have them at the end of the day and I had to find the most patience at the time that I am worn out from my day.

I displayed my frustration and annoyance on a daily basis. And then I realized I needed to hit the reset button. I needed to learn to like those students. I take pride in being able to see the positive in most circumstances but I had not applied that "talent" to that class. One day I announced to the class that I did not like the ways things were going and that we were going to change it. I started trying to enjoy the students. Miracle of all miracles it worked! I know that "they don't care how much you know until they know how much you care" but I don't know that I have ever seen it so clearly. Yesterday I had to leave that class a little early and several of the students made the remark that my class was their favorite. The funny thing is that class has my heart now. They make me laugh on a daily basis.

IMP Day 27 - More Graphing Sketches, Notebook Check, Out Numbered and...Searching for Dry Trails

Progress reports are being printed next week. Therefore I needed to do a notebook check with my classes. I gave them pg. 117 as a quiz and graded their notebooks while they were taking the "quiz." When they completed the quiz they started working on Out Numbered from pg. 49.

Funny thing...many of my students with the best "math minds" HATE estimating. They didn't like assigning a coordinate to the points that didn't go "through the crosshairs." One student in particular is extremely bright but doesn't realize how smart he is! Several of my students, when assigning themselves grades for their POWs, underestimate their work.

Sonya New, Gary Webb, and I had a brief discussion after school today about how things are going. Gary and Sonya don't seem as worried about time and grades. I need them to "rub off" on me. Gary's students were displaying their stories from "You're the Storyteller: From Rules to Situations" today. Our senior counselor, Kali Brand, walked by and said that those students looked like they were having fun. I was secretly (or not so secretly) jealous. I am going to have to take a deep breath and just enjoy where we are. We are piloting a new curriculum. We have made a change because we did not believe what we were doing was effective. We hope to see improvement. We started 7 weeks late. Relax! Roll with it! I am trying to convince myself:)

I almost forgot to mention something awesome! My 5th block finished Family Constraints and started The Search for Dry Trails today. They cracked me up arguing (justifying) about which trials they would choose and why. They did a great job today. Several of them have some great thoughts...I just tried to help them "tie" some math vocabulary to those thoughts today. I had 2 or 3 of them up at the board at the end of class still arguing their points. It was super!



Monday, November 3, 2014

IMP Day 26 - Graphing intro activities and The Issues Involved

I had started to skip pages 40-47 in the book because I spent a good amount of time on graphing stories at the beginning of the year (before we received our new books). However, there was some things brought out in the activities in Meaningful Math that I did not talk about before. I actually had assigned these pages several weeks ago when we had PD for our books. Therefore I just gave them a completion grade and handed it back out.

We went through and discussed some vocabulary like constant, linear, discrete and continuous. We went over #7 on page 44 in class because it was a commonly missed graph. I love the tie in to the absolute value graph.

We wrapped up the day with The Issues Involved. Once again...I feel like I am moving too slow. Will I ever shake that feeling?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

IMP Day 25 - Categorical Data on the Wagon Trian

This was a good activity for apply percent questions and logical reasoning. It was like putting a puzzle together. The students were using number of people as the percentage of people. I had one student who did an awesome job of using the idea of percent as per 100 and he took the 17/25 and instead of dividing the fraction to get the percentage he multiplied top and bottom by 4. I was excited about his prior knowledge because that is something we have not discussed this year. RETENTION STILL EXISTS!!  I HAVE SEEN PROOF!

I think this assignment could be assigned as a homework activity although we did it in class.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Reflections after 5 weeks of IMP Meaningful Math Algebra


  1.  I can no longer walk in and wing it...effectively. To get everything out of a lesson  (that the authors intend) one must study over the teacher's guide first. The guides are so much different than the typical teacher's edition!
    **Later revision - this sounds bad, I know. I also know that "on the real" I am not the only teacher that hits "spells" where my life (at school and with my family) gets so crazy and busy that I can not put the planning time into my school lessons that I would like. This past week has been that way for me. 
  2.  I am not going to be able to get the "big picture" until I have taught through the book once. 
  3. Grading is so strange. I haven't quite figured out how to grade effectively using this curriculum.  I know I can still give "normal" quizzes but... it is harder to identify good places for quizzes...and they aren't really recommended...
  4. Since almost every activity has a context you can spend forever on them if you want to...
  5. It is easy to get frustrated when things are so unfamiliar.
  6. Referencing back to #3...because the way grading is done so differently I feel unsure about where my students stand.  I ask them to explain a lot...I think I know where they stand...I think they are learning...look at the picture of an excerpt from a POW write-up 

Things I know I'm doing better than before IMP...
  1. Addressing literacy standards
  2. Teaching how to solve word problems
  3. Stretching the students (especially with POWs)
  4. Questioning...there are always suggested questions in the teacher's guide. 
  5. Making real-world applications
  6. Celebrating various approaches to problems...I find that since there really isn't a mathematical title to the lesson (i.e. Percent Increase or Systems of Equations, etc...) that students tend to take more varying approaches to problems.  Also...I don't say to students as a form of a hint..."Hey guys. ..look at the title of the section!" (I really used to do that sometimes.) 
**I love #6 because no problem we face in the real world comes with a title that gives you a hint on how to solve it:)