Saturday, May 28, 2011

Toot! Toot!

Toot! Toot! The Standards-Based Grading Gala is headed this way!

Announcing the 6th installment of the Standards-Based Grading Gala - set to publish here on June 24, 2011. The 5 previous installments can be found here: #1 #2 #3 #4 #5

For the unintiated, the SBG Gala is a place for bloggers to share their best SBG post(s) from the previous weeks and/or months. The last one was in February, so it's been 4 months since we've pulled everyone together for the Gala. Submit your best SBG post here by June 17th and I'll put together the next installment, which will post on June 24th.

You may want to keep a couple things in mind as you are choosing your posts to share:
Summer's here (and the livin' is easy.....) and many of the blogotwittersphere have lists of things to look at over the summer. I have seen SBG/SBAR mentioned on several lists. I know personally that I am looking to tweak SBG in my classroom in the fall (and I'm not the only one!), so I know I'm looking for how others have adjusted SBG in their classrooms. If you have a post to share on implementation or on what has worked (or not worked), I think many people (including your host!) would find it to be helpful and informative.

I'm looking forward to seeing all the great posts y'all have to share!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Follow up on the Trip slide

I put the anyqs slide I had created in front of my freshman math students today. As I put the slide up, I told them that my family and I were planning to drive to Houston, Texas this summer to see my sister-in-law. I explained to them that I usually use Google Maps to prepare for a trip but this time I looked at four websites. They saw this slide (well the first page of it):

My 3rd period class wondered pretty quickly why Bing was so different than the other ones. They zeroed in rather quickly on the idea that the speeds the websites assumed we were driving were different. They also came up with the formula to figure out the speed quickly (distance / time). As we were getting ready to do the calculations, they talked about rounding the times to make it easier to calculate. We talked about what to round to and I did steer them on Mapquest and Yahoo to round to part-hours rather than to the nearest whole hour. We talked about why that would make more sense. Throughout the discussion we talked about factoring in time for bathroom stops and stops to eat. We also talked about the possibilities of getting slowed down in traffic and/or construction. It was a very good discussion, although it wasn't a whole class discussion. About 1/2 to 2/3rds of the class was engaged in it. We talked about there being different speed limits in different states, so we went to the internet to find a current list of state speed limits. We labelled each state with its speed limit and talked about the different terms in the chart. Once we looked at the map, they decided which one they thought would make the most sense. This class choose Google Maps because they felt it would best reflect the amount of stops needed (not counting the over night one). We had a little time in this class to actually look at the routes and compare two of them. I think if I were to do this again, I'd have them look at the directions in pairs and compare and constrast them (not just the routes, but the information given).

3rd Period Slide

In  my second class, the discussion went basically the same. With this class, I had closer to 2/3rds of the class involved in the discussion. I had a couple of students who haven't been actively interested in math all year take an active part in the discussion today. One of these students made some excellent observations, including one where he said that "Bing can't be right because we have driven down to Florida straight through and it took us 19 hours. This trip is farther than that, so it can't be a 20 hour trip." This class needed more prompting - they did come up with the question pretty quick and they were able to come up with speed = distance / time, but I had to prompt them a little more with why there were differences. This class wanted to know which one was "right" and that brought out some good things. They wanted to rely on a GPS - they felt that would be the most accurate. We did not have time to look at the actual routes, but we talked briefly about the differences in routing (and the differences in mileage). In this class, I did poll them on which one they would pick (like I did with 3rd period - but I didn't write down the numbers), but unlike 3rd period, I asked them to share why they picked the website they did. I jotted down some of the reasons on the slide. We ended up with Mapquest more here - they felt that Google was too slow, but the kids who picked Bing also made a more convincing argument here.

5th period slides (there are 2)

I was pleased with the discussion. I think if I had done this earlier in the year, the discussions may have been a little more productive, but generally they went well. My students were engaged - which for there being 12 days left of school, was excellent. These are lower ability freshmen (some discipline issues as well) so I felt it was a win. I think they got something out of it. I think I may develop this into more of an activity at a later point, similar to what Colin suggested and possibly what Max suggested. Right now, I just don't have time to get it there. I thought their suggestions were good and are worth considering.

All in all, I think it went well. We had good discussion and talked about math in a real world context, which for these kids, is important to see. It cemented even more for me why it is important to incorporate this kind of stuff into the mathematics classroom. Students need to see the relevance of mathematics in their world, and for these students, that relevance provides motivation to engage with the material. They won't just do it because they're in school and that's what the teacher says to do like my top students and even most of my average students. Maybe I need to start with this course and see what I can find to make the math more accessible to them. The curriculum mirrors somewhat an Algebra curriculum - maybe finding those connections to the material will help them to be more successful with it. Definitely some things to think about. Doing this does make me even more excited to head to the NCTM Reasoning and Sense Making Workshop in Orlando - to learn about the possibilities that I have not considered in depth until now. My class will be a more exciting place next year!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Trip - class plan version 1

I am trying to set this up as an in-class deal with my lower-level freshmen. I am trying to follow what Dan Meyer set up as a framework here.

Here is the setup:
 (note, page 2 is blank)

Ask students for what they wonder about this slide. I am looking for them to question why the trips look basically the same and have different times.

Here is where I am new to this and looking for guidance...

I think I would provide to them the routes the websites came up with. They have previous experience with d = rt, so I don't think I will need to provide time to instruct them on it (although they may need some coaxing to come up with it). I think I pretty much let them have at it. I am debating whether to break them down into smaller groups and each group has one or two of the four routes to look at or have each small group have all four routes to look at.

They would resolve the question and we would discuss why the results they came up with are significant. I hope that it would lead to a discussion of how do you plan how much time a longer trip would take and the things you need to take into account. We have 50 minute class periods and I am expecting this to take most/all of the class period.

I feel like I don't have a lot to go on here. I have repeated said that I have very little (if any) background on this, so I know this is a learning experience for me. Please offer any and all thoughts on this - I am looking to try this next week (year is winding down and I figure I have nothing to lose - and hopefully engage my students for the period).  Thanks.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Reflections on SBG Year One

As my school year is drawing to a close, I am in a reflective mood.  I am looking back at the year and taking stock of what has gone well and what hasn't. For the most part, I am pleased with how Standards Based Grading (SBG or SBAR - Standards Based Assessment and Reporting for the uninitiated) is going.

I find the grading process to be less tedious and students' grades reflect their level of understanding much better than in previous years.

My grades are not over-inflated by the homework points (or deflated by the lack of homework points).

Midterm exam grades, mainly in my Algebra 2 class, were significantly lower than in past years. We are coming up on final exams (June 6-8) and although I have been doing daily feedback problems in Algebra 2 to keep them working on problems daily, I am not certain how they will do on finals. This group is hard to read at times.

My top kids seem to be point-grabbing instead of trying to really learn the material. It's so hard to break them of that when in every other class, that's essentially what's going on.

Many students don't tend to do the assigned problems because they aren't being graded. If they don't practice the problems, they don't do as well on the assessment. This is really showing up at this point since it is May and they really don't feel like doing school work. Even when given class time to work on problems, they won't do them.

Changes I am pondering:
I pretty much kept my tests at the same intervals - at the end of a unit, if you will. Most tests covered 5-6 skills. I did have tests that covered as many as 8 skills. 8 skills is too many. I am considering going to a system similar to what I have read in Kate Nowak's and Dan Meyer's blogs where they assess twice and mark if the student has mastered the skill after 2 perfect assessments. I know in the long run that will mean more assessing and I will have to re-think how I structure my class. At present, I review (usually 2 days ) at the end of each unit, then give the assessment. I'm not completely sure how things will get restructured - you cannot continually review and assess, for I'd spend a lot of time doing that, but this is something I will have to ponder deeply this summer.

I am also considering giving a larger, summative type assessment every 6 weeks or so. Students just don't seem to be prepared to deal with this kind of assessment. Again, not sure if I'm going to do this, but I am going to look at it.

I am also going to have to look at restructing my class. What I am not doing isn't working. I've mentioned this before as I've reflected in the last month or so (yes, there are 3 links in there) and this will be a major focus for me this summer.

I definitely will be doing a lot of reading this summer from the Twitterblogosphere to help in this as well as tapping the wonderful resources that the Math Twitter community has - and I am really looking forward to becoming a better teacher!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Lawnmowing Ponderings

In addition to all of the other things I do between work and home, I mow the lawn most of the time. I started doing this more in earnest last year, somewhat at the prodding of my husband to get some exercise as I was (and still am) working on losing weight. To be honest, it is not my favorite chore, but I am getting to the point that I mostly enjoy it because it gives me about an hour and a half to ponder things.

When I started mowing, I wanted to ponder the Wii Bowling problem I've blogged about recently. I am really struggling with it at this point. I have pretty much come to the conclusion that whatever math is involved in determining the skill level is out of my realm. I have never failed on this kind of level with a lesson. Well, the students did get to Wii bowl in class for two days and they seemed to enjoy that, not to mention that it upped my "coolness" level with my students (they did get to play Wii in class, after all). But mathematically, I got nowhere.

What good is a mistake if you don't learn from it? What did I learn here? First - I have a long way to go. I thought I had something math-worthy that would hook my students in because of the video game. Well, they were hooked by the video game and they actually didn't do half bad on coming up with questions. But I didn't design it well enough to get them to ask the question(s) I was looking at when I looked at the information. I have no idea how to do this. I'll be honest, I graduated from college 19 years ago and when I went to Math Ed school, we didn't do anything like this. As a matter of fact, I have very little exposure to using problem solving in my classroom. I do still have a few books from college (not sure why, but I do) and I'm not sure if any of them would be much help. There are a couple of them I want to look at again to see if there is anything to help me, but I am not holding my breath. How in the world do I learn how to develop these kind of problems that are thought-provoking and leads to the question(s) with little/no aid from me? And more importantly, where does it go from there?

Dan Meyer has brought the #anyqs challenge to the Twitter/blogosphere in the last week. The first version had 4 sets of mileage and times (what you see in the corners of the picture immediately below).  Here is my version 2 of my contribution:

Here is the present version (version 3):

After submitting it to Twitter's #anyqs, the third time was a charm. I got the most responses for questions on the third one and they were mostly pointed at the direction I wanted to head. So, now what? What if I want to put this in front of my students? How do I go about designing the lesson (for lack of a better word at the moment) for it to be a meaningful activity for my students? Maybe I know how to and I just don't realize it, but this is out of my comfort zone as a teacher and designer of lessons. This is not the way I was taught, and it's not the way I teach at this moment in time. But, I want to teach this way. How do I learn how to? I am hoping to get some insight to this when I attend NCTM's Infusing the Classroom with Reasoning and Sense Making in Orlando this summer. However, if I want to use this in my classroom before the end of the school year, that doesn't help me at the moment. I'd really like to not have a repeat of the Wii Bowling thing where I feel like I got nowhere when I am done with whatever I do in the classroom with it.

As a part of this, I also realize I am being way too helpful to my students. I understand and get that it's not the best thing for them, but I have no idea how to "be less helpful." I guess what I mean here is that I'm not sure how to go about posing the "right" questions to get my students thinking on their own about what they should be doing. I know that with it being May 11th as I write this that it's not the best idea to start being less helpful (especially since the students are full aware that there are 19 school days left), so this goes on the summer list. The more I read the Twitter/blogosphere, the higher this moves up on my summer list.

As much as I am enjoying trying different things, I am frustrated by my lack of knowledge of how to accomplish things that I see and hear of others doing in their classrooms. I guess that's what I kept coming back to as I mowed the lawn. My mind would wander to lots of other things (like just how many darn dandelions we have in our lawn and why, oh why, didn't either company I called on Monday not return my calls in 48 horus) and just didn't want to dwell on the school stuff. I really want to work out the school stuff. I am excited about the possibilities in my classroom when/if I am able to make changes in how I teach mathematics. But I feel I have a complete lack of background knowledge to make said changes, and that scares me, so I stop thinking about it. I need to get past that and work through it.

As I close, I do want to add one more thought. As much as I have not been happy with how things have been going in my classroom (going on almost 5 years now), this is the furthest I have ever gotten as far as making changes. I am actually trying new things - and I haven't ever done that in this journey. For that, I have my Twitter PLN to thank. If you all weren't so willing to share what you're doing in your classrooms and answer questions and guide, I wouldn't be here. And even though I am still unsure of things, I am glad to be here. This is where I want to be, and I feel as if I am headed in the right direction.

Saturday, May 07, 2011


I am still not happy with how things are going - although after this week I am pleased with the direction I'm heading. I had a 5 minute conversation with one of our Social Studies teachers when I returned his projector (since the Wii didn't hook up in mine) and I shared with him the Wii Bowling activity. He shared with me that he had spent 2 days with some of his classes going through Obama's speech Sunday announcing that Osama bin Ladin was dead, looking at not only what was in the speech but why it was there. It got me thinking. That 5 minute conversation was invigorating to me - I enjoyed hearing what he was doing, it seemed like he enjoyed hearing what I was doing, and I felt a little validated with what I had done with the Wii (and I hope he felt the same about his activity). We just don't have that kind of discourse in my school.

And that got me thinking - could we have that kind of discourse in our school? Other people have PLCs - why couldn't I start one? Our school is kind of a dichotomy right now - about half to 2/3rds of our staff has 25 years or more experience and will be retiring in the next 5 years or so (especially because the retirement years and age will be changing in Ohio). There is a smaller group of teachers with less than 20 years experience (and I am one of the ones closest to 20) and we are getting more and more younger teachers. The culture of our school is rather negative still and our superintendent is trying to move us forward but in my opinion, that's rather hard when most people don't want to change or try anything new because they have the preconceived notion that what they are doing is fine and any new "edujargon" is just the phase of the moment and it will go away. I hate this culture and I have the tendency to stay to myself so that I don't get poisoned by the negativity.

So, I talked to my biology teacher friend about it. He's working on his masters and he shared with me he was looking at something similar. He's all for it and we're starting to generate ideas. I talked to the Social Studies teacher (same one mentioned at the beginning) and he's in. He also shared about not liking the negativity, so I know now I am not the only one who feels this way. We have 2 English teachers retiring at the end of this year, so next school year we will have two (hopefully younger) new English teachers and maybe we can bring in one or both.

After giving you all this background - here are my questions I am working through:
  • How many people is the "right size" for a PLC?
  • What do you discuss? Do you do book studies, lesson reviews, just share ideas?
  • How often do you meet?
  • How do you keep people coming when it's not manditory?
  • Do you set "ground rules?" What ground rules do you have?
I have a PLN on Twitter (not formal, but I consider it my PLN anyway), so I have some ideas, but I've never done this in real life. Probably the biggest thing for me is I want to keep the negativity out. If you could take the time to offer your experiences, that would help me out as we're trying to set this up. Thanks in advance!

It's been a fun week

This week has been different for me than most of my other teaching weeks.  I tried things in my classroom and they went over mostly well. I don't think I've ever done that before. It's been pretty cool and has helped me to get through. We still have 22 days left (some of which are exam days), so anything to make these last days go easier is good and even better if they learn some things well.

In my Math 1 class, I started the week off with Wii Bowling. You can read the saga here, then here,
here, and finally here. I think I was overly critical in my thoughts about what my students came up with - mainly because they didn't get to where I wanted them to go. @maxmathforum has been very encouraging (among others) in this whole process and he has helped me to realize that maybe I was being too critical. I also think at this point that maybe since most of them have played video games before they don't really wonder about how the score is decided, or they had the thought, it was fleeting and they have long moved on to it. I hate to abandon it at this point, but based on @maxmathforum's last comment (on the last blog post), maybe there just isn't anything definitive that I can confirm as to how they come up with the skill level. But, we did have 2 halfway decent days of class and they did do some thinking about it mathematically, even if they didn't come up with what I wanted them to. And ultimately, it wasn't so horrid of an experience that I won't try coming up with another WCYDWT.
The rest of the week we have been working on polynomials - we are classifying, adding and subtracting them and heading to multiplying them next. I am thinking I am going to try factoring with them, similar to what Kristin Fouss and Julie Reulbach have done. I will definitely start with the x puzzles first.
Algebra 2
We started exponentials and logarithms this week. On the first day, I introduced exponential functions with the question - would you rather have $0.01 each day, doubled each successive day for 30 days, or $100,000? This hooked them in well and they at least seemed to be engaged in the lesson. I really was happy with how it went. We did switching between exponential and logarithmic forms yesterday and instead of having them do a book assignment or a worksheet to practice, I created one of those puzzles where they cut  the squares apart and tape them back together by matching the problems and the answer. You can find it here (it's in Word), It went over really well - all of my students were doing it and several commented that they really liked doing the practice that way. It did take forever to get set up, but after seeing how they responded yesterday, it was worth it. Something new to put in my arsenal.

Where now?
I am still getting together my notebook files for the rest of the exponential and logarithms unit. I do want to incorporate this video into the lesson that has applications of both. I had caught the start of this one evening and it caught my attention (right around 0:30).

If anyone has any other suggestions on the WCYDWT for the video, I always welcome suggestions.

Last, but least, I have to offer some thanks. If it wasn't for twitter and the wonderful readers of this blog, the last week wouldn't have happened. I actually left Friday feeling pretty darn good about how this week went - which is not a normal occurrence for me generally, let alone in May. So, thank you for all your input and encouragement. I appreciate it more than you may know.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Wii Bowling Day Two - Frustration on the Teacher's Part

When we last left our teaching heroine... (well, not really a heroine here) she had her students bowl two games, taking up all of the class period. Details are here.

So, at the start of class today I put up the slides from yesterday. Then I had students write down their observations, what they noticed, and what questions (that may have something to do with math) they had. I gave them about 2 minutes to look at the first slide, had them share with the class and repeated for the second slide. I also told them to continue writing questions and observations as we talked, especially if they saw something while someone was talking so they wouldn't forget it. We then bowled a 3rd game today.

3rd Period
3rd Period Data

Their observations:
What they wrote:
  •  We had a low score but our skill level was higher. Team 1 beat Team 3 by 1. Team 1 had 1 strike
  • Team 4 had 5 strikes but didn't win. Teams 2, 3, and 4 cheated. Team 1 had no strikes but should've won anyways. High skill level than our score. Team 4 had 1 open frame.
  • Skill level and score is different. Team 3 had more strikes but didn't win.
  • My team came in 3rd. All teams scores are different. We had the most strikes. We had 7 open frames. Every skill level went up.
  • Scores are between 100-200. This student copied the information off the board.
  • Why is the score lower than the skill level?
  • Team 3 had a turkey. Different scores. Scores between 100 and 200. This student wrote the scores down.
  • In the second game both Teams 2 and 4 had 6 spares.
  • We had the most strikes but didn't win. Teams 1, 2, and 3 got smashed.
  • (1st game) 2 teams had the most strikes but still did not win. Team 1 had no strikes and still won. All the scores were different. Skill level went up for everyone. The scores were between 100 and 200. Team 3 got a turkey. (2nd game) Team 4 got the most strikes and won. Everyone's skill level went up. Team 2 set a record. Team 3 beat Team 1 by 1 point.
  • Teams 2, 3, and 4 cheated. Team 1 had no strikes but should of won.
  • All the scores different. All skill levels different. Number of 0's different. Strikes are different. Teams 1 and 4 had the most spares. Open frames were different. Skill level went up for everyone. Team 3 got a turkey. 1st 3 frames spake strike Team 4. Teams 2 and 4 had most strikes. Team 3 had most open frames. Team 2 set record.
  • (Game 1) Team 3 had more open frames. Team 2 their skill levels high then their score. Team 1 had no strikes. Team 4 won. Team 4 had 1 open frame. (Game 2) Team 1 had 6 open frames. Team 2 had 2 strikes. Team 3 score 117. Team 4 had 0 number of 0s. How is this math? I know there's numbers but I am confused!
My notes from class discussion:
(These are the observations and questions they shared)
Game 1:
  • Higher skill level than your score
  • All scores were different
  • Teams 1 & 4 most spares
  • Team 1 no strikes
  • Team 4 1 open frame
  • Skill level went up for all
  • Scores 100-200
  • Team 3 had a turkey
  • Team 4 spare/strike/spare/strike
Game 2:
  • Team 2 set a record (higher score than before)
  • A lot of individual team observations
From here with this class, they were deteriorating rather quickly into a competitive thing - this team did this the best, etc. You could see this undercurrent in a couple of the papers. So, I asked them what they thought about the skill levels.
  • Some are really close
  • Some averages went down
  • 2 teams in the 200s, 2 teams in the 300s
  • Going up by 100s for right now
  • Maybe they'll increase by 200s
A couple of them ventured predictions:
  • All skill levels will go up.
  • If you do worse than you did before it will go down.
  • Maybe it won't go up as much.
  • Depends on how bad you do.
  • Maybe if you got less than before - might drop a few points.
Their 3rd game:

3rd Period Data Day 2

5th Period:
5th Period Data

Their observations:
What they wrote:
  • I noticed that team four only had 4 strikes and they still one. I also noticed that Team 1 was winning most of the time except for the end. How did team 4 come back at the end/ How did Team 1 have the lead the whole game?
  • (Game 1) Team 4 had the highest score. Team 2 had the lowest score. Why did Team 2 have 2 strikes and Teams 1 and 3 have 1 each? (Game 2) Team 4 had the highest score again. Team 2 had the lowest score again. Why did Team 2 and 4 have the same amount of strikes?
  • (Game 1) Team 4 had the lowest score. Team 1 had the lowest skill. Team 2 had the lowest score. (Game 2) Teams 1 and 2 had the same number of open frames and zeros. Team 3's scores were all even. All over 100 points.
  • Strikes help a lot. Open frames hurt. Even with a similar score Teams 3 and 2 didn't have (he crossed this out - I think he meant similar skill levels). 2nd game Teams 3 and 4 got better and Teams 1 and 2 got worse. Teams 1 and 2 had a lot of open frames. Team 2 could've won if they had more spares. Skill level didn't go up much for Team 4 even with the new record.
  • (Game 1) Team 4 had 2 more strikes than Team 2. Team 4 had 68 more skill level points than Team 1. (Game 2) Teams 1 and 2 had 7 open frames. They all had above 100 points.
  • 1st game teams had no skill level, and in the end it jumped up by hundreds. The skill levels jumped by a lot in the second game. The open frames from Teams 1 and 2 are the same but different the first game.
  • The more open frames the less the score. Team 2 had most strikes but the number of open frames is the highest and tied the number of 0s.
  • Teams 2 and 3 had a higher skill level than Team 1 but Team 1 had a higher score. teams 1 and 2 had the same amount of open frames.
  • Why did Team 1 have the lowest skill level but they came in second?
My notes from class discussions:
I prefaced this discussion with something about not getting into comparing teams (so I wouldn't have the comments about my team was the best, etc.).

Game 1:
  • Strikes help a lot, open frames don't help
  • Why did Team 1 have the lowest skill level but came in 2nd?
  • Team 4 had 68 more skill points than Team 1
  • Team 2 had the most open frames and 0s.
  • Kids had started to pull this out, but I also pulled it out of them - Teams 2 and 3 are 1 point apart but 5 points apart in skill level (1 less zero)
Game 2:
  • All over 100 points
  • Teams 3 and 4 had better scores; Teams 1 and 2 had worse scores
  • Skill level did not go up much for Team 4 even with record
  • Team 2 had most strikes, tied for highest number of open frames and zeros
I tried to do the same thing with having them look at the skill level and make predictions. All I got from them was that the skill level will go up gradually - there won't be as big of a gap (this from my one student who has played Wii Bowling a lot). Most students felt it would increase.

Their Game 3:

5th Period Data Day 2

So where does this leave our heroine?
Well... when I left school, I felt pretty dejected. I had not read the student papers - I didn't have time (had to get registration completed for NCTM's Reasoning and Sense Making Workshop done so I could hand the school credit card back). The kids, while they enjoyed Wii Bowling, were getting rather silly at times (something about it being May 3rd and I have classes that are almost all freshmen boys) and I did not feel the discussion went well at all. 3rd period, the students who were willing to contribute were so focused on the competitive aspect that it was so difficult to get anything out of them of substance. Other students weren't willing to contribute to the discussion.  I definitely see from today that I have to learn how to ask the right questions to get good discussion going.  I also recognize that it is May and this is the first time I have really asked them to think about information in front of them.

5th period, the discussion went better. I have a student who has a rather strong interest in this. He plays Wii Bowling frequently (it sounded like almost daily) and you can tell he has put some thought into it. Also, I think my 5th period class is stronger academically than my 3rd period class (however, I also have bigger discipline issues in that class). While they were bowling, I was talking with the student who Wii bowls often and a couple of other students casually about it and I shared with them I have been thinking about this on and off for a year. I also shared with them that my first thought was wondering how the skill level was determined. Wii Bowler said that he had the same first thought. My guess is, he had that thought so long ago and since he bowls so often, he really doesn't think about it anymore.

I also left school discouraged because I felt that class was as chaotic as usual. I didn't feel like the students were engaged. Well, some students were, but very few. I don't know if I have unreasonable expectations here with it (a) being their first time doing this and (b) it being May, but I guess I felt like I had enough of a hook to get their attention. I just don't feel like they're focused on the math at all.

What next?
At this point, I am planning on starting into our next unit. I have no idea where to take it from here. In addition, I am out on Thursday and I'd like to start into something so I can leave an assignment for Thursday. I also want some time to step back from it and think through where this is heading. The kids aren't heading where I thought they would so it's time to re-evaluate.

Any thoughts?  I feel like I'm at such a loss at the moment. Frustrated that it doesn't seem to be clear. I thought I had a good idea to start with and now I'm questioning that. Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Wii Bowling Day One Revisited

If you haven't been following the Wii Bowling saga - here is the most recent installment. Make sure to read through the comments.

Day One is done. With having only 50 minute periods, we only had time to bowl. Both classes bowled two games. I divided them into 4 teams and they rotated bowlers so everyone would have a chance to bowl. I tried to do some questioning between games with my first class, but there just wasn't time to really delve into it. 50 minutes sure goes fast!  Here are the slides (pdf version) I put together to go over with my two classes tomorrow:
3rd Period Data

5th Period Data

I tried to do some preliminary work with the data to see where it may take us. As I orginally said, my first thought was "is there some formula they use to come up with the skill level?" I played a bit with the first class (3rd period) data and it appears to be linear except for the Team 3 score. Team 3 had 3 strikes in a row (a turkey) and that was the only big thing I could find different. I did not have a chance to see if a similar thing happened with the second class (5th period). Team 4 in 5th period had a turkey in the second game.

I also noticed that once a team's total gets somewhere around a certain point (in the 300s I speculate), the scores may go up differently.Again, I didn't get much of a chance to play with the second class (5th period) data.

So - what question(s) to pursue from here? One of the things that popped out to me as I looked at the data was that there is a certain point where the total pins will exceed the skill level. In my 3rd period class, Team 4 scored 391 between the two games, but their skill level was 387. There are some scores that the skill level goes up by more than the original score and others where they don't.

Dan Meyer mentioned in the last comment of my previous post about "hav(ing) the makings of a much more interesting version of 'The average of Teri's last five tests is 70%. Then she scores a 65%, a 80%, a 100%. What is her new average?'" question. I can certainly see that. But the mathematician in me wonders how the average factors into the skill factor. I guess I can't just let go of that in my head - it is what drew me to the idea in the first place. Problem is, I can't figure out where the skill level comes from and I don't know if it's even somehing that is accessible to my students.

Dan also mentioned in his comment that if students don't rallky around a single questions, it's time to rethink the problem. I'm wondering tonight if it's time to rethink this.

The plan at this point for tomorrow:
Put up the data from their class. I haven't decided if I'm going to also show them the data from the other class. Ask them for their noticings and wonderings again. Hope and pray they come up with something I'm missing...  I am thinking I'll give them one more round of bowling to get some more data.

Any other thoughts?  Thanks so much for everyone's help - I would have never been able to do something like this without everyone's support and comments. I so greatly appreciate it!