By the time I got to this session, I was hitting the mid-afternoon doldrums that you especially get when you have been at a conference all day and you’re not used to all that learning. This session was full and they did not have enough handouts. They were good and eventually got them to us all. I ended up at a seat on the side, so I wasn’t able to participate in the activities that used manipulatives.
His solution for Making Sense in Algebra 2:
- Escape from the textbook!
- Choose depth over breadth
- Keep tweaking the course
- Collaboration makes it possible - His department meets every week and continues to communicate.
We spent most of the rest of the session working through problems. Some of the activities involved using algebra tiles and other manipulatives. With each of the problems, he concluded with a point about making sense. Those points are:
Making Sense – Start with a Big Question:Starting with iteration…
-levels the playing field
-enhances calculator/Fathom/spreadsheet fluency
-formulas encapsulate understanding, are not an obstacle to it, or a substitute for it
-introduces convergence, divergence, limits
-makes arithmetic and geometric sequences look easy!
(starts with something more difficult and makes things look easier)
Making sense – use manipulatives as an exploration, reflection, and discussion environment
Making Sense – use real “real world” connections-hands-on experiments motivate the concepts.
Making sense – concepts first (not notation, not terminology)
The activity involved finding the exponent in the expression 10 to a power (it’s called Super Scientific Notation). This activity gives meaning to logs, emphasizing that logs are exponents and helps to justify log rules. Henri did note that students do panic when intro notation and terminology – but remind them of this anchor activity and it eases their panic.
Making sense – reason about numbersConnection to art
Application of geometry
At the end, Henri gave us his strategies for sense making:
- Do fewer topics in more depth
- Sequence them strategically
- Start units with memorable anchor problems
- Incorporate manipulative and electronic tools
- Concepts first
- Formulas, notation, terminology – handle with care!
- Navigate between multiple representations
- Do not skimp on visual, geometric, and hands-on approaches
I struggled somewhat with this session. After having spent time looking at what Dan Meyer was presenting and working on incorporating media and a “wow!” factor to it all, this seemed somewhat duller to me. However, upon further reflection and discussion, I am seeing that one cannot do that type of thing all of the time. It loses its “shiny” nature to students. If you do the same thing all the time, even if it’s wonderful, it will lose some of its effectiveness. I think there is some merit with what Henri presented. I’m still trying to figure out how to make it all work for me.