My bellringer today for Testing Thursday was this question from the 2009 Ohio Graduation Test:
To be honest, I didn't feel it was a particularly difficult question. I was quite surprised when all three of my Algebra 2 classes who saw this question today had no idea where to start. They didn't even want to hazard a guess at it. I had one student in my Advanced Algebra 2 class who knew the answer, but this particular student catches on to some things mathematically that most students wouldn't even want to venture towards. I'm not totally sure how to explain him, but let's leave it at that it doesn't surprise me he figured it out and rather quickly.
I have noticed over the last week or so that my students already are not really engaging with the OGT testing questions I have put in front of them. Part of me can hardly blame them, but on the other hand, I do need to prepare them for this test that many of them will have to take this year and giving them the opportunity to see previous test questions is a helpful way to do that. I know the best way to prepare them is to teach the material that will be covered by the test in the first place, and I am certainly doing that.
At the moment, I have two questions bouncing around my head that I need to figure out answers to:
1) How do I get my students more engaged with these questions/bellringers? I'm not grading them (remember - SBG here). I have set the expectation in front of them that they are to be working on them - it's not happening as much as it should be.
2) (and this is the more important one to me at the moment) How do I help my students to be able to engage with a question like this? I think many of them flat out wrote it off today without even playing around with it. If I have hopes of incorporating rich tasks into my classes , students have to be willing to play with the mathematics involved. I saw a whole lot of blank stares today and very little attempts at figuring out an answer.
You know, I was just starting to work up the gumption to try to design or find an activity to modify that would involve (*gasp!*) thinking and after seeing this today, I'm back to being scared of it. Help!