Monday, October 24, 2011

Maybe I don't give them enough credit

I've had two or three blog posts started in my head, but then they fly off to wherever half-thought-out blog posts go. I'd love to figure out where that is.

The last two weeks have been okay at school. I think giving my students a review of the concepts being tested a couple days before the quiz is working. My students seem to be doing decently on their quizzes. The questions that are feedback only, they aren't doing as well. I guess I should qualify that - my (regular) Algebra 2 students aren't doing as well. My Advanced Algebra 2 students are doing okay on those portions - again, not perfectly, but strong enough that I feel that they got the concepts in the first place (for the most part).

In my last post, I was (and still am) pondering how to get my students more actively involved with math. I think they do better if they are involved in the mathematics and those of you who commented concurred. We are starting systems of linear equations in Algebra 2 - a concept they have not had before. The previous Algebra 1 teachers have not taught it - they have never gotten to it. When I looked at the suggestions I got from Twitter, I decided to go with an introductory activity from Kristen Fouss that had three problems set up in words. Students then figured out values for a table, graphed it, and came up with equations. They also answered questions about the information.

My Advanced Algebra 2 students worked through it Friday and my regular Algebra 2 students worked through them today. My Advanced Algebra 2 students did rather well with the problems, which I expected. They were able to come up with the equations successfully and were engaged with the material. My Algebra 2 students also were mostly engaged with the problems. Students tended to shy away from creating the graphs, especially in my second and third classes. Once my first class saw how the graphs worked, they were willing to try the graphs. They were also able to answer the questions (for the most part) and worked for the majority of the period.

So, what do I learn from today? I was very pleasantly surprised that my students were engaged with the material. I expected them to do the first and for their interest to wane as we did other problems. I guess I didn't give them enough credit. I hope that they feel like they got more actively involved in the mathematics. I definitely need to find ways to get them involved with math. I'm still not totally sure how to ensure that happens. Tomorrow we are starting with solving systems of equations by graphing. From their most recent quizzes, some of them are still struggling with graphing using slope-intercept form. I did put together a note page with the examples and graph spaces provided with the hope that students will complete the examples along with me. I'll have to see how that goes. I don't really want to get in the habit of providing them note sheets for each concept, however, if that will encourage them to take notes and engage somewhat with the material, it will be worth it.

Stay tuned...


KFouss said...

I'm so glad that the problems worked out for you! I'd only used them with my general kids, but I felt like it was a great intro to what a system was and what a solution meant (a lot of times the kids called the solution a "balancing point" or a "break-even point" which I totally encouraged as long as they knew what they were talking about!). I'm still amazed at how much better they'll work when the problems have some sort of context... and totally ticked at myself for not giving them that context more often.


misscalcul8 said...

I teach solving systems by graphing on the calculator only because doing it by hand is practically impossible and usually doesn't provide the correct answer. Plus, if it shows up on a standardized test, doing it on the calculator will be a time saver.

This is the scaffolded worksheet I created for students to teach themselves how to do it on the calculator.