Monday, May 30, 2016

Day 2

Since my first day with my Algebra students is a Friday (their second day of school, but Algebra doesn't meet on Thursdays), I sort of feel like Day 2 is my "real" first day with students. My first unit is "Everything Linear", and I want to really hit hard the ideas of relation (and eventually function) and rate of change, while liberally sprinkling in modeling. While it's hard to tell exactly what my students will have had mathematically before me, most of them theoretically will already know how to solve equations, have learned about slope/rate of change, and already done quite a bit of graphing using slope-intercept. (I meet with that incoming 9th grader this Wednesday, so I may have to revisit this statement later this week.)

This day's opener is based on Dan Meyer's 3-Act Sugar Packets. Right now I'm experimenting with Formative and, since I'll be assigning it to my class, I can't link to it so that you can see it. Hopefully these screen shots will give you an idea.

I thought this was an interesting way to start and hopefully immediately engaging. In the past, I've used this as a lesson activity, so I do have some concern that it might be "too much" for an opener. (I also wish Formative allowed a "page break" so that students could enter their estimates, click next, then see the information necessary to solve it exactly; worried they'll scroll down before making estimates.)

Then I decided a great lesson to start with was a Desmos Activity Builder remix of Dan Meyer's Graphing Stories. (FYI - you will be seeing a lot of Desmos and Dan Meyer in subsequent posts.)

I really like how this gets students to think about the relation between two variables in an informal way, yet one that leads to more formal mathematics pretty nicely. Because Desmos recently added the ability to sketch, it fits nicely into Activity Builder. (They are apparently working on the ability to embed videos, right now I just link to them.) I'm reasonably happy with the way this worked out, but am still debating if including all 10 of them is too much. I scaffold the first two, asking them to stop after their sketches so that we can compare everyone's sketches, then turn them loose after that. I think that they'll be able to run with it, but not sure.

Their homework (which hopefully they will get to start on in class - I think I will cut the lesson short if I have to to make sure that happens), is to complete one more graphing story, then record a short screencast describing how they went about coming up with their solution. This will be their first attempt at a "production" screencast (if all goes well they will have practiced on Friday), and I'll make sure to let them know that if they have trouble at first, we'll work through it and that I expect by the end of the week everyone will be able to smoothly make screencasts. (Having the ability to come in on an unscheduled hour will be really helpful here for any students who are really struggling with the screencasts at first.)

This sounds like a great day in my head, but what are your thoughts? Would love to hear feedback, suggested tweaks, or alternatives. (Day 2 Slides)

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