Today I attempted two activities with varying degrees of success across blocks.
For the first activity, I put a blank Desmos graph on the projector and had all my students go to Desmos as well. Then I showed them how to enter Ax+By=C and add sliders for A,B, and C. After this I asked them to adjust the values for A,B, and C until they had got the graph to have an x-intercept of 2 and a y-intercept of -1. I let them play around. I got several different solutions out of them. My third block was into it the most and kept yelling at me to come look at their screens. After this I asked them to create a line that had negative values for both intercepts. They all did really well at this and I think it reinforced the concept of intercepts nicely. In an earlier block I then had them experiment with changing only one value and asking what happened to the graph, but this didn’t go well and I was struggling myself to connect it to the rest of the lesson so I did not repeat the task in later blocks.
The second activity I’m pretty sure I got from a Dan Meyer twitter question, but I am not certain. I listed 0-9 on the board and told my students they could only use those numbers and they couldn’t use a number more than once. Their challenge was to create two points with the greatest possible slope. I saw the whole slew of possible responses to this. Blank staring at the paper, ignoring the task and on the phone, talking to a neighbor, but also trying the problem by guessing numbers, asking me and others for help, getting the slope formula mixed up, getting the slope formula correct but then thinking 1/7 = 7, and various other mistakes.
I manged to get most of my classes to talk about their strategies for creating bigger slope. This again worked very well in my final block because they were the most enthusiastic and engaged. While I was walking around and observing or asking questions, a student who had tried several times but kept getting a value of 1 finally said “OH, we need the y values to be far apart.” I tried to help the whole class make this connection later on when we summarized as a group, but I don’t think I did a good job yet.
I was really excited about these tasks and the results I saw but I need to improve on two things:
- Improving how I get student buy-in so that all of them are attempting the problem. (Not necessarily getting right, but just plain trying the task. I had some low engagement from 40-50% of my students.)
- Improving how I do group summation. And the second depends on the first. Because most of my students aren’t really trying the task, they aren’t able to engage and talk with each other meaningfully about what they noticed.
I am woefully bad at getting them summarize a task at the end as a group. Even when I am doing well at class management and the students are quiet and maybe even listening, they are not always engaged. I think what will be my number one improvement goal for next semester with my new classes is group summary after a task.
But overall today went well and I made hot chocolate for my students to drink during their quiz since they told me I had made them crave hot chocolate on Monday with that lesson on different prices.
Thanks for reading.