Rookie Year: Day 81

I feel exhausted.

This week in between finishing exams and beginning the new semester has been so tiring because the bulk of my work right now is classroom management, my least favorite and the most draining part of my job. My entire day was nothing but asking students to get back on task and work through the assignments I gave them. They weren’t too wild, but there was just a low level of off-task behavior throughout all three blocks and now that I have hit the end of the day I am spent.

On the bright side these Desmos activities are fantastic and I will absolutely be re-using them to teach solving systems of equations for next semester in Intermediate Algebra. The biggest issue I have had so far with this Desmos activities is how much the student’s get stuck or give poor answers because they just write down short one word responses or don’t read the directions. I think part of his is because I have been administering them as an independent assignment where the whole class proceeds at their own pace. So I either have students asking questions every single slide and I can’t get to everyone or they blaze through it and learn nothing. This has been especially clear to me this week as I have had them attempt 5 desmos activities throughout the week.

For next semester I think I will use the lessons as a template for a whole class activity or a think pair share. We will progress through the questions one at a time, having students think, share ideas, and respond together before moving on. I really would like to see my student work on these in small groups because I had such a great conversation with two students in my morning block while they worked on their assignment. They were taking it seriously and asking me questions. Their responses and thinking were extremely clear and it was apparent that the Desmos activity was built very well for fostering student intuition. (The one they were working on was Racing Dots.) So the team at Desmos did a great job. The very first slide shows two dots moving away from a starting position and it asks students to estimate when one dot will catch up to the other dot. The following is an approximation of the conversation.

S1: “So I could put the purple dot here?”
S2: “No, look the blue dot already went past that and the red dot didn’t catch it yet, you have to move it over.”

S1: “So like over here?”

S2: “Yeah!”

I know there were a few other times where the answers I got out of those two were so clearly thought out and grasping the ideas that I wish I could have done it with the whole class. I’m having trouble remembering the specifics of the other ones. I should have written them down. It was this morning and my brain is fuzzy and tired now.

I’m not really sure if having the whole class go through the activities one-by-one is really in the spirit of these Desmos bundles but I’m not sure how else to make my students slow down and really think and talk. One of my big struggles this year has been getting my students to even try the problems I give them. They either disengage or just put nonsense answers.

My brain is too fuzzy to write any more at the moment. I am having trouble putting good sentences together. I need to go home and rest.