Rookie Year: Day 116

I have been trying to work really hard to not stay at school past 4 PM and to not take anything home with me. I have been having some moderate success, but I think it has affected my blogging habits. My posts have been shorter or I forget to do them or, like now, I write them very late at night when I would rather be doing something else but feel obligated to do so because of the goal I set for myself at the beginning of this year.

I spent the day doing extended distributive property problems with my students. We’ve done adding and subtracting polynomials and the next topic on the list multiplying. Although I will be showing students FOIL, I plan to introduce it as a short-cut after we have thoroughly explored distributive property and area modeling as strategies.

To start the lesson I reminded the class of the formula for the area of a rectangle and then we practiced a few area problems as a warm-up. I set up the last problem to transition by asking them to find the sum of two areas and then the area of a rectangle where the previous two were slapped together. If I had more time I would have spent more time reinforcing the idea that area doesn’t change when you connect two shapes but I had to rely on previous knowledge and intuition that students already had.

Then I did some quick direct instruction reminding students of the distributive property, showed them how it can extend to when they are more than 2 terms in the parentheses, and then how to use rectangular area to model it.

I finally learned my lesson from Ed Realist about not giving them too much at once. Or at least I did today. I might forget it again later. I’m like my students that way. I only gaveĀ them six problems that I asked them to model by drawing two rectangles. The first with the rectangle split into the parts and the second with a single length. They were also supposed to write out the algebraic representations from applying the distributive property. I slowly increased the number of terms, or added negatives, and eventually I threw some variables at them.

After they had class time work on these six problems with me circling the room to help, I assigned groups to have them focus on one problem to present. I have been writing about how they don’t know how to work well in groups always and I haven’t figured out how to get them to do that. But I think part of the issue is that I just keep giving them group work and then expect them to just work in groups. So today after they tried working in groups to various degrees of not good or kind of okay, I gave them whole class feedback on how they did and then had them rate themselves and their groups. I didn’t get very thoughtful answers from, but they’ll get better. My middle block all rated themselves high and I had to be a downer and tell them that it didn’t go as well as they thought.

“Mr. Belcher but that’s just your opinion”


I did emphasize what they did right (most groups had correct answers with good representations) but their teamwork and use of time was not great. They resist whenever I ask them to talk or share in front of the class, but that’s normal shyness. Also I need to get better at building a classroom environment where you can be wrong and say wrong things in front of everyone.

If I had more time I think I would spend another day reinforcing the connection between area and distributive property, but unfortunately I have to keep moving so we will multiply polynomials tomorrow.

Today went well I am looking forward to tomorrow.

Thanks for reading.



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