My Half-Tau Day activity was haphazard and thrown together at the last minute. For the bellringer I asked students what their favorite flavor of pie was (some said “I don’t eat pie” and I told them they could put that, but that I pitied their existence) and to also look up what pi was and tell me about it. Then I had them watch this Vi Hart video on Tau.
My students didn’t have enough background knowledge to really grok the Tau vs Pi argument and also my blinds are stuck open, so the glare on the screen made it difficult to see what Vi was writing. Vi, bless her and I mean that because she’s great, talks even faster than I do.
So I gave up on the video part after I watched my first block kids stare at the screen in utter bewilderment. We stuck to talking about pie. If I hadn’t felt so pressured by time crunch and wasn’t already behind, I would have done a full days worth of Half Tau Day activities. But we pressed on instead.
I made a half-sheet of 10 problems involving addition and subtraction of polynomials. But then I gave the students the sheet with the answers printed on them and used a marker to completely cover one of the polynomials in the problem. Then I asked the students to find the missing polynomial. So they were solving polynomial equations but I didn’t call them that or tell them how to do it.
Or at least, I didn’t tell them in my last two blocks. In my first block I got overly excited and gave away the solution too early, ruining the activity. I have no idea why I did that. While they were working (and they were working) I just started writing the solutions with work one-by-one. Honestly sometimes I don’t know why I forget the whole strategy of my lesson in the heat of the moment. I think that I suddenly worry that I have made it to hard and that they will give up and my class will go crazy. So my first block got cheated a little. But my last two blocks did great things with different y strategies and were able to find all of the answers. Now not everyone could, some students completely gave up. And not everyone could do ALL of the problems. But most could do some. And I was pleased with that.
The only thing that I didn’t really run well in any of the blocks was the summary and discussion of strategies afterwards. This was because I had another activity planned and I needed to move on. Poor planning on my part. Another mistake I made was forgetting to tie the beginning activity with the notes we learned in the second part of class. I was teaching on factors, prime factorization, and greatest common factor. And I had meant to tie the area model of multiplication of polynomials to the beginning activity by telling the students that finding the GCF was solving a multiplication problem with distribution backwards: the GCF is the width of the rectangles when you know the areas. So just like we did backwards addition and subtraction in the beginning, this factoring is like backwards multiplication. But I forgot to say this in all of my blocks except the last one, and I was kicking myself because it seemed to help some students make a connection.
Despite my miscues today I was generally pleased with how all of my classes did. I got my final block giggling with some spoonerisms. I drew them a Denn Viagram and told them my name was Br. Melcher. For some reason they really thought that was funny. Tomorrow I will reinforce GCF and prime factorizations and I will give them some rectangles to pull apart with polynomial areas they need to factor. I am trying to give as much context to factoring as possible by reinforcing this underlying skills needed. I have been giving them diamond math sheets and practicing factoring and really pushing this area model so that when the big unit comes up next week they are ready to factor those quadratics.
We will see. I am convinced this will be the most challenging for them to learn and the most challenging for me to teach.
Thanks for reading.