Sunday, September 18, 2016

Hanging in There by Creating Resources the Old-School Way…

For those of us that start in early August, it is a tough pull through the fall months.  A lot of us joke that if you make it to Thanksgiving, the year is over.   I am feeling the pull right now as we are ending the first 6 weeks, and progress reports with all the surprises and additional tasks that can go along with that.   Last week was parent/curriculum night, so that always makes for one long day and somehow a longer week. 

So last week was pretty blah with instruction.  Not my intention, but lost the time to do as much with activities as in previous weeks.  Still, I got a surge of need to put something in that was going to push student thinking.  We are working on functions in Accelerated Algebra 1, which is one of my favorite things to teach, and I was missing the chance to do cool activities while strapped for time going into a quiz.  About an hour before curriculum night began, a synapse fired, and an idea I wanted to embrace.  I did not want to lose it, so I opened up my graph notebook and started drawing graphs…
I wanted to do an activity solely on whether or not to connect the points on a graph that are generated by a function in a real-world situation.  In the past and still this year, I always incorporate this concept within task-orientated problems.   This is still a great portion of a task, but I really was feeling like it needed sole attention.  The title of the activity was “To Connect or Not Connect”, and I drew out 8 graphs with points and labeled the x and y axes with situations.  I then prompted the students to circle yes or no, and then in the spirit of Sara Van Der Werf, I told them to “convince me”.   I then drew two  empty graphs for problems 9 and 10 and asked the students to create one situation that would result in a connected graph and one graph that would not be connected.

I scanned the paper and loaded it into their OneNote assignments for the next day.  I had the students work in pairs during class to make the “connect or not” decisions.  There was great discussion and debate among the students – kids realizing that there could be more than one argument for many graphs, and kids realizing that sometimes more than one explanation could work if they argued their ideas on an assessment.  It was nice to hear my class come alive again in a time of the year when the lessons tend to fall flat due to lack of time and increased exhaustion.

It was a last minute thought, and I went old-school with constructing the activity because I did not want lose the idea in the wake of lack of time.  It is handwritten by yours truly who does not have great handwriting, and it looks like something that came off of a mimeograph copier, but it worked just as easily to generate great conversations and dig deeper into concept development.  The file for this beauty is attached below

To Connect or Not Connect Activity

My takeaway from this is to not let those great ideas get away from you if you don’t have the time to type, generate, format, edit, repeat.    Our hands can relay meaning in content just as well when we are in a pinch, and I almost felt freer to organize my thoughts.   This was a critical concept in this unit, and I believe this activity helped them to think about what part of the input/output scenario drives the decision to include connectivity into things like domain and range, whether both domain and range should be considered, and what are some of the things around us that do not exist in life as partial quantities.

It was a great activity, and I am glad I allowed myself to free-write a document rather than declare the “no time to electronically generate or search” and keep them from an engaging activity.
Now for this week.  My favorite activity of all times:  Transformations of Functions Discovery Activity.  I developed this 2 schools ago, and have taught it at all levels.  It is fascinating to see them search for all the patterns that come together to create different types of transformation.  More on this later with pictures and explanation.  This activity alone makes me so excited for this coming week.  For the first time, I have multiple days to use and keep the activity and discussion going over several days.

Until next week – I will look forward to sharing it.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing your work. It's a great activity. I agree with you, get it written down and go for it. There are too many things to be done and sometimes it's best to just go for it or ideas end up sitting in journals, computers, etc.