We’re heading into decimals as integers. I want to make sure the students know place value so I gave the standard classes a pre-test on adding and subtracting positive decimals. Before the pre-test, I talked about attending to precision and I specifically asked the students to rewrite the problem vertically to avoid careless mistakes.
Students shared their work on the whiteboard and we talked about each problem. Of course I had a few who did not take my suggestion to heart. I didn’t have my smartphone handy to capture the actual student work, but below is a recreation of a mistake one student made with the first problem.
This was a great mistake because it generated a conversation about place value, but I was soooo disappointed the student didn’t rewrite the problem to solve. Perhaps the problem was too easy so they didn’t feel it was necessary to rewrite it. But what’s going to happen when they encounter decimals as integers.
At the end of the period one of the students I had last year came up to me and said, “I’m not being challenged by this, Mrs. Dooms.”
I said, “I understand, Mark.” I walked over to the white board and showed him a problem like the one above. “I want to make sure you remember how to add decimals because next week we’ll be doing that.” He stared at the problem, grabbed the dry erase marker, took off the cap, but made no attempt.
“Ok. I’ll be challenged next week.”
On Thursday, the pre-algebra students were assessed on the exponent rules they’ve learned thus far. It ended up taking longer than expected for some so they finished up on Friday. As students turned in their assessment they stapled practice the problems I assigned as optional homework. It led to an interesting exchange with one student who chose not to do it.
“You left some problems blank.”
“I know. I don’t know how to do them.”
“We’ve done them before and they’re just like the practice problems I gave to help you get ready for the test.”
“It was optional so I didn’t do them.”
At first I’m thinking this is a good lesson for him to learn. On the other hand where’s the hole in my teaching? Why didn’t I catch that? Looking back to when the original lessons unfolded, he was showing me he grasped the concepts during individual whiteboard work. We even spent the entire block reviewing for the test. I was a hawk catching mistakes when the students practiced in pairs with the “Around the World” activity. The next time I see him I’m going to ask if he pushed the Expo marker or did his rotating partners do the work.
I need to reintroduce exit slips.