Day 91: Distance formula continued, reviewing one step assessment

In Pre-algebra we continued discovering the distance formula. Yesterday I stretched the students a bit too much, thinking they would catch on quicker than what they did. It’s my first time teaching the topic and today was much better. While their discovery of the formula was more teacher led, it was to their benefit.

I created a SMART board lesson and walked them through this problem:



I then gave them four problems as a handout and guided them through the first problem.


Some were still confused by which coordinates to use so I added a table with headers for them to keep track.


By the last problem the kids were sailing on their own, without the aid of the coordinate plane. Their ticket out the door was to find the distance of (1, 3) (5, 8). Only one student struggled.

The standard classes today reviewed their one step equations (add/subtract) assessment. I was pleased with the results for most of the students, but I want to add more problems with simplifying and solving. I’m looking forward to next week where we’ll be doing more complex problems.

Days 89-90 one step equations and distance formula

We had two snow days on Monday and Tuesday.

My standard classes on Wednesday and Thursday had an assessment on one-step equations. In pre-algebra students students explored the distance formula using this resource along with help from portions of this video. The students had some difficulty getting started so I showed the first few minutes to get them thinking about using x coordinates to find the length of the parallel line segment along the x axis.

distance formula

When I gave them snippets from the video, it was just enough to get them going. Then they would get stuck. I showed a bit more of the video and they would be able to continue. We’ll keep working at it.

Days: 86-88 MLK short week

Only three days of class this week. Students were off Monday for Martin Luther King day and Friday was Institute.


After the long weekend, students needed a refresher on combining like terms. Actually they needed more instruction on applying integer rules. I was hoping to give an assessment this week on writing expressions, the distributive property, and simplifying expressions but they needed more practice.


We explored the Pythagorean Theorem. I wanted to try something different so I followed this lesson idea from the Teaching Channel. I really liked it. The kids loved it. Part of the lesson included a scavenger hunt and unscrambling anagram clues to solve a Who Done It. Instead of using technology to get the clues after solving each problem I substituted it for human contact. They had to see me to get a strip of paper for each clue. The write up is on the Curiouser and Curiouser blog.

Days 81- 85 I forget…oh, yeah, MAP testing

I had to look in my plan book to remind me what we did during this time. That’s right, it was MAP testing. The rest of the week focused on:


Writing expressions, identifying constants, coefficients, like terms and combining like terms.


An assessment on multi-step equations, variables on both sides, and special cases. When we go over the assessment, I’m continuing the practice of students first meeting in small groups to discuss answers. I then hand out copies of the key for further discussion. I’ll then take specific questions from the class. I’m finding this approach allows for much more mathematical conversation, gives students more time to carefully review their work and identify their own mistakes instead of me pointing them out to them.

Days: 79-80 Writing expressions, special cases

I’m dabbling in math workshop model and I see a glimmer of hope that I’ll be able to eventually make the transition. There are some elements of the workshop model that I already do, but other aspects need work. A more complete post can be found here. Below is a brief overview of the past two days.


I introduced writing expressions and equations using a warm-up. I handed out four expressions.

writing expressions

Students shared their answers under the document camera. This led to the mini-lesson which included using a term with a coefficient instead of the multiplication symbol x and interpreting the division symbol as a fraction bar. (And the kids thought they we were done with fractions!) For the rest of the period the students worked in pairs completing this puzzle:

expressions puzzle

They didn’t have enough time to finish the puzzle, so we’ll pick it up again next week. When we debrief we’ll reflect on both strategies examine the translations. As I checked on the pairs I heard one student say, “Look for ‘equals 12’ to see if it matches” Another said, “Subtract means minus. Where are all the minuses?” Even though those strategies help the student complete the puzzle, the point of the puzzle is to analyze the translations. I can’t overlook that when we debrief.


Students entered the class with this warm-up:

variables both sides2

Most chose to solve by using their newly discovered method of clearing fractions. One student chose to solve it by keeping the fractions.