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.

Day 76-77 Fractions, special case equations

Day 76: Fractions assessment for my other standard class. Pre-algebra played with Doceri while solving special case equations.

Day 77: Future tense: Standard classes will review their assessment and pre-algebra will continue with special case equations. After that we’ll wrap up the 2013 with some games.

Day 75: fractions assessment

I gave an early holiday gift to my standard class today. They had an open book, open notes assessment. Before the test I listed the page numbers of the two fractions sections as well as the integer rules sections on the whiteboard. I even left a few example problems on the board. While most didn’t need these resources, three students in particular would have benefited. One took advantage of the opportunity, but the other two made no attempt to consult the textbook, notes, or even the homework we just reviewed which was practice problems similar to the assessment.

As the class worked on the assessment one student asked me, “How do you subtract a fraction with negatives?”

I said, “You can find that in the textbook.” The textbook stayed closed.

Day 74: Fractions and special case equations

Last night I created a video on adding and subtracting negative fractions and used Educanon to embed multiple choice questions.


Not a perfect video, but it served its purpose.

I’m trying to reach these students who are still struggling with the concept so I thought differentiating using the video would help. The video ran about 15 minutes including time for the questions. I routinely checked in on each student while the others worked on problem solving. As I checked in on the students I watched them making correct choices and incorrect choices. Each distractor included a response that gave them a clue as to the mistake they were making. The responses displayed after the distractors are helpful if the student reads them and analyzes their work closely.

When the video ended they joined the rest of the class working in small groups solving problems.

In pre-algebra I ripped off Courtney’s work on Special Cases–she credits Sarah and the MAP lesson on Solving Linear Equations. It took the entire block and was well worth the time.

special cases