Saturday, September 26, 2015

Coming Out of the Funk While on a Slippery Slope

It was a better week.

At first, I wasn't sure it was going to be. After last week's "brain dump," Monday was once again rough. I thought, "There are going to have to be more 'brain dumps.'"

But things began to turn around on Tuesday. In my morning devotional I was given some scriptures to hold on to when the going is tough. I was encouraged as I went to school, and then I had a full day of training and planning with the math department. It was a great day. We talked, we learned. I was able to "get out of my head." I was able to map out the rest of the semester and see that my pacing is on the right track. I decided to silence a (virtual) voice that was pulling me down.

I approached Wednesday with some trepidation, wondering if Tuesday's good feelings would come crashing down. But they didn't. It was a good day.

Then Thursday was good. And Friday, too.

Maybe the fog is lifting. I will ride the wave as long as it lasts and (try to) remember what I've learned when things become difficult again (because they will).

So...I promised a blog about the fun things happening in the classroom. Today I will make good on that promise.

I've mentioned changing my pacing for both my preps this year. I found a pacing guide that was posted on our state department of education website. For both Algebra 1 and 8th grade Pre-Algebra, the year started with functions and moved into linear functions. Both classes have been working with slope this week (hence the bad reference in the title of this blog post).

I started both classes with "Slope Dude." Students groan and critique the short, not-too-fancy video, but they quote it over and over when working with slope. I win. :)

Pre-Algebra then focused on finding slope from a graph. After two days in class and then (attempting to) apply that knowledge to show that it doesn't matter which two points you choose to find slope from a graph, the other Pre-Algebra teacher and I were not convinced the students had it. So after our PD day, we spent one more day on it, using this color-by-number activity that the students were really excited about (sometimes it doesn't take much). I got to watch my students work, and by the end of that activity I felt more comfortable with my students' grasp of finding slope from a graph.

They then moved to finding slope from a table and slope between two points. My students this year are struggling with integers, so we pulled out a number line for this. I also stole Rockstar Math Teacher's Mini-Table. Oh, my goodness! They got it! They were good at it! They felt good about it!

I wish I had taken a closer picture of the mini-tables; check out Rockstar Math Teacher's blog!

We finished the week with some mixed practice. I was encouraged by the learning my students were demonstrating. I used task cards from this set (we haven't done slope from an equation, yet; that's coming up). Students were given a sheet of paper with coordinate planes, tables, and mini-tables to use to show their work (I threatened them if they wrote on my pretty, laminated task cards!). Some students would graph information in tables. One student didn't recall how to find slope on a graph, and he began using the mini-tables. While part of the reason for these actions was incomplete directions from me, I was so thrilled to see them making connections between tables and graphs and choosing the strategy they liked best. I heard several declarations of, "This is easy!" and "I like tables best" and "I like the graphs best."

You should have seen this girl showing her partner the difference between 2 points on the number line; it was exciting to watch!

Monday they begin to apply slope to average rate of change, and I look forward to their understanding deepening.

Algebra 1 has gone faster and deeper with slope. I told them up front they were benefitting from what I learned from last year's worst video. After watching "Slope Dude" and identifying the types of slope, they watched a video about slope from a graph and table. Their class practice was some of the task cards mentioned earlier. They learned the slope formula in a video. In class they chose between some activities in this bundle. I am noticing some struggle with integers in this group, too, but with some one-on-one instruction and help from peers, they're coming along nicely.

Working with the slope formula

They looked at average rate of change from graphs and situations at the end of the week, and they seem to be comfortable with it. We talked a lot this week about precision in answers and how to write "pretty" sentences.

Analyzing graphs and justifying answers

Eighth graders are also looking at slope, rate of change, and distance-time graphs in science right now. AND their history teacher discussed slope and the building of the pyramids. There is some major cross-curricular teaching going on! And hopefully some connections being made and some confirmation that what is being learned in one particular classroom is useful in other classrooms.

I feel good about this past week. I feel like all my classes and students made progress. I feel huge gains were made this week in the area that I believe affects learning more than anything else - relationships. Building relationships is why I do a lot of what I do in the classroom, and part of my frustration the last few weeks was not seeing what I experienced last year. This week some of it clicked.

I ended the week confident everything's gonna be OK.

I'll just need reminding of that the next time I feel otherwise.

No comments:

Post a Comment