Reflection: What Goes Up, Day 3 of 3 - Section 1: Projectile Motion on the Moon

Recently, I've noticed that when my students are supposed to be collaborating in groups, they have been ignoring one another.  Rather than ask one another for help, or share their insights with one another, they simply sit really close together while working completely independently.  One student rushes ahead with the solutions while the student next to her struggles to make a beginning!

In an attempt to prevent this from happening today, I did two things.

First, I did not hand out the "... Must Come Down" worksheet.  I was afraid that if each student had his or her own copy of the problem they would be more inclined to work independently rather than collaboratively.  Also, I was afraid that the more advanced students would race to finish the first problem because they could see that there was a second one coming.  Instead, copied the first problem (the boy on the Moon) to a Power Point slide and projected it on the whiteboard.

Second, I required each group to produce a single solution together - a "poster" - containing equations, data tables, graphs, and verbal components.  All the members of each group would receive the same grade for this final product.  Typically, I am totally opposed to grading each group work in this way because it often rewards poor students for the good work done by their peers or punishes good students for the failure of their peers to pull their weight.  In this case, however, my purpose was to force the students to begin collaborating and taking responsibility for one another.

I'm not sure that these two changes solved the problem entirely, but I certainly saw improvement.  The final solutions to the problems were not perfect, and not everyone had the same insights, but we took steps toward a more healthy classroom culture.

A Change of Plans
A Change of Plans

What Goes Up, Day 3 of 3

Unit 1: Modeling with Algebra
Lesson 9 of 15

Big Idea: Modeling projectile motion provides an opportunity to make use of the structure of a quadratic equation.

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Standards:
Subject(s):
Math, modeling, Graphing (Algebra), Algebra, Quadratic Equations, Algebra 2, master teacher project, Projectile Motion
45 minutes

Jacob Nazeck

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