Reflection: Trust and Respect Introducing Delta Math and Getting Better at Solving Equations - Section 2: Work Time: Practice Solving Linear Equations

 

Here's a confession I have to make: I'm a pretty soft grader of student work.  More specifically, when I look at a student's work, I always emphasize everything they've done right.  This applies to solving equations, word problems, and grappling with any tasks I assign.
With that in mind, an algebra curriculum is full of times when solutions just have to be right.  When students are asked specifically to round a solution, reduce a fraction to lowest terms, or understand that -4 is a different solution to an equation than 4, there can't be any gray area.  My students and I will look at the results of Linear Practice #1, and we'll notice that many of the errors come down to the sign of the solution.  Today, kids get a chance to practice and to think about how they're going to improve on Linear Practice #2.
Working on a computer is a chance to see when right is right.  When students work on Delta Math assignments like the one I've assigned today, only the right answer will be accepted.  The computer has no personality, and there's no arguing with it about being "almost right."  If they haven't gotten it elsewhere, students see the importance of getting their +/- signs right when they're solving equations.  There are also exercises where students are asked to answer with a fraction in lowest terms, rather than a decimal value, and again, there's no arguing with the computer when it doesn't get the answer it's looking for.
The cool thing that happens here is that kids see me as the good guy - who can help them figure out what that picky computer is looking for, identifying mistakes and figuring out how to get things right.  It's us versus the machines, and although I'm able to say, "Hey, you did this and that right, but what about that negative sign there?" students see that they're going to have to figure this out to get five correct answers in a row.
Whenever we think about using computers in a classroom, it's important to recognize that they're just one of many available tools, and that like any tool, they are uniquely good at helping us achieve certain goals.
Regarding the equations that have fractions for solutions, it's also useful for kids to see there the "/" key is.  We're able to talk about how a fraction is the relationship of two numbers by division, and when we press that key to create a fraction, we're noticing that fractions and division problems are the same thing.

  Mean Computer, Nice Teacher
  Trust and Respect: Mean Computer, Nice Teacher
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Introducing Delta Math and Getting Better at Solving Equations

Unit 5: Statistics
Lesson 3 of 20

Objective: SWBAT practice solving linear equations as we seek to answer the question - how can you get better at this?

Big Idea: We head to the computer lab and use an online tool that generates as many practice exercises as students need.

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