What, Where, When, How

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SWBAT explain the process of collaboration, and materials for Algebra ll.

Big Idea

Give your students the tools they need to be successful...then just step back and let them work!

Set the Stage

20 minutes

You will need copies of the Math Tools Treasure Hunt challenge ready for this section.  I begin class with the desks in rows again, in part to get my students accustomed to rearranging the desks as needed.  I tell them that for the first activity of the day they will be working with their left-shoulder partner, a reinforcement of what they learned about partners in yesterday's lesson.  I ask them to group their desks accordingly, assisting as needed, then ask for the older partner in each team to be the team scribe.  Sometimes I just let each team decide who does what but for this activity I wanted to establish a precedent so that leaving it up to them to choose becomes a privilege rather than expected.  Otherwise I've noticed that the same people always seem to end up doing the writing, leaving half my students without much writing experience.  I tell my students they have ten minutes to complete as much of the treasure hunt as possible and that I will give them a two-minute warning.  I ask them to turn in their signed treasure hunt sheets as soon as they're done, since the first team done with the most correct answers wins a prize!  (The prize is the privilege of choosing the next activity.  I have two main goals with this activity; to familiarize my students with the locations of the tools and materials they will be using throughout the year and to give them a minimally stressful collaboration experience.  That helps when they get to tougher math content challenges in future units.)  As my students are moving around the room "hunting" I stay on the periphery observing and redirecting as needed.  After 10 minutes or when everyone is done, I determine the winning team and ask them to choose the next challenge from the four listed below.  If there is a tie, we flip a coin to see which team chooses first.  I give a brief explanation of each activity before the winning team makes its choice.

list of activities for winners to choose from:

  • calculators
  • definitions
  • communications
  • organization

Put it into Action

30 minutes

I have four different challenges that my students will work through, beginning with the challenge chosen by the winning treasure hunt team.  Each challenge has a handout (see my resources) and none require any materials we have not already discussed.  Before beginning the challenges, I ask if anyone has any questions about the tools and materials they found during the treasure hunt.  I also remind my students about teamwork expectations; everyone participates and gives/receives respect.  While my students are working on the challenges, I walk around giving encouragement and assistance as needed.  My narrative discusses how this lesson incorporates math practices into learning class protocols and strategies.

The Calculator Challenge has teams competing simultaneously to complete problems quickly and accurately using the graphing calculator, mentally, or with paper and pencil.  The focus of this challenge is to help students value the calculator as a tool, but also recognize its limitations. (MP5, MP6)

The Definitions Chalenge has partners working to identify terms they should be familiar with from previous mathematics classes, but which can also be found in their Algebra ll textbook.  The focus of this challenge is to refresh student vocabularies while also reinforcing the textbook glossary as a resource. (MP6)

The Communications Challenge Directions and Questions has partners working to communicate accurately and precisely with one partner reading a set of equations or expressions and the other partner writing them down.  The focus of this challenge is to demonstrate the importance of precision and accuracy in mathematics communication. (MP3, MP6)

The Organizing Challenge has partners collaborating to select and utilize graphic organizers to make sense of one of more sets of mathematical terms.  The focus of this challenge is to help students learn to make connections between and among mathematical terms and concepts in ways that make sense to them. (MP5, MP7)  Three graphic organizers I've used with this are "bubbles", "note taker" and "triple venn diagram". 

Wrap it Up

5 minutes

To close out this lesson, I ask my students to take a few moments to reflect on what resources they've learned about today.  I tell them to spend the remainder of class putting all their math handouts in their binders and organizing those items that they will regularly reference.  I have some students who do not have binders and/or prefer to stuff all their papers in their textbooks (or back pocekt).  For those students who truly need a binder, I keep a supply available and often have students donate unusesd or lightly used binders, rulers, etc to my supply.  If the issue is student choice, I try to reinforce the benefits of being organized and warn students that I will do regular "sweeps" of all textbooks to discard materials stashed there since it breaks down the binding.  Ultimately I let them make the decision about whether or not to keep a notebook.  These students are not freshmen, after all, and will need to be able to make responsible choices as adults.