To build student confidence in writing functions, I have provided three scenarios for Warm Up today. The first situation is very basic, so I do not anticipate any difficulties. The second two, however, may pose a problem as both contain a variable and a constant. My hope is that these scenarios will provide opportunities to talk about and clear up any misconceptions regarding functions before students complete the day's assignment: A function performance task.
Today's assignment is an individual performance task assessment I have borrowed from Annenberg's Missing Link curriculum.
This task flows nicely from previous class assignments so that students typically perform very well on it.
Students pick up copies of the task as they enter the classroom (a procedure I have used since day one of school, which saves precious class time!). I also have it displayed on the smartboard so that we can read through the task together.
After we read through the task, I ask for any clarifying questions. Then, I display the very general, but task-specific rubric. I leave this posted as the students work. I remind students about where to locate graph paper, rulers, and colored pencils. I then set the timer for 35 minutes and encourage students to begin.
For students who struggle to get started, I ask them guiding questions like, "Think about our Rule of 5 Star. Where would be a good place to start?" or "What variables will you be using for your table?" Usually, these are enough to get them moving in the right direction. I continue to monitor student work throughout the work period to address any misconceptions or errors in reasoning.
As students finish, I ask them to tape their work on our 'gallery wall' (a large white board in our room).
A great closure for student performance tasks is a gallery walk. As students finish their work, I ask them to post their work on our gallery wall (but I do not require it...only willing students share with the whole class. Those who don't want to share, simply turn their work into me.). When the timer sounds, I invite the students to stand in front of the gallery to look at other student work. I ask questions that require students to do some non-critical evaluation like, "What do you notice is the same about each of the posters?" and "What differences do you notice?"
The Gallery Walk is another procedure that needs to be explicitly taught. Middle school students are very sensitive and I want to protect their dignity at all costs. For this reason, I explain at the beginning of the year that it is never required to share work, but participation in the walk is required. I also talk about what constitutes appropriate comments and I even role play inappropriate behaviors so students are well aware of my expectations. If an inappropriate comment does occur, I dismiss that student from the gallery walk and speak with him/her privately after class.