Work Period: Review Work & New Work

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SWBAT demonstrate mastery skills from as far back as September or from as recently as last week.

Big Idea

This lesson is an example of what's to come for the rest of the year: student choice, review topics, new ideas, and a great workshop vibe.

Review Opener: Writing Words as Algebraic Expressions

13 minutes

The first three lessons of this unit helped set up the kinds of work we'll do for the rest of the year.  For most of the lessons that remain, there will be an opener that helps students review a key idea followed by open-ended work time.  Today's lesson is an example of that.

Today's opener is on the first slide of the lesson notes.  I post it as students arrive, give them a few minutes to write their answers, and then without too much comment of my own, I post the answers on the second slide.  We repeat the drill with the third and fourth slides, which are compound expressions.  These two opening tasks mirror the SLT 1.3 Practice Assignment from yesterday's Delta Math session.  Many students had a chance to practice this yesterday, and now they can assess their own knowledge.  I give students a chance to check and discuss their work.  Still, I try to say as little as possible.  

Following the first two sets of exercises, which consisted of expressions, on the fifth slide are four complete sentences.  The first two are equations, and the next two are inequalities.  The slide asks students how these are different.  It's important that they're able to distinguish between expressions and equations or inequalities.

The final slide summarizes the work we've just done in terms of the learning targets, 1.3 and 1.4, and I take this opportunity to explain to students what's available today.

I post the learning targets and note that practice work is available here.  When it comes to an implementation of standards-based grading, I loosen up a little at this point.  I want to give students as much opportunity as possible to identify what they need to work on, to feel successful, and to notice that they learned something.  If being a little more liberal in the way I award mastery grades can facilitate that, then I'm happy to go that route.

For students who are pretty much up to date and less in need of remediation, the inequalities give us something to move on to in a modeling context, and that's a route that might open up for some students in the coming days.

Work Time: Review or Try Something New

30 minutes

Anything Can (and Should) Happen

First of all, the rest of today's class is a work day.  It's impossible to record everything that happens on a day like this, so I'll share some photos.  I set up command-central at the front of the room, where I keep supplies and a bounty of work options and extra work request forms.  Students can check in with me here to figure out what they want to do, and as they get work done, they can come back to submit their work and repeat the process.  

As class progresses, I teach mini-lessons as needed.  Here is one example of what the board can look like after a work session like this, where different students have had questions about the difference of two squares, a guess and check problem, and about how irrational roots work.

Many students have taken off on the path they're on - and I let them run with it.  Most of my students are in this place - trying stuff, pushing themselves, with a lot of self-direction, and occasional need for help.

Others still prefer to follow my suggestions, so they jump in to the background practice I've prepared to follow the opener or to the new "Four Lines" assignment, that will serve as both review and extension toward inequalities and linear programming.  See the first two work options below for these assignments.

Classes like these are also an opportunity to teach some study skills.  The word "quotient" doesn't show up on the opener, but it shows up right away on a practice assignment.  When kids see this word, if they don't know what it is, I encourage them to look it up on their phones, saying, "What's a really cool way to find out what you want to know?"

Work Options

Many students have come a long way in developing great work habits and a productive mindset since the beginning of the year.  There are a number of students who want to demonstrate their improved mastery of learning targets from the first unit.  For these students, there are popular assignments for SLTs 1.3 and 1.4:

  • SLT 1.3 Building Background Knowledge is a great opportunity to write algebraic expressions in context, and to think about what these expressions mean.
  • Four Lines Part 1 gives four situations that can be modeled by linear functions.  Students are asked to create a table of values and to graph the points.
  • When they're done with Part 1, students can move on to Four Lines Part 2, on which students write linear equations and then use them to answer some questions about each situation.  These are review assignments, but they're also a chance for students to recognize how much they've learned since September.

Similarly, other students need another chance to demonstrate mastery on a Statistics learning target from Unit 2.  The SLT 2.2 Mastery Assignment is a chance for students to do that.  Other students might want to work on SLT 2.4, which is about using two-way frequency tables.  Rather than making all new assignments, this presents an opportunity for me to try other resources, of which there are plenty online and in textbooks.  In this case, I can just find assignments elsewhere on BetterLesson, like the investigation in this lesson from BL Master Teacher James Bialasik.  

I also have copies of old assignments from that unit.  I consult with students and we look at my grade book to see if there's work they missed earlier in the year, and if there's an assignment that they never turned in, I give them another chance now.  Often, students will say, "Oh I remember working on this, but I never finished it!" and they're happy to get the chance to do so.

 For other topics, I refer to textbooks or to Kuta Software, paying close attention to what kids need, and working with them to find the right work.