Week 9

This week I taught solving inequalities and it was actually pretty fun! I taught solving, then graphing, and then determining the interval. We do a whole unit on this later in the year but I thought it when along well with solving linear equations and word problems. Also, it's an intro to graphing lines, sort of. Plus, when we get to the later unit, this part will be a good review into graphing systems of inequalities. And I feel a wee bit proud of myself because teaching intervals isn't usually done until Algebra 2 (my sister is doing it in Trig right now)  and my students actually understood it and thought it was pretty easy.

I explained it like this: students were taught previously that < is like Pac Man eating the bigger number. So I ran with that thought and explained that < and > are Pac Mans without food and so the circle is empty (open). The ≤ and ≥ are Pac Mans with a tray of food underneath and so the circle is full (closed). No food means empty stomach which means sad so the interval will have parentheses (). The tray of food means full stomach which means happy so the interval will have [] brackets like a turned up smiley face. It seemed to work really well. The concept of positive and negative infinity threw some of them but mostly they just confused the order of the interval, whether the number or the infinity went on the left or right. I spent one day just solving and explaining how signs flip when multiplying by a positive or negative. The next day we did graphing the number line and brackets. I thought that might be a stretch for one class period but they were all familiar with number line graphing. From there I had them draw the bracket/parentheses directly on the empty or full dot on their number line. The inequality sign points which way to shade and the bracket/parentheses will face the same way. Looking at it like that helps them know which way to write the interval. The next day we did compound inequalities separated by and or or. I quizzed over the material on Friday and it went well for the most part.

In geometry, we did this city design project and they really enjoyed it. Once I get them graded and hung up, I'll post some pictures. Of course some students put in way more effort than others but I was pleased with them for the most part and I thought it was a unique way to assess angles formed by a transversal.

On Friday, I gave students a first quarter survey about the class, their learning, and how I'm doing so far. (I adapted this survey from Mr. D at I Want To Teach Forever) I got a ton of positive feedback but nothing to improve or fix. Almost 100% of students said they want more group work, less individual work, more posters/drawing, more reviewing for major tests, and more review games. I haven't done any posters or drawing in algebra but I'm thinking about using this idea for the steps to PEMDAS or to solving equations or solving absolute value equations. I also haven't done any group work that I can think of, which needs to change. I've had nine weeks of experience and I'm so tired of lecture, notes, homework already. So, now it's time to start incorporating some of those things and changing it up a bit. Ideas welcome!

In sad news, one of my students dropped out of school this week after already missing approximately 15 days out of about 40 days. Another two got expelled. *sigh* Two out of the three had good grades in my class and were working well. All 3 have been in and out of trouble for years but I just feel like we failed them.

Parent/Teacher Conferences are coming up but I don't know which parents are coming to see me yet. I know it is usually the parents of the top achieving students coming to make sure they stay top achieving, but I'm hopeful some people may come out of curiosity to meet the new teacher?? Also, I'm trying to think of something to do differently than what's been done in the past. What would be most helpful to parents? My only idea so far is to create a sheet that lists some positive characteristic traits about the student as well as some things they could improve on. Also, I could "advertise" our after school tutoring program and let them know other ways to get help. I don't want it to be a boring lecture so I'm trying to think of things to make it interesting and useful for everyone involved.

I've had quite a few different students stay for tutoring and it seems like they do so much better with no distractions and one-on-one help. I wonder what schools would look like if students could make appointments to meet for 20 minutes with each teacher to explain and get their assignment...more like an office setting. Students could get individual help, work on their own, network with other students, and manage their time appropriately.

I received a complimentary (you can totally tell I'm a geometry teacher, I just spelled that 'complementary') teacher's edition of the new 2010 edition of Glencoe's geometry and algebra book. I like the set up. There is a chapter 0 which reviews prerequisite skills before moving on to the first chapter. This set has vertical alignment all the way from elementary to high school as well. There were technology tips, instructions for foldables, better graphics, and I like the order of the topics better. But, it's still a textbook as opposed to engaging, questioning material...

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