Monday, January 9, 2012

Let's Talk Math

Last semester I left off with graphing lines. By the time the semester was over, *most* of my students “got it”. However, by the time January rolls around most of them forget everything they learned before Christmas. So today I wanted to do an activity that reminded them about first semester but guided them towards second semester.

Of course, they were shocked that I was the only teacher in the entire building that was actually making them do work today. Apparently most teachers decided to spend this day as a free day discussing holiday events….riiiiiiiight. Anyway, my plan consisted of: bell ringer, multiple representations match-up activity, and then graphing practice.

1.       What is the slope-intercept form?
2.       What letter represents slope?
3.       What letter represents the y-intercept?
4.       In your own words, explain how you would graph a line that is in slope-intercept form.

I was pleased with the results from the bellringer. Most of the students could at least answer the first three questions. Quite a few were able to come up with something for the fourth question. We talked about it and then moved on to the activity.

My room is arranged into 6 groups of 4 desks each. I cut out 6 word problems with matching equations, tables, and graphs. I attached each separate part to an index card. When I was finished I had 24 index cards with either a table, a graph, an equation, or a word problem. I had the cards all shuffled up and I gave each student an index card. (Some of the students were absent so I had a community pot with the extra cards.)

The word problems were designated a specific group and seat number (each group has seats #1-4).  The rest of the cards had to stand up and then walk around and find the group they belonged to. If they were correct, the word problem, equation, table, and graph would all represent the same information. 

After about 10 minutes the groups were happy with their choices. At that time I told seat #1 that they were the reporter for the group. I gave the teams 7 minutes to talk about their choices and come up with a thought out explanation for why each piece belonged to the group. At the end of 7 minutes, I had the reporters from each group stand up and take turns sharing out. 
I really loved the share out portion of the activity because I was able to see which groups really understood things like "In the table the y-intercept is represented by...and you find that in the graph by....and the equation shows that...and the word problem says..." It was great!

I'll definitely use this type of group/team work again. The reporting out at the end is what truly made this activity shine...and it got the students talking MATH on day #1!!