Saturday, February 16, 2013

the observed lesson

I was observed a few weeks ago.  I've been teaching a long time so I wasn't particularly nervous - instead I was curious about what my new school, new administrator would value.  He visited a high energy class ... my largest class ... 28 students.  It was Tuesday - the day after a school holiday.  I was pleased with the choice of class and the choice of lesson.

We had been studying systems of equations.  We had studied solving systems by graphing and by substitution. The lesson for the day was on solving systems in context ... yea for word problems!  One other key event was that all of our 9th graders had just been issued laptops.  They had had them for only 2 - 3 days prior to this lesson.

My outline:
  • Check homework ... collect data via Google Forms, "Which problems did you miss?"
  • Knowledge Check (aka quiz) ... just 2 plain solve by substitution problems
  • Warm-Up ... translate words into algebraic symbols using Super Teacher Tools Speed Quiz
  • Guided Notes ... just two problems emphasizing steps to success 
    • Define Variables
    • Write equations
    • Solve system
    • Interpret Solution
  • Partner Practice ... 3 levels of differentiation
  • Ticket Out of the Door ... online using Today's Meet, "What did you find more difficult, setting up the equations, or solving them using substitution?"
I wanted to highlight these school expectations:   formative assessment, differentiation, and high level of engagement.  I also felt the need to at least attempt the use of the laptops although we had had little time for practice.  That was the one thing I had asked my administrator to note - the laptops were new, we were still establishing a routine for their use.

I decided to use the newly assigned laptops for formative assessment.  I chose easy, easy online tools that required little set up from me.  They also required little prior practice from students.  I have a teacher website - I created an outline of the lesson there and posted the links students would use.  That way, students only had to go to my website to get to the short online activities.  There was no hassle with typing in long URLs.  And the data I collected was both quantitative and qualitative ... useful, too!

Students practiced with partners of similar abilities.  I color coded our practice problems.  There was a poster on the board with flaps - color coded to match the problems - where students could check their work.  I hole-punched their paper as they correctly completed problems - their goal - four hole punches.

I was free to be working the room, asking pertinent questions, talking to students about what I noticed in their work, and encouraging them to stick with the tasks at hand.  This kept my few rascals on task ... and students were engaged in the work.  They were successful too!

Our appraisal system is a complicated set of rubrics.  I was pleased with the outcome ... felt like my students demonstrated good success that day and that I was able to demonstrate key school expectations.

Here is the lesson plan:

If you are interested in any of the materials, leave a comment.  I'm glad to share.


  1. Hi Beth,

    That sounds like a great lesson. I am just about to teach translating written descriptions to algebraic expressions to my class. I'd love to see your Warm Up Speed Quiz!


  2. Here is the link!

    Students drag the equations down to match the words.

  3. Liked your speed game! What is the Today's Meet that you used for ticket out the door?
    Thanks for sharing your lesson!

    1. Hi Ana - thank you for stopping by! Glad you liked the game. Today's Meet creates a live online chat room - safe. Students type in their responses, and all responses are visible in a live feed. The website is Today's Meet is one of the easiest online tools to use!

  4. I, myself, have to have an observation the Tuesday after Spring Break... I want it to be awesome! We are doing polynomials right now so I am interested in your ideas. My students, however do not have computers. What is your policy for homework checking? What are the google forms? Any help would be appreciated! Thanks!

    1. We minimize homework. So I either post it online for students check on their own, or I might project it at the beginning of class for students to check it.

      If you use gmail, you have a google drive. You can create google documents, presentations, spreadsheets, and forms there.

      What concept will you be teaching on your observed day?