Friday, September 12, 2014

Central Park via Desmos

Today was a rare day where one set of classes had an "extra" day before the test.  We had reviewed and I felt good about student understanding so I decided to spend part of the class period on "enrichment."

Our enrichment activity today was Desmos' Central Park.  Our next unit is on systems of equations in which our focus is on problem solving.  Students need to be able to write equations for problem situations.  I thought Central Park would be an interesting formative assessment to see how well my students can interpret a problem creating the necessary equation.

When I worked through Central Park on my own, I enjoyed the process.  I also thought the activity might be a bit easy for my students.  I guessed that only the last question might give students pause.

In class students were engaged totally in the activity.  Many finished it in 15 - 20 minutes.  That's what I expected for the majority since they are advanced algebra 2 students (many of them are only in grade 9).  What was more interesting to me were the few students who struggled over the last equation and their response to the struggle.

  • Students would delete their whole equation instead of making adjustments.
  • Students struggled with multiplying the number of dividers with the width of the dividers.
  • The part they gave students the most difficulty was recognizing that they needed to divide by the number of dividers plus 1.
  • Whey I suggested they go back to problems with numbers and write those down to analyze the process they were hesitant.
Before I do this activity again next year, I want to create some follow-up problems - especially for the students who struggled.  One activity that I think might help are problem situations without numbers.  I used to have those for my  middle school students ... I need to find some for my algebra kids!

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