Sunday, October 26, 2014

#MTBoSChallenge Week 11 Summary

So this past week was difficult because I was sick.  What I thought would be a simple 24 hour virus, turned into two days of high fever, and a yucky feeling that persisted most of the week!

And so the week did not go as planned.  In my summary today, I want to highlight the one GOOD thing ... and then reflect on the not so good.

The one good thing is that when I realized I was going to miss school, I had a light bulb moment of how to maximize students' time using technology.  We were starting a new unit on absolute value.  The unit is short - just 3 lesson days ... and the concepts fairly straight forward.

Students will know...
  • the relationship between linear functions and absolute value functions
  • the critical attributes of an absolute value function
Students will be able to...
  • determine the domain and range of an absolute value function
  • graph an absolute value function from a table or equation
  • solve an absolute value equation an/or inequality
  • apply transformations to the parent function to graph an absolute value function
So ... I used Regents Prep intro to absolute value and the corresponding practice page to remind students of the basic meaning of absolute value.  Then I sent them to Desmos where I had put in a few equations for them to examine ... to identify the vertex, the axis of symmetry, and to determine the transformation from the parent function.  Last I sent them to a set of videos- two I had made previously, and 2 created by our textbook, to introduce them to solving.  I provided online solving practice using the Regents Prep site, and then additional practice for them to do in their notebook.  I collected all of their responses in a Google Form so I would have a record of their work, and also it provided formative assessment for me to determine where to jump in when I returned to school.  My supervisor told me later that he stopped by my classroom while I was out because he knew the students were working from their computers.  He said when he asked them what they were working on, they could tell him exactly what they were learning!  Kudos to my students :)

I graded a portion of their sub day work - the part about transformations since that information is not new.  We introduce the parameters a, h, and k in our first unit.  I noted that students still have difficulty writing the equation of a vertical line so some did not write the equation for the axis of symmetry correctly.  Many did solve the equations correctly - I was pleased with their work.  A few missed the concept that absolute value equations would have 2 solutions.

Returning to school was difficult simply because I didn't feel good - so enthusiasm, excitement for learning, smiles ... all of those were challenging at best!  And on that day I returned I knew I needed to be sure that students grasped the meaning of absolute value.  I had assigned mini-projects, data collection, guessing game type ... and told students we would use their data to develop absolute value equations.  So that's where we started.  I used Estimation 180, candy corn to illustrate.  From there we spent time composing and decomposing absolute value functions illustrating that they are piecewise functions, made up of two linear functions with restricted domains.  And last we solved equations & inequalities.  It was a lot for one class period ... and I talked too much!

So the not so good thing was my over-explaining on the day of my return.  Students were much too passive, and I did way too much of the work.  It was an over-reaction on my part to be sure that I left no gaps in their learning.

Is it better for students to work through concepts on their own with minimal direct teaching?  Most of the time, YES!  But then how do you summarize the key points, leaving no student behind in the details?  That was my subconscious struggle on the day I returned.

Finally the week came to an end ... and I've spent this weekend resting.  I backed out of all other commitments in order to stay home and be still.

Going into the coming week, students will take a short quiz over the meaning of absolute value, practice solving equations/inequalities in a circuit, and apply the concepts to a few problem situations with partners.  Our test is Tuesday/Wednesday.

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