Friday, August 22, 2014

"We are learning!"

It doesn't get any better than that!  Students yelled out in AP Stats today, "we are learning!" If it weren't for the fact that that only drives me to push myself (and them) to new levels of success, I think I'd pack up, turn in my keys and leave for retirement on that note! I suppose there is the fact that I am still too young to consider that also.  And to think that I kept "wrecking their thinking".  I have 4 different worksheets that contain either box plots with histograms, or partial numerical summaries with box plots, or the summaries with histograms and they have to match them.  We do one page at a time, they get to discuss among their teams, and then I ask for their answers.  They love shouting out what they think is correct, that is until they get one wrong.  After I have read all the answers, we then go over why the pairs are matched that way.  On to the next worksheet, repeat.  What is always funny is there are students who get them correct and yet their team convinces them they are wrong.  So there is a lot of "I said that!" and "I told you!" going on as I read the correct answers.  The part I love is the retooling that goes on in their brains before they get to the next set.  By the 3rd worksheet, they were excited that they were getting pairs matched correctly.  This is my version of "try a few, get feedback, repeat" until they hit success. The students love all the "haggling".

Calculus was equally as engaging today.  The students had all kinds of questions about problems they worked on last night, and were eager to ask them.  Some were just how to put the information into their calculator to get the right information back out.  I explained that this was their new cell phone and if they currently use IPhone, this was an Android and vice versa.  I told them "you know what I mean, you go crazy punching buttons saying 'no that's not it, [punch another button], no that's not it, [punch another button], AGGGHHHH!'"  They laughed.  I explained we would all be learning how to use our "new cell phones" [aka graphing calculators] together until they got used to them.  I also told them that the first step to breakthrough in Calc was admitting that "we" have an Algebra problem.  My students who were able to admit this early last year had breakthrough much sooner because they learned to be more careful on the Algebra steps within their Calc problems.  I expect we'll be having a lot more breakthroughs earlier this year!  What was really awesome was when one student announced today "I feel like a lot of solving these problems it just cleverness".  I responded with "you are absolutely correct!", and he stated, "I'm not that clever".  I retorted with, "you just got me through this solution, so apparently you are!".  It was great listening to the "ooohs" and "aaaahs" as they watched magic unfold when I wrote out what they told me to do next.  I hope that my simply following the directions they give me eventually gives them the confidence they need to get themselves from beginning to end of every problem (okay, well at least MOST of them).

One last thing: it is always a great day when I get to start out showing colleagues new websites.  This morning I worked with the Algebra 1 & 2 teams and showed them Desmos Central Park, Robert Kaplinsky's website chocked full of cool lessons, and Nora Oswald's (@NoraOswald) games on her blog Simplify with Me (Line Game, Parabola Game, Sine Game and Domain Ranger game). I found these when she shared them via a webinar sponsored by Global Math Dept and I thought they were super!  In addition, I introduced them to Game About Squares and 2048. That will definitely keep them busy looking at cool stuff for their classes for a few weeks.  I'm getting excited to hear how some of the lessons they plan on trying work it living vicariously through them!

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