Introduction - Part A

introduction - part a

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Jacob Disston introduces the day's task to his students.

introduction - part a

7th Grade Math - Algebraic Equations, Inequalities, & Properties
Jacob Disston, Willard Middle School, Berkeley Unified School District, Berkeley, California


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JACOB DISSTON: Here's what we're gonna do. I'm going to, actually, do it this way. I'm gonna pass out a card to everybody. And I want you to look at your card, and I want you to think about what's on it. I want you to read it. And I want you to think about: if this was on a test, if you got this, but you couldn't see what the instructions were on the test, what do you think the instructions would say, on the test? So I don't want you to share, I just want you to think about: what type of problem is this? Like, what might the instructions say to do? I want you to think about that.

JACOB DISSTON: All right. I want everybody to stand up.Take your card, take your pencil.Yeah. Everybody's gotta be up. Okay. With that in your head, that is, what's on your card, and what the instructions might be on the test, I want you to walk around, I want you to find other people who might have something similar to you. I want you to find a group of people. It might be more than two, it might be three, or four, or five. I want you to find as many people as you can who have something similar to what you have. I want you to walk around.

STUDENT: Let me see yours?

STUDENT: Yep! Yep, yep, yep.

JACOB DISSTON: Find as many people as you can that have something similar to what you have.

STUDENT: You got something like this?

JACOB DISSTON: Walk around! Find as many people as you can who have something similar.

JACOB DISSTON: So why are those similar?

STUDENT: Because...

JACOB DISSTON: No! It's not going to be the exact same thing, it's gonna be similar! What do you guys have? What do you have? So are you guys similar or different?

STUDENT: Similar.

JACOB DISSTON: So... go find other people who you think are similar.

JACOB DISSTON: So, what do you guys.. let me see what you got.

STUDENT: This equals to this, right?

JACOB DISSTON: So... so what do you guys... are all of these similar?

STUDENT: No.

JACOB DISSTON: What makes... what makes some of them similar and some of them...

STUDENT: It's 'cause... letters. And some of them have the same letters.

JACOB DISSTON: Okay, so there's some with the same letters, some with different letters. Okay.

STUDENT: Oh, but... question? Does it matter if it has the equals sign for this one?

JACOB DISSTON: That's a good question. So, you guys... this one has an equals sign. That's different from the others. So, so you might decide whether that's important or not. What do you think? Do you have other people that have... that you think you're grouped with?

STUDENT: Yeah.

JACOB DISSTON: All right!

STUDENT: Me and Derrick!

JACOB DISSTON: Let's see. So why do you guys think those are similar?

STUDENT: Because...

JACOB DISSTON: What's similar about them?

STUDENT: Let me see yours!

STUDENT: Let me see?

STUDENT: Because... whoa. Oh. Nevermind.

JACOB DISSTON: So...here's Vanessa. Is this fitting any... which one's yours?

STUDENT: This one.

JACOB DISSTON: That one? So are these similar in any way?

STUDENT: Yeah.

JACOB DISSTON: Why?

STUDENT: They moved it, they moved it around.

JACOB DISSTON: Okay, so there's something moving around. What else is similar?

STUDENT: Moving around? And adding??

STUDENT: Like, commutative.

JACOB DISSTON: Commutative, associative. Okay, okay. Okay! One more minute, then I'm gonna ask you to come up to the board.

JACOB DISSTON: You don't find anybody that has something similar? Nothing?

STUDENT: Nope.

JACOB DISSTON: All right.

STUDENT: Is this similar?

COMMENTARY BY COACH LINDA FISHER: I like thinking about all the structures and moves designed into the lesson to promote student engagement and interaction. I like the movement and change of pace. One of the routines the teachers have been working on is the “huddle”, gathering students at the front of the class to have a discussion. How did the huddle contribute to the lesson?

My favorite part is watching the change in what students are noticing and the level of detail being discussed as the lesson progresses. In clip 2 Jake talks to students about it being okay to change their minds. So often students think of math as right or wrong. I like that they are encouraged to keep their minds open and fluid. I think it gives students more reason to be active listeners. In all the discussion there is this idea that the symbol strings could be grouped this way, but if you think some other attribute is important then you can group it another way. It forces students to really reflect on what is more important. Students need to evaluate attributes against each other: which similarities are more important and which differences can be ignored or not ignored? Any answer is acceptable if you have a reason.