Clip 3/5: Lesson - Part 2
Jesse Ragent asks the students to do a "matching game." He passes out sets of tables and equations to the students, and challenges the students to "find a triple"-- an equation, a table, and a graph that all make up a "family, triple, or set." He asks students to consider distinctions, characteristics, and attributes as they make their grouping decisions. He reviews group work protocols for turn-taking and talking, asking students to "think out loud, giving mathematical reasons for the selections" they make using language generated by the class.
JESSE RAGENT: Students jump right in and start the matching quite eagerly. They are justifying their matches in different ways. Some are using the math vocabulary from the prior whole class discussion, while others are just matching points from the graph with the t-chart, or checking to see if an equation will generate the points on the chart or graph. Either way, students are making connections among these different representations in ways that are meaningful to them. In the clip, the kids are listening to one another and letting the mathematics sway the argument rather than the force of a personality.
Seeing these students engage in rich mathematical discourse is wonderful and exciting. I need to continue to provide these opportunities in class, and value them by allotting sufficient class time along with awarding points/grades for well-functioning groups. I need to be mindful about my role as a teacher wandering the room while the groups are working. How best to prompt individuals and groups that are stuck, and how to tune my ears so that I can drop in on a group and quickly assess where they are and what will best move them forward is a challenge. Therein lies some of the art of teaching. It helps to anticipate student responses, though sometimes this can backfire when I only hear a key word or phrase, jump to a conclusion (one of the anticipated responses from a pre-set list in my mind) and stop hearing what the student is really saying.
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