The lack of posting over the last, I dunno, many, many weeks, isn’t due to a lack of classroom fodder. There’s plenty going on around here, but my tongue has been tied up in writing for my National Boards and when I find myself with free time I haven’t wanted to spend any more of it in front of my computer. The good news is that my self-imposed due date of March 1 for having all 4 drafts complete is only a few weeks away, so soon thereafter I’m hoping the creative blog juices will once again flow freely. The real due date is March 31, but I’ll be in Mexico then for spring break, so it’s a good excuse to dot my i’s and cross my t’s well before the deadline.
When I attended the Park City Math Institute last summer I returned home with several promises to myself. One was that I would integrate technology into at least one lesson every day. I find that it’s easy to come up with excuses of why it’s my hands and not theirs which should be on the technology (
spotty wireless on the mobile Imac lab; spotty memory issues on the downstairs PC lab; not enough time in the district pacing guide to train my students on how to use various programs, not enough patience for their questions which stop them in their tracks, etc, etc). I’m sure you’ve experienced them all before.
But I’ve been trying hard, really hard, to get my students’ hands on technology with some regularity. But, I must confess, that my 8th grade geometry students’ hands do a whole lot more ticking of the keyboard than my 8th grade pre-algebra students’ hands do. Which is ironic, and disconcerting, since I could make a very good argument about why it should be the other way around.
SO…I made this packet to help guide my 8th grade pre-algebra students into learning how to graph linear equations on GeoGebra while also discovering important aspects of slope and y-intercept. (Please note…this is NOT the way I introduced slope and Y-intercept. Prior to doing anything formal, we have done several MARS and Shell Foundation tasks which involve real-world situations involving linear motion and I wrote a few of my own. Students have matched cards of a graph to a t–table to an equation. We’ve looked at slope and y-intercept as they apply to the amount of candy my son ate each day following Halloween. We looked at slope and y-intercept as they applied to water dripping at a constant rate out of one vessel and into another one. And we looked at varying slopes along a car trip which involved a lunch stop and speeding up not miss the start of a movie.)
But I wanted to use GeoGebra to introduce the more formal definitions and ultimately connect them to the problem solving we have already done.
We’ve only just begun…45 min. in the lab last week to be followed up tomorrow. So far, so good, but from looking at their homework, (which was more of the same, but without the technology), it doesn’t appear that the learning has been made concrete yet. I know there are tons of ready-made applets on graphing linear equations, but I wanted to take the time for the students to learn how to use GeoGebra beyond tinkering with a pre-made applet. The trickiest part for me, of spending a whole period in the lab, is that it’s impossible to have a whole class discussion. I can have them stand with their backs to the computers when I want to talk (and this seems to be necessary for them to actually listen), but there’s only so much talk that can happen when everyone’s backs are to the computers.
So I’m hoping that after 2 periods in the lab, we’ll be able to have a whole class discussion about what they discovered with just 1 set of hands on GeoGebra. We’ll see.