I had a vision in my head of how I wanted Thursday’s 98 minute block period to go.

My 8th grade Pre-Algebra class was nearing the end of our linear graphing unit. I had just given a quiz on graphing lines using our BFF (best formula forever…y-mx+b) and finding the equation of a graphed line. The quiz entailed receiving an equation and a blank piece of Cornell Notes graph paper and writing up a set of notes which would help your grandmother (who used to know how to graph, but that was 40 years ago…) understand how to graph.

As on all quizzes, results varied widely and I wanted a chance to meet with students who had similar misconceptions from the quiz to do some reteaching.

Enter…the GRAPHING GALA…

My vision was to have several graphing stations set up where students would work independently on concepts I wanted them to practice before the exam. While this was happening, I would pull small groups of students and either reteach or extend their understanding of graphing linear equations.

While I had ideas of different activities for each station, I really didn’t want to invent them from scratch. I definitely wanted a matching activity…equation cards and graph cards…but again, I was hoping not to make a zillion graphs on GeoGebra as I was sure someone had done this already and I could find it on the web.

I’m sure there are endless activities floating around on the interwebs, I stumbled on this site which has really wonderful stuff to use for independent stations. It’s mostly Algebra 1 and geometry stuff, but there’s a bit of other content there as well. Dr. Robinson is a professor at Tallahassee Community College in Florida.

I assigned students a partner based on data from their last quiz. I wanted to make sure that the pair could independently do all the stations (since I would be working with small groups all period), so some pairs were a high student with a low student, while others were students with strengths and misconceptions that complimented each other. In addition to a partner, each student was assigned a color, so when I called groups, I called two pairs (who all had the same color). I tried to make the 4-person color groups somewhat homogeneous in terms of needs so that I could focus on 1 or 2 misconceptions during our small group time. Each group got 15 minutes with me and I successfully met with 5 groups during the 98 minutes. Since I have just 20 students, every student got a full 15 min. with me in a 4-person group.

But in all seriousness, it was an amazing class period.

Students each received a cover sheet and in both periods I had an extra adult(s) who had an answer key and stickers to hand out when students completed a station (student teachers in 1 period and an IA and 8th grade tutor in another period).

Station #1, Stained Glass Window was practice graphing equations in y=mx+b and coloring in the geometric designed formed by the lines. This activity is from Dr. Robinson’s site.

Station # 2 was a worksheet I made (by hand as at that point I didn’t have the energy to create more graphs on GeoGebra) where students had to identify the equation of a graphed horizontal and vertical line or graph a horizontal or vertical line when given an equation. When done, they got to play this silly game for 5 minutes.

Station #3 had 20 graphs and 20 linear equations which I had copied onto fluorescent paper for added excitement. The cards were cut out and jumbled up in an envelope. This is from Dr. Robinson’s site with a few modifications.

Station #4 was the 15 minute session with me. I called students, by their color groups, and used GeoGebra, projected onto the white board to pose questions to them which focused on misconceptions they had had on their last quiz. We’d spent 10 minutes doing work together and the final 5 minutes of the group they sat together and did quiz corrections (which they could then do with ease). They earned their sticker for that group once all quiz corrections were perfect.

Station #5, Hot Air Balloon, was a more conceptual look at a system of linear equations, also taken from Dr. Robinson’s site. Students had to figure out their axes, scaling, etc.on their own.

It was a really wonderful day where the class completely ran itself and I got to meet with every single student. If only I could differentiate like that every day!

Love the BFF. My students are very miffed that y=mx+b isn’t the same thing as standard form. This week, one of them decided to name y=mx+b “awesome form.”

Yeah, I got that idea from a Berkeley colleague. Kids absolutely love it. They think I’m dorky and consequently they love it even more. On Mondays I always ask if they’ve missed their BFF over the weekend. They roll their eyes and giggle.

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