Friday, September 30, 2011

Weekly Class Summary: Sept. 26-30

SOLs Covered: SOL 6.8 Order of Operations
Math Dictionary Sections: (3) Order of Operations
Upcoming Assessments: Order of Operations Quiz (Tues. 10/4); WWU Quiz 2 (Fri. 10/7)

This week was dedicated to mastering the Order of Operations (aka PEMDAS). We started the unit by discussing "real world" circumstances when the order of things matters, such as following a recipe. After reading through the Math Dictionary notes and discussing how the "order" is a step-by-step guide on how to solve a problem that contains more than one operation. This led into what I call PEMDAS Story Time starring Mom (Multiplication), Dad (Division), and the Annoying Siblings (Addition & Subtraction). This along with our OpHop (Operation Hopscotch, an idea borrowed from the following video) helps prevent some of the common errors many students make with these operations.

Typically students believe they must do all multiplying before doing any division (and the same error with addition/subtraction). However, multiplication and division must be completed in the order they "enter" the problem from left to right, which also holds true for addition and subtraction. Our PEMDAS Story Time and the OpHop helps students distinguish these operations as "teams" that make up steps 3 (multiplication/division) and 4 (addition/subtraction) instead of individual steps. To help with other potential errors, the Annoying Siblings are "sent to their rooms" (vertical lines drawn on either side of the symbol) to "allow Mom and Dad to get their work done" without getting in the way. The Annoying Siblings inside parentheses have to be taken care of first because "they were given a chore/job." We followed up "story time" with several PEMDAS math music videos, used to help students remember the proper order as well as to make a unit that isn't normally very fun a bit more interesting.  I was very surprised this week to be watching on of my favorite shows (NCIS: LA) one evening only to find the order of operations briefly mentioned, so I "clipped" the segment and added it (with a little "Ms. Lamberting" addition) to the class YouTube channel for the students viewing pleasure as well.

This is a difficult concept for most students when they are just starting out, even with the topic being introduced in elementary school, though exponents are excluded at that time.  Because of a few misconceptions needing to be corrected, a little lost time for an assembly, and a day on the netbooks to introduce class internet resources, the deadline for turning in homework for the week has been postponed until Monday.  Students seemed to grasp the concept well by Friday, so this allows students the chance to rework problems they struggled with earlier this week.

Thursday evening was our annual Back-to-School Night, which allowed parents to meet their children's teachers (and vice versa) and to learn a bit more about how the classes operate.  My presentation for the night is included below for any parents unable to attend or those that missed out on parts.  I encourage any parents still wishing to meet with teachers to call or email the school or the individual teachers to arrange a conference time.  As always, I am available through email and vmail to help with any questions or concerns, even if they are not related to my classes, in which case I will try to help however I can or redirect parents to the appropriate party.

In closing this week, I would like to "promote" the Class Wish List that was added to the side bar of the blog.  The list includes items that are continuously needed or (in case of the netbook mice and headphones) will probably take time to accumulate enough for a classroom set.  I know the tech items are probably wishful thinking, but if anyone's workplace were perhaps upgrading their equipment/systems and were discarding their old equipment, I would be more than happy to take it off their hands!  Any donations to my class and students are greatly appreciated and I have already been overwhelmed with the kindness of my students and their families for the donations I have already received.

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