Friday, January 17, 2014

Weekly Class Summary: Jan. 13-17

SOLs Covered:  SOL 7.4 & 8.3 Ratios, Rates, & Proportions
Math Dictionary Sections:  21 Ratios, Rates, & Proportions; 22 Congruency & Similarity
Upcoming Assessments:  Benchmark Test (Tues. 1/21); Proportions Quiz (Wed. 1/22); Bay PBL Project (Folder on Fri. 1/24; Final presentation on Thurs. 1/30)

This week we continued working on our PBL projects, starting the week with a Watermen simulation unit that had students using our current math topics (ratios, rates, and proportions) to run a crabbing business.  On Monday, we watched two short videos on the Chesapeake Bay Watermen, the men and women who make their living by fishing, crabbing, and oystering on the Bay.  I then introduced the activity they would be doing the next day, explaining that they would "go crabbing" but would have to plan how to sell their crabs (either as hard shell, soft shell, or picked meat).  In their PBL groups, students discussed the pros and cons of each possible selling method (the time involved, the amount of money made, etc.) as well as calculating how much gas, bait, and other materials would cost, deciding whether they wanted (or could even afford) to buy additional crab pots or picking tools.  When the kids came into class on Tuesday, I had "crabs" (card stock versions at least) hidden around the room, including a "No Crabbing" zone that if caught in the zone or with crabs from it would result in a fine for the group.  The kids seemed to have a great time with the activity, especially those who helped me hide crabs for the following blocks as they came up with even better hiding spots than I did!

Students were given a bit more time to plan their final presentations as well in class.  Sadly we didn't have enough time to get on the Chromebooks much in class this week, but most groups had time during SOAR to either get a pass to the computer lab or to use the Chromebooks in my class.  A few students stayed after school on Wednesday to work as well; I'll be providing time again next week (Wednesday, 1/22 and Thursday, 1/23) after school for those wanting to stay after to work.  We've finalized deadlines for the project as well.  Students already knew the initial deadline of Friday, January 24th, but since we could not get time for the auditorium until the following week, all of my students now have until Thursday, January 30th to completely finish the presentation portion of their project; the folders we've been working on in class be checked and given a final grade on the original deadline date.  Grades for the folder and the presentation will be counted towards the third marking period.

For the rest of the week, we were able to go back to spending a lot more time on our "usual" math, adding to our notes and working on traditional classwork assignments.  To encourage students to follow the directions of adding the required items to their math dictionaries (something I see as a necessity to being successful in my class), students were given what I'm calling a "notes quiz" where they were tasked with solving a proportion we'd done the day before using the three methods I showed them:  the SOL way (using factors), the Easy way (using cross products), and the Lambie way (using a zigzag method I came up with to solve proportions quickly).  For students who followed the directions, it was the easiest A they could ever hope for!  For those who didn't (despite repeated warnings and reminders), the work was much harder since they didn't have the notes to help them.  Needless to say, the rest of the week saw all students diligently following along as we made additions to our notes with extra example problems.  I know have several students begging me for the next notes-check quiz!

The quiz previously planned for this week has been pushed to next week and will thus count to the third term as well in order to give students the chance to make corrections if necessary.  Part of the reason for the move is the fact I feel students need a bit more practice with proportion word problems as well as similar figures.  Another reason is that on Wednesday while working with unit rates, we ended up taking a bit of time on a classroom discussion on the importance of using unit rates/prices to get the best deal or choice.  A few students talked about how their parents make them find the best deal when they go grocery shopping with them (Thank you to those parents who do this!  That's an awesome real world application of math and I loved hearing that!).  Several talked about family members who ended up getting new cars in order to get one that was more fuel efficient.

While the discussion was excellent on its own since it had the students interest and it has led many to be more invested in understanding the concept, it also led to me giving out one last extra credit opportunity.  Students can earn extra credit which will be added to the quiz category (which is 30% of their overall grade) by doing a little study/research on unit rates.  They can earn the credit by turning in a write up of their research, giving at least two scenarios where the use of unit rates can save the consumer (ex. products from two different stores, comparing two different brands that slightly different sizes, or the same brand sold in two different sizes; comparing the fuel efficiency of two different cars and thus which would save the consumer gas money or comparing gas prices from different stations).  Students also need to write a paragraph on what they take away from the activity.  This extra credit can be turned in through Friday, January 24th and will count towards the current term.

Monday is a school holiday, so on Tuesday students will start the county's first semester benchmark test.  There is a topic (consumer applications: tax, tip, discount, commission) that we have not yet covered due to the addition of our PBL project this month, so instead of taking a test grade on the entire thing, students will get a quiz grade on ten questions, which they'll be told about and mark before they start.  Students will also take the ratios, rates, and proportions quiz on Wednesday.  Ideally I would not have two assessments like this back-to-back, but due to scheduling reasons (computer lab time as well as PBL time for work and presentations) it couldn't be helped, which is another reason for not taking a big test grade on the benchmark at this point.  I would like to assure parents that I have no worries in regards to staying on pace for the SOLs later in the year.  While we are not where I would hope to be at this point, we are actually ahead of the county's pacing and are safe in regards to covering all the material before the SOLs (which are tentatively scheduled for May 16 (Block 1/2), May 19 (Block 3/4), and May 20 (Block 7/8) for the Math 7 test).  I personally like to stay ahead as much as possible because of the unknowns that can disrupt the schedule (such as the two 2-hour delays we had last week).

No comments: