Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Algebra Beginnings

Welcome to our AISC Algebra studio!  We'll be using this space to share work throughout the 2014-15 school year.  Check back often to see what we're working on, or sign up to get email updates when we post new content.

Students spent the first weeks of Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 assessing what they know and remember about math, accessing their curiosity, and creating our learning agreements.  We will leverage this curiosity as we get into skill building and Algebra content over the coming months.

During the first few days, students were asked to complete several puzzle challenges.  These tasks helped me to assess their skill and comfort with math operations, to gain some insight into how each student attempts to solve problems, and to see how they reacted to novel tasks.  It also helped to set the stage for group work and cooperative learning.  We definitely need each other to learn - especially in math where we will be sharing our strategies and our thinking often.  Both groups started off with strong thinking and hard work.  There was smoke coming out of the ears of more than one student by the end of week one, but they were asking for more!
David's "Spy" graph

Students will be demonstrating their understanding of Algebra standards through traditional tests and quizzes, but also through project work.  Week two saw the first of these Problem-Based-Assessments (PBA's).  Algebra 2 students spent a few days cementing their understanding of relationships and  functions, and then practiced transforming linear and quadratic functions to create "Math Faces" with a graphing program called  Our Artist/Mathematicians created original equations, and learned about restricting domain and range to create original works of math-art.  We'll be publishing them here soon, but for now, check out some of their original pieces on our math wall outside of room 112.

For the first PBA in Algebra 1, students showed their creative side by attempting to make every number between 1 and 100 with a project we call the four 4s.  They were asked to use exactly four 4s and any mathematical operations to get to every number up to 100.  This task demonstrates that there are often multiple strategies and solutions to interesting math problems - something students often struggle with.  Again, you can see their progress outside of our classroom.  Our sequel will be some work with five 5s!

We are off to a strong start to the year.  I am fortunate to be a part of the wonderful community at AISC and to work with our group of motivated students!  Please comment freely to let us know your thoughts about our work, and stop back often to check on our progress.

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