Day 25: Individual Practice with Expressions

It’s getting to the end of our simplifying unit (which extends into other units, later on, hence the shortness). Some kiddos need more practice. Some have already seen this. We do individual practice, which means lots of little papers everywhere. I also miscalculate (many times) and make up to 4 times as many copies as needed. Lots of paper. 

Big takeaway from this unit is that area and perimeter are a great way to encourage simplifying expressions in a realesque setting. 

Photo: Papers left in class:

Day 24: The One with the Stations and the Participation Quiz

In an effort to keep kiddos engaged while practicing problems that are quick with a new twist (expression papers, with an opposite section), we rotate through stations. This time, we include a participation quiz, where we highlight the good things that kiddos are doing. 

I thought I took a better video of this (I didn’t), but this is one of the kiddos explaining to another how to simplify expressions. Many representations. And a ton of empathy. Strong work. 

Day 23: The One with the Quick Change to Explain to Each Other


Last year, our Admin gave us the option to request a certain prep period. Curriculum Partner and I have always had 2nd period prep, which suited us well as relatively new planning partners with a new curriculum. When things went south in 1st period, we’d huddle (usually during prep, sometimes in each other’s classrooms or the hallway during 1st period) and make up a new lesson.

I dreamt of having a later prep period this year. I’m more of a morning teacher, kiddos are calmer, and by after lunch, we’re all done.

We ended up with 2nd period prep, again. Which was cool.

It got even better today.

Our initial lesson (simplifying expressions with negatives) had so many pieces of paper and check-ins to manage. Plus there was a 2-kiddo meltdown, meaning that 1st period looked like:

  • Give instructions and distribute papers.
  • Check-in with kiddo outside in hall.
  • Answer phone call from office politely inquiring as to the nature of the meltdown.
  • Handle 3 team check-ins.
  • Repeat ad nauseum.

(It’s always an interesting experience to have multiple kiddos basically shouting, “Mister! Mister!” I’ve gotten better at managing it over time, but not so much this day)

So, during 2nd period, we scrapped the whole lesson. Curriculum Partner drew up a problem were kiddos explain different kinds of problems to each other and we turned the initial handouts into a series of Secret Problems. One kiddo is the teacher. They read a problem to the rest of the team. The team builds the expression. The kiddo/teacher checks to make sure it’s right, then lets the next person teach a different problem. We’ve had varying levels of success in prior years, but it went well on this day as kiddos knew enough to move their teams along.

Also, there was a fire drill during prep. Just because.

Photo: The problem where kiddos explain to each other, featuring “Opposite World”:




Day 22: The One with Different Ways to Show Negatives


One of the many changes we’re making to our curriculum is thinking about how to represent negative numbers. We’ve used CPM‘s Algebra Tiles a lot, but this is the first year that we’ll really explore negative tiles, but also the idea of opposite.

Side note: last time we taught this unit,  we used the Interactive Math Program’s hot and cold cubes (hot cubes cause an increase, cold cubes cause a decrease). Which I think was a neat idea, except that CPM’s negative tiles are red, which confused students when we talked about hot cubes causing an increase. This was not helped by a school-wide evacuation in the middle of one of our lessons. We had planned a summative project entitled “Mystery Soup” (how many hot and cold cubes are there? Maybe?) but with all the confusion and our eventual movement away from hot and cold cubes, we all seem to have forgotten what “Mystery Soup” refers to.

At any rate, watching the kiddos think about and represent negatives and opposites has been interesting. This group thought of different ways to show an expression with negatives using tiles. Any time we can get kiddos to talk together, but show their own way of thinking is pretty cool:2016-09-14-08-32-59-2

Objectives: 2016-09-14-18-13-21