Archive for February, 2016

Distributive Property Sliders

I’ve been working on the Distributive Property in my Transmath classes.  It’s one of my favorite lessons to teach, but it always ends up taking 3-4 days until all students are proficient.

I was going on my 3rd day of teaching Distributive Property, and I really wanted to try something different.  I was looking through my blogroll on feedly and I saw this post by MissCalcul8 which led me to this post by Restructuring Algebra.  (It’s always great to add another blog to my list.)

Anyway, I’m sure that while I used sliders in my own education, the idea of using them in my high school classes hadn’t quite occurred to me.  My transmath classes will not get to function notation this year, and I’m too impatient to bookmark blog posts and wait to use them later.

So I busted out powerpoint and made my own for distributive property.  This is what the end result looked like:

Distributive Sliders

(We flipped a coin and rolled a die to determine the signs and values of the numbers on the 5th slider)

We spent half of a class period putting the sliders together, and then spent the next day an a half sharing and solving problems that students created.

Could I have given the same amount of problems on a worksheet and said, “Pick five and solve for tomorrow?”

Of course…but this was way more fun!

Distributive Property Sliders

Let’s Play 25


What makes a good survey?

Yesterday, I opened my work e-mail to find a survey about professional development.  We have had a lot of PD this year, and I was kind of excited to give my input.  But time got away from me, and I didn’t get to it until this morning.  In that time, the original sender of the survey said that responses to PD have been overwhelmingly positive.

There were 18 questions total.  I found two of them a little bit odd and thought I’d share.

Question 2

This question doesn’t allow for any comments.  What if I didn’t have a take-away?  What if I’ve already read this person’s books but still enjoyed seeing them?  What if it was an elementary specialist that was largely irrelevant to me as a math/physics teacher?

I look at this one and feel like it’s weighted in the positive direction.  It’s almost like there is a ‘Somewhat Uninformative’ and ‘Largely Uninformative’ option missing from the bottom of the choice list.

This later question suffers from the same problem…

Question 7

As you can see from the rows and rows of bubbles, we have seen quite a few things this year.  Now not every teacher has seen all of them, but I could offer an option on at least 10 of these PD choices.

My big problem again is the lack of a comments box.  Where can I say the things that I share on twitter?  What if I found it insulting that the speaker made fun of the tech generation (while I took notes on my phone) and appealed only to traditional methods?  What if I liked a speaker, but would like them better in a smaller setting or break-outs?  What if I wanna suggest Skypeing someone cool?

I also don’t like that I don’t have the option to say something wasn’t of use or wasn’t good information.  For example, I have repeatedly been shown how to fold a piece of lined paper in half to make t-notes…and this will revolutionize my teaching.  Where do I say that I know where to find graphic organizers online, and don’t need to be shown anymore?  (Please…)

Where can I say that I would like to talk to people who teach the same subjects, but maybe in a different area?  How do you REALLY handle diversity in a math/science class.  How do other teachers REALLY make math meaningful and hands-on?  What kinds of field trips and activities can I use to bring a science class from good to great, even though museums, theme parks and traditional outings are farther away?

So after I answered the survey I drafted and sent an e-mail.  I feel bad because I know that reading my e-mail is more work than slogging through my survey responses, but I don’t really feel like some of the survey questions captured my opinion on the subject.

The rest of the survey was fine, but I wonder how much two poorly worded questions can skew the overall results of the survey to the positive side.

And just to clarify, I believe that these two questions were an honest oversight, and not intended to adjust the results.  But if we’re going to ask for honest responses to PD, we need to make sure that the option to respond negatively is always there.