So, I spent the week doing constructions the traditional way with no connection to what I taught. Yes, my students are a bit handier using the compass and straight edge, but the quiz sent me the message I was expecting, very few of them retained the knowledge. I threw out the lesson for today and had the students explore Geometer Sketchpad with the idea that they need proficiency at GSP to be successful at the overall course. I will revisit all of the constructions in the circle unit where they directly tie to the content and can be reinforced by the content.
So… As I expected, students spent the past few days copying what I did on the board and had no idea what they were doing. I set up a group task where each student in turns would create an assigned construction with the assistance of the others at the table (without notes) and then pass it on. Out of the 8 different constructions, the most any table got correct was 2… and this was an honors class. We had a reflection as a class to why something like this would happen and all of them realize it came down to practice. They have to do more of it. Because I cannot expect students to buy their own compass, welcome to tomorrow’s lesson.
I have finished constructions and am thoroughly unimpressed with the lessons. All I did was show the students what to do and they did it trying their best to copy my moves. I am not thrilled that we chose as a group to teach the constructions before the first unit to set them up for success here. I do feel that we should teach a construction right before a unit on the same topic. I just taught a bunch of constructions that lead nicely into circle theorems that will be introduced at the end of the year. No traction, no leverage onto other topics, yuck. I once again did not update the slides due to the fact that I used the same lesson.
After reflecting a bit, I realize that I have fallen into a trap that I am not that familiar with… Teaching how you were taught. I absolutely loved Geometry, especially the beginning where lines had infinite points and constructions were king. I remember learning from the construction up and none of the curricula I find introduce the topics that way. I do not know what caused the shift and I do not know if it is bad, but it is the source of my stickiness to old methods. I remember hearing that one of the biggest influences is the way you are taught. I have been fortunate that I do not remember how I was taught many of the math topics because I started teaching far after I learned the material the first time. As a result, I dove into discovery teaching and enjoyed it ever since. This digression points out to me that memory does play a part and I have to work hard in making sure it does not negatively affect my instruction.
Today’s lesson was a continuation of yesterday’s… more constructions, and a bit more scaffolded. Student’s enjoyed the experience a lot more. It was a good day and I look forward to continuing constructions tomorrow. (no lesson plan today beyond yesterday’s, just better questioning.)
I spent some time researching different ideas for a lesson and did not find anything that I liked. After the day, I did not like mine either. My lesson was to get the students to copy a line segment and an angle. After a period of effort, the honors students got to the line segment. I left the entire lesson as discovery. I just expected too much. I really do not like giving too much and realize that today is one of those days that I gave too little, or the wrong way. Fortunately, I have a second chance tomorrow with other students that are not honors to improve. It is frustrating teaching a course for the first time.
I am finding that the great materials that I find on the internet are a bit too challenging for the students. Today, I used a lesson idea from Andrew Stadel. The lesson he created was great and I did not have the materials to make it as good in my class. It was one of those days that I could not find stickies and was a bit unprepared. My lesson was a discovery lesson within the groups that they had to use similar materials to find the angles in the parallel lines cut by a transversal. The twists I added were a quiz (Friday will be my quiz day, for me to adjust the next weeks lessons as necessary) and I have a milestone date each week for the problem of the month. Since students are struggling with the problem of the month, I spent some time explaining the rubric in more detail. I also had all of the students take foldable notes from the angle definitions they discovered. Based on the quizzes, I clearly need a model notebook.
After two days of definitions, I am not bored and the students weren’t either. I find myself asking students more if they liked the lessons. I am not sure if it is self-confidence or the fact that they are pretty well behaved and are just trying to learn and I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. Today, was a clean up day. I started the lesson with estimation 180 and continued with an exploration of the definition of an angle. While they seemed to understand about some of the notation around an angle, the angle itself was tough for them to describe. I definitely felt like a lot of what we covered was old news to the students, but the foldables and the interactive lesson made the experience better. The interactive slide for all the types of angles was helpful for the students. When students had to define complementary and supplementary, it is very important to ask what the difference between complementary and a right angle. They confused them easily.
For the first time, I designed the same lesson to go from the 12:1 classes all of the way up to the Honors class. I spent a lot of time designing the lesson and was hopeful in the outcome. The first part of the lesson was having the students review a geometric figure and find a series of vocabulary words in it. The second part I had to revise on the fly. I had each table act out a different vocabulary word. For words that were unknown to them, they googled them on their phones and the following discussion clarified the terms. Finally, I asked them to find the terms plane and coplanar in a video. I showed the Superman II clip of the three villains captured in a plane and sent into space. this worked out well. To capture the learning, I had all of the students put foldable definitions into their notebooks. The sequence was really important. Students must fold, then glue then cut. If it is done in another order, they will end up with a mess or pieces all over the place. I like to think it was a successful lesson and many of the classes needed more time to finish. I have not gotten to a wrap up, though I did end many of the classes with them writing the definitions in the notebook. Honors finished the lesson, 12:1 made it through the first phase. Everyone else made it some point in between. It was a good day.
Students were visibly disturbed by going to the rest of the 90 minutes stretch for the 5 tasks in a year end packet from SVMI. They tried their best and got no traction. To get them in a better place, I introduced the idea of student progress sheets. I have never done them before and am a bit worried on the roll out. I will try my best and I believe students will give me the chance to be successful. If anyone has ideas about progress sheets, I am open because this is new to me and this is a best guess.
I spent the rest of the period introducing many of my classes to Estimation 180. I have just started, and this basically teaches itself. Students will love this. I look forward to really teaching content tomorrow.
Twenty percent of the teacher’s evaluation is based on “local measures”. We chose SVMI (Silicon Valley Math Initiative) as the assessment. Today, we gave the students a baseline and almost to a student they looked at me like I was crazy. If everything works out as planned, they will not be as frustrated at the end of the year.