I start school in a week. (I'm going with the first day being day 0 since we have shortened classes and much mayhem.) Three of my own children started school today, leaving me home with only my 4-year old who will only go to school on Thursday this week (staggered start). As a result, I am trying to be productive and do some of what I had all summer to do, yet didn't.
Our grade 9 academic math course begins with polynomials and exponent laws. Ugh. Students struggle with this unit above all others and it is what we hit them with first. I had thought of changing the order but since taking Jo Boaler's "How to Learn Math" course, I think the problem lies in HOW we are teaching it. We need to work with patterns instead of having students simplify abstract expressions by remembering (or not) rules. What worked for many of us, does not work for so many of them. Attempting to work this in while keeping peace with my co-workers is challenging. We all teach the same thing on the same day using the same lesson. This can be a fantastic model if teachers are on the same page and truly working collaboratively...
I started by creating an activity sheet for kids to work through five linear patterns involving only positive quantities and five linear patterns that use positive and negative objects.
I stole most of these from Fawn Nguyen's Visual Patterns site. Thanks to Fawn's brilliant post on Pattern Posters for Algebra I, I have a better framework for what I am doing. I will start by working through a pattern with them (this is straight from Fawn - have I mentioned how much I love her?).
Or maybe two. You see, I am still not sure what I'm doing. By that I mean that not having done this particular activity in this course before, I'm not sure how it will play out. What patterns they will find. Whether they will differ from each other's and mine. What I will need to ask to get kids to persevere or get on the right track. How long it will take. I am fine with not knowing how it will go - I know where I want them to get and have a good idea of how to help them get there. However, I find it very difficult to just give this "lesson" to other teachers who may or may not buy in. I feel like I need some kind of narrative to go with it, but I don't have my own yet. Add to that the fact that the time will have to be "shared" with review from grade 8 (order of operations, working with fractions and integers) makes me feel overwhelmed. I would like to take the time to do this properly and I believe in doing that, the review will happen naturally. But I know that will not fly with some of my colleagues so I have to try to make it all work together. And I need to have this sorted out by tomorrow (!) as others need to photocopy. So any advice you can give would be great!