I had today's lesson all planned out. We were going to formally start factoring (they have been factoring in their homework for weeks) and then I checked yesterday's homework on solving distance-rate-time systems questions. Only 13 out of 27 students handed their homework in and, of those, only 6 seemed to truly understand it. The previous day's part of the homework dealing with mixture problems had similar results. It was clear that it was important to stop and help them better understand these questions. So I made up teams, with those 6 students as team "captains". Each team's task was to work through the word problems from homework sets 31 and 32. I thought that since me teaching these lessons only reached a few of my students, I wouldn't try to teach again, but instead would let them teach each other. I told them that I would be circulating and asking questions to random people within each group. The team would score 1 point for each correctly answered question. I tried to emphasize that the goal was for EACH team member to understand all parts of each question.
I was really impressed with their work. Each group had a big whiteboard and they tackled the questions that had stumped so many of them. They did a good job explaining to each other and it was really interesting to see the dynamics within each group. Some team captains were in full "teacher mode", while others hung back and let everyone contribute more equally. I really liked the diagrams from this group:
I walked around observing and asking questions. "Can you explain your speed column?" "Why are you multiplying those?" "What does that number represent?" I put an emphasis on them being able to explain what each part of an equation represented. They were pretty grossed out when they realized that the 3 litres was 3 litres of butterfat in the 20 litres of cream!
Once they had finished working on the homework sets, I handed individual students within a team new questions and I told them that each correctly answered question earned the team 5 points. If there were errors, the team could correct them for a maximum of 3 points. Not all teams got to this stage, but those that did kept racking up the 5 points. They knew what they were doing. Yay!
In terms of logistics for the second part, I had found 17 questions which fit on one page and I labelled them A - Q. I cut out the little strips of paper and students did their work in their notebooks. I worked out all the answers quickly this morning so that I could check whether they were right. Here is the file with those questions.
I wasn't sure about the idea of having them competing for points, but it really wasn't an issue. They wanted to learn how to do these questions and took the opportunity to work together as teams. It was good.