Wednesday, December 14, 2005

More Baker's Choice...

Today went alright with the Baker's Choice - the kids are finishing up their graphs of one of the constraints. Some of the main ideas I was hoping they would discover were:

  • reinforce the idea that a graph is a picture of solutions
  • see that there is a boundary on the graph of an inequality and that this boundary is the graph of the associated equation
OK.....I guess there were only two main ideas. My first section actually went better than my second section today - most of the groups got a straight line as the boundary and when I asked them to draw the graph of another constraint, they were able to do it by drawing the boundary and filling in the appropriate side (as opposed to plotting a bunch of different points) In my second section I think only one of the groups really got the ideas.

I really enjoy teaching (or guiding might be a better word) this way. There is more discussion and the kids seem to think more on their own. But there is still a lot of unrelated discussions going on, and it seems as if every group got to the point where one person was working (plotting points) and the others were just waiting and/or talking about other things. I am not sure if that is okay, or what I could change if it is not. Something to think about...

I am also considering trying to integrate a lot more technology into my teaching, particularly at this level. At this point, I want them to see the big picture of algebra. It would have been faster today if the kids could have used a simple spreadsheet and then done a simple scatterplot to get their graphs done. I am thinking about teaching a mini-unit on Excel, so that we can do a lot more graphing. Would teaching them Excel cancel out the time saved by using Excel? Will they understand the mathematics behind the technology? Will they understand the mathematics better because they will be able to do a lot more applications using Excel? I don't know, but I guess these are the things I need to think about.

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