We're just starting fourth quarter. The third quarter benchmark test results are in. The kids didn't do well. Now what?
For once, we're going to take some drastic action to remedy the situation rather than try to patch over gaping holes in the foundation. Scratch quadratics and statistics. We're spending the rest of this course really building a solid foundation. Our focus will be:
Solving equations and inequalities
It's not that we haven't taught these topics (and more!). It's that we haven't taught them to the point of recognition and retention. When I say "graph this linear function" kids can dutifully flip to that note card and with some guidance complete the task. They can do a couple more with minimal assistance. Then they can do the same process forever independently. Unless there's a pause. Say, 24 hours between class periods. Then they go back to needing some guidance. By the end of the week they're pretty good. They take the test on linear functions. They do okay. We move one. When I mix linear functions in with the exponential ones I'm shocked to discover they're already rusty. When we get to the benchmark test, all the topics are mixed together. There's no guidance. There's not a lot of success. Now, I could complain about how awful the benchmark test is all, day but the test isn't the point. I already knew this was an issue when I mixed linear and exponential functions. So what do we do?
On the one hand, they just need more practice. Lots of practice to make the thought "I need to graph an equation, I'm not sure what it looks like, I should make a table!" automatic. Part of what's preventing them from getting lots of practice with that thought is how loooooooong it takes them to make a table. They need practice evaluating functions (basic facts are weak). But the way to practice that is by doing it, and making a table is a great way to have repetitive practice with a purpose.
But, kids are only willing to do random practice for so long. And I don't blame them. It's boring and it's not helping them to build connections. So we need something more. And that's where you come in - I got a few (great!) suggestions from Twitter but I have a whole quarter to fill and I've already used my best stuff the first time through. Equations and lines. I'd happily take data based stuff so we can mix some stats in with our linear modeling, or exponentials/polynomials if they reinforce something more foundational. I'm considering factoring numbers - radicals - factoring expressions as an arc. I'm open to ideas, what've you got?