We have the Discovery series of math books. We’re discovering them too. The teacher who runs the real algebra 1 classes likes to run a tight ship, and eschews hands-on work. To be honest, as an experimental physicist, I don’t have much in common with this philosophy, so I decided to run my algebra lab independently of what’s going on in the algebra class. The Algebra 2 lab ( for struggling math students) is doing exactly the same as Algebra 1 lab, and the results are about the same (or a bit worse).
Last week we did the spaghetti strand experiment. How many pennies does it take to break a spaghetti strand? 2? 3? 4? 5? Then we used this data to crate an xy plot in Excel, and also in geometer’s sketchpad. We did a best fit line, and we’ll teach them how to do that same thing on the calculator.
The students in two of my 3 lab classes enjoyed this hands-on activity, working all at once. They liked being able to see other students working on their work too. They liked seeing what they got for results as well as the others. This is the down side of “work at your own pace” – the whole class camaraderie is gone.
They hoped that if they didn’t finish, it would go away, but no! it just got added to their work pile.
The additional use of Excel, and piling on of GSP spurred many kids on to working on completion of our first project, which they were hoping would go away if they just waited.
What we teach kids – if they refuse the work, we’ll give them other stuff, and they’ll never have to learn anything new. If they work slowly enough, they can just quit. And math has nothing to do with science or technology. Everything in separate niches. And no connection from week 1 to week 11 to week 21. No wonder they have such difficulty with math!
Oh, the third group? They have totally taken on board the idea, from the previous 8 years, that if they all do no work, then I’ll have to pass them all. But our new administration has received the message (finally) that passing students on doesn’t help them. Last year we had zero students pass the state test, and the new superintendent gets the message that we’re assessed as a district on the state test, not on how many fake passing grades we give out. It only took 10 years. The adults are no better than the kids. There’s hope yet.
Anyway, I have promised them a hands-on activity each week. Now I have to supply materials for them. Sigh.
I blame the schedulers for thinking that physics and math are separate subjects.