It’s Only the Beginning!

I knew this was going to be hard but it’s turning out to be much harder than I had originally anticipated. First I had this wonderful idea for a lesson and got almost an entire student page finished only to look back at my standards and realize that the lesson didn’t fit the objectives at all. My first go around I was asking students to come up with examples. Although I think that’s a very valuable skill it didn’t align with my standards so I took a step back and started coming up with some examples on my own. No worries, I saved the “mistake” lesson because it should come in handy later. If not for this project, I can definitely in my classroom.

After that little mishap I worked on actually coming up with real world situations that could be modeled by different families of functions. It’s actually quite difficult. I worked with square root functions in my teaching high school math class a few semesters back so I decided to start there. During that class I wrote a unit plan on the square root function (not something I’m that proud of today, but we all have to start somewhere). I remember writing a problem about a referee on a soccer field. I decided to adapt that problem for this project. I need a little help seeing as it is only my first problem in my first lesson.

Now that I was on track with my topic, I needed to try to think of questions that would challenge and engage my students while allowing them to grow as mathematicians. I could think of several questions I could ask about the diagonal of the soccer field, but what questions are engaging? What questions are relevant? And what questions are actually going to help my students learn? Writing the questions is a lot harder than I originally thought. Sure I can mimic the type of questions I’ve been asked my whole life, and I love math, so they’re good, engaging questions, right? Wrong. I know that the questions I think are fun aren’t necessarily fun to my friends. To illustrate my point – I got a little tipsy and started doing optimization problems a couple weeks ago. To me, yeah that was a great time. That doesn’t mean I’m going to ask my students to do those problems. I was working on 1-30 odds. So, what do my students find interesting? This is quite difficult with hypothetical students. It is also difficult to assess what my students know and what they are capable of when I don’t have any. Is my wording effective? Are my questions clear? Can you realistically complete the question? I can quickly see my need to find students and teachers to interact with in order to write these lessons.

All of this and I’m not even half way done writing lesson 1. It’s going to be a long semester! But, I am definitely up for the challenge. Especially if it means I’m going to be a better teacher in the end.

  • Remember your objective
  • Try to challenge and engage your students
  • Make your questions meaningful
  • Assess what your students know and what they are capable of
  • Keep questions in their Zone of Proximal Development
  • Don’t give up!

~ by Cassie.Becker on November 17, 2011.

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