Day 177: Skittles

Last night I went and bought 8 pounds of Skittles; I had a fun conversation with the cashier.

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Algebra looked at the color distribution of the different sized bags of skittles and made some conclusions on the data.

Here’s how things went.

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I threw up this picture and asked ’em how many Skittles thy thought were in the package, then their estimated percent breakdown of each color.

After, I put this up and asked if it changed any if their answers.

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They saw the number of each color and calculated the percentage of each.

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111 Skittles isn’t a great size to make any conclusions, they asked for a larger bag and then made the same estimations.

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389 Skittles isn’t really enough to make conclusions either… the data was everywhere.

Then, I pulled out a 2 pound bag of Skittles, broke students into groups of 2 and had them find the frequency of each color.

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I put together a quick Excel document and had running totals throughout the day.

The results of each 2 pound bag were different, but when we put them together and looked at a sample size of 4338 some interesting talking points emerge.

SkittlesI am excited to hear what students have to say/conclude from this data on Monday.

Day 167: Tough.

At the moment, 90% of my students are passing.

By the end of the year, I believe that will drop to around 85% or so; those are the ones that I really feel good about moving onto either Geometry (where algebra will go) or Algebra II (where geometry will go).

I see a students mathematical understanding as a tower. At the beginning of the year, we lay down a large base/foundation by reviewing arithmetic, integer operations and two/multi step equations. The larger the base a student has, the more content they can handle though out the year.

After a couple weeks we hit a point where a majority of students are ready to move on, and in doing so some are unable to establish the necessary base. A couple of ’em move over to pre-algebra, but I believe in these students abilities to succeed, I want to keep them in my classes unless it is 100% clear they need to be re-placed.

Fast-forward to 34 weeks later and those little holes in understanding that we tried to patch along the way have turned into large tears. I am not quite sure how to patch them. We have three weeks left in the school year, is it worth the time to go back and review what the product of a positive and negative number is… daily?

I feel like I am really just dodging this question:

What do I do with the students who I know are not going to pass this year? 

I believe in them… I really do…

But, I would be doing a disservice to them if I inflate their grade and let them into geometry/algebra II knowing that as hard as they try, they are unable to solve a two/three step equation, much less a system of equations or quadratic.

The Quadratic Formula is not the place to teach anyone about integer operations or the order of operations, but with a select group of students this is happening. The obvious answer is to give them a worksheet or some form of remediation on this. But, they also need work on solving equations and everything else that has lead up to where we are in class at the moment; that would take months.

Right now I am pushing the failing students forward. Each period, it feels like I am taking 24 students and shoving them through a doorway that they won’t all fit through.