Day 21: Super Bear

Geometry wrapped up Sam’s lesson on Conditional Statements and went through a gallery walk.

IMG_0330 After we talked about what puzzled them and questions they had. One area students struggled was seeing relationships between the posters, they were hesitant to draw any conclusions which I see as a good thing. We debriefed with an example then went through some practice statements.

In Algebra students worked through Super Bear which is another of my favorites.

Here is a quick run down of the lesson:

I had students fold a scratch sheet of paper into 6 regions which will later be used for the following:


I then played the clip and asked students to write down the first question that came to their mind. They shared that with a neighbor then we put them up on the board. After each question I asked for a show of hands for anyone who also thought the question was interesting and put + that number at the end. (This helps me focus on the big idea – brain storming – some questions are not very relevant and that is OK.)

Typo… oh well.

Then students estimated how many mini and regular bears it would take and we threw those up on the board too with names attached.


After this students brainstormed what info they needed to answer the question.


Then I gave the info I had to ’em and set them loose to solve the problem.

We put our calculated answers on the board too, not so sure how productive this was. Students really wanted to just get at the answer and it felt like I was making way too many lists. I also went back to the estimates and we looked at who was the closest.

After I talked a little about rates and how it tied into this problem then students named the activity.


Once we wrapped this up I went back to the list of questions and addressed each of them, which brought some great closure to the period.


Day 18: Station Review

In Geometry we needed some time to go back and review a few concepts. Part of the reason for this is my class has been chatty and I didn’t do much about it. The other part is students have been rushing through everything, not much patient problem solving goes on during some days. And that is fine, it takes time to get there.

One activity I use for student review is stations, here is how it goes.

  • Students break into groups of 3 or 4, which I use Instant Classroom for.
  • They have 6 minutes to work on the problem at their station.
  • I set a timer, once it goes off they rotate.
  • While students are working I listen in and write some of things I heard up on the board.
This lets students know I am listening and a part of the class.

Now after this point I am not quite sure where to go. What I have been doing is having students staple all of the group members sheets together and randomly grading one. This holds all students accountable for the work. There may be better ways out there but this has always worked for me.

For algebra we solved equations for a specific variable, have a look;


I struggled today; my classes were pretty noisy and it felt unproductive. I was thinking about why this happened, and here is my recap: this concept is not very useful. 

Sure students will use this to solve equations for x and y and MAYBE sometime in future classes like Physics and Chemistry. But will students be doing this anytime soon? Or an even better question; Will this concept be beneficial for any conversation we will be having about math in the next few days? Weeks? Months?

I taught this purely based on where it is placed in the textbook sequence and to be honest I don’t think I will keep this next year. Another problem was I did not have much enthusiasm about this and whenever that happens the negativity goes straight to the students.

After my experiences today I want to try and do a better job of asking myself “Is this content going to be beneficial for students in the up coming weeks?” and not simply base my response to that off where the concept happens to fall within the textbook.

Day 2: Broken Squares

We had full periods today so I used the first half to introduce students to visual patterns. Algebra went though a linear pattern, which students seemed to enjoy. Geometry went over a fairly complicated and challenging pattern. I told students I wanted them to struggle and that it is a good thing. Here is the pattern I gave Geometry:

I wanted them to try it first by themselves; this didn’t go as planned but I didn’t stop them because the discussions were awesome.

Students then came up to the document camera and we were able to cover 4 – 5 different solutions all of which were built around the general equation of x(x+1).These discussions lasted about half the period, then we go into broken squares.

I came across this activity in a college class and really like the ideas it communicates. Here are the goods Broken Squares

A quick run down:

  • Students are broken into groups of four and asked to each create a square.
  • They are finished when they have each created the exact same sized square.
  • The catch: They are not allowed to talk. At all.
  • They cannot communicate in anyway and may not take a piece from another group member; but may receive one.

Groups took anywhere from 2 to 20 minutes the complete the task, once finished they packed up their pieces and observed another group. In the end the entire class is surrounding the final group, once they the finish their squares, everyone gives them one clap.

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It is interesting to see student’s personalities. Some would complete their own square and sit back expecting everyone else to do the same, however that is not possible. Students were hesitant to backtrack and deconstruct a completed square.

After we talked about how it is important to let everyone have the satisfaction of solving a problem on their own and how difficult it is the have onlookers who expect you/your group to instantly see the solution. I hope this problem sets the stage for more productive and meaningful group work this year!