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While talking with an 8th grade teacher today, I was reminded of a lesson I've done in the past about combining like terms. I wanted to write a quick post to share and also so that I can have it saved to refer back to.
The lesson begins by showing this clip:
The kids always laugh and enjoy the silliness of it. When it keeps going, I hear a lot of "You gotta be kidding me!" and "ugh, how long is this going to go on?" Perfect. I feel like I'm creating the controversy (create the controversy, Dan Meyer suggests is a first step)
After the video, I talk about a simpler version of this same idea.
Me: What if I ordered 5 hamburgers, 3 orders of fries, 6 hamburgers, and 2 more orders of fries. Is there a better way to order that is less confusing?
Students: Yes! (they are almost frustrated with me!) Put the hamburgers together and the fries together.
Me: Oh, so if I wrote ((write on the board: 5h + 3 f + 6h + 2f)),…
Teacher confession time: I used to teach my students about keywords in math class.
I did not create this poster, but I could have. In fact I had one very similar hanging in my classroom from 2007-2012. I even wrote one of my National Board portfolio entries about a lesson designed around keywords!
This brings be to CUBES. A problem solving strategy I've seen quite a few times in classrooms. I never used it, but mostly because I didn't hear about it. I probably would have been all over that. If you aren't familiar, here is the strategy:
C- circle the numbers
U- underline the question
B- box the keywords, or math action words
E- evaluate the steps you should take
S- solve and check
You might be wondering why I stopped using keywords in math class in 2012. Honestly, I was pretty stubborn. I mean, kids got the right answers when I taught key words! I thought I was helping them. Students liked them. Parents understood them. There are actually several reasons I decided to stop us…
Teaching is challenging and personal and important work. Every teacher I work with is doing their best, want to do their best, and do all of this with a kind teacher heart. I love teachers, in fact I still identify as a teacher myself. When people ask what I do, I say I'm a teacher. Because even if I'm a coach or a math coordinator, at the center of my work is teaching.
I was in the classroom for 12 years. I know the difficulties of having a diverse group of learners in one class. The range of understanding on any given topic can be overwhelming to navigate. Am I challenging everyone enough? Is this too challenging? Are kids bored? Are kids checked-out? Are they learning?
These are real questions and fears we all have. And sometimes, being in this work means we develop some short-cut ways of describing the complexity of what we see in front of us. It's normal and natural as humans to look for patterns in our experience and categorize things. If we didn't our brains wo…