After an assessment last week, it seemed to me what I was doing wasn’t sticking for my students with polynomials. So let’s just scrap plan A. Plan B – I pulled out my Discovering Algebra book, came up with a box-building data collection that lead into the FAL I have linked below.

Formative Assessment Lesson – Representing Polynomials

Thursday, students were given a 16 x 20 piece of grid paper and asked to cut out square corners and create a box with the largest volume possible. We combined our data as a class. Recording the corner size removed, length, width and height. Students were asked to observe the data and respond I notice… & I wonder… and that’s where our class began on Tuesday.

We shared out our responses, some adding ideas as we continued the discussion. Work with our data on TI84s – we saw a connection between our constraints 0, 8, 10 and the graph of the regression equation. This was not new, during the discussion, a question was brought up about what values would result in a volume of zero. Students were able answer that with confidence and a reasonable explanation.

The FAL pre-assessment confirmed my students weren’t quite ready for the full blown lesson. With discussion of rigor and relevance the past few days, I wanted to offer students something engaging but not so over their head, it was a flop.

I backed up and did a bit of prep work yesterday – with the following discussions in class:

Following with whiteboards / sharing for this slide from FAL:

and a simple practice set to ensure they were on track.

We began class today with a quick check of the 6 practice – with a focus on similarities / differences. Noting the double root of #5.

Prior to the actual FAL, I decided to use the same equations and graphs they were to match during the FAL, except I would have them do a card sort. Originally, I had planned to ask them to sort cards into 2 groups. While pondering how I could make it better, I recalled a colleague sharing ideas about open card sorts from a John Antonetti training she had attended. So, this is what I did.

I told students I wanted them to sort the 11 equations – any way they wanted – they just needed to be able to share out their reasoning behind their choices. After a few moments, I called on different groups and we looked at their sorts. I should have snapped pics / documented their responses. I was amazed – not that they did it – but how well they did it. The things they were looking at – were much better than my original idea to sort in to 2 groups. Students were asking students – why they put one in one group instead of another. Pausing after we had the cards sorted on the board – giving other opportunity to look others’ groups…some were obvious, others were not. I even had groups who had the exact same sorts, but with completely different reasoning. Wow.

At some point we began talking about “What does that tell us about the graph?” Almost everyone was engaged and comments added to the discussion. Next we went on to the graphs to sort. Again, any way they wanted…just be ready to share reasons.

Most of the sorts were better than ANYTHING I would have suggested. My eyes were opened – I could see their thinking. And others did as well – it was obvious in the eye brows raised and head nods. In both classes, there was one equation that never seemed to “fit in” the other sorts – but students were confident suggesting it belonged to a particular graph (& they were correct).

When I realized the sharing took more time than I had planned – I ran copies of the equations and graphs to send home with students and asked them to match on their own. My plan is to put them back in their pairs for the actual pairing of the FAL. They also had blank graphs for any without a match.

I learned so much listening to my students today… I am looking forward to the assessment of this standard.

I didn’t feel like I taught anything today…

*…but I did feel like my students left with a better understanding…because I chose to step aside and give them the opportunity to share their thinking…*

It was a great day.