Monday: Master Designer (an activity to promote group work)
Some of my classes have been working great together at their #VNPS, and others less so. There’s one class in particular that has a lot of built-up animosity among students dating back many years (to middle and even elementary school).
In an effort to promote positive group interactions, I will be doing Master Designer on Monday. This activity is from Designing Groupwork: Strategies for the Heterogeneous Classroom.
Basically, each kid gets a collection of cut-out shapes (9.25 Master Designer Shapes). The “Master Designer” arranges the shapes into whatever sort of beautiful/creative design they want. Each kid, including the Master Designer, has their binder set up on their desk creating a “privacy cubicle” so that no one else can see their shapes. The Master Designer has to leave their shapes on the table and communicate through words and/or gestures how the shapes are arranged so that the other group members get their shapes to match the Master Designer’s design.
One student sits out each round and checks off when they observe positive group behaviors, such as giving clear explanations or when someone other than the Master Designer helps explain the arrangement to another group member. When someone thinks their design matches the Master Designer’s, they can ask the observer whether they are finished, but the observer can only answer with a simple “yes” or “no”. If they designs don’t match 100%, the observer can NOT say what needs to change – rather, the student who thought they were done needs to ask clarifying questions of the Master Designer to figure it out.
After each round, you rotate who is the Master Designer and who is the observer. For the first round, you can have a particularly loud and distractible student (or a shy and introverted student) be the Master Designer for each group. This forces that student to actively participate because the entire group relies on them!
The Warm Up for this lesson has two purposes:
- Have the students suggest the positive behaviors that the Master Designer activity reinforces. It’s important to have leading questions ready to make sure the target behaviors are identified “organically” from the discussion.
- Demonstrate that you can describe characteristics of shapes without fancy vocabulary. For example, if you don’t know the word “square”, you can still describe a square. You can also gesture. I’ve done this activity successfully with newcomer ELLs, and this point is important to make in the Warm Up.
Depending on how much time it takes to go over the directions for the activity, this might be the whole period, or we might have a bit of time to kill at the end. If there’s some extra time, we’ll work on practicing function notation for recursive functions: 9.25 Recursive Functions.
Tuesday and Wednesday (and maybe Thursday): MVP Lesson 1.6.
We’ll start with a #noticewonder of this scenario. A key thing students need to do early on in this lesson is to realize that the total amount of candy is (15 lbs)(180 candies/lb) = 2700 pieces of candy. I’m hoping that this comes out of the notice/wonder conversation, but if it doesn’t, I think I’m still going to release kids to groupwork. We spent so much time talking about the context of lesson 1.5 as a class that they really didn’t start working on the problems until day 2. I don’t want this to happen with 1.6, particularly because even if they start off thinking that the machine begins with 180 pieces of candy, they’ll still be able to grapple with the mathematics behind a decreasing arithmetic sequence.
I want the debrief to this task to bring out a lot of important mathematics:
- recognizing that an arithmetic sequence can decrease
- understanding that multiplying neg*pos is repeated subtraction the way pos*pos is repeated addition
- comparing the graphs of increasing and decreasing sequences
- writing explicit and recursive equations using function notation
As such, I expect this lesson to go at least into Wednesday, possibly Thursday with groups making summarizing posters.
If everything happens to be amazing on Tuesday and Wednesday and I feel like they really don’t need another day on this lesson, I’m planning to use Thursday to review multiplying negatives by introducing the students to Desmos with this Desmos activity.
Building this familiarity with Desmos will be particularly helpful since I’d like students to use Desmos when working on lesson 1.7 the following week. In fact, I’m even considering turning lesson 1.7 into a Desmos activity…
Friday is a Professional Development day, so the kiddos get a long weekend.
Happy teaching, everyone!