Posted by: Magistra | September 13, 2006

More Good Times

I played teacher again today. This time it was with the Algebra A kids. It’s still surprising how different two classes can be. I did the exact same activity with two periods and it was like night and day. Okay, the second class wasn’t that bad, but they were no where near as interested or active or even just plain polite as the first class. Makes me glad I’m usually just around for first period (and yes, that could have something to do with the difference). The teacher seemed to think it went well (she made complimentary remarks to my official cooperating teacher, which is always nice), and I think she experiences the same difference between the classes. At least I’ll be more aware next time.

For any other Algebra folks looking for something to do that gets students up and out of their desks, here’s what I did. Post four sheets of paper around the room that read as follows: Strongly Agree y^2; Somewhat Agree y; Somewhat Disagree x; Strongly Disagree x^2. Read a series of statements that students can agree or disagree with. I used a range of current events (The city of New Orleans should not be rebuilt), pop culture (Justin Timberlake should win a Grammy for “sexy back” – Warning: This leads to statements like “He’s so gay”), and school issues (No junk food should be sold at schools). After students pick a sign to stand under, go around and get someone in each category to give a reason for why they’re taking that stance. Then get students to tell you what they are. For example, if there are six people who somewhat agree, you’ve got 6y. After each statement write down on the board what expression you’ve got (say, 4x^2 + 3x + 15y + y^2). After 2 or 3 rounds send students back to their desks and have them add the expressions together. Repeat the whole process. Then, take your second combined expression and subtract it from the first.

Obviously, there are all kinds of ways to adapt this. The algebra concept is combining like terms (which was a nice refresher for some students), but the point is to let students get the wiggles out and enjoy a math class. I think this went especially well today because it was a minimum day, so it seemed like a good excuse to break the routine.

Have I mentioned that I like this stuff? You know, the teaching-talking with students-thing? The “teacher” part of being a student-teacher is so much better than the student part.


  1. I would like to see a continuation of the topic

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