Friday, March 9, 2012

Don't Break the Quotient Rule or Our Friendly Giant will Stick You Between His Couch Cushions that Never get Vacuumed!

I've been meaning to put these up for a while.  My pre-algebra students finished their exponents brochures (description here) and they're kind of awesome so I thought I would post them.  Unfortunately, they did not do as well on the test following the brochures as I would have liked (80% average which is ok, but I wanted better).  I think they performed poorly because even though the brochures helped them cement the basic rules, it didn't help them review how to tackle the different types of problems they might see.  I was trying to avoid doing a drill and kill review worksheet by doing a project instead, but since the test had drill and kill problems, the only way to really prepare them for the test was with a worksheet.  So we're going to spend another few days reviewing exponents and we'll have a retake in a week.
I already started the review.  With our first extra day on exponents, I made a fake test for them that I had "taken" by compiling all the mistakes they made on their first test.  I showed them how I grade tests and then asked them to grade "my" test without an answer key.  I tried to make it a little bit fun in that I said I would award a prize to the student who's final grade was closest to the grade I would have given this test.  Every single student graded the test to within two or three points of the grade I would have given it.  They also found all the mistakes and discussed how frustrating it was when I didn't show my work or circle my answer.  It actually turned into a pretty fun activity because they got to scold me and they were having great discussions about which errors constituted arithmetic errors (which is only -1/2 a point) and which errors constituted understanding errors (which is -1 point).  So clearly they know the material well enough to recognize good work from bad work.  I just need to get them to recognize their own good work and bad work.  When I was wondering aloud about how the same student who got a 65% on his own test could have identified and corrected 100% of my mistakes the very next day, one of our Japanese teachers mentioned that it's easier to understand a language that you're studying than it is to speak it.  So I need to give them more speaking practice?  Maybe I've been focusing too much on error correction.  I decided to make one of my teaching goals this year to help kids learn to recognize their own errors and I guess I went a little overboard.  I have a nice, long drill and kill practice test lined up for them next.
Anyway, without further ado, here are my students' "exponent planet" brochures.

Front of brochure
Inside of brochure

Here's another one 
Inside (The pictures are adorable)

And just one more because I can't resist the math puns this student used

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