As I have already mentioned, I am going to each of our sites and offering to give a teacher the day off. No prep, no delivery, no grading. Just take attendance and enjoy the rest of the day. Of course there are ulterior motives behind what I'm doing, but it really is a quasi-day off for the teacher.
While last week was tough because the teacher didn't want to see any of the tech tools that I'm comfortable with (as he was also comfortable and wanted to see something different), this week's teacher wanted me to teach the Angle Addition Postulate. Folks, it's basically saying that two angles added together will get you a third angle that is the sum of the two. It's addition. It isn't hard. Also, it isn't interesting at all.
Therein was the challenge: could I get kids curious about something so seemingly obvious and dry?
With that laid out, I got to work (full lesson prep here).
I know that Geogebra is a great tool for geometry-based lessons and I (admittedly) need to learn more about how to create within its ecosystem. Anything negative I have to say about it is from a place of selfish stubbornness and I admit it. With one chance to get this right, I went to part of my comfort zone: Desmos. Since they have added the Geometry component at desmos.com/geometry, there are more applications of an already-intense product.
As an appetizer, I wanted to build curiosity as much--and as quickly--as I could. A great way to do that is with Estimation180, so I created four models and dropped them into this handout. Feel free to cannibalize it for whatever you are doing. Andrew Stadel, creator of Estimation180.com, took a look at the questions I was asking and offered up some revisions, all of which I am extremely grateful. Two of the missing angles are obvious if you understand supplementary angles, which is a prior skill that I wanted to spiral in. Two others, however, are more ambiguous and require estimation skills.
After students had a chance to reflect on what they knew about the prompts, we would move into two different angle pairs (bit.ly/aapintro1 and bit.ly/aapintro2) to discuss what was happening. There were a lot of inroads for conversation and exploration because I wanted students to develop a true understanding of what AAP really was: addition and subtraction.
We defined the Angle Addition Postulate, then students were going to create different angle pairs using the Desmos Geometry tool and share with their neighbors to confirm. Well, they were going to isn't always how it goes.
First period, I am sorry.
In all my years of teaching, first period has been the experiment class. No matter how well I prep for a lesson, that first class of the day gets the worst version of me. It's not because I'm tired, or unprepared, or off my game. For some reason, there are always tweaks to be made between the first time I teach the lesson and the second.
Everything in this lesson was executed the way it was supposed to, all the way until the students were tasked with creating their own angles. It flopped. Kids didn't know how to use the tool, my instructions weren't clear enough, they were overwhelmed, or maybe it was a combination of all three. Whatever it was, I scrambled to the exit ticket so I could still manage some data about their level of understanding and I didn't stick the landing. As I told my colleague, Paula, I don't even think I reached a landing that I could stick. First period left without getting to the algebraic examples. Dang.
The rest of the day was great. We moved right into the algebra, crossed out the third task that was confusing, and experienced a lot of "oh yeahhhh" and "ah, this is easy!" moments. The exit ticket was given with plenty of time, the conversations were strong, and it turned out to be a great day.
...and I still can't get first period out of my head. I know that it's going to be that way, and many of you feel the same, but how might we give first period our absolute best without always using them as the trial class? Kathy Henderson shared an idea that some schools use and I like it.
teaching is an endorphin-inducing experience and I love it. It is not lost on me that the teachers who agree to let me come in are making themselves vulnerable and giving up control for the day. Yesterday, the teacher I worked with wanted to take the lesson and be the one who delivered it to 6th period. I'm all for that. Right before 6th period began, so looked and me and said "whoo, this is worse than an observation! I'm more nervous about doing this than getting observed."
For one, I appreciate the honesty. More importantly, I appreciate how willing this teacher was to take a risk, step outside her comfort zone, and take a risk.
We reflected, together, on the outcomes of the day, and she had some really great things to say. Most were about the lesson and what she noticed, but something else really stood out to me. She admitted that she has grown comfortable with the way that she teaches and that today was a step outside that normal routine. We all know that this is where the growth happens, but we have to be willing to try something that might just fail, putting your kids a day behind, lose the class, or look silly. The risk is not always a short-lived failure. But the reward?
"I liked it because you gave the class a chance to explore and make their own discoveries. I need to do more of that."
Just make sure first period gets to do that, too.
Happy "Better Start" Fishing