Sunday, March 25, 2007

Update and Upcoming

I haven't posted much recently for a few reasons:

1) We administered the CAHSEE (exit exam) last week, which ate up a bunch of class time. Hopefully, our students will do as well this year as in the past. Last year, we had 88% of sophomores pass the math section on their first try.

2) Perplex City. Ok, I have a problem. :)

3) The last 3 lessons in my rational functions unit are BORING. We just practice adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing, and solving rational equations. Good mathematics, but I don't have any clever ideas on how to teach it, so it's just me modeling the method and the students practicing. Nothing wrong with that per se, but nothing much to be said about it either. On Tuesday, we'll have a review lesson before the unit test which is on Thursday, and the students will spend most of the class working on Showdown cards created for this unit.

To make up for the recent lows, I have a couple of cool things coming up which I'll preview here and then write more about later (after they've been, you know, actually created).

1) The Financial Literacy project I wrote about earlier is now coming to fruition. I met last week with the College Readiness teacher and we hashed out the outline for the project. It will look something like this:

  • Freshmen will earn weekly income by performing their "job" - i.e. doing homework, being ready for class, etc. They can earn "lobobucks" in all their freshmen classes (assuming we can get all the teachers on board!). Each Friday, students will deposit their lobobucks with their college readiness teacher, and on Monday, they will receive an account statement.

  • They will also receive a weekly bill for expenses. For example: "rent" = their chair in class, "utilities" = worksheets and materials they are given. They must use their money to pay their bills. We are considering consequences - i.e., if you don't pay rent, you have to sit on the floor...

  • To make things more interesting, students will be required to sign up for a credit card. That is where my Algebra 2 class comes in. On Friday, we begin our exponentials and logs unit. I will teach them about interest rates and credit cards, and they will design their own cards and rate plans for the freshmen to sign up. They can use their credit cards to buy extras (though they come at a steep price!) such as free dress, bathroom passes, homework passes, listening to music during tutorial, and a double lunch period. There will be credit limits to prevent out of control spending too.

  • To complicate things further, when students get detentions, the interest rate on their credit card will increase!

  • Each Friday, my students will get a log of purchases made by the freshmen, and any payments that have been made. They will take into account any rate hikes, and will then generate a new balance and create a bill, which will be presented to the freshman on the following Monday along with their income and expenses.

  • The freshmen that are able to stay in budget (or maybe hit some sort of savings goal) will earn a big prize at the end of the unit (like a pizza party and trip to the imax)

  • My students, approaching things from the opposite angle, will be competing to see who can get their "clients" most in debt. What better way to understand how things really work?

2) The "STAR Search" Treasure Hunt. (Can you help me with a better name??)

To help energize my students and prepare them for the STAR test in May, I will create a treasure hunt for them, beginning with a puzzle. I ordered some blank, printable jigsaw puzzles from this site, and I will create a picture/clue that will launch students into the hunt. Each day, they will spend the first 15 minutes of class working on released STAR questions in teams. For each question they get right, they will earn a puzzle piece. By the time the test is here, they should have completed most of the puzzle. Once they do, and they figure out the clue (which leads to a teacher), that teacher will give the group their next puzzle, which will lead to the next, and so on. Each puzzle will require the students to review some Algebra 2 concept, and will also incorporate some sort of fun puzzle, and will lead to another staff member. Ultimately, there will be a prize for the group that gets there first.

The front side of each puzzle will have the same picture. The backs, however, will be different, and will be part of a puzzle that the class will need to solve together, with a class reward as the prize. I don't think any of my students read this, but, just in case they do, I won't post any more details here. After the hunt, I'll post up what we did. For now, just send me an email if you want to hear more, or if you have good ideas for puzzles and clues I can use.


Tony said...

Your classroom economics system sounds a lot like something I read about in one of Rafe Esquith's books. It sounds like a great way to make personal finances hit home for young people.

H. said...

This sounds like so much fun! I am looking forward to learning about the details once you can make them public. What a creative math department!

Dan Greene said...

Thanks for the positive words. I'm looking forward to putting this stuff together, and I'll be happy to post what we've made on and get your feedback.

h. said...

Thank you for making such great stuff available!

When is Spring Break at DCP? If it does not coincide with my break, visiting your school would seem a great use of a day. My school needs ideas for math remediation, and I'd be interested in looking more closely at your Numeracy course.

Dan Greene said...

Our Spring Break is 4/6 - 4/13. You're more than welcome to visit whenever. If you send me a personal email, I'll respond with contact info, and I can also point you to where you can access detailed information about Numeracy (that will be made public as part of our dissemination grant next year).