Humans vs. Zombies! (or How We Learned About the Coordinate Plane)

This week began our study of the coordinate plane.  I used the first lesson of Transition to Algebra’s unit 6 as a pre-assessment.  It proved that I needed to take a couple steps back and address many of the basic concepts relating to the coordinate plane (axes, integers, ordered pairs, quadrants, etc…) in a more direct way.  Our class goals are pulled from the Common Core State Standards Initiative:

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First, I used this game as an anchor for plotting ordered pairs, then the students did some individual practice on worksheets.  Today we played another game…

Humans vs. Zombies!

My very crafty assistant teacher, Ms. Avellino, took a game from a website and turned it into this… Continue reading

We Made a Math Game!

Well, to be more precise we made a puzzle-y, game-y type thing.

Let me explain.

If you follow me on twitter, then you saw this little bit of nerdiness…

I bought this dice bonanza bucket at Target during Christmas break.  I was very motivated to put the new dice to work for my students!

As I wrote about previously, one of my classes is studying algebra.  The contents of the dice bonanza varied between number dice, dot dice, color dice, and others it reminded me of Transition to Algebra like this:

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So my assistant teacher and I put the dice to work in this puzzle game we called Dice ID.  Here is the instruction booklet and here is the game board.

And here is how it went in our class last Friday…

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Algebra with a capital A!

I teach at a self-contained special education high school in SoHo in NYC.  Our math department does a good job of incorporating “algebraic thinking” into every problem we pose or task we assign.  Though, as they are in high school, our students are aware of what they “should be learning.”  In other words, they see what their peers without disabilities are doing in math class and generally it is not what they are doing.

So the desire to learn Algebra comes up quite frequently.  (The capital A is intentional in this case!)  Algebra is like our student’s white whale.  So, I try to be the boat to their Ahab.

My frustration, however, is that the typical approach to Algebra, with a capital A, is heavily language based. Vocabulary such as variable, dependent, independent, inverse, and substitute are very basic to capital A-lgebra, but they are also complex terms (and ones which have alternate meanings in everyday speech) that our students would require most of the year just committing to memory.

So I have been on a search for capital A-lgebra work that bypasses this vocabulary at least at the very beginning.  Cut to Fawn Nguyen’s Visual Patterns and Heinemann’s Transition to Algebra.

I began with a pre-assessment task about toothpicks

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