So, I started displaying this Online Stopwatch after my lesson and tell them that they have to get x amount done in that time. They freak out at first, but by golly they get it done and they are just spending pretty much the whole time completely focused on their work it is awesome. I notice some kids are actually fatigued when they leave my room!
In my 7th grade class I am teaching combining like terms and distributive property. I really liked Sarah Rubin's ISN page for combining like terms and I got to thinking about the lines that she has separating the terms.
I decided that in order for my 7th graders to even understand where the lines go I had to make a rule they could follow no matter what. So the first thing I taught them was to look through the entire expression and anytime they found a MINUS sign to apply the "KCC" which is Keep Change Change, or keep the 1st number, change the subtraction to addition and change the next sign to the opposite. Anyway after they go through and KCC, they separate all the terms into boxes. The only "thing" allowed between the boxes is addition signs! Then if they were just combining like terms they can go ahead and put all of the "boxes" that have the same stuff inside together and add.
If they have a term with parentheses, they have to take care of that first. To me this always seems like a "no-brainer" you multiply the outside number by all of the things inside and I would proceed to draw the familiar arrows going from the outside factor to the two terms inside, etc. For some reason this is difficult for 7th graders. So I thought about my boxes again (picture example to follow.) Actually I had read about the box method and FOIL about a year ago and taught my 8th graders it with much success, so I figured I would go with it for distributive property...It worked!! Here is a picture of a problem they were able to simplify with all my crazy boxes!
All in all it was an awesome week. My 7th and 8th graders took a quiz today and had great results. I hope we can all keep this pace up for the rest of the year!
On a side note, I've kinda fallen off the "flipping" wagon. Will post more of that at another time!