Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Pretend I'm Not Here

Yesterday we worked on this pattern. 


By the end of the period, we had two different rules.

n + n + 5     or      (n - 2) + (n - 2) + 9


Today we had to decide whether or not these two rules were equivalent.  We had a brief discussion about the different ways students could make their argument:  numerically, visually, symbolically or verbally.  I asked each student to choose a method they preferred and spend a few minutes constructing an argument.  The plan was to then have them pass their journal around the group and have their partners help them make their arguments more convincing.  

As I circled around the classroom, I noticed the work of a particular student who doesn't yet have the confidence I believe will eventually show up.  I stopped and asked him about his work. 



Me: So, tell me about what you have going on here?

Student:  ...

Me:  What type of argument are you trying to make here?

Student: Numbers. 

Me:  Ok, so what numbers are you choosing?

Student:  I chose 55.

Me:  Does it work for both rules?

Student:  Yes. 

Me:  Now that I'm sitting here with you and hear you explain, I can totally understand what you're trying to say.  

Me:  Let me ask you something:  Do you think that if you ripped this page out of your journal and left it for me to read after class, I'd be able to understand your argument?

Student:  No, I don't think so. 

Me:  Can you treat this as a rough draft and try to convince me as if I wasn't here?

Student:  Yes. 

Me:  Ok, great.  I'll come back and check in a bit. 

After a second pass around the class, I come back to this:


I asked if I could have his permission to take a picture of both and show it to the class.  We'd keep it secret if he wanted, I assured him.  When I projected the first iteration, other students tried to explain his thinking.  When I showed the work of the "second student", we all agreed it was much easier to follow the thinking.  Then I said, "This is the same kid."

Class:  "Wait, WHAT?!  

The coolest part of this was that when I wouldn't say the name of the student, many of his classmates said, "It's obvious Mr. Cox.  Look at him."

He was beaming. 

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