Thursday, June 19, 2014

Practicing Expressions and Their Vocabulary

 Opps!  Should have had the "s" in coefficients in parentheses.
The next lesson in the text is about the different parts of an expression and is very vocabulary heavy.  My challenge has been how to practice the vocabulary and do something more than just memorize the definitions.

With some thought, I came up with two different ideas.  One of them is in the picture at the left.  I had these numbers left over from when I was "The Mathematical Wonder" superhero for the day last school year.  They got me thinking that I could have the kids make expressions and define the different parts of the expression to a partner.  It wasn't a bad idea, but I didn't feel like I was stretching them.  Then, brilliance struck and I thought, "what if their expression had to meet specific criteria?".  That would challenge them to create an expression and understand the vocabulary words!

I created some simple task cards which you can download below.  If the dollar store is out of the numbers, I am going to use the plastic bottle tops that I've collected and my trusty sharpie to make my own set of numbers.

I wanted something else to practice with that was active.  So I thought about the Kagan cooperative group technique called "Mix-'n'-Match".  I have had good success with this in the past.  If you're not familiar, students each have a card and have to go and tell someone the answer to what is on the card (or explain something to another student).  So student A explains to student B, then Student B explains to student A what was on their card.  The two students then swap cards and go talk to someone new.  This goes on for 5 minutes or so.  I like it because there is a lot of practice happening in a short time frame and it gets them up and moving.

After I made the cards, I thought that they would work well for an inside-outside circle activity.  For this activity, students make two circles with one circle inside of the other.  Students face each other so that one student on the outside circle is facing a student from the inside circle.  They talk about the cards, swap them, and then either the inside or outside circle moves while the other stands still.  There are lots of variations on this activity, so do what works for you.  Below are the cards that I made.