Saturday, September 13, 2008

Kinesthetic Number Line

Friday (end of 6th week) went badly. A week ago I had decided to create a number line in masking tape on my floor. It was going to be for students who still struggle with negative numbers so that we could incorporate "kinesthetic learniing". Then I started thinking that I could use my number line for a whole-class activity. I have been thinking continuously about my model number line and about how I wanted to use the visual image of rotating about zero to represent finding the opposite. I decided that if I could get the students to stand on the number line, I might be able to find some way to discover that 'rotation' visually. I decided to make it a day's activity but as usual, I did not plan enough. I went home and made the following notes:

34 students max
1) Get in order on the number line
2) Add 3 to your number
3) Get back in order on the number line
4) Add -2 to your number
5) Find someone with the opposite number (unorganized)
6) Find someone where your sum is ___9____A
7) Find someone where your difference is ____7__B___ - stand in order
8) Find someone that has the same absolute value as you
9) Find someone where the absolute value of your difference is ___11_C______
10) Find two other people so the absolute value of your sum is ___14______D
11) Get back in order on the number line
12) Find your opposite (while touching elbows on the number line) – end of activity
Unfortunately, then I decided to sleep and finish it in the morning. I ended up getting to the school with nothing more than those notes. On the way to school, I decided to split the class into two groups- one with a maximum of 16 students and the other with a maximum of 18. (Digression- in each period, the 16 students at the front of the room behaved better and had a better attitude despite the projector shining in their eyes. I'm not sure if that's because they were a smaller group or perhaps because of the psychosocial associations with the front of the classroom.) I ended up making index cards frantically as the students entered the room. I couldn't find the masking tape, so one of the groups had only an imaginary line (no pun intended) and the postive and negative signs on the ends were made of duct tape (which had the added feature of being well-nigh invisible against the carpeting).

This lesson was pretty much a failure in every class. First hour started late because I was finishing the index cards and typing the prompts frantically from the laptop to PowerPoint. I realized that if I wanted each student to have an opposite (for the final activity), then they could not also be asked to "add up" to arbitrary (non-zero) numbers.

1st hr:
didn't have cards ready
no ppt
forgot ppt shines on front kids
touching elbows bettter than linking
students not used to moving around
refused to find partners without help
make sure students don't leave with your cards

2nd hr
class started late bc I was remaking missing cards
don'tbe in bad mood (makes moving punishment instead of pseudo-fun)
don't give students only option of linking elbows (they hate)
if lights go out 1/2 way and stay out, don't expect to finish
if you want to keep some students after class to write down names for nonparticipation. They crowd toward you threateningly
if going to piss students off, make sure they don't take your cards, tear them into little pieces, and strew them down the hallway down the building.

3rd hr
class started lte bc was remaking stolen/torn/strewn cards
lights still off (don't do activity in dark)
make sure students do not lean against post-9/11 'panic button'
DO choose a random 100 problem assignment, telling students option between weekend hw and this in-class activity wo homework

left too late to get lunch, so went to cafeyuckiya to get cheese pizza (only veggietarian item on menu)
it turns out no Pizza Hut today, only 'pizza boats' made from french bread
took that and onion rings back to teacher's lounge, where I discovered pepperoni (of the insidious Darth Cube style in pizza (communist plot!), so gave to other (unsuspecting) teacher.
resorted to lunch of giant kit-kat and pepsi to different teacher's room to cry and commiserate on the human... err... teacher condition

5th circle:
class started late (shamefully, I didn't spend my lunch hour re-making cards that the students had taken
used same ploy of 'options' with added bribe of '25 minutes free time at end of class' for students - worked amazingly well, should do EVERY day!

6th circle prep
called district math specialist, told her (incomplete) list of problems: ie, students hate me, not that am behind...
wandered around school, dreading 7th hour

7th circle
tried to remake cards, so (once again) class did not start on time, kids wouldn't listen, 10 mins free timea t end

good stuff: kid have me half of his flaming chee-toes

after school:
went to older teacher's room and cried
she told me to bring in my flash drive so whe could five me docs and progs to help
power in bldg fails three times this hour, twice in middle of transfer of files to flash drive...

went home, had epiphany (to go to bed, but humbly)

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