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The Colors of Algebra
Rigor and Resilience at a "Last Chance" School


Joanne da Luz, Life Learning Academy, San Francisco USD

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Teaching Key Algebraic Concepts through Interdisciplinary Mathematics Teaching Students Who Have Failed in – and Been Failed By – Traditional Schooling

Context
Where do I teach?

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What are my students learning?

Teaching Practice
What's my approach?


Student Work

Reflections

Resources

Standards


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Teaching Practice

In my work, I combine scaffolding with interdisciplinary group projects to support learning for those students who are particularly fearful of mathematics and have a history of failure. Our Colors of Algebra project has several curricular and pedagogical goals: Students develop their own unique understanding of algebraic representations; Presenting on their work elevates the status of student understanding; Factoring and multiplying are understood and referred to in terms of dimensions and area; Activities, journal prompts, writing assignments, and discussions all help students to keep from "talking off task."

My research delves into the possibilities that may arise when I combine scaffolding with interdisciplinary group projects to support learning for those students who are particularly fearful of mathematics and have a history of failure. While implementing The Colors & Algebra Project, I will consider the following questions:

1. How much math are the students really absorbing?
2. To what extent are mathematical concepts being broached by my efforts to support the development of academic language and motivation?
3. To what extent do students increase the use of academic language and how authentic is its use?

A series of carefully selected video clips will provide you with a sense of how scaffolding strategies in combination with the project experience come together for presentations. It is here that you will see and read about 1) how I reflect on my assumptions about what it means to support student learning 2) how I address it, 2) and how students respond.

The emphasis on "toolkits" as a means for building and using mathematical langugage is demonstrated here. Toolkits are compiled over the course of the year. Each student has their own recording of toolkits that can be used during tests. I also require students to refer to them during group work and use them as resources. The specific toolkits here are the same ones listed in the presentation grade sheet: combining like terms, factoring, multiplying, dimensions, area.

Lesson Outline/Detailed Description: 

Day 1:  Groups agree on their own names for Lab Gear blocks based on the 1 block and use of dimensions. Teacher leads class to agreed upon names 1,5,25, x, 5x, y, 5y, x², y², xy.

Days 2-5:  Students use Lab Gear and worksheets to practice and develop multiplication of variables and factoring.

Days 5-10:  Painting project begins and ends and daily painting activities are guided by journal questions.

 

 

Site last updated July 5, 2006