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Framing Factoring

I am still playing catch up on the blog!

In January we had a great faculty meeting, (not a joke, from time to time we actually have informative faculty meetings that forward our professional development). A colleague, who attended a conference given by Research for Better Teaching, reminded us of the importance of "framing the learning" by providing a road map of the daily lesson for our students each class. The four parts of the lesson frame are to state the learning objective, write an agenda of activites, link the objective to a larger goal and state the criteria for success.

We were asked to bring a sample lesson plan to share at the meeting. I felt proud because I had clearly stated the objective in SWBAT form on my lesson plan and I always write an agenda on the board in class. Two of the other strategies hit home though. While I spend a lot of time discussing our goals (especially since embracing Standards Based Grading), I don't always link individual goals to a big picture question. I also rarely state, "by the end of class you'll know you got it if..."

So... challenge accepted!

I came to school the next day ready to frame each lesson completely. This was good timing as I was just about to lose my kiddos on why they need to learn to factor. We spend almost a week learning the variations of factoring before we use it to model. The framing the lesson language helped me elicit buy in from my students while they practiced factoring without a hook (hmm.. maybe I should start with the hook...).

On February 6 (Day 94), the day for modeling arrived. I tried a slight variation (I wanted it to factor) of Fawn's frame challenge. While I didn't quite have them begging for the algebraic method, most heartily embraced writing an equation over cutting tiny slivers of card-stock(some kept trying to make a perfect frame without it until I made them write an equation).

I can see the value of waiting to do this with quadratic formula to make it even more challenging by preventing kids from being able to guess the width. I was desperate for a good defense for factoring though.

I don't think that I spent enough time building it though as a few days later a similar problem popped up on a skill check and many students struggled to even define x as the width of the frame.

I will definitely try again next year, though I have plans to make it simpler on the cutting and pasting side of things. Under the challenge I will have a blank rectangle for them to lovingly illustrate. Then I will tell them to frame their artwork with the framing material.

After the task, I had them write about the experience on their blogs and include an image of their work. Here are a few of their blogs.