When I first thought of creating a lesson plan, I was extremely excited. I had learned all these new tools and then, I lost hope. When I started looking online for specific algebra tools, I was stuck finding a bunch of websites that only had elementary tools for fractions and money.
Then I went back to my old stand by NCTM Illuminations. I had used this very little this past year because I feared that many lessons would go over my students’ heads, but this time I decided to wander through the tools. I was easily able to click algebra and go from there. The one thing that I didn’t like was that I could select an age immediately, and instead had to weed through all the tools. I finally found a great graphing tool that is great for not only my Algebra I class, but my Pre-Calculus class.
The application looks like this the image to the side and is incredibly simple for students to use. They can choose the function and “mess around” with the numbers until the graphs match up and create a new green graph.
This past year I really had problems with Chapter 4: Linear Equations in my Algebra I class. I also felt like like a terrible teacher constantly making my student create graphs on graphing paper. There was one day when I took them into the computer lab that I let them play around with a graphing calculator. They were able to take the knowledge that I had explained in class and use technology to explore deeper into how manipulation of an equation can drastically effect how a graph looks.
I think that this tool will be great way to start off graphing equations. Additionally, it is a great way for students to not develop the misconception that all graphs are straight lines, that parabolas and curves exist too!
Another great way to implement this into my curriculum is to talk about cell phone plans or any sort of real world scenario that involves a base cost and then additionally cost per something. My students would be able to create equations and see how just the slightest adjustment can really make a choice between Plan A and Plan B easier.
I think that with time and exploration, I as a teacher will implement more of these tools to help my students. In a math class it is especially hard to not make the class constantly memorize formulas and facts. With this lesson in particular, I am having students draw conclusions based off of observations and Bradsford (2000) states in How People Learn that “transfer [of knowledge] is affected by the degree to which people learn with understanding rather than merely memorize sets of facts or follow a fixed set of procedures” (p. 55). I know that one goal in my future years of teaching is to have students actually remember the content from one year to the next.
Donovan, S., Bransford, J., & Pellegrino, J. (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience and school. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. Retrieved from http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?isbn=0309070368
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