I was aiming for the #alg1chat, but then I got carried away with Sunday night football. I knew the intriguing #alg2chat would conflict with my Monday night workout every week. And somehow I just got distracted and missed #geomchat Wednesday night. So I was very excited when my computer reminded me about #precalcchat today, Thursday, only a little after the 6:30 (Pacific) start time!
I started just fine with my answer to the first question. I did freak out a little when Taoufik Nadji, one of the facilitators, then asked me to elaborate on how I thought about key ideas & skills, access vs. challenge, etc while planning a lesson. In 140 characters?! But I took it to 2 tweets and was able to at least give some of the flavor of what I meant.
I felt like I was being most useful when sharing some of my best practices, like teaching two units at once in alternating class periods (with lagging homework) or doing a preview of necessary Algebra skills before diving into PreCalculus level material. I also liked when I could share a link to a more developed idea, like to Henri Picciotto's blog post on lagging homework.
I was worried it would go too fast to keep track of things, but it was okay. I was even able to chop vegetables and get soup started for dinner! (But I definitely couldn't also pay attention to the football game my husband was watching. I have no idea how my Fantasy Football team is doing right now.) However I did somehow still manage to miss things. I'm not quite sure why, because I was making sure to scroll up and down my TweetDeck column. But I just scanned back down and saw a couple things I didn't read when they were originally sent out.
Here are my two take-aways from the evening for my teaching (what this is all about, really):
- Periodically check that I'm regularly explicitly teaching all of the Mathematical Practices in my classes. As a private school teacher for 4 years now, I get to not have to think about state standards unless I want to. But that doesn't mean I don't want to be aware of them, especially the ones that I also value, like the Mathematical Practices. My feeling is that we do a good job of teaching them throughout all 4 years, because they reflect the values of our department. But it probably is worth checking and attending to more frequently.
- Preview Algebra Skills. My students (like many students) tend not to emerge from 9th grade with all algebraic skills mastered and never needing revision. It makes my lessons go better when I take a minute to look at what algebra skills they'll need for the activity of the day, and spend 5 minutes having students review them before diving in. Plus it supports them learning/relearning algebraic skills they didn't quite master the first time.
All in all, worth doing!