Well, we are in week 8 of the school year! Where has the time gone? I am so amazed at what the kids have done and how much they have accomplished so far. Each student earned their yellow belts within the first 2 weeks of the year! I was shocked. That had never happened before. Students who excelled quickly really stepped up and became mentors with minimal guidance and students who were challenged truly advocated for themselves and got the help they needed wether it was from me or another peer mentor in the class. It was beautiful! Currently, most students have earned their orange belt (simplifying roots, scientific notation, and simplifying exponents) and are working on blue belt (combining like terms and solving equations). Students are dealing with a lot of open ended problems and word problems in orange and blue belt. Here is one example that many students are frustrated with, see if you can solve it:

Bob is as old as John will be when Bob is twice as old as John was when Bob’s age was half the sum of their present ages. John is as old as Bob was when John was half the age he will be ten years from now. How old are John and Bob?

Along side those type of problems, we are woking through some great open ended problems to really get their minds thinking, working in groups, sharing ideas, and most importantly explaining their thinking. Since the Common Core is on the way, explaining your thinking will play a major role in many math classes now. I have several great resources I use to “borrow” some great open ended problems:

Illustrative Mathematics

http://illustrativemathematics.org/

*middle and high school

*Meant to “illustrate” each standard

*Some standards have a couple problems and some still have none

*problems provide a good starting point for understanding what the standard is looking for and can provide a good foundation for unit or assessment planning

Smarter balanced assessments

http://sampleitems.smarterbalanced.org/itempreview/sbac/index.htm

*middle and high school

* released items from the future tests

* They are all web-based (as the assessments will be)

* scroll over “view more mathematics items” to see more sample items

*does not have “items” for each standard and it is not sorted by unit

Progressions Documents

http://ime.math.arizona.edu/progressions/

*Middle and High School, some topics

*Though they are only complete for some of the topics, these documents are extremely useful in understanding what the standards are seeking at each grade level. For example it would show the progressions for the understanding in Algebra throughout the grades.

Mathalicious

http://www.mathalicious.com/

*For middle and high school,

*lots of standards aligned lessons that usually begin with a video and include follow up discussion questions and problems.

*Their focus is real-world connection for all of the math on their site. *They require a payment to get started ($20… or less if that’s all you can afford…) and I’m looking into getting this for us.

Mathematics Vision Project

http://www.mathematicsvisionproject.org/

*High School only

*these e-textbooks were developed by Utah educators

*they offer some deep and rich problems as well as straightforward practice sets.

*they are separated by their own units which differ slightly from ours (Pearson’s).

Mars tasks (inside mathematics)

http://insidemathematics.org/index.php/mathematical-content-standards

*middle and high school

*Lots of thoughtful problems

*separated by standard and by grade

Shell center tasks

http://map.mathshell.org/materials/tasks.php

*Lots of thoughtful, open-ended problems for middle and high school.

*Not sorted by the standards or by grade level

*Problems can provide a good starting point for some rich discussions in your class

Exeter math problems

http://www.exeter.edu/academics/72_6539.aspx

*High School only

*lots of rich, thoughtful problems focused on discovery

*Not sorted by topic and they are written to follow a natural progression within themselves only…

*These can be used for challenge or honors assignments or specific problems can be pulled out for classwork or discussion.

The current problem we are working on is here: Ponzi Scheme

So far, things are going great! We have some kids excelling and sume kids having some difficulties. While I am there to help and assist, other students are stepping in as mentors and really becoming such integral parts to class.

Until next time, when hopefully everyone has earned their orange and blue belts! They have a long road ahead, but if the past few weeks tells me anything, I have no doubt they will advance!

Domo Arigato!

Marc