Sunday, August 24, 2008

First Day of School

School started this week. Thursday was a hectic day but everything went smoothly considering the time. This is the first year that we are on a 7 period schedule. We have previously been on a 4 period schedule. Going from 80 to 45 minutes is an adjustment. I really wanted to concentrate on how much can be done in 45 minutes---NOT a lot :).

Fortunately, I meet with two of my Algebra I classes twice. I decided to have my classes not meet back to back to give students and myself a break. Since my class is a company, I am able to establish with the students that the first part of the day is concentrated on training (understanding math concepts) and the second part is completely project work.

I realized the day before school started, I really need to get them understanding a project from the start. Therefore, I quickly made up a project that would take no more than a day or two. Below is the project the students completed this week. Let's first look at the project question:

Tori works at the local McDonald’s on 23rd and Penn. She has been working there for over a year. She believes she is not getting paid correctly. She gets paid $6 an hour, works 40 hours a week and is paid every two weeks. Can you help her understand how to read her check? She wants us to explain the process to her. Be prepared to explain to the class tomorrow.

Students then were given scaffolding questions to think about during class and to continue that evening. The questions were--What factors go into calculating a person’s pay check?; How do you calculate how much a person makes?; Is there anything that is taken out?

As a class we answered the questions by looking at what we knew about the problem and what we needed to know. This will always be the starting point for every project. This was also a great connection to the word problems in math. Students have difficulty processing it because they don't know how to find the true question and then following up with what is given to help answer. By making a T-Chart or a concept map, students can visually see the problem unfold and particularly what they need to do. Students discovered they have resources to go to for help in understanding a paycheck if they don't have a job.

The next day, we reviewed the previous and students were given their next activity to complete the project. The activity: Using the information collected, work in your group to come up with the following:
  • One person who will present
  • Explanation of elements of a paycheck
  • Step by step process on how to verify your paycheck
One class didn't get a chance to present however both groups did a great job helping Tori understand their paycheck. We wrapped up the project dissecting the math concept in the project. Students quickly saw that it was not just adding, subtracting and multiplying but order of operations.

Next week, they will start their first real life project called Fantasy Football. You can check out the details of that project at

1 comment:

Mr. Agamenoni said...

hello Tellania,

Glad to here you are back at it again. I was looking through your fantasy football project and I found the link to the Zoho application. Wow! That is fantastic. It doesn't seem possible that it could be free. I look forward to watching your projects unfold and develop. For some reason, I thought you taught 8th grade too. Thank you again for our lengthy conversation a few weeks ago regarding PBL. It was very educational for me.