Thursday, October 20, 2016

Dren Quiz #3 and Student Journal: Square and Cube Equations (Days 44-45)

Today I have the students take their next Dren Quiz. Notice that I've made several changes to the Dren Quizzes since the last one I gave last month.

First, with Quizzes now at only 20% of the grade, I'm giving three Dren Quizzes each trimester rather than four. This dramatically alters the way these quizzes work. When I was going to have four Dren Quizzes per trimester and eleven of them the whole year, I started with 10's and then had the students work their way from 2's to 9's. The two extra quizzes meant that if a student fails (which means anything less than an A, or 45/50), that quiz is repeated, while the other students move on.

But now I'm only giving nine Dren Quizzes the whole year. This means that everyone, pass or fail, will be taking the same quiz. Today is the third quiz, so they will work on their 3's. But my "drop the lowest grade" policy applies to Dren Quizzes -- only two of them actually count. This isn't important now with the students working on 10's, 2's, and 3's. But in the third trimester, when the students work on the difficult 7's, 8's, and 9's, this will make a difference. Students who fail their 7's quiz can only make it up by passing the 8's and 9's quizzes -- which might be possible, since in my opinion, the 7's times tables are the most challenging.

Of course most of my students pass their 3's Dren Quiz today, but unfortunately, three students (two sixth graders and one eighth grader) ended up failing. There are issues with all three students that, due to their sensitive nature, I choose not to post here on the blog.

As I wrote earlier this week, there is now a multiplication table on my front board that runs from 4's to 9's, since the 3's Dren Quiz is complete. I might as well take advantage of the fact that all students are working on the same quiz, and encourage the students to learn their multiplication facts in time for the next quiz in December.

That's right -- December! The fourth Dren Quiz would have been in November, based on a schedule I posted earlier on the blog, but this has changed. As it turns out, today is a great day to give a Dren Quiz because of the earthquake drill. You see, on the third Thursday in October, every school in California is supposed to have an earthquake drill. In theory, the drill should be on 10/20 at 10:20, but ours is at 9:00 instead. In part, this is because at most elementary (and K-8) schools, 10:20 is right in the middle of someone's recess. Also, the other problem is the weather -- usually here in California, there's at least one rainy day and one 90+ degree day (Santa Ana winds) in October. We've actually had both such days this week, with today being the scorcher. So if the kids are stuck outside for 45 minutes, we'd all prefer it to be at 9:00 rather than 10:20. And there's just enough time before the drill for me to give my seventh graders the quiz.

Next year, I might simplify the Dren Quiz schedule so that they're given once a month. If I choose the 19th, one such quiz will fall on the date of next year's earthquake drill.

By the way, during the earthquake drill, I actually teach my students some science! First I show the sixth grade my yellow polo shirt, and I tell them that I chose it because light colors like yellow reflect heat -- this was one of the facts I mentioned during yesterday's impromptu lesson. Then the seventh graders look up at the sky and see the waning gibbous moon starting to set. (Notice that earthquakes themselves were part of the old California sixth grade earth science standards, but I'm not sure whether they appear in NGSS at all.)

The sixth and eighth graders had a full lesson today before the quiz. The eighth graders begin learning about solving square and cube equations, following this Common Core standard:

Use square root and cube root symbols to represent solutions to equations of the form x2 = p and x3 = p, where p is a positive rational number. Evaluate square roots of small perfect squares and cube roots of small perfect cubes. Know that √2 is irrational.

Meanwhile, the sixth graders are learning about tape diagrams and double line diagrams. These ideas are peculiar to Common Core, and I have to look these up myself before teaching them. Starting tomorrow, the seventh graders will learn about direct proportions of the form y = kx.

Here is the song for today. It leans towards the sixth and seventh grade lesson again because I thought that the earthquake drill would be at 10:20 (during 8th grade) rather than 9:00 (during 7th grade):


Sixteen notebooks,
They cost 88.
Tape Diagrams!
What's the unit rate?
Draw 16 boxes
So you won't get lost.
Four for 22 dollars,
Five-fifty unit cost.
Or you could write an equation...
Tape Diagrams!

Three-fourths of an hour,
To travel 12 miles.
Line Diagrams!
What's the speed meanwhile.
Draw a double line
For distance and for time.
Four in a quarter hour,
Sixteen M-P-H on the line.
Or you could write an equation...
Line Diagrams!

The "Day in the Life" blogger whose monthly posting day is the 20th is Kate Robbins:

Robbins is a high school teacher, though I can't tell which state she's from -- possibly Pennsylvania, since she does mention the Eagles in her post. No, she hasn't made her October 20th post, but I do see some interesting things in her September 20th and earlier posts:

Kate's class is highly dependent on technology. Her post begins with a picture of 15 Chromebooks, and much of her post discusses two online curricula that she uses in her classes. Her school and mine have one online curriculum in common -- IXL.

Oh, that reminds me -- Dr. Brad Christensen from Illinois State is meeting with me this upcoming Wednesday to discuss the text. I learned about its online component, and I'm already looking for opportunities to introduce the online curriculum in class. But the emphasis of this meeting is on the projects -- the cornerstone of the middle school curriculum. The meeting will be from 10:30-12:30 -- meaning that this will be the first time in my young career that I'll need a substitute teacher.

Meanwhile, notice that I haven't mentioned Sarah Carter's science lessons for some time. Carter has now moved on to a chemistry unit. The timing is interesting in that this upcoming Sunday is Mole Day -- the chemist's Pi Day. Mole Day is on October 23rd in honor of Avogadro's number, which is close to 6.02 * 10^23.

It might have been interesting to time my own science class so that a chemistry lesson is taught at some point close to Mole Day, but this is tricky. As I mentioned earlier, I end up sneaking in science lessons whenever I can teach them -- including during earthquake drills.

This is a two-day post, so my next post will be Monday.

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