Friday, December 9, 2016

Dren Quiz #4 (Day 73)

Today I give all of my students a Dren Quiz, or basic skills quiz, on the 4's times tables. All of the seventh and eighth graders pass it, but a few sixth graders struggle with it.

This is a good time to give a Dren Quiz. It comes at the end of a week that we spent more on STEM projects than on traditional material. As of now, all of my Dren Quizzes are scheduled at the end of STEM weeks for this reason.

During Music Break I decide to play another Square One TV song: "The Triangle Song." This song fits right in with the seventh grade STEM project of making triangles out of straws:

As I mentioned earlier this week, this is one of the songs without lyrics on the Barry Carter site. So let me attempt to transcribe this video myself:


The next time you see some triangles,
Many don't look the same.
Depending on how they measure up,
They have different names.

An equilateral triangle has all three sides the same length.
An equilateral triangle has all three sides the same.
Three sides measure the same! (Equilateral!)
None are different and three are the same.

An isosceles triangle has two sides the same length.
An isosceles triangle has two sides the same.
Two sides measure the same! (Isosceles!)
One is different and two are the same.

A scalene triangle has no two sides the same length.
A scalene triangle has no two sides the same.
None of the sides measure the same! (Scalene!)
All are different and none are the same.

You can measure the angles within each one.
You always get the same sum.
For even though there are different names for these.
Each one's angles together will measure 180 degrees.

So the next time you see a triangle,
Just measure its sides and you'll see.
That to figure out its name,
It's as easy as one, two, three!

Note: the first two lines are cut off in the video. I actually made up the first two lines myself.

After school, I actually meet one of my former sixth graders, who is at my school for a visit. She transferred away from our school just before Halloween. The girl tells me that at her current school, she's learning about division of decimals -- which she compares to what I'm teaching right now, which appears to be multiplication of whole numbers (the Dren Quiz). So naturally, she wants to know why I'm teaching such an easy lesson.

Of course, the Dren Quiz isn't representative of what I'm teaching now. The current Learning Module for sixth grade is supposed to lead up to GCF, or greatest common factor. Then again, I did write that the arithmetic of decimals belongs in sixth grade. Recall that they don't appear on the Benchmark Tests -- and while I want to prepare my students for the Benchmarks, it will not be at the expense of decimal arithmetic -- the quintessential sixth grade topic.

Decimal arithmetic is included in Learning Module 9 in the Illinois State sixth grade text. Therefore I will teach it some time between Day 90 and Day 100. (Currently we are at Day 73).

The "Day in the Life" member with a monthly posting date of the ninth is Audrey:

Notice that Audrey commented on my blog recently, and I told her that I was looking forward to her December 9th post. But unfortunately, she hasn't posted in a while. At this point, I'm wondering whether she's still an active member of "Day in the Life."

You know what that means though -- let's look at Fawn Nguyen's most recent post:

Nguyen writes:

If I drive 60 miles per hour, my journey will take 4 hours. How long will my journey take if I drive 80 miles per hour?

And according to Nguyen, one of her students gives a correct answer, but can't tell her teacher why:

Nor could she explain how she deduced that “three-fourths… so, it would take three hours.” We have to keep asking why-why-why all the time. Our job is to help students ask better questions.
Well, at least Nguyen's student (assuming this is sixth grade) can divide decimals (since she divided 60 by 80 to obtain 0.75). I haven't even taught my sixth graders that yet. (Though when my former sixth grader visited the school, her old friend and my current student told me that she already knows how to divide decimals as well.)

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