Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Teaching index laws cont..

Ok, I was with my little challenge group again today. I had the full range of students all with their own idiosyncrasies, the rapper (and his periodic burst of song and then bouts of narcolepsy), farty (with his own special tuba), the two in love (that hate each other passionately), kermit (with his constant slurping noise), the dark cloud and the two year old. Normally when introducing indices I would do it one law at a time. With this group though, I had to do something different as I'd have glazed eyes and riots after the first five minutes. So... I introduced them all at once and focused on helping them generalise what is basically a group of abstract concepts.

I put a range of examples and the laws on the board and asked them to find the law that was most like the equation supplied. They then looked to see which law could be used to simplify the equation. By the end of the class they had a reasonable idea of what could be done - I selected the part of the equation we were simplifying (at this stage they could not decide what to do first) and they chose which law to use to simplify it. All of this was done with algebraic terms, tomorrow we go back to numeric terms and start looking at BIMDAS (order of operation) so they begin to think themselves what order to apply the laws - and evaluating the answer with their calculators.

One difficulty I have found is getting these students to continue working/thinking for the whole lesson. I'm breaking it up by enforcing copying of information from the board into their books (mainly as a break from the interactive work on the whiteboard) to promote engagement when as a group they select the correct law to apply and I model how it is performed/recorded. This way they can participate for a whole working period, not just a play time or a pocket of time where they pay attention between potential rewards.

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