Before That….

I got so gung-ho about my previous post on our First Ever Talking Points that I forgot I already had a draft in the queue.  So here it is, out of order.  Not that it’s earth-shattering, it’s just part of the journey.

“Jackie” and I met on Labor Day to do some planning. We decided that margaritas would impede rather than enhance our productivity. Hmmm.

In my ongoing effort to keep our work Jackie-centered and not Pat-centered (yes, this is difficult for me!), I asked her where she wanted to start. She obviously had been thinking about this (YAY) because she got right on it:

I want to use activities and tasks that engage students and move their learning forward.

(As I write this, I realize that I SHOULD HAVE asked her what she meant by engaged, and for examples of what she didn’t want. Agh! Missed opportunity!! Valuable mistake!!!)

What I did instead was to clarify “engaged” myself– mentally engaging, requiring active thinking. Not busy work. Some people think busy (and quiet) = engaged.

She and the other 7th grade math teachers at her school have agreed to start with ratios and proportions. I unfortunately continued to stomp idiotically all over her space by suggesting that we determine what the Big Ideas were (stomp stomp) and then bulldozed ahead to tell her what I thought they were. (STOMP STOMP STOMP!)

*sigh*  I think I get overly-enthusiastic because I have spent an embarrassing amount of time thinking and reading and writing and thinking some more about ratios and proportionality. (Integers, too, BTW.) And I don’t have an outlet, except this blog that remains unread. However, the point of this blog- reflection-journal-thing about Jackie and Pat’s Great Adventure is for me (Pat) to learn, and what I am learning at this moment is that I need to BACK OFF a bit and provide Jackie room for her voice. I still wonder how I should go about preparing, content-wise, for collaboration without over-preparing and as a result, overstep.  Even if she agrees with me, it’s not OK. How do I know if she really agrees? I will never know what she thinks or wonders about if I don’t shut up an listen.

Hmmm, it’s just like teaching. Wellwaddayaknow.

Back to the story, us sipping our very fine water and me saying I thought the Big Idea (that unfortunately gets overlooked) in proportional reasoning is that ratios (and rates) are all about RELATIONSHIPS.

One of us (I hope it was her) suggested we do some actual planning. We penciled in two days for WIM Week 2 Day 1 to develop group norms and introduce growth mindsets. Then on my first day volunteering, we’re going to introduce the Talking Points protocol together.   After the weekend, she’s going to do a shorter TP related to ratios, and launch a task comparing prices of liquids (inspired by this post by Dan Meyer). To practice with proportional ratios, she’s going to ask students to bring in a favorite family recipe. On Wednesday, I’m going to sub for her (how great is that?) and do WIM Week 2 Day 2, which fits well with our Big Idea of RELATIONSHIPS.
Being even less familiar with Talking Points than I am (isn’t it great that she is willing to trust me and try?), Jackie has questions. She’s wondering about their purpose and use,  just trying to wrap her head around it. It was a bit challenging for me to answer her questions satisfactorily because I only know what I have read and have no personal experiences or training, either.  It just sounds…right.  Returning to her original statement about “engaging and moving learning forward”,  I reiterated that it’s value lies in engaging every student in a manner that feels equitable and safe.  If I understood her correctly, she is struggling to see how to intentionally use TP to move learning forward. Now I wonder, too.

With that question unresolved for now, we came up with the first ratio TP to assess/access student prior knowledge before launching the Price of Liquids lesson.

If Ken takes less time on his morning jog than Barbie does on hers, he’s a faster runner.

UPDATE: I have developed these additional points and sent them to Jackie for her to edit (add, delete, re-order, re-word, whatever).

TP (Ratios)
1.  If Ken takes less time on his morning jog than Barbie does on hers, he’s a faster runner.
2.  The United States should switch to using the metric system.
3.  Percents are ratios.
4.  Ratios are really just fractions.
5.  I use math when I shop.
6.  Numbers in math are easier to understand when they are in context and mean something.

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