Lesson Plans to Accompany Published Tasks

This is a guest post by Morgan Saxby, a fifth grade teacher in Chesterfield County, Virginia, who works with Illustrative Mathematics.  Morgan has begun writing lesson plans to accompany published mathematics tasks.

A clear step after developing high-quality mathematical tasks is to develop accompanying lesson plans.  I wrote seven lesson plans to accompany published tasks, all of which I tested in my classroom.  My goal was to write lesson plans that guided students to the level of thinking required by both the standards and the practices.

One example is the lesson plan for the task What is a Trapezoid?, aligned to standard 5.G.B.4.  A student who is able to successfully complete the task not only knows the relevant content, but can also skillfully construct viable mathematical arguments (Practice 3).  The obvious question to teachers is, “How do we get students there?”  The lesson plan Plane Figure Court is one possible way.  In it, students serve as “lawyers,” charged with proving or disproving a particular mathematical statement.  For example, the statement, “A square is a rhombus” has a lawyer arguing that this is true, and a lawyer arguing that this is false.  I required that students create justifications, even if they knew their justification was wrong.  The other students (the jury) decided the case based on the mathematical arguments made, not on what they thought was correct.  My end goal here was to help students to recognize valid (e.g., a square is a rhombus because it has four congruent sides) and invalid mathematical arguments (e.g., a square is a rhombus, because if you turn it a little it looks like one).

The format for the lesson plans is consistent through each one.  The first section includes the objective(s), an overview, and the standards to which the lesson are aligned. The second section includes a detailed lesson plan, as well as suggestions for assessment and differentiation.  The third section includes commentary and relevant attachments, such as worksheets or diagrams.  Some lesson plans, like Cooking Time 1, include student work.

The initial seven lesson plans are listed below, and others will be added in the future.  Tasks with lesson plans will be tagged “Lesson Plan Included”, and are accessible under the “Resources” heading.

5.NF How Much Pie? / Cooking Time 1

5.NF How many servings of oatmeal? / Cooking Time 2

5.NF Making Cookies / Cooking Time 3

5.NF Salad Dressing / Cooking Time 4

5.OA Video Game Scores / The Order of Operations

5.MD Cari’s Aquarium / What is Volume?

5.G What is a Trapezoid? / Plane Figure Court

We’ve also been working on developing review criteria for lesson plans that develop Illustrative Mathematics tasks into full-blown lessons.  The criteria are available here.

If you’ve taken a look at the lesson plans and the criteria, we’d love to hear your feedback by September 1.

Toward Greater Focus and Coherence: an Illustrative Mathematics Common Core Conference

Register today to reserve your spot for IM&E/Illustrative Mathematics’ next Common Core Conference!

Towards Greater Focus and Coherence May 26-28, 2013 at the University of Arizona This is a great way to start the summer, while you are still in the classroom flow!

We are looking forward to meeting people who care about math education and collaborating with math coaches, classroom teachers, mathematicians, district math specialists, and mathematics educators.

Highlights of the conference include:

1. Perspective from Bill McCallum, lead writer of the Common Core
2. Activities that can be immediately used in your classroom, and a plan for creating similar Common Core aligned activities for students in the future.
3. Breakout sessions from classroom teachers modeling the focus of the Common Core by digging into a particular standard or cluster.
4. Highlights of the focus and coherence of different grade bands and the mathematics behind the standards.
5. Online resources to support the Common Core.

You don’t want to miss this opportunity. Reserve your spot by March 31st for the best rates by registering online.

Illustrative Mathematics now plays nice with search engines

One of the enhancements in the last release of Illustrative Mathematics was making the site crawlable by search engine bots. As a result, you can, for example, google “illustrations for A-SSE” and get direct links to the tasks that illustrate Seeing Structure in Expressions in the Algebra category. Googling “illustrations for 2.MD” takes you to the page in the illustration index which includes all the illustrations for 2.MD. Bing doesn’t seem to be working as well at the moment, but there is a bing bot crawling the site at the moment, so it may get better.

Improvements to Illustrative Mathematics

The most recent upgrade to Illustrative Mathematics brings a number of improvements, the most visible of which is a searchable index of the illustrations, which is visible to all users, registered or not. In addition, registered can now add tags to tasks (such as “MP3” or “conceptual understanding”). These tags come from a predefined list at the moment; in the future we may allow users to create their own tags. And, the site now has a mock-up of what an illustration of a practice standard will look like, with a few sample materials such as videos, tasks, and slideshows. There are also lots of behind the scenes changes to make the site more useful for task reviewers and task editors.

Illustrative Mathematics redesign and milestones

Some of you may have noticed this already, but we have just gone live with a major redesign of the Illustrative Mathematics website. Take a look and let us know what you think. In addition to the new look, we have reached a milestone of 400 illustrative tasks. The new comment feature is attracting interest as well. And the FAQ section will be kept up to date with answers to all your burning questions.

I know somebody is going to ask about printing tasks. We don’t have that yet, but are working on it!

New features on the Illustrative Mathematics website

Our master geeks have been working day and night the last few weeks to bring you some improvements to illustrativemathematics.org. A lot of these improvements are behind-the-scenes, but there are two that are particularly worth mentioning:

1. Registered users can rate tasks by voting them up or down.
2. Registered users can comment on tasks.

You can edit and delete your comments, although it will leave a placeholder note that you deleted your comment in case someone replies to your comment (so their comment won’t be deleted also).

We have more improvements in store, and illustrations are being added every day, so keep checking in.

Task Writing Contest 5 for Illustrative Mathematics

We are making some changes to the Illustrative Mathematics website: soon people who register at the site will be able to vote on which tasks they like, to comment on tasks, and to submit tasks directly to the website instead of through our email account. As such, our contest will also have a slightly different flavor and run for a full month instead of the usual two weeks.

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Task Writing Contest 4 for Illustrative Mathematics

For our fourth round of our Standards Task Writing Contest, we are going to do something a little different. Our theme focuses on the development of geometric measurement and it’s applications K-12, and rather than asking for tasks related to individual standards, we  are putting up clusters. As such, tasks may be submitted for a specific standard within one of the clusters listed below, or for the overall cluster. Check out illustration for 8.EE Equations of Lines that illustrates the eighth grade cluster Understand the connections between proportional relationships, lines, and linear equations as an example of the latter.

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