Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Today we were working on a learning target where my Algebra 1 students would have to explain what the slope and y-intercept meant either in an equation or as part of a problem situation. I think today was one of our better class days and it was certainly our best discussion day. At this point, I don’t remember a lot of the specifics, but I do remember is that my students were able to explain why they believed a value was the slope or the y-intercept.

As we have been working through the Common Core State Standards this year, I have really been putting a heavier emphasis on my students being able to explain why they are getting the answer they are getting or what something represents. At times, it has felt like I am pulling teeth to get them to do it. But slowly, surely, we have been getting better. I am starting to see more students being willing to contribute an answer. Discussion is improving a little bit at a time.

I am not sure if I can pinpoint exactly why today’s discussion went well. I felt good about the questions I asked. Once I reflected on the day, I felt good about the responses I received from my students. But could I pinpoint exactly why they had a better idea today? Not really. But what I think I can feel confident about is that my students are coming around to applying the Standards of Mathematical Practice. With perseverance on my part in teaching them, they have begun to come around.

So, if you are reading this, I want to offer you some hope. Keep fighting the good fight. Push the students to use the Standards of Mathematical Practice. Post them in your room, whether the actual ones or the student-friendly ones. Make the students recite them, a la Justin Aion (sorry – I can’t find the actual post where he shares that they do this, but he does!) Whatever it is you need to do to get them to understand and, more importantly, use the Standards of Mathematical Practice, DO IT! Will it be easy? No, not at first. But it will get easier and they will improve. As far me, I will keep fighting the good fight. I’m going to enjoy today for a few minutes first.

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