Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Quadratic Formula Dialog Update

Well, the kids are starting to come in to take their "test" of the dialog I mentioned a few posts ago. They're doing that AND multitasking by whining in various ways about why they have to do it. I good-naturedly hold my ground and explain to them why (the dialog has lines that address 3 key sources of mistakes for them; the memorization and repetitive stress of remembering it will allow it to potentially stick in their heads).

I've had about 8 students do the dialogue, so far. I've also given them "inspiration" by putting a temporary "msg" in the electronic grade book. This is "missing" and has the same effect on their grade as a zero. Whew you should have seen the grades plummet.

Anyway, I've also had some kids in one class tell me they're nervous and can they do the whole dialog by themselves or can they do it with another student while I watch (because apparently I'm intimidating ... who knew). So I made up a FAQ and mass e-mailed it to them:

1. When is it due?
Let's say by this Friday, so that if you don't finish it, I have time to nag you next week (2 days only!)

2. I'm nervous and Ms. Cookie is intimidating, can I do the dialog with someone else and we switch roles?

Yes, and you can get full credit if there are no major mistakes.

3. Can I do the WHOLE dialog by myself playing both parts?
Yes, but Ms. Cookie will have to take off some points (can still earn in the high 90's)

4. Ooh, I don't know the whole thing really well, but I know most of it, so I don't want to come do it.
Well, Ms. Cookie can prompt you .... she'll take off some points depending on how well you do, but it'll be a WAY better grade than a zero.

5. EEK! Nervous.
Well, the lowest grade you'll get is a 70% if Ms. Cookie feels you don't know it THAT well (but most of it), or a 0% if you never come in.
Do the math :)

6. Why do we have to do this dialog?
The dialog has some key points on things students mess up on. Also, when you memorize something and have to do it over and over again, it sticks in your head. Thus, using my professional judgment, it's good for you and your quadratic formula use knowledge (like math vitamins) even though it's stressful. AND you'll be proud of yourself for doing something you thought was not possible.

7. Has anyone taken it yet?
As of 1:30pm Monday, 5/24/10, 8 people have taken and passed it (lowest score 80%).

Best Interpretation of the Dialog: J./M. & G.
First Done: D. W.
Person Who Overcame Their Most Stress So Far: C. J.


  1. Oh, could you link to the dialog? I can't find it...
    (Have you seen the musical renditions of teh quadratic formula, often to the tune of "Pop Goes the Weasel?")

  2. Anonymous11:20 AM

    Here's the link in box.net:


    and the blog entry is Saturday, May 1st, 2010.

    I actually do teach them the song, (which they remember forever), but I do it to row row row your boat. The song idea works.

    Ms. Cookie

  3. Hello from NC Washington. Found your blog through a path starting with dy/dan, and like the review sheets made with Word. Where do the blank grids for graphing come from? Are they imported from another program?

  4. Well, I know you can make cool, easy-to-paste grids from winplot, but these I just made with all the drawing tools in Microsoft Word. I can post a tutorial if you'd like.

    Ms. Cookie

  5. Since you are offering, how can I say no. A tutorial would be wonderful. By the way, I like your dialog, too. I have used a partner activity, Mathematically Speaking, in which two students have two different quadratic equations to solve, and each talks her way through it as the other tallies the use of appropriate terminology on a checklist. Then they trade roles. It is a low pressure exercise that gets them using, not just hearing, the vocabulary they will encounter in high stakes tests. It was published in an nctm bulletin, Jan/Feb 2009, by Rafaela M Santa Cruz of the San Diego Math Project. Intended for second language learners, I use it for math vocab development for everyone.