Weird Stuff Kids Think

My Algebra students completed a cooperative quadratic QR-code walk-about type task the other day.  They could work with a partner, use a graphing calculator, Desmos, the HMH Fuse app, their homework, notes… everything.  They scanned various QR-codes, which revealed practice problems for them to each complete on a paper work template.  The idea was to facilitate an environment where conversation was rich and necessary.  I find that my face hurts at the end of classes like this because I’m just so darn tickled to hear my students talking, justifying, and using academic vocabulary appropriately.  It’s fun to literally watch them learning… and even MORE fun to watch them TEACHING.

Amidst all this bliss, something quite bizarre happened that caught me completely off guard.  Problem A Part 2 seemed direct and unassuming to me… yet every. single. solitary. student. got. it. wrong.

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 7.45.38 PM

Students shared with me that they “didn’t know” they could rearrange the ordered pairs… or that I “never told them” they could do that.

I’m like… WHAT?

This misconception was common between all three of my algebra classes.  They looked at the x-values, and decided this couldn’t possibly be quadratic… if the x-values appeared to have no consistent differences, why even bother looking at the y-values…?!?

Needless to say, I did a little reteaching and represented the ordered pairs in tables like these, but this was not a misconception I had anticipated.

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 7.56.43 PMScreen Shot 2014-02-27 at 7.55.59 PM

How do you handle it when students think weird, unanticipated stuff?  When they create rules that aren’t there, and abide by them… en masse?

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