*Blogging Activity: *

*Using Blogs to Create a Final Exam Study Guide for Algebra*

Blogging is a platform that allows students to think about their Math work. For this activity a class blog will be set up using Edublogs. The teacher will be the author, administrator and editor. Students will be subscribers and contributors (that is they can write posts but the teacher must review these before they are posted) and parents can be subscribers. Students and parents will be allowed to comment on all posts. Students will be encouraged, but not required to also have their own blog.

One of the primary focuses of the new *Common Core Mathematical Standards* is communication. Students need to know more than just a series of mathematical facts and computations; students need to be able to explain what they did and why they did it.

This Activity is founded on the following Common Core Standards for Algebra.

**Common Core: Algebra Overview**

**Seeing Structure in Expressions**

- Interpret the structure of expressions
- Write expressions in equivalent forms to solve problems

**Arithmetic with Polynomials and Rational Functions**

- Perform arithmetic operations on polynomials
- Understand the relationship between zeros and factors of polynomials
- Use polynomial identities to solve problems
- Rewrite rational functions

**Creating Equations**

- Create equations that describe numbers or relationships

**Reasoning with Equations and Inequalities**

- Understand solving equations as a process of reasoning and explain the reasoning
- Solve equations and inequalities in one variable
- Solve systems of equations
- Represent and solve equations and inequalities graphically

**Mathematical Practices**

- Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
- Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
- Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
- Model with mathematics.
- Use appropriate tools strategically.
- Attend to precision.
- Look for and make use of structure.
- Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.

As you can see, the primary focus of Common Core is on “understanding” “reasoning” “modeling” “make sense of “ etc. This Activity is designed to help reinforce the lessons learned in class, create a usable reference for studying, and support the new standards.

**Objectives**

Students will

- work collaboratively and individually on the class blog
- practice note-taking and summary skills
- students will review algebraic concepts based on the Common Core Standards
- use critical thinking skills as they decide the most important topics to be included in the Final Exam Study Guide
- create a Final Exam Study Guide, based on the blog posts throughout the semester, that they and their classmates will use to prepare themselves for the final exam.

## Lesson Plan

This Activity will utilize a class blog for reviewing major concepts at the end of each week, each unit before an exam, and before the final exam. It puts responsibility on students for summarizing information learned as they create a Final Exam Study Guide for themselves and their classmates to use as they prepare for the final test.

This lesson also serves to reinforce the new Common Core standards as student learn to express and analyze what they have learned or what they still have questions about. According to Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano,

“The Math teacher instinctively understood that blogging is not just about writing. It is about “presenting” your work, your thoughts and products to a large audience FOR feedback. Blogging is a platform that allows students to think about their Math work.”

This is also a lesson in note-taking and summarizing. The process/structure of the lesson is created to develop summary skills. It requires that students identify key concepts and examples then synthesize the information to only the *most *important/essential information. *Note:* This Activity can also be modified or “tested” out by implementing for a single unit.

**Before the Lesson **

Before beginning this activity the teacher should review proper netiquette rules for the class blog. It is a good idea for the teacher to have already created a Final Exam Review to ensure that all the appropriate topics are indeed covered by the students. Prior to each unit or section the teacher should make a list of the four or five major concepts you want students to learn/know as a result of this study unit. The teacher should create five or six questions that get at the most important points students should take away from each unit.

For example, prior to completing Unit 1 Numbers & Relationships (this will vary based on the text a teacher is using), the teacher should reference the Common Core Standards and develop some key facts and ideas that should be mastered. With those in mind, the teacher should create blog prompts to focus the direction of the responses. Here are some examples:

#### Create equations that describe numbers or relationships.

- CCSS.Math.Content.HSA.CED.A.1

**BLOG PROMPT :**Create equations and inequalities in one variable and use them to solve problems.*Include equations arising from linear and quadratic functions, and simple rational and exponential functions*. - CCSS.Math.Content.HSA.CED.A.2

**BLOG PROMPT :**Create equations in two or more variables to represent relationships between quantities; graph equations on coordinate axes with labels and scales. - CCSS.Math.Content.HSA.CED.A.3

**BLOG PROMPT :**Represent constraints by equations or inequalities, and by systems of equations and/or inequalities, and interpret solutions as viable or nonviable options in a modeling context.*For example, represent inequalities describing nutritional and cost constraints on combinations of different foods*. - CCSS.Math.Content.HSA.CED.A.4

**BLOG PROMPT :**Rearrange formulas to highlight a quantity of interest, using the same reasoning as in solving equations.*For example, rearrange Ohm’s law V = IR to highlight resistance R*.

**The Lesson **

Each student will participate individually by responding each week to the Class Blogs prompts. Students will be expected to comment on at least 2 other students’ blog each week. Students must use a combination of examples and descriptive vocabulary. Each post must be unique, that is the students must create an example that has not been previously used by another student. Some flexibility must be given about the descriptions provided, since there are only a limited amount of correct terms to describe a mathematical equation.

The schedule is flexible. Adjust/adapt by merging steps if you want to shorten the time period. To start, the teacher may want to just focus on having students create a study guide for a single unit.

Explain to students that each week the teacher will post a blog prompt (see above) that is related to the topic of study. Each student is expected to respond to the prompt by explaining the topic posted and creating a “unique” example. Responses will be posted directly on the class blog (and monitored by the teacher). Students are expected to respond to at least 2 other student’s blog posting. The teacher should provide an example of a blog post and appropriate responses. This questions and responses posted throughout each unit and semester will be compiled to create Unit Study Guides and the Final Exam Study Guide. Their goal is to create a Study Guides that represent everything their classmates “need to know” about that question. Tip: I usually will use many of the student generated questions on the actual exam or final. This encourages to pay close attention to not only what they are posting but to pay attention to the posts of other students.

Students will collect all the sample problems posted and use these to create a Study Guide. They may present their guide in any format they choose. Teachers should encourage creativity.

Here is a suggested break down the class periods into the following stages (*these days are not expected to be consecutive, instead should be spread out over the length of the unit and/or semester):*

** Day One** (days one and two should be consecutive or a maximum of one day between)

- Present and Model (20 minutes): The teacher should present the Activity to the class by providing an overview. The teacher should present the first prompt with an appropriate posted response.
- Share (10 minutes): Students share in their “first response” ideas to the blog prompt example question.
- Discuss (20 minutes): There should be a whole class discussion about what a good response looks like and how students should respond to each other’s posts.
- Record (10 minutes): Students should begin brainstorming ideas of how to compile the information generated from the classroom blog.
- Homework: The teacher should present another blog post, each student is expected to respond and complete 1 response to another student.

*Day Two*

- Share (10 minutes): Students will be randomly assigned to small groups to share their “first response” to the blog prompt. Students should provide each other with feedback as to the quality of the response
- Discuss (30 minutes): As a class, the teacher should lead a discussion about what type of responses was good quality and what type of responses needed improvement. The class should decide what constitutes an A response, B response, etc..
- More Sharing (10 minutes): Students share their ideas for compiling the final Study Guide.
- Homework: Each student should write a proposal for what should be in the Study Guide and how they will be presenting their final Study Guide.

**Day Three**

- Homework Discussion (15 minute): Students determine the most common responses as to what should be in the Study Guide. The students should agree on the responses they will include in the Study Guide.
- Drafting the Study Guide (35 minutes): Each individual student should begin working on their personal Study Guide. Students are encouraged to collaborate and share their ideas. The teacher should walk around and provide feedback.
- Homework: Assign the next blog prompt to class. Allow time for students to post their initial response and to respond to at least 2 other students. Students should continue working on their Study Guide.

** Day Four** + (check in days) Each week the teacher should allow approximately 15 minutes to check in with the class as to the progress of the Study Guide.

- Discussion (5-10 minutes): Students should gather in small groups to share and discuss the progress of their Study Guides.
- Class Discussion: The teacher should ask if anyone has any questions about the Activity so far.
- Homework: Assign the next blog prompt to class. Allow time for students to post their initial response and to respond to at least 2 other students. Students should continue working on their Study Guide.

**Test Day**

Students use the Study Guides they created as a tool for studying for an end-of-unit test or final exam (Teachers might even use them as the tool for creating the test!) I allow students to use their Study Guides during the test.

## Assessment

I would award points as follows:

Blog Posts: 50%

Responses: 20%

Study Guide: 30%

The real value of this Activity is in preparing the students for their exams.

**Sources:**

“And You Thought it Could Not Be Done: Blogging in Math” By Silva Rosenthal Tolisano Retrieved from http://langwitches.org/blog/2014/05/31/and-you-thought-it-could-not-be-done-blogging-in-math/

Common Core, State Standards Initiative. http://www.corestandards.org/Math/Content/HSA/introduction/

This lesson is a modification of the lesson “Revive Reviews With

Student-Created Study Guides” created by Gary Hopkins for Education World Retrieved from http://www.educationworld.com/a_lesson/03/lp306-04.shtml

Kim,

Your activity flows well. I like how you spread the activity out over a longer period of time and wove blogging into course work with each post tied to a specific standard.

Thanks Cheronne, The goal of this activity is to use it as a review for the final. Yet it can definitely be adapted for shorter periods of time. I don’t think a first year teacher or a teacher teaching a subject for the first time should attempt this. I’m always looking for ways to have students help themselves prepare for final exams. Blogging just might be the answer!