Gregory Sampson

I am currently teaching 8th grade Algebra at J.E.B. Stuart Middle School.
Previously, I taught 7th grade Pre-Algebra and M/J 2 at Paxon Middle School for three years.

My classroom blog is at

I find the greatest limitation to integrating classroom technology is a lack of equipment. Without a digital projector, the use of technology is limited to individual student use of classroom computers. But then, of the three I have, only one works, the mice were scavenged for a computer lab ... <sigh>. Anyone know of a good grant source?

I want to write a grant for about $20,000 of equipment: a class set of TI-80 series graphing calculators, a TI Navigator to wirelessly collect student input from the calculators, a laptop to connect and record, a digital display projector, and an Elmo to display hard copy material, such as the textbook. Also, the grant will need to cover bringing enough electricity into the classroom to run all this.

I would use this set-up all year long, beginning with the student warm-up on the calculators as they entered the room. As they complete their work, the Navigator would pull the work and display it for everyone to see.

Here is the first technology lesson for your review. It's not "sexy" in using a lot of WEB 2.0 tools, but it's practical in terms of using technology that is generally available in all classrooms.

Gregory Sampson – Sample Technology Plan
Unit/theme: Choosing a Phone Plan: Writing and solving equations

Topic: Using a Guess and Check table to write an equation

Performance Objective: Students will produce a Guess & Check table for a selected word problem by coding an Excel spreadsheet with mathematical expressions

Essential Question: How do we write equations from verbal descriptions?

Attached Standards:

Standards and References linked to this lesson:
FL Sunshine Stds
{MA.912.A.10.1} Use a variety of problem-solving strategies, such as drawing a diagram, making a chart, guess- and-check, solving a simpler problem, writing an equation, working backwards, and create a table. (FL Sunshine Stds )

{MA.8.A.1.5} See Above - Translate among verbal, tabular, graphical and algebraic representations of linear functions. (FL Sunshine Stds )

{MA.8.A.1.1} See Above - Create and interpret tables, graphs, and models to represent, analyze, and solve problems related to linear equations, including analysis of domain, range and the difference between discrete and continuous data. (FL Sunshine Stds )

{TEC.K-12.4.b} plan and manage activities to develop a solution or complete a project. (NETS)

{TEC.K-12.6.b} select and use applications effectively and productively. (NETS)

Learning focus/goal: Students will create a Guess & Check table using Microsoft Excel for a word problem. Students realize that the code that goes into each spreadsheet cell is an algebraic equation.

Warm-up: (teacher selected)

Launch/mini-lesson: CP 1. Teacher gives students hand-out that explains how to use Microsoft Excel for coding the spreadsheet cells. Teacher demonstrates how to do it using problem CP 1--finding the perimter of a rectangle.

Explore/workshop: Students work on practice problems CP 3 - CP 8 (CPM Algebra, Volume 1, p. 128). Students set up a spreadsheet that uses the Guess & Check strategy for solving word problems. Students code the spreadsheet cells that are actually algebraic expressions. It is not necessary that students understand this during the Explore phase. Students complete the workshop by choosing one problem from CP 15 - 18 (pp. 129 & 130). Students complete a Guess & Check table for the problem. Students also using the graphing function to create a coordinate graph of their table. When their work is complete, students save their selected problem to the teacher's thumb drive for evaluation.

Summarize: Students complete a reflection about what they did. During the reflection, students will synthesize their work on the computer with their knowledge about algebraic problem-solving tools such as tables, graphs, and equations. It is during this process that students will develop an understanding that their coded cells are algebraic equations, and that the process of coding the cell gives them the solution and achieves the learning goal.

New Vocabulary: equation, expression, Guess & Check table, coordinate graph (line graph), depreciation, consecutive numbers, variable

Materials: CPM Algebra book, volume 1; computers with Microsoft Office software; thumb drive; hand-out with instructions.

Modifications/accommodations (ESE):
ESOL students will work with a Study Buddy.
ESE students needing additional help will receive extra examples of coding cells from teacher. Percent of correct cell formulas needed for passing grade will be adjusted as required by individual IEPs. ESE students will be given an extended deadline for completing the work.

Instructional strategies
Content specific techniques: Modeling, independent practice.

Learning strategies: Identify and teach essential vocabulary, monitoring student progress, use of technology,.

Bloom's Taxonomy
Knowledge/Comprehension: What is the difference between an expression and an equation? How do you use the Guess & Check strategy to solve problems?

Application/Analysis: Name a real-world application where you could use a spreadsheet to solve a problem. How does the spreadsheet use variables in the cell formulas? Where would you find your solution on your graph?

Synthesis/Evaluation: How does the Order of Operations work with your entries into a spreadsheet cell? Compare your spreadsheet cell formulas with the equivalent algebraic equations.

Method of Evaluation: Teacher reviews student files that were saved on the thumb drive. Teacher converts the cells to reveal the formulas used. Teacher evaluates the appropriateness of the formulas. Teacher reviews the graph the student generated from her data. Teacher reviews the student reflection. Grade is assigned on a holistic basis: how much did the student attempt and complete, and how well did the student understand the algebraic principles involved. Grade will use the 4-point Florida Mathematics Rubric.

Reflection on Lesson:

Feel free to comment and amend. Greg S.

Here's a second lesson for you to look at:
Unit/theme: The Big Race: Slopes and Rates of Change

Topic: Using graphing calculators

Performance Objective: Students will learn how to use graphing calculators to solve algebra problems involving slope and line intercepts on a graph.

Essential Question: How can we solve problems involving linear relationships between two variables utilizing graphing calculators?

Attached Standards:

Learning focus/goal: Students will learn how to use graphing calculators to create solutions for problems involving linear relationships.

Warm-up: (teacher selected)

Launch/mini-lesson: Teacher demonstrates use of graphing calculator. Students need to see how to enter data into a table, how to enter an equation, and how to produce a graph.

BR 12 (CPM Algebra, Volume 2, p. 238): Teacher makes sure students have set up their calculators correctly. Teacher demonstrates the entry of data with students copying the calculator operations. Teacher demonstrates, repeats, and circulates around the room to make sure the students are doing it correctly.

After students have graphed parts a,b,c, teacher leads discussion of the comparison. Teacher draws out the students' observation of the y-intercept (starting point of $20) and how the different savings rates (rate of change) produces the different slopes they observe.

Teacher leads discussion of part e, which features a negative slope. Once class understands the difference, teacher directs them to complete the problem.

Explore/workshop: Students continue to work with their graphing calculators to complete the problem. Parts e & f involve negative slope as the people are spending, not saving. Part h involves zero slope, as the person is neither spending or saving.

Workshop concludes with class discussion of what they observed on their calculators as they worked on the problem.

Summarize: BR 16--students reflect on what they learned from BR 12 in their groups. Students answer the questions, which summarize their learning.

New Vocabulary: coordinate graph, slope, y-intercept, independent variable, positive slope, negative slope

Materials: CPM Algebra book, volume 2; TI graphing calculators and display machine

Modifications/accommodations (ESE):
Pair ESOL students with a Study Buddy
ESE students receive extra scaffolding and help as needed, extra time to complete assignment.

Instructional strategies
Content specific techniques: modeling, guided practice, cooperative learning,

Learning strategies: modified curriculum (to use technology), essential vocabulary, monitoring student progress, use of technology

Bloom's Taxonomy
Knowledge/Comprehension: What is slope? What is the y-intercept?

Application/Analysis: Where do you find the slope in the problem? What information are you given that helps you to find the slope? What does the $20 gift mean? What other questions could you answer from the graph?

Synthesis/Evaluation: How are the graphs for the six persons the same? How are they different? How does the graphing calculator help you to answer the questions/solve the problem? Which cousin are you most like, and why?

Method of Evaluation: informal observation of students' use of graphing calculators, review of students' written responses to BR 16. The rubric will be applied to the student's attempt to complete the summarization.

Reflection on Lesson: