Running around a Track I

09 Mar

I have been at the T3 International Conference in Las Vegas this week. This morning, I had the opportunity to present a Power Session on CCSS: Bringing content and practice standards together. My next few posts will be a few of the stories from this session.

I gave a class of students Running around a Track I recently.

I started by showing them a picture of the start of the 2012 Olympic Women’s 400 M race. What’s your question? (I took a picture while watching the video.)


The students had good questions to get us started in our exploration.

Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 10.05.39 AM

who won        1

What is the circumfrence of each lane?       1

how far is th last runnr to the circle     1

Why are the not in a line       1

how far away is the first runner from the last runner?          1

which track is longest 1

what are we trying to find      1

what is the ratio from lane 1 to lane 9          1

What’s the circumference of the track?        1

I know everything?   1

why are they not in a line?    1

who gonna win?        1

how far is the outer lane from the inner lane            1

does contestant number 9 have an advantage over contestant number 1        1

What is the ratio of the inner-most lane to the outer-most lane?  1

how much shorter distance does the inner lane runner have to run than the outer runner?         1

how long is the circumference of each circle            1

What are we looking for?     1

Are they all going the same distance.         1

Who won?     1

What is the measure of the intercepted arc?          1

is this the winter olympics     1

Next, I sent out a Quick Poll of a question from an ACT practice test that students should be able answer as a result of the lesson.

Dylan Wiliam talks in his book Embedded Formative Assessment about teachers needing time for collaboration. Our administrators take this seriously, and so our geometry team has the same planning block. One of the other geometry teachers had the idea to include the ACT question in with this lesson.

Who already knows how to solve this? Who knows how to solve it quickly, since the ACT is timed? I removed the choices, just to see how students answered without them. We didn’t talk about the results. I told them we would revisit the question at the end of the lesson. Just over half of the students had it correct initially: 14/26.

Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 10.05.07 AM

Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 10.05.16 AM

Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 10.05.22 AM

We talked about a few of the student questions from the picture of the Olympic race. And then I passed out the student handout for Running around a Track I. I let the students work in groups to answer the questions, and I sent Quick Polls every once in a while to be sure that they were working productively. I sent a QP for question a) and noticed that 20/26 students had it correct. I was able to use the Navigator to determine who had missed it & provide help for them at their desk while the rest of the class worked ahead.

Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 10.02.14 AM

I didn’t send a poll for question b). Instead I provided students the correct answer so that they could determine on their own whether they needed assistance or were ready to move on to part c).

Most students got a bit stuck on part c. I knew this because I sent a poll to find out student responses. No one had it correct.

Screen Shot 2014-02-24 at 11.00.07 AM

We used this as an opportunity to figure out incorrect thinking. One student came up to share his work, and the others critiqued his argument, figuring out where their own thinking had gone wrong, and correcting their work.

Screen Shot 2014-02-24 at 10.47.34 AM

To close the lesson, I sent the Quick Poll from the start of class:


75% of the students answered it correctly with no choices (up from 50% at the start of the lesson), and 96% answered it correctly with choices.


I think it is interesting to ask students which practices they used when working on a task.


And which was the most used practice:


At this point in the session, we asked the participants to process this part of the story using the protocol “I like …” “I wish …” “I wonder …” for the discussion. What worked? What would you have done differently had these been your students? What would you do differently if you were going to use this task with a group of students in the future? What if you were going to give students Running around a Track II? How would you intend for the lesson to play out?


Tags: , , , , ,

5 responses to “Running around a Track I

  1. Julie Riggins (@jrigginsEFHS)

    March 10, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    Jennifer, Thanks for sharing all of your teaching strategies and tasks. I am getting ready to search your blog for more journaling tips!

    • jwilson828

      March 10, 2014 at 3:33 pm

      It was great to see you, Julie. Here is a link to the journal prompts:

      And a link to the student “poster” that we give them at the beginning of the year:

      I’d love to hear how this works for you and your students – and whether you have any suggestions for additions/deletions to the prompts.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: