Today I worked with my 8th grades. It was the second double period I have had with them. Today's main lesson was how to make a cream cheese and jelly sandwich. In fact, it was how to explain it to somebody who doesn't know how. To the am group, without forethought, I said they were to pretend the person was an Italian unfamiliar with American sandwiches. Some groups of students went about the activity with a good to excellent level of interest, but others gave up early and found it tedious. I tried to make the sandwiches following their instructions, but did not get too far.
The pm group, at the end of the day, heard a different set up: pretend it was a robot to be taught. It felt more plausible. All groups of students were enthusiastic about this activity. I made a sandwich following Rebecca's ideas, which were very precise, and then I let another group guide her to make another sandwich. A much more sucessful outcome.
I asked both groups to write a few sentences about how they felt writing the instructions, and then had them finish the sentence: Glenn says this activity reminds us.... I asked for volunteers to read what they wrote to that last sentence. J. wrote that I said it reminds us of food (not) and S. said it reminds us that Algebra requires us to write down all steps and to be meticulous.