Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Desmos and Conics

I was sitting during a break in my parent conferences last Thursday evening trying to decide what to do the next day in Precalc. I had a review packet for polynomials ready (because I refuse to teach them again to a group of honors kids who learned it last year) but I wanted to take a little break to do something fun.

And what's more fun than Desmos?!

We just finished a unit on conics (added in this year because it got lost in the common core transition) and I thought it might be a good time to play with the equations. I remembered Bob Lochel doing something with conics and desmos, so I checked out his blog and found his conics project posted.

I read through his requirements and made a few changes. Here's what I came up with:

The students' task:  Create a picture using conics
1. Use at least one of each type of conic (hyperbola, parabola, ellipse, circle)
2. Incorporate color
3. Turn in both a digital copy and a hard copy

That's it!  I was a little nervous about not giving them more guidelines but I wanted the students to be able to really play and create on their own.  The projects are due on Friday but I've already gotten a few submissions, and I am super impressed!

Some of the students are going above and beyond what I expected - my current favorite is an owl whose wings flap. It definitely took some learning on the student's part (and mine!) to figure out how to tilt the wings [ellipses] so that they weren't just vertical or horizontal. And then she figured out the animation.

I started creating a google slideshow with images of the kids' work... I'm going to post it below. Right now there are only a few images, but remember this isn't due for 3 more days!  As I add to the slideshow it should update below.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Quadratics & Twitter: FTW

I won't see 2 of my 3 Math 3 classes tomorrow because all of the juniors are taking a practice ACT, so last night I was trying to think of something I could do with my last period class.

Today I showed them how to create a scatterplot and perform a linear regression using the TI calculator and I thought it might be fun to do a regression with data that we gather ourselves. I did a little googling and wasn't able to come up with any good ideas, so I went to twitter.

And, oh, the responses:

I totally agree with Scott Leverentz:

Now I just need to make a decision!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Better Warm Ups

I'm trying to do a better job of keeping warm-ups more interesting this year. Instead of just throwing a question up that mirrored the previous day's work, I'm mixing it up a bit.

In Ohio, every junior will be taking the ACT in the spring. And since I spend my day with (mostly) juniors, I thought incorporating some ACT prep would be a good thing to do. So every Wednesday-ish we do some ACT questions (which were so generously donated by Meg Craig!). I used Plickers for the first several weeks; tomorrow I'm going to switch it up and do Socrative.

Last Friday my 4th grader came home from school with a 3x3 grid and asked me if I could put the numbers 1 - 9 in them so that every row, column, and diagonal had a sum of 15. (Using every number once.) She said it was a problem given to them in math that day and no one, including their substitute, could solve it.  That was a great one for yesterday!  Some of my students worked and got it in a timely manner, some did better once they had the middle square, and some never got there at all. But they all worked on it!

Some students asked me to give puzzles more often, so I'll have to add that to my list.

Last Thursday my 4th grader (she's a wealth of questions) came home from school and told me that she'd read a book that day.  She loves to read and does so very quickly, so I wasn't surprised. She'd told me that before. But then I asked what book and she answered, "Harry Potter." Um, what?! I thought maybe it was an abridged junior version or something until she pulled out that 800-page monster out of her backpack (it was book #5 if you're wondering). She claims to have read at the babysitter's in the morning for about an hour, on the bus on the way home for almost an hour, and then walking up the driveway (we have a long driveway but it's not that long). So that was today's warm up: How many words per minute would she have had to read?  We even gave her the whole 10 hours that she was gone from the house.

This actually segued into the thought of the world's fastest reader Howard Berg (which I searched an found a YouTube clip of)

and then the next clip on YouTube was a 13-year old girl on Johnny Carson back in the day.  Of course the kids had never heard of Johnny Carson, but whatever. It was a fun discussion.

My Precalc warm up wasn't as fun today - I asked the kids to find the intersection of a line and a circle (we'd just discussed the equation of a circle yesterday). I loved how it incorporated writing equations of circles, solving a system of equations, and the quadratic formula all in one fun problem. But they didn't agree with the fun thing.

I pulled in desmos to show how they could've used it and skipped all the algebra...

Friday, September 23, 2016

Re-Thinking Re-Quizzing

All of the Honors Precalculus students are assigned summer work. I know - doesn't that stink?! For the past several years we've set up assignments in MathXL so that the questions are automatically graded, though the students still have to turn in work when school starts in the fall.

Although this year we had issues with MathXL because the kids waited until the last minute to do the assignments (shocker) and their accounts had expired. So that was fun.

Anyway, during the first week of school I gave a quiz over the material covered in those assignments - linear functions, quadratics (factoring, completing the square, quadratic formula), and some other random stuff like rational functions, solving radical equations, etc. A lot of stuff that is going to be vital they know how to do.

It's sad how low some of the scores were for these students who are in the upper level course and (if they do well) will be taking AP Calc next year.

For this quiz only, I offer the option to retake some questions. But I didn't want to re-grade them all! So I decided to try it electronically.

Step 1:
I created a google form (that I posted on Schoology, our LMS) for the kids to indicate up to 5 questions that they'd like a re-do on (there were only 15 on the quiz itself).  This gave me a nice spreadsheet so I knew exactly who was doing what.

Step 2:
I created assignments in Delta Math that matched those questions. I told them that they needed to do the practice problems for the questions they were going to re-do. My intent was to check to make sure they'd done them but that seemed overwhelming for me. So I'm just going to hope that they got some extra practice.

Step 3:
I created a separate quiz in Schoology for each of the questions. I have the option of doing true/false, multiple choice, ordering, and fill in the blank (all of which are automatically graded); I can also give them short answer questions which I would have to go back and assign a grade for (no way).

Step 4:
I individually assigned the problems to the kids who had signed up for them, so all they saw as an option to do were the questions they had signed up for.

So today was requiz day, and I was holding my breath. Would this work out well?

Thankfully, the answer was yes!  I fixed some details today so that their scores would feed into the Schoology gradebook (which I'll have to transfer into our "real" gradebook) but it wasn't a big deal.  This was a bit of upfront work, but now the hard stuff is done and I won't have to re-do it for next year. Woo hoo!

I am allowing my Math 3 kids to requiz topics this year, and this is totally how I'm going to do it from now on. I'll ask them to submit their work when they're done (so I can give it a quick glance) but the days of double-grading problems are over!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The first 3 days

My 10th period class just walked out the door and I finally am taking a moment to sit and reflect over the last 3 days.

The bad:
Man, it's been hot and muggy. We were actually allowed to wear shorts and school tshirts for the first two days of school. Today wasn't supposed to be as bad heat-wise but it doesn't feel much different. Having a second-floor, eastern-facing room (so the sun comes in ALL DAY) isn't fun when the temperature is above 90 degrees and there's no air.  Tomorrow's high is supposed to be in the upper 70s.  Thank goodness.

The good:
Everything else. For real.

My classes have been great. It's amazing to only have 2 preps (haven't had that for YEARS... and by years I mean like 16 of 'em!), no general classes, and 5 classes of juniors.  I feel like by the time the kids are juniors they're over the freshman hand-holding, the sophomore I'm-not-a-freshman-anymore and haven't gotten to the senior I'm-too-cool-for-high-school stuff.  Juniors are my favorites. :)

I've also taken the time to do some fun stuff the first few days, and I'm planning for several different activities each day (instead of just one and done).

On Monday I used Sara Vanderwerf's name tents and 1-100 task and had a great start. The kids loved the 1-100; so many of them mentioned it in their comment to me on the tent.

On Tuesday I used Fawn Nguyen's Noah's Ark task, which was a lot of fun. My 10th period class was dying to know how to solve the problem and one of the girls actually came up to the front of the room to explain how her table had gotten the solution. I was amazed that someone was brave enough to do that on the first day! And that on the first day of school in a classroom that was hovering in the 90s they cared enough to want to know how to solve the problem.

We also took some time to play with Desmos in each of my classes, did some ACT Review problems with Plickers, and tried out the new textbook software. So it's been a busy, but fun, few days!

Fingers crossed that it'll stay that way!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Final Homework Plan. I think.

School starts tomorrow.  Finally.  I feel like all of my peeps on twitter started weeks ago, and I've been sitting here twiddling my thumbs.

Not really, but it'll be nice to finally get back to what it is I've been working towards all summer!

I'm *still* trying to figure out exactly how I want to handle grading homework.
Because I'm going to give a homework grade. In the perfect world, the kids would do it regardless and I wouldn't have to worry about it. But we all know we don't live in a perfect world.

In my Honors Precalculus classes I'm going to use MathXL for homework instead of assigning out of a book. I like the instant feedback that the kids get and that they can't just copy off of their neighbor.

But I don't know that I need to make it due the day after I assign it. We all know that these kids are super involved in every activity/job/whatever under the sun. I know that there are times that they won't be able to get to their assignment or are having internet/computer issues.  So I'm strongly considering the idea that I'll create all of the assignments for the unit beforehand and make them due the day before the test/quiz. That would let the kids do them when they have time and yet get them done before the assessment. I don't want to make them due on test/quiz day so that we have the cushion day beforehand if there's a question that they don't understand.

And these are the type of kids that might want to work ahead, too. Why not give them that opportunity?

But I also would like to check written work; I don't want everything done on the computer/calculator.  So here's my thought on that:
As I create the assignments in MathXL, there are certain problems that I am going to specify that the kids need to show their work on. I've asked them to have a spiral or composition notebook for that purpose. Then at the end of the unit I can flip through and check their work.

Can you think of any issues with this idea?

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Stuff I've Been Working On

Remember that ADHD I mentioned last post?

Here I go...

1. It's minor,but I made a new warm up sheet. I only put 3 spots on a page to force myself to either do something online, on white boards, or as a class the other 2 days a week.

2. I fixed up the Parent Functions foldable that I spent hours on last summer. Literally.  I think it's better now. But I have to figure out how to send it to the school copy center so that it prints as a booklet exactly as I would like it.

3. I found some of the plastic picture frame thingies at the Dollar Store and bought 7; one for each of my tables. So tonight I made new table number labels and also a sheet of "Instead of 'I don't know'" questions for the back.

4. I downloaded all of Sara VanDerWerf's Math Wall of Shame files that she so generously shared; this is what I'm going to start with on my bulletin board. At least half of it.  I actually got this board recovered this past spring before school was out and was horrified to see it this week with a piece of border missing. Our floors were worked on over the summer and I'm thinking that the piece fell off and was thrown away. And I don't have enough to fill it in! I just ordered new border from Oriental Trading Company today to redo it. (Our colors are orange and black and I wanted to keep with that theme.)
But isn't it appropriate that it was on the "#MathFail" part of the board?!

Things I Still Want to do:
1. Figure out how I want to create a self-paced module to have my Math 3 kids work through linear functions. If they need to. I refuse to teach it again.

2. Get a grip on my Matrix unit that I'll be starting Precalc with. I haven't done it for a while.

3. My plan was to put together a little tutorial for the TI8* and what I would like the kids to know how to do, but my TI SmartView software is having issues. Hopefully that'll get fixed in the next week so I have time to do that before school starts!

4. I'm presenting something at a building tech day next week. Probably should figure out exactly what that is. Hmm.

5. Figure out my first day of school plans. I detest the first day of school. I'm nervous, I'm hot, I don't know the kids. Can we just skip it and go straight to day 2?