Monday, November 21, 2016

Polynomial Hand Turkeys

One of my students asked last week if we could just make hand turkeys in class tomorrow (our last day before Thanksgiving break). And first I was just like, "No."

But then I thought about it.
1. We have Grandparent's Day in the morning (students are pulled out of class) and a Student/Faculty basketball game during our last class.
2. We had a quiz today.
3. It's the day before a long break.

So hand turkeys it is!

But of course I'm going to make them do some math, too.  Here's what I came up with:

I created a table of 24 different sets of polynomials for the kids to use.  They're all cubics and linears, very similar but with some different signs and coefficients.


So hopefully this will be a fun little activity that will get the kids working, coloring, and enjoying the last day before a much-needed break. 


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Conics and the Super Moon

Earlier this year we talked about conics in Precalc. One day for a warm up I gave them this problem:



It was a fun little way to talk about a real-life ellipse.

And then last night, I saw this tweet from NASA:


So cool! My only complaint is that I didn't have this to show when we did the original warm up. (And someone asked in one class if the moon actually grew by 14%. Um, no.)

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Random Observations

A few things that are scattered throughout my brain today:

1. I used Plickers to review some content in both Math 3 and Precalc. I really like the site except when it freezes up. And then it annoys me. Luckily it wasn't something that I couldn't fix by restarting my phone, but who has time for that in the middle of class?  And I really wish they'd include the possibility of mathtype in their answers. It's awkward to try and include square roots.

2. We're quizzing in Math 3 over solving quadratics tomorrow. Technically it's a Math 2 topic but the kids don't remember a lot (anything?) about factoring or solving and I feel like it's such an important thing to be able to do that I spend a good amount of time on it. Today I gave them a worksheet to practice solving equations (I emphasize the importance of choosing the best method to solve and not just the quadratic formula each time); the worked-out answers were on the back of the paper. My advice was to work through a problem then flip and check. I told them I wasn't going to collect the assignment tomorrow but to do what they felt they needed to do to prepare themselves for the quiz. In all 3 of my Math 3 classes I noted that the students who struggle immediately pulled out their phones once they heard the worksheet was optional. The students who do well immediately started working on it and checking their answers.

  • Are the lower-performing students that way because they don't work?  Or are they trying to avoid showing what they don't know and hoping it will go away?  (My vote is a mixture of the two.)
3. In Precalc we're reviewing Rational Functions. We've spent a couple of days practicing finding the zeros, asymptotes, etc, and graphing and seemed to be doing ok with it. Today I gave them graphs and asked them to write the functions.  It's amazing how much harder it is to work backwards through a problem. But it definitely shows what they know!  Instead of a quiz I created a Desmos Activity that I'm going to have the kids work through tomorrow.

4. I stayed up way too late last night watching election results. Honestly, I think the election of either candidate would have created a scary situation. A few kids mentioned it in class today but it didn't seem to be a big deal but unfortunately that's not how a lot of the country is dealing with the president-elect. I feel so badly for those kids who will basically be viewing the new president as an enemy (and vice versa). The next 4 years are definitely going to be a roller coaster.

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
Requirements:
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!