Thursday, May 7, 2015

Polar Coordinates and a fun #tbt

I covered a couple of Precalc classes today and got to teach about polar coordinates. I started with a clip of Crimson Tide (remember that movie? It's a great one!) so they could "see" some math.

"Math!", one of the kids yelled.

Then I handed out a couple of polar coordinate grids and told them there was an enemy sub right there. (I drew it on my projected computer.)
Where are we? (the origin)
How far away is the enemy?  (they counted the circles)
In which direction?  (we discussed using east of north vs an angle (measured from where?))
And then,
Is there any other way we could describe this location?  (Yep, with +360 angles, negative angles, etc)
So then we plotted a couple other points and came up with all kinds of different ways to get there.

Then, we got to the teacher's notes.  Because I spent so much time on the intro stuff, I didn't get completely through what she wanted me to. But I like getting them to think about what they're learning instead of just showing them, so hopefully she's ok with it.

And then on twitter today, there was this:

I guess freshmen aren't so bad. . .

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

5th grade math....

My son is currently finishing up 5th grade (only 12 more days for him!) and last week forgot to bring home his math workbook. I mean, it's not like having homework has been a habit for him; maybe once every other week does he have an assignment.

I put a plea out on facebook to see if anyone could send me a picture of the page and was thankful that a friend of mine obliged.  (He was too, considering that the punishment for not having an assignment is 50% off and having to sit during recess. Grr.)

I normally don't check over his assignments too closely because he does so well, but because I was copying from a picture that my friend sent onto a separate sheet of paper I obviously knew exactly what the problems were.

#1 - 4 were multiplication.
The next section went to this:
(Point E was drawn in by my friend's son.)
My guess is that they were working on plotting points.

The page finished up by asking the students to plot Point E so that BDEC was a square. (FYI, my boy was able to do it correctly. :) )

And the kicker? Find the area of the square.

This caught me off guard. I don't think the kids have done Pythagorean Theorem or (most definitely) the Distance Formula. So when my boy looked at me with a blank look on his face, I decided I'd talk him through it.  

I started by asking him what shapes he knows how to find the area of. The answer? A square/rectangle and a triangle.  We drew a big square around BDEC so that he could see some extra triangles.  He figured out that the big square was 5 x 5 and each triangle had a leg of 1 and a leg of 4. Taking the area of the big square minus the four triangles, he ended up with area 17.


I followed up the next day and asked how his math had gone (I basically wanted to make sure that she accepted the homework even though he'd written it on a different piece of paper.)  The first thing that he told me was that "my" answer of 17 for the area was wrong. It was supposed to be 16.

Um, what?! [You know what she did, though, right?]

I tweeted it. (Of course.)

I was happy that everyone agreed with me.  And Mike Lawler even YouTubed his son solving it!

(Check out Mike's blog here!)

I sent the video to my son's math teacher (thought it would be a nicer way than saying nyah nyah nyah) and haven't heard anything back.  [I did put it nicely; said it was such a great problem that I tweeted it and this guy made a video!]


Monday, April 27, 2015


I'm in a funk.

I miss math, I miss teaching, I miss feeling like I'm contributing to a school.  I was hopeful that a teaching position would open up and I could slide right back in but it doesn't look like that's going to happen.

My last couple of weeks have consisted of subbing (the lack of subs right now is crazy), running calculators around the building for our second round of PARCC testing, selling Prom tickets, and organizing the After Prom ticket data. Not too fulfilling.

I need it to be summer so that I can start thinking about other things. But I got a summons in the mail last week to report for jury duty in June (yes, the whole month). That's not going to make me happy. I'd actually like to see what the whole court process is like, but not during summer! Especially considering I'd have to pay for a babysitter for my kids and that wouldn't be cheap. I'm supposed to call in the Friday before each week to see if I'm on the list to report. Fingers crossed that it won't happen.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Individualized Quizzes and g(Math)

I'd heard of g(math) as an Add-on for Google docs and forms, but I ran across this post talking about how you could use it to create individualized quizzes for students.

Although it might be a lot of work, maybe it would be a way to create quizzes for students who are re-quizzing topics (if you go SBG)?

Just a thought.

Here's the post that got me wondering.

CCSS confusion

I like the Common Core for math.

And yet....

From the Math 1 Evidence Tables (what's tested when):

From the CCSS Appendix A (under Integrated Math 2):

Call me confused.

Monday, April 6, 2015

4th quarter! Math! What could be better?

Once again, it's hard to believe that it's 4th quarter. We were on Spring Break last week and are now facing 40ish days to finish up the school year. Woo hoo!

I've been working on putting together some pacing guides for our Math 1, 2, and 3 courses - we went with the Integrated pathway and there isn't a whole lot out there!  Try shopping for new textbooks... Most publishers (that we've seen, anyway) reissued an Algebra 1 textbook and slapped a couple of chapters of Geometry at the end.  Yeah, no.

So for now our teachers are making do with MathXL and piecing together sections from the books we already have. I'm hoping that if we have these pacing guides it'll help give people a clearer idea of what all needs to be taught.

This is a section from the Math 1 document (it's not ready to go fully public yet):
You've got the dates, unit name, # of weeks, short list of topics, standards, when they're tested, and the calculator policy of the standard.

The green and yellow highlighting indicates the importance of the topic being taught (green > yellow > blue) and I linked the standards to their places in our Unpacked documents.

If I was teaching this course I'd be pretty happy with this information. My only worry is that it's too much; one teacher I showed this to said all he wants is the topic list. That doesn't bother me at all (cough cough).

We have a Math Course of Study meeting on Wednesday so I need to have these done by then. I think the teachers will be linking in different resources they're using for the different standards, so it's almost like we're creating our own textbook.

And I get to live in math world for a while, which makes me happy. :)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015