Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What do you notice?

Today in Precalc we started graphing sine and cosine curves.  I gave them these charts to fill out all of the sine, cosine, and tangent values of our favorite unit circle angles.  Then I handed out Sam's  @ultrarawr's awesome graph paper (which I stole while "eavesdropping" on twitter) and had them graph their results.

Then I asked...
What do you notice?

It was fun to hear their observations. They started out a little slow (I don't think they're ever asked anything like this without there being a "right" answer) but after a few non-mathy things they jumped into odd/even, zeros, and maxima.

This was an easy segue into the "correct" terminology of amplitude and period, and the transformations followed from there.

Oh, and it was soooo nice to have the kids make a prediction on what a value would do to the graph (like a vertical translation) and then show it using the Desmos calculator.  Love their sliders!

Monday, November 26, 2012

#Made4Math Monday: Stations

It was kind of a weird day back from Thanksgiving break. We only had two days of school last week and due to some sick kiddos at home, I was there for half of one day. I saw two of my Precalc classes but wasn't able to see the third (after intro'ing new material the previous Friday).

And it was dealing with the unit circle, which they're still adjusting to.

And I want to give a quiz tomorrow.

Instead of giving just a review sheet today, I decided to alter my plans a bit and give the kids more of a chance to talk through problems. I took the five types of questions that I wanted them to review and turned them into stations. Oh, and a sixth station just to practice the unit circle. I printed the problems and glued them onto colored construction paper (just for fun), then glued the answers to the previous station on the back (so answers for #1 were on the back of #2, etc.). I put the problems into some page protectors to protect them (duh). I'll probably make nicer ones and laminate them for next year.

Due to our time constraints, I gave the kids a set amount of time at each station. I knew some of the problem sets could've taken too long and the kids would've missed some sections, so I only gave them 5 minutes per table. This decreased as the period went on and I did some mental math to try and get every kid to every problem.

Here are the links to the documents I used:
 Problems    Answers     Answer Sheet

The kids did well with this; except for a couple of whiners first period I think they enjoyed moving around, and I continue to be amazed at how well they work with each other.

I ended up taking pity on the class I hadn't seen since a week ago Friday... Their quiz is Weds instead of tomorrow. I do have a heart. Sometimes.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sub plans!

I was out for half a day on Thursday because my daughter ended up with a fever at school.  She also had to stay home on Friday but, due to a very generous babysitter, I didn't have to stay home.

I thought we were in the clear until late this afternoon when my son was complaining that he felt hot. I thought he was fine but he found a thermometer (that shockingly worked!) and took his temperature. Darnit.

So thus began my quest to write up sub plans for tomorrow.

Several things are working in my favor:
1.  I have all of my major copies done, so I don't need class sets of anything. Or worse, to have to scramble to come up with an activity and then ask someone to copy it for me. That's the pits.

2.  It's a short week and therefore somewhat more relaxed. We have Weds - Fri off for Thanksgiving.

3.  There's a special program at school tomorrow and Tuesday to address bullying that several of my kids are attending. This is good because two of the most annoying challenging boys in my General Algebra 1 class won't be there.

Still, there was a lot to put together.
1.  I have a feeling that my precalc kids are going to have some issues with the homework I assigned on Friday. They're not very good at applying what they know to new situations.  If I don't show them problems exactly like what's on their homework, they struggle.  So annoying. Luckily, I have a copy of our book at home. I wrote up a video (using Explain Everything) of me talking through several of the problems and posted it to Schoology.
Time spent: 1 hour

2.  My Honors Algebra 1 kids took a test on Friday over linear equations and I'd intended to start working through solving inequalities with them. I'm going to have the sub pass out their notes (a basic outline), have the kids work through it, then give them their assignment. The only work I needed to do for this class was to write up the answers for the notes so the kids can see what they should have done to solve/graph.  (With instructions for the sub not to give it to them for at least 15 minutes.... we'll see if that happens!)
Time spent: 10 minutes

3.  I'm so up in the air with my General Algebra 1 class. They had a slope/slope-intercept form review on Friday and I'd intended to go over it tomorrow and quiz on Tuesday. So now with me being out tomorrow (along with 4 out of my 15 students for the aforementioned program) I don't know that I want to do that. I'll probably just play it by ear when I get there Tuesday. I'll have a quiz ready just in case but have another problem set ready, too.  I wrote up answers for the review for the sub to give out so interested students can check their work.  They'll be working on what could be a fun activity: to graph a set of lines and created a Stained Glass Window.  They like coloring, so it should be ok.
Time spent: 15 minutes

4.  I typed up my actual sub plans. I'm sure I forgot something. I had to look up the room change for my 3rd period class (due to a kid on crutches) and also included a list of the kids that will be missing because of the program.
Time spent: 15 minutes

5.  I tweeted my neighbor at school to ask if he'd print stuff out for me and he readily agreed (good thing, because he owes me big!! :) ). So then I emailed him a link to my sub plans (I put it on a gdoc so I can edit until tomorrow morning if necessary) and attached the notes and answer docs.  I also gave him directions on how to find my seating charts... they're somewhat buried in a filing tub sitting next to my desk.
Time spent: 15 minutes

So, if you add it up, that's almost 2 hours of prep work just to get ready to not be at school tomorrow. Wowzers.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Day in the Life (Math Teacher edition)

Want to know what I did today?  Thought so. :)

5:20 - My alarm goes off (my first thought is always "Is it Friday?" I'm usually disappointed.). I get up and shower, get dressed, etc.
5:55 - Hubby and I wake up the kids. He's on his way out the door so it's up to me to get them going from here.  
6:15 - We're downstairs getting breakfast. I've already weathered two temper tantrums and in the next 16 minutes will eat, locate Barbies to take to school, clean up spilled grape juice, and made my lunch.
6:31 - We're out the door. 
6:57 - After a quick stop to drove the kids off at the babysitter, I arrive at school and make my way to my room. In the next 23 minutes, I'll log in to my computer, put away my lunch, talk with a former student about writing a college recommendation, talk with current student about rescheduling a retake, check email, crack open a Cherry Coke Zero, alphabetize a gdoc for teacher down the hall, talk with colleague about Problem-Attic and how overwhelmed she is looking at what we'll have to do next year for CCSS.
7:20 - 7:30 - Homeroom (take attendance, eat a donut brought to me by a student, work on that spreadsheet, and set up my projector)
7:34 - 8:24 -1st Period Precalc (I show the kids some unit circle tricks, go over HW questions, and assign new review sheet. I was planning to give a quiz tomorrow but because of field trip/lack of time, I postponed the quiz until Thursday.  I can't imagine they're upset by that news.)
8:24 - 8:32 - The kids leave and I start to scramble to get ready for Algebra 1 7th period. It's my planning period. 
8:32 -  Unfortunately, yesterday (!) I was asked to take part in an ETR planning meeting for a 7th period student.  I was promised it would be 10 - 15 minutes. 
9:02 - The meeting finally ends and I rush to copy stuff for 7th.
9:12 - I make it back to my 2nd floor room to drop off my copies and grab what I'll need for 3rd period. I have a student who recently had knee surgery and can't do the stairs, so I've had to move downstairs to accommodate. I head downstairs to get the room ready (pass out trig wheels, scissors, get the projector set up), realize I forgot my iPad connector and run back upstairs to retrieve it. I make it back downstairs just as bell rings.
9:22 - 10:12 3rd Period Precalc (repeat of 1st period)
10:16 - bell rings to start new class; I'm late because I have to now gather up my stuff and move back upstairs. 
10:18 - 11:06 - 4th Period Math Intervention. Ive been assigned 5 students who come on a daily basis to get math help ( if needed). Today I helped one girl with Alg1, one boy with geometry,and one boy with Algebra 2. After everyone was in good shape I was able to catch up with grading some Alg1 stuff and then realized that I want to give an assignment in 5th period. I scrambled to find something quickly. 
11:06 - The bell rings. I ran to the math office to get my lunch in the microwave then run downstairs to make copies. Luckily there wasn't much of a line, so I made it back up to eat lunch. Bell rings at 11:33. 
11:37 - 12:27 - 5th Period Honors Alg1. After a warm up and homework questions, I pulled out the Barbies that id hurriedly located (and dressed) this morning. It's Barbie Bungee day! Kids paired up to work in the hall and in my room. Just one casualty: a girl knocks a plant off my desk, so I have to clean up (though she offered). It was nice to see the boy who sleeps every day and not done one assignment contributing. 
12:31 - 1:21 - 6th Period Precalc (I'm thinking that a lot of these kids who have depended on memorizing formulas are going to be sorely disappointed here soon when I expect them to know what something means (like a radian) and then explain/apply it.)
1:25 - 2:15 - 7th Period Integrated Alg1. We start with a warm-up that leads nicely into Slope-Intercept Form, which was today's lesson. I actually had one girl tell me that i needed to make the class harder, because math classes are always hard. Ill take that as a compliment. Then we only had about 7 mins left, so skipped the exit slip and gave them some graphs to do on their own for homework. 
2:15 - 3:25 - School's out! I prepped for Wednesday and Thursday, found my next assignment for Int Alg 1 and Precalc for tomorrow. Then I edited last year's Precalc quiz for Thursday (my goal is to make it more thought-provoking each year), ran copies of it all. A former student stopped in to ask about when we switched x and y, then solved for y to find max/min (no clue what she's talking about... And it wasn't finding inverses). Then I realized that I wouldn't have time to hit a store on my way home (for brass brads for Precalc trig wheels) so I was grateful that Seiler popped in and offered to get some. 
3:25 - 3:50 I made my way to the car and drive home. 
3:50 - Home. I grabbed the dogs and walked up to end of road to get the kids off the bus. 
4:00 - 6:30 - Mom time. I get the kids to do their HW, get a fire started in fireplace, clean the floor from grape juice spill this am. Then I braid Strawberry Shortcake's hair, help with various dressing and undessing of Barbies, and order pizzas for dinner later. Commence random picking up of stuff around the house, go over spelling words with son, and listen to him read his 1-minute passage. (I'm hoping he'll have time to do 15 mins later.  He doesn't.) Then I check out twitter and find a link to other ppl's days. Fun!
6:30 - 9:20 Friends are at the house for church group. This normally involves a quick cleaning of the house after school but the cleaning ladies were here yesterday, thank goodness. 
FINALLY! Time to sit and relax. Luckily I didn't have any pressing schoolwork to bring home, so I sat with my iPad.  Played a little, edited this, and now it's bedtime. 
Less than 7 hours until I hear that alarm again!

Monday, November 12, 2012

#Made4Math: Trig Stuff

We're at the point in Precalc where I'm going to start expecting the kids to *know* the values on the unit circle. Some of them won't put in any more time than we do in class (and it'll show) but many of them will spend some time learning those crazy ordered pairs.

I have a few things that I give them to help out a bit.

1. Trig Wheel of Values
A colleague gave me this a few years back and I think it's a lot of fun. It's a great way to turn a degrees angle into radians and review its ordered pair. And it's cute!

You start with two circles (one with degrees, one with radians and ordered pairs). When you assemble correctly you can see an easy conversion from one to the other. If I happen to get to the store, I usually pick up some of those brass brads to stick through the center to keep the circles together.

2. Today in class we played Around the World (remember playing that in 3rd grade?) with sin/cos/tan values. I let the kids reference their unit circle, but that'll be the last time that happens! I put the cards together on Quizlet, then embedded the deck on Schoology (our online environment). Here's my deck:

3. I'll probably put the Finger Trick for Trig out there for the kids, too. Seen this one?

If you're interested in any of my other random precalc stuff, here's a link to some stuff I put on a couple of years ago. It's not greatly up to date, but it's someplace to start!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Patty Paper FTW

Patty paper rocked my world today.

Last week in Precalculus we finally started talking about radians. After doing the basics (what is a radian/complementary/supplementary/coterminal) and some not-so-fun angular and linear velocity problems, today we got to what will change my students' lives forever.

The Unit Circle.

Several years ago I started giving them an image like this one to fill out instead of the one above. It's so much more organized.
When we create the unit circle in class, I like for them to know where those darned ordered pairs come from. So in the past I would hand out a notecard for each kid and ask them to trace the 30 degree angle to create a 30-60-90 triangle. Once they realized that the hypotenuse of the triangle was the same as the radius of the circle (1), we could find the two legs of the triangle.  The problem was that to trace the angle they had to be able to see through the notecard onto the unit circle below. I typically would have kids lined up along the back windows with their papers propped up so they could use the sunlight to help them see. Then we'd cut out the triangles and arrange them on the circle so the kids could see that the sides of the triangle were their paths to the ordered pairs.  I thought it worked well (instead of just throwing the ordered pairs at them without any rhyme or reason) but the notecard density and having to cut them out slowed us down.  

Then last year, two classes in to creating a unit circle, I thought about using patty paper instead of notecards.

And thus my life was changed forever.

(btw, here's the post where I wrote about it last year. Sorry for double posting on the same topic.  It just makes me so happy!)

AND I just found a unit circle song that I'd embedded on my blog almost two years ago. THIS IS WHY YOU NEED TO BLOG, PEOPLE!  (If your memory is as bad as mine is, anyway.)

Monday, November 5, 2012

#Made4Math Monday: iPad apps

A couple of years ago the principal at my school decided that she wanted to get a test group of teachers to try out the iPad in the classroom.  (I blogged about it here and here.) After some issues with the first one I was given (issues being that I dropped a bowl on it) I was given another new one last spring.

At that time I wasn't quite sure what to do with it but have since discovered a few uses in the classroom as a teacher-organizational tool.

1.  Three Ring (yes, I used it as a #Made4Math earlier this year)

I love this app as a way to keep track of my SWHHW slips for kids who don't do an assignment. What's even better is that since then they've added parent access.  You enter the parent's email address and they receive notifications when I add something to their child's account.  It's not just picture-taking, either. You can also take a video or add an audio file.

2.  GoodNotes
I've been grading 2 - 3 problems from the Precalc assignments on an almost-daily basis this year. My problem is that when a kid turns in a homework late I'm not sure which ones I graded. I just bought this app ($4.99 in the iTunes store) this weekend and plan to use it to keep track of what I'm grading for each section. I can set up notebooks for each class and within each notebook have a notebook for each chapter.  Here's what it looks like so far:

This is my precalc shelf with an example picture (because you can take pictures of things to pull in your notebook... or import a pic already on your iPad) and my Chapter 4 notebook.  (They have cute designs for the front of the notebooks!)
Within each notebook you can set up pages. You can either write or insert text, highlight, move stuff around, etc. The dark part at the bottom is a movable "hand guard" that gives you a place to rest your hand while writing.  So far I'm pretty pleased with it!

3.  Explain Everything
I've made some "talk throughs" this year for my Algebra 1 and Precalc classes right before a test or quiz. They request certain problems (from a review, usually) that I make a screencast for and work out for them.  The last time I did these I found this app called Explain Everything ($2.99) that was very easy to use.  It's pretty similar to Educreations but what I liked most is that you can record yourself talking through individual slides, then the app will save them all together as one file.  So if you mess up one little thing (not that I would ever do that!) it saves you from re-recording the whole talk. This is one that I made for my Algebra 1 kids who can't add or subtract a fraction to save their lives.

I also recently discovered the finger swipes on the iPad (this is an iPad 3, I think) to scroll between apps without having to go to the home screen first. Awesome.

And this isn't so much school related, but I'm in a couple of fantasy football leagues so I also have both the Yahoo and ESPN app for those. :)  It's all about your priorities, people.