Wednesday, September 9, 2015

If you're not using @desmos...

I've played with Desmos before in class. I've used it to illustrate different transformations to functions (parabolas, trig functions, etc) but hadn't had the students do much more with it.  I'd played with the Function Carnival and Central Park and Water Line but never used as a teacher in class.

(I have been out of the classroom for 2 years, so cut me a break.)

At some point over the summer (?) I saw that it had become possible for teachers to create their own Desmos activities. Honestly, I didn't think about it too much.  But then I saw that Meg had posted a function transformation activity that she and Sheri Walker had created, I thought it might be more useful for me in class.

I used their activity in class last Thursday and thought it went great. It was an opportunity for my precalc kids to practice transformations of graphs in a different way.  And since I'm doing the same thing in my Math 3 class, I knew it would be helpful for them too.

So on Monday night, I built my first Desmos Activity. It's pretty simple; I graphed 9 different parent functions (linear, quadratic, cubic, square root, cube root, and absolute value) in various states of transformation. The goal is to create an equation to match the graph.

I could have talked until I was blue in the face today about transformations and the kids wouldn't have learned 1/2 of what they learned through the activity today.


Everyone was engaged. (Especially after I told them I could see their results.)

The kids who typically can't stop talking (especially in one of my classes) still talked, but this time it was about the math.

So many students had a major lightbulb moment when it came to the difference between an equation with a horizontal shift vs a vertical one.

I never sat down because kids were constantly asking questions about why something wasn't working. Most of these kids would have normally to hear the answer from me the next day. Today they were curious.

My last period class (who typically likes to pack up 10 minutes early) barely had time to stand before the bell rang because they were working.

I can look at the results by question (to see if there's a major disconnect on a topic) or by student (to see if it's just one student that doesn't understand).

I could tell by the kids' questioning of me if they understood the transformations and were just having issues with how to type it or had no clue what it meant to shift left/right.

This is what they worked on. It's not fancy, it's not perfect. But oh my goodness, it was awesome.

(And... a student who has never spoken to me before asked several questions today. Breakthrough!)

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Catching up and getting ahead

Just a few things that I'm happy with from this week:

1. My precalc kids are currently working their way through a Desmos activity called What's My Transformation? that Meg Craig created. I know they've learned function transformations before; this is a fun way for them to practice in another way! Every single student is working and seem like they're enjoying it. And the excitement when they get a tough one is fun to see.
(They were shocked when the bell rang. That's awesome!)

2. I gave my Math 1 kids a Socrative Space Race yesterday to review for their quiz today on solving equations. It went well except that when I gave a multiple choice question with several possible answers, I thought it would count it correct as long as they chose one of the indicated answers. Not so much. The kids were not happy when they got a question right but were told it was wrong.  (like: when solving 4(x + 3) = 8, what's your first step? I selected both "distribute the 4" and "divide by 4".)

3. The hours I spent making that silly Parent Function foldable this summer were finally worth it; my math 3 kids put together the books yesterday and we filled them in today. Now I just want to make sure that I'm constantly referring to it (and asking the kids to).  I'm wondering if I should have put an extra page in to show the different types of transformations... Hmm.

4. I've been giving my Math 3 and Math 1 kids a warm up every day. It's typically a problem like what they did for homework or what we discussed the day before. In Math 3 we've spent a lot of time (too much, I think) talking about characteristics of functions. Today I found a graph on Which One Doesn't Belong? that fit the bill perfectly. I thought the kids have done a great job talking about how the chracteristics of one function makes it different than another.  I'll definitely be bringing those back as warm ups!  Much thanks to Mary Bourassa for this site!

Our kids are expected to have a computer with them every day; it's so nice to be able to use them at the drop of a hat!

I spent a lot of time this summer working on these first few weeks of the year, but I've unfortunately caught up with it all. Looks like my Labor Day weekend will literally involve some labor!  (And some sleep, hopefully!)

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

And more lessons...

I thought my Math 3 kids were doing well on the characteristics of functions (domain, range, increasing, decreasing, intercepts, end behavior, extrema) until I gave them a little check today with an online "quiz" that I'd built.

And now I know the truth.

Sure, some are doing great! But a lot more aren't and are trying to hide behind the kids answering the questions.

This just shows how important it is to do intermediate checks despite how a class "feels".

Formative assessments, anyone?

The grading is great online for matching, multiple choice, and true/false questions. But I wanted to see the kids' notation, so I left the questions as short answer. More of a pain to grade but so much more evidence!  So glad I did it that way.  With almost 90 kids to do this for though, that's going to be something I'll really have to consider in the future.