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Showing posts from March, 2015

Inequality Time Again

My colleagues and I choose to to teach inequalities (simple, compound, absolute value, linear, systems and quadratic) all in one clump after solving quadratic equations. March 20th, I got started with solving simple inequalities and unions and intersections. Since solving inequalities always goes so quickly as by March everyone is comfortable with solving, I like launching into unions and intersections on the same day.
As is most of what I teach, the party analogy for teaching unions and intersections was borrowed from a colleague. I tell them this story: I want to throw a party that includes the union of all kids who do ________ with all kids who went to ___________ elementary school. I change the blanks dependent upon who is in the room. Then I change it to the intersection, making my party a lot smaller, meaning a lot fewer sodas to purchase. 
Once we get into trickier problems, like the union of x's greater than -1 with x's greater than 5, having this analogy to draw upon …

Teacher Confession I am catching up on the blog, I am looking at my lesson calendar. For Tuesday, March 17th, I had originally scheduled a Game called the Shamrock Shuffle (truth be told, I only ever had the title and was planning on coming up the the game at some point).

What did I end up doing? I gave them a pre-test!

Doesn't that sound fun?!

So here is the confession: Sometimes I don't know when to make class a fun, white-board, teamed-up game and when kids just need pencil to paper, old fashioned practice. On this day, one day before the big test on solving quadratic functions, I woke up fearing that my students might be struggling with meta-cognition issues. They might think they know what they're doing.. but they might be wrong.

So on the board I wrote Meta-Cognition Activity and I distributed yellow pre-tests for them to complete individually... in silence... while I returned emails... #teacheroftheyear

To close, I displayed the answer key and they worked with their partners to …

Still catching up... Guided Discovery of Discriminant

Way back on March 13, I used a less directed approach to teaching the discriminant than I had in the past. The Monday before, I was visiting a school in Houston. In one of the math classes, the teacher did a lesson that did a bit of discovery. which inspired me to change things up a bit.

In the past, I have done a quick lecture on the topic and set my students free to practice in pairs as quickly as possible. I mean the discriminant is way boring so best to go quickly so the teenagers don't realize this!

Building on the idea that initial struggle correlates with eventual retention, I made this quick and easy change.

Students work in pairs. One student is in charge of graphing the functions on desmos. They use this guided handout and develop the rule.

How does it match up to my (ever evolving) inventory of what makes a good an engaging lesson: fun and interestingit's a game with prizesproblem basedinquiry basedconnected to an applicationdoesn't water down the mathematics or …

Follow-Up to Human Cannonball

Way back on March 12, I started what I thought would be a 3 Act with blog summary activity to dig deeper into vertical motion

in my Algebra classes.

They watched a video of the Human Cannonball, we gathered questions and I gave them more information.

I will definitely do this again next year, but, as I often discover even though I have been teaching for an eternity, well 15 school years now, is that things always take longer than I plan for.

Converting units and being okay with pressing the sine button on the calculator required time, individual attention and counseling.

After that hurdle, most students were able to answer two questions (What is his maximum height and what is the height of the net) and summarize their results on their blogs.

Check out what Lucas published.

Accidental Gamification aka A Flipped Model that Finally Worked for Me

My 9th grade Geometry students are sitting in front of me, taking their assessment on right triangle trigonometry. I am confident that they are well prepared for the assessment and I feel satisfied because the work they did to learn the material was both rigorous, engaging and fun.

My colleague, Mike, and I have for several years spent most of the 2nd semester running flipped classrooms. I tried a flipped unit for the first time back in 2009. Students watch a video, made by myself and colleague Garrett, that teaches them a new concept. They take notes on a handout and in theory, pause the video from time to time to do practice problems to self assess.

I liked it because during class, students could get immediate feedback from their classmates or myself on tough problems. What it lacked was meaningful whole class discussions as students worked at different paces. Also, it was boring. This was my fault. I just handed them problem sets and walked around. I didn't take the opportunity t…

Human Cannonball

Using this video for a trajectory lesson in my algebra 1 class today and tomorrow as a 3 Act. Start video at 1 minute in. The shot happens around 1:55. Pause the video after the jump, then resume for Act 3.

See below video for Act 2 Image.

Does anyone know how I can edit a video found online? TIA. :)


Standards Based Grading Presentation

After 6 months of using Standards Based Grading, and speaking to colleagues individually, I gave a talk to the World Languages Department about my experiences. I use Active Grade and showed my grade book during my presentation. Obviously, that link won't work in the presentation below. I will add screenshots to the slideshow... eventually.

Desman Submissions

Desmos is reason enough to lobby your school for a 1:1 program. I had my students make their own Desmen, or Deswomen, exactly how Fawn directed her students, with lines and parabolas only. We had 20 minutes of class time. Some finished their faces in class, others did a little more. They turned theirs in via their blogs. Check them out:











Factoring video blogs

My Algebra kiddos recently (well two weeks ago; it too me forever to get around to grading these) completed their how to videos on factoring. I assigned kids different problems. They create a presentation with the step by step solution and take a Jing video of their explanation.

I collect these via our LMS (Canvas) and grade them with a handy-dandy, clickable rubric. The rubric makes it easier, but grading 56 videos is still time consuming. Thankfully, it was rainy on Sunday so I had time.

Here are a few of my favorites:


Step 1: Find your assigned problem (Links to an external site.) Step 2: Solve your equation Create a google presentation in which you add a step to your solution in a new slide. Use daum and save as a new image as you add the steps. Add hints, tips or define key terms using call outs, text boxes or arrows. Step 3: Practice Rehearse explaining your solution while you advance your presentation. This video should help other kids learn how to solve a…

Space Diagonal

After 8 years teaching Geometry from this textbook, I finally made the lesson on Space Diagonals more interesting than saying: Do Pythag twice. Sure  I always do the Space Diagonal Dance, to much laughter, but the PrBL model wins. No, I don't have a video of the dance (that I know of).

I happened to have brought donuts for a meeting so I had this box.

I made up a story told them the legend of the Prince who made his butler leave the castle on a quest to find a delicious bread stick, the crunchy kind. The Prince told his butler that he was not to return until he found the longest bread stick that would fit in the box.
I gave them the box dimensions, put them into groups and handed out the white boards. It wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. They discussed and argued for about 7 minutes before coming up with the solution. I walked around and monitored, giving feedback and hints. A group presented their approach before starting independent practice, er a worksheet, for homewo…

Who has? I have!

Have I ever mentioned that I used to also teach history? It has been since 2008, and I have always also taught math, but in my former life as high school history teacher, my classes played a variety of games aimed at learning vocabulary. They don't always translate well to math, but this one does, so long as the problems are short and can be done without paper.

Step 1: Make a card set with the same number of cards as students (in classes with varying numbers of kids, some kids will hold two cards).

On each card, write a question: Who has _____?

Write the answer on another card: I have ____!

Be sure to put a star on card #1. The last answer goes on card #1.

Step 2: Explain the game to the students. Make them stand up when it is their turn. The first time will be slow. Not all students will be paying attention. There will be yelling... Assure them that it is normal for classes to not not quite understand how the game works the first time.

Step 3: After 1 round, collect the cards, sh…