Thursday, December 19, 2013

Perfect day for pennies

It has been a long week before vacation and I had planned on doing an activity with pennies in Algebra I.  It went well.  I asked the kids to bring in pennies.  We were going to look at the minted date and organize them by date, make a dot plot of them, and then see what we were going to notice some things.  I had the students predict the year that the most would be minted and predict the amount of pennies we were sorting as a class.

Here are some pictures: action shot: sorting the pennies

 Period 1- partial picture
Period 2 - picture
Period 1 - dot plot (The most popular was the year 2000.  We thought maybe they made more that year because of the year 2000?  We sorted 301 pennies.)
Period 2 - dot plot - I drew a line this time to be a little more even.  (The most popular year was 2013.   We sorted 292 pennies.)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Persevering with Polynomial Rollercoasters

I assigned a new project this year: Rollercoaster Project  I found it online but forget where to give you credit (sorry).  It looked really cool, so I thought I would give it a try. 

It is two parts.  First, it asks students to answer about 17 questions on rollercoasters and the behaviors of the polynomial.  It was pretty straightforward.

The second part asks them to design their own with some specifications like it has to start at 250 feet up, last for a least 4 minutes, have a double root, go underground, have at least one real root, and at least one (two) imaginary roots. 

I originally had this due right before Thanksgiving but we had a test then too and kids were focused on that, as they should be.  Also, I had only had 2 out of 48 kids come for extra help with questions on it and their questions were showing me their struggles.  I thought, uh oh, what had I done.  Is this too hard for them?  Is this too much for them?  So, I decided to extend the deadline to this Thursday.  I had students come for extra help today and they were doing it!  And, they were sticking with it.  They were getting frustrated at points, but they were working together and helping each other find their mistakes. 

Oh, and the thing that made this wonderful was  The kids love the site.  We figured out how to adjust the axes so we could see the rollercoaster they were graphing.  They started in factored form.  Then, they needed to figure out how to get their y-intercept to be 250.  They graphed it.  It looked good.  It looked like what they intended it to look.  However, I wanted it in standard form as well.  And, this is where they were running into trouble.  They did a lot of work and then entered it into desmos as a different colored line and they weren't the same.  Ugh!  Some had the graph as x<0, why?  how come?  Oh, they wrote their factored form as (x+2) etc.  So, she needed to change her signs.  Others found small sign errors or dropped x's or incorrect multiplication.  But, they stuck with it.  They persevered and let me tell you....they were excited when they finally saw their green line and their purple line become the same line on desmos!  So cool.  They could see it worked!  And, this was all AFTER school! 

It was fun to work with them.  However, I am not looking forward to grading 48 projects. 

My Price Is Right Flop

I have a small group of juniors and seniors (5-8 on any given day) and I am doing project based math learning with them.  I like teaching this way, but I have to be more flexible.  I am not good at estimating the time it will take them, so I have to be okay with things finishing early (and have something else on hand) or things running over to the next class.

On Monday, we looked at the letters in Wheel of Fortune.  We read small excerpts of books and tallied the letters and found the percents and the top 10 letters and bottom 5 letters.  The kids did well with this.  It took a long time.

Today, we looked at the games on Price Is Right.  We talked about what they knew about Price Is Right, not much.  I showed them a youtube video of the C'mon down to contestants row.  I only had 5 kids in class today but we played contestant's row anyways.  I put all their names in a bucket and picked them and order was important.  I gave them little white boards and one by one they bid on 3 different items.  They were starting to get it but struggled a bit with the idea of "closest without going over" and why $1 over another bid would be a good strategy.

Then, I asked the school to unblock some game sites and we played three games - Price Is Right Strategies.  I wanted them to play The Clock Game 10 times and record their wins and losses.  Then, I wanted them to play Plinko and record the money they won.  Next, play Cliffhanger and record wins and losses.  I wanted them to play each 10 times so it was be easy to figure out their percent of wins and losses.  You would have thought I told them to run 10 miles.  They were so competitive and wanted to quit when they weren't winning.  "This stupid.  I rather take a quiz."  They were all having a grumpy day and feeding off each other.  It wasn't pretty.

My intention was to have them play each 10 times, then tell them some strategies and play them 10 more times and see if they did better.  We didn't get this far.  I had lost them.  I told them the strategies but at this point they didn't care. 

I told some different students who stayed after for extra help and they thought it sounded wonderful. 

I will see this class again on Friday and am just ready to give them worksheets.  They want Chinese food.  It will have to be somewhere in between worksheets and Chinese food.  I was thinking Press Your Luck, but now I am not sure. 

Teacher's Price Is Right

Sunday, November 24, 2013

#MTBoS - Sharing is Caring

Here is the challenge:  Mission 8: Sharing is Caring in the MTBoS

And, I love Care Bears.

Plus, I am already doing this, so it is a quick, easy Sunday blog.  I think this will be the 3rd or maybe 4th of the 8 missions.  I had good intentions and thought about all of them, but didn't get to some of them.

I love sharing stuff I find.  I email it out to colleagues and retweet stuff on twitter.  I feel like I am my colleagues' own personal RSS feeder. 

I just shared this with Kathy, a stats teacher - love it.  I saw Fawn tweet it today:  Stats Joke

I shared the Simpson's math with Tim because he had heard about it somewhere. I told him I had an article:  Simpson's math

I am always sharing @yummymath stuff.  I love everything Brian and Company does there because it is so accessible to the students and well done.

I share Calc stuff with Sue and Chris - our Calc teachers - stuff like this: Chain Rule

I shared Justin's logic google doc with our Geometry teachers.

I am spreading the word about all stuff Dan Meyer, Mathalicious, and Math Munch to name a few.

And, I share my blog :)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

#MTBoS - A Day in the Life of This Teacher

Also known as, If You Give a Moose a Muffin. 

Instead of the hamster wheel, I think of this book because one thing just leads to another.  I knew I was going to blog about today, so I wrote everything down because I don't remember anything.  It is long and detailed.  You will get a gluten free brownie at the end if you read all the way through.  Thanks!

5:30 am wake up and shower - I put my clothes out the night before and I knew I have a full day, so I pulled out the hedgehog sweater: 

5:45 am get Boy #4 up to shower, I make my breakfast and lunch.  I knock over the cat's water bowl and clean it up (it is the only way the floor gets washed).  Someone ate my tuna, so I have to make some more to have with my salad.  While I eat my breakfast at the computer, I check my home email, school email, Facebook, Twitter, and news.  I find a lesson on Minimum wage from Free Tech for teachers.  I add it to my Futures lesson plan for later.  I read an email about a bake sale I need to bake for for Sunday.  I answer a few emails.  I need to remember to sign my emails correctly - Mrs. F, Coach, or Jennifer.  I tweet about my upcoming blog post tonight.  I read Wendy's blog post on her day and wonder if my day will be that crazy, too.  I think it ended up being as crazy.  I find Andrew Busch's lesson on systems with Light Bulbs - systems.  I put this in my google doc for later, too.  It's a good morning, two new ideas for lessons!  I quickly read the Alg2Chat twitter chat on storify to catch up.

6 am: Boy 4 wakes up Boy #3 to get in the shower.  Boy 3 is a freshmen at my high school and Boy 4 goes to 7th grade in the school right next door, so we all drive together.  They shower, make their own breakfast and their own lunch.
6:45 - head to school
6:50 - get to school (yep, school is 1 mile away)
Get my day ready - I teach all 5 class periods in a row today.  I put desks in order, open the shades, write date on the board, empty the pencil sharpener.  I have one student for extra help, so I answer her question.  My 9th grader comes into my class with me to hang out for a bit before school.  Today is a B day and all my graded assignments are due.  So, I need to have all the old graded ones ready to hand back and all the new ones ready to hand out for each class.  I get my Candy Lab ready for my 2nd period class because it isn't in my room and I need to make sure I take everything with me. 
7:20 first bell rings and I am ready to go

7:25 - Period 6 (1st block) - Accelerated Algebra 2 - 20 kids, preparing for a quiz for next class.  Day started with a compliment on my "hedgehog" sweater.  Made me smile :)  Collect the assignment sheets, go over the homework, and then we play a review game called "Risk Your Knowledge of Polys": Risk Polys Some of the math symbols don't come through.  Anyways, the kids loved it.  They all start with a recording sheet and 100 points.  They can always wager at least 100 points even if 0 or negative points.  If they have more, they can wager up to what they have.  If they get it right, they get the points, if not, they lose the points.  They get to view the question first and then place the wager, then do the problem.  As a teacher, it is great to walk around the room and see how confident they are.  On long division, I said I noticed class was about 50:50 on low/high bids.  One student said she bid low because she knows she makes stupid mistakes.  Another said she bid low because she is just cautious but was getting everything right.  I said, "Maybe I should make up a quiz that is bid your own points and you have to bid something on everyone."  They seemed to like the idea, so I will give it some thought.  One student asked if he could bid negative and get it wrong :)  Struggled with long division, given zeros, write the polynomial, and factoring two cubes.

8:30 - Period 7 (2nd block) - Futures - this is a class of 5 seniors and 3 juniors who can't learn in the regular classroom anymore.  They are at the other end of the school, so it is a long walk down, but I enjoy getting away from my little corner of the world.  It is my first time teaching them and I am enjoying it.  I definitely have to be more flexible because they are coming from all different backgrounds and I never know who I will have.  We have been working on systems - doing lots of different activities but I haven't really called them systems or been too formal with it.  I was planning on doing the Candy Lab today and had everything ready.  It is 3 different types of candies in a bag and they need to figure out how many of each.  I bring a scale, give them the total number of candies in the bag and 1 hint.  I showed up and there were only 3 kids.  Nope, not doing the Candy Lab.  It will wait until block period tomorrow.  Good thing I am flexible and prepared.  I had copied YummyMath's concession stand systems of equations.  I told them there were lots of ways to solve them.  One girl said, "Let's do it the easy way."  I asked, "And, do you know the easy way?"  She said, "No, but you do."  She is pretty quick.  So, we went through this and they did well.  The last problem gave them the 2 equations and used B and D for variables and asked them to make up a story.  They call used beer and doughnuts. 

9:35 - Stop for a bathroom break.  Forget to eat my snack.  Period 1 (3rd block) - Accelerated Algebra I - freshmen.  We are doing a flipped classroom for systems of equations and inequalities.  The first day they went to and it linked them to where my colleague posted a video of her teaching solving by graphing and solving using substitution.  They were to watch each video, answer quiz questions on paper, and then enter the answers onto the blendspace.  The quiz would be collected the next day for a homework completion grade.  Last night, they watched the video on elimination.  Yesterday, we did a couple of activities in class.  Today, I collected the homework and had them work on 4 challenging substitution problems.  They understand the process but the numbers get in the way.  These problems had fractions and negatives, gasp.  I said A negative can do so much damage.  We have negative collateral.  They would just drop a negative sign.  They would not distribute the negative through as neg times neg is positive.  Ugh!  Then, we did the same YummyMath Concession Stand activity.  They picked up on it more quickly than the Future's kids.  When they got to the last question with the B and D, they did Burgers and Drinks.  So innocent.

10:40 - grab my cereal bar finally.  I was starving.  Period 2 (4th block) - Another Accelerated Algebra I class of freshmen.  I see this class for an hour, then they go to lunch for 30 minutes and come back for 20 minutes.  It is considered block period.  It runs similar to the last class but a bit quicker because I am more smooth with my transitions and passing out of papers, etc.  As they are working, I check off both classes of collected homework in my grade book.  I also take a peek at the attendance for next period because I am hoping all 28 will be here for my quiz, but nope, 2 kids are absent, bummer.  After lunch, we switch gears.  We are working on a MAP example of correlation coefficients.  Last block they worked on it individually.  This time they worked in groups to share their methods and determine the best method to find a correlation coefficient (not just r on the calc).  They had some good conversations and good sharing with the class.

11:50 - we break for lunch.  My colleague brought me my favorite - Doritoes and Hershey Bars for a late birthday snack.  A friend commented on my "porcupine" sweater.  I corrected her :)  

12:40 - Last period Period 3 (5th block) - Accelerated Algebra II - thank goodness they are quizzing, so I arrange my desks into rows.  As the kids come in, I hear the drama kids talking about their upcoming musical and they are doing an Ugly Sweater Day as their psych up.  I hope they don't think I am taking part.  While they are quizzing, I start to get my math teams ready for tomorrow's math league competition.  I can only try to put them together but I really have to wait and see who actually shows up for the bus before I finalize the teams.  Tomorrow is a crazy day because we have the math meet from 2-6 pm and then I have my Cross country team's banquet at school at 5:30 (yes, I will be running in late).  So, I have to go to school tomorrow ready for the math meet and the banquet and will be there until at least 9 pm tomorrow night.  I also take a stab at starting the Algebra I's upcoming quiz.  In alg 2, the kids are taking a non-calculator part and a calculator part, so I have to keep track of who has which part and then staple them together when they come in. 

1:50 - school day is done, let the fun begin.  9 kids come in for my extra help day.  I have some here for their quiz the next day and some for the rollercoaster project I assigned.  It is the first time I assigned it and it is giving us quite some trouble.  I will have to spend more time with it.  They persevered until about 3:10 when I had to leave.  As I was walking out, I saw Son #3 and 2 friends waiting for a ride home.

3:15 home and dog is waiting to go for a run.  It is 45 degrees, but out we go for a 3 mile run. 
4 pm home and defrost chicken chili for dinner and start to warm it up
Smell my school bag and it smells horrible.  I search and find a super rotten banana, disgusting.
4:05, upstairs to watch the start of Ellen, do some stretches, abs, and weights, then get changed and figure out clothes for tomorrow's school day and for the banquet tomorrow night
4:30 - empty out smelly school bag and find $13 I thought I already repaid to a teacher, I guess not.  This reminds me that I left a banana in my XC backpack.  Good, I caught it before it was too late.  Throw the bag in washer. 
4:45 - sit on couch to watch news with my husband as I grade the 26 quizzes.  Kids get an average of 87, pretty good. 
6 pm - eat dinner - chicken chili
6:10 - sign 60 cross country certificates, answer phone call from newspaper guy asking me questions about my runner that ran at All States this past Saturday, put certificates in order of my speech (10 page speech).
6:30 - put all runners' times into page protectors for tomorrow night, add to my bag of stuff for tomorrow
6:45 - check email - realize I forgot to upload blendspace link to edmodo as 3 students sent me emails.  Upload it.
6:48 - send 4 pictures to school email so I can finally sit down and blog.  And, 1/2 hour later, I am done.

7:20 - my day is done, that is until Boy #3 finally asks me for help on his math homework.

PS - I am too tired to proofread this.  So, here's to hoping I got it right and here is your brownie.....

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Angry Birds Rocked It!

I just had my kids do this Angry Birds Project.  (I loved that there were 5 editions.  Although one student wrote "2nd addition".)  This teacher did it with her 8th graders and mine are sophomores in Accelerated Algebra 2, so I was a little worried it might be too easy.  We are going so fast through this material with the new common core, I don't feel I have any time for big projects in class, so I assigned it for out of class.  I gave them a month and made it due after we finished quadratics, so they would have everything at their disposal. 

I also liked the idea of an "old fashioned" poster.  I had them work in groups of four and each take a bird and do their bird's graph and then put it together on one graph.  The posters were great.  The kids used their calculators to graph and solve.  They used Desmos.  They used calculators and did linear regression.  They used the quadratic formula.  There was all sorts of stuff being done.  Too much for just the front of the posters, lots had to go on the back.  Now I just have to figure out how to get them all up on my walls.

Our grades were due on this past Monday so I did a ton of grading over the weekend.  I felt refreshed being all caught up when I came to school on Monday only to remember I would be collecting these projects.  Yesterday was a professional development day, so I came in an hour early and left an hour late because I was so excited to see how the kids did.  The projects were awesome.  I got the 12 projects graded!  I told the students not to ever expect that again :) 

Even though they were old fashioned posters, the kids got in the technology.  One group photoshopped the angry birds and two pigs into !  Cool! 

Here it is:

Here is another group.  They even added glitter to their title.  I love glitter :)  The group below cut out their little angry birds and pigs and glued them.


Multiplying with Paint Arrays

I teach HS math but I tutor a young man in 5th grade.  It is nice to be able to see what is coming up the pipeline and how they are teaching math.  He is struggling with multiplication and we are working on it.  I thought if he saw arrays it might help.  So, this just came to me in the middle of a tutoring session, let's paint some. 

I grabbed a paper plate, some paint, and pencils and we dabbed the eraser end in the paint to make little circles and create arrays.

I started by making a 3x4 and asked him what it equaled.  I made one more.  Then, I asked him to try a couple.  They I said, make on that equals 35 and he tried.  He was a little off but he was learning.  We tried another when I gave him the total.  I told him to use one that had a side of seven.  It was fun and I think he liked it. 

Here are some pictures.  Paint doesn't really erase well, so he is covering up one of his mistakes. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Inequalities with index cards

It is amazing how simply index cards can teach two lessons worth of inequalities. 

My first day was teaching solving and graphing linear inequalities in one variable in Algebra I who have already had a good introduction to it.

The second day was compound inequalities.

On the first day, it is my lesson opener to get a feel for what they already know.  I prepare one equation on an index card per student.  I pass them out and they can write on them.  They are instructed to solve and graph.  The cards are of three types of inequalities.  Some are just x<2.  Nothing needs to be done, just graph it.  Some are x+4>10.  It involved one step to solve.  And, the third set include dividing by a negative number.

I instruct the students to work on their card first, then go to the board and write the problem, the work, and the answer with the graph.  They all go up in different colors all over the board. 

Then, I ask, what do you notice?

They notice lots:
  • there are different colors
  • there are open and closed circles
  • some changed their sign
Then, I circle all the ones with changed signs and ask what do they notice.  Note: I haven't gone over if they are correct yet, so the students usually notice that here.  There is usually one person that forgot the rule, so this stands out.  We talk about why they have to flip the signs.

I ask another student to come up and find another group that are similar.  They usually box the ones that are the simplest.  We have a discussion about open or closed circles.  And, finally the ones that are left are the one step problems. 

It is engaged.  Everyone is working.  Everyone is thinking and noticing.  We are grouping, looking for similarities, making comparisons.  And, I get a dipstick for where I need to go with the lesson.

The second day, I have index cards with numbers -5 through +5.  I line them up on the board so they create a number line.  Then, I ask students to come up in pairs.  First I ask for volunteers and the hands go up.  After the first time, kids aren't so sure about volunteering, so I call on one student and ask them to find a partner and come up.

One pair at a time tries to turn the cards around if they aren't true to the following, one at a time:

X>=1 and x<=-2

x>=1 or x<=-2

x>=1 and x>=-2

x<=1 and x>=-2

x>=-2 or x <=1

The audience has a fun time "getting inside the brain's of my volunteers".  It is fun to hear them debate about which card to turn over.  Some go right down and test each one.  Some point and think about each inequality separately.  I have the pair sit down.  I ask the audience if they agree. Often the first try is incorrect so if someone thinks it is incorrect, I ask them to come up and fix it.  Ask the audience again and we are good.  It really gets them thinking about the difference between ands and ors when it comes to compound inequalities. 

Here is my board:

Barbie Bungee is done for the year

I was able to do Barbie Bungee in my Accelerated Algebra 1 and 2 classes plus my class of seniors in Futures basic math.  I wrote about Barbie Bungee with Algebra 2 earlier. 

For my seniors, I wanted to extent it a bit, so we had her jump off our senior balcony.  First we had to figure out how to measure it.  Our only tools were 3 meter sticks and 5 rulers.  Off to work they got.  One went up and hung a meter stick up.  One stood below and reached the meter stick up.  Then another student added a meter stick below this one and then turned it for another, and they filled in with rulers.

It was 4 meters and 41 inches.  How's that for units?  So, it took us a while to convert it to centimeters, but we got to 506 cm. 

They went to work in two groups.  Barbie ended up getting tattooed in one group:
They predicted 48 and 51 rubber bands, pretty close.  Off to the balcony to drop them.  Of course, it coincided with lunch getting out, so we happened to have a big audience.  She jumped and was quite a ways away from the ground.  We went back and one group added 6 more and one group 10 more.  These were just guesses.  The 10 was too much.  55 bands was just barely too much, one less was perfect - 54.  And, the kids wanted to know why the math didn't work the first time.  We brainstormed and they figured out they may have made some tiny errors in actually measuring. 

A great lesson.

One students asked where I came up with these projects.  Blogs and twitter :)

Saturday, October 19, 2013

MTBoS - Mission 2: Blog Post about Twitter

Is it Twitter worthy? 
Is it Facebook worthy?
Is it Twitter with a picture worthy? it phone call worthy? it email worthy? it face to face worthy?

I went to NCTM last October and heard Max from @Maxmathforum speak about all the wonderful things Twitter can do, so I guess I have been tweeting since.  He was a good teacher and a good salesman.  Thanks Max!

So many ways to share these days.  I try not to share them in all the forms above.  My current favorite is Twitter.  I think because for me, it is more anonymous.  I tweet @HHSMath  I did do a personal account but I never go there.  I just use the HHSMath one.  I mostly follow math teachers and general teachers to get teaching ideas.  I love that we are all teaching the same stuff around relatively the same time.  My school started after Labor Day, so I do feel a bit behind the game, but then you have all tried your activities, posted, and shared them.  I get to learn from you.  If I need an idea for a lesson, I throw it out there and crowdsource.  I love it. 

Twitter isn't blocked at school and I do have it up in my tabs so I can check it out when I get a quick minute.  I like to look for any interesting updates, pictures, links to news articles about cool math stuff.  Sometimes when I am working at home grading papers, I will have twitter open and reward myself with it.  I must keep grading until there are "10 new tweets" listed, then I can check.  Whatever gets the work done, right.

I also must remember to keep everything appropriate. Twitter really feels like I am open to anyone and feels really like Big Brother.  But, I enjoy reading and sharing, so therefore, I keep it clean.

I love that Twitter is immediate.  There is always someone up and on Twitter.  I like that I get email updates making suggestions for me.  I like that I get updates on my phone via text and email so I know if my phone goes off twice, it is Twitter and I feel important.

I love when something I post gets favorited or retweeted. 

I tell my teacher friends at work that Twitter is the best professional development I have ever been part of.  It doesn't make them curious yet, but I am still working on it.  I try sharing cool stuff I find with them and I give Twitter the credit.  I predict I might get 2 teachers to try it by the end of the school year. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

ZAP game with bananas, French toast, and flying turnips

I love review games with ZAP and so do the kids.  I think a few bloggers have played blog, so I don't know which blog to give credit to.  Basically, I put 16 questions into a powerpoint.  The kids work in groups.  I have individual white boards and individual graphing white boards.  Whichever group gets the correct answer first gets 5 points.  Then, they pick a number 1-16.  This helps adjust the score so it isn't always the smartest group accumulating points.  Some of the ZAP cards are:
multiply your score by 2
subtract (-2) from your score
multiply by 1/2
Zap your score (you go to zero)
Zap all others
Zap all the scores
Sing I'm a little teapot
Do 10 jumping jacks
Switch scores with one other team
Pick a team and give them 4 points

You get the idea.

I have the kids come up with their own name and you can see below we had: infinity, Hillers (our school name), bananas, French Toast, and flying turnips.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

I love Cup Stacking!

When the kids saw Cup Stacking on the agenda, they got all excited.  No, it wasn't going to be speed stacking, although that is awesome.

It was Stacking Cups by Dan Meyer.  Such an easy thing, buy some stryofoam cups and voila.  I used it as an opener.  We brainstormed what type of units would be best.  I let them play with how to stack them first and then directed them how I really wanted them stacked.

I gave the groups of 4 each 6 cups and they got to work to figure out how many cups it would take to reach the top of my head.  I wanted each person to do multiple representations of the situation: labeled drawing, graph, equation, and table.  They worked in different orders.  Some drew me in my dress.  They got all the connections I was hoping for.  Great all around.

Here is so student work:

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Discovering Matrices

I wasn't sure if my Accelerated Algebra 2 kids would be able to "discover matrices", but I wanted to try.

I have taught matrices before - the boring direct teaching, here is the vocab, here are the operations, let's try it, you try it.

Then, I switched to a 3 day project on the computers.  Two days doing a webquest and one day of students presenting to the class.  This went well, but each year, I would feel like there were kids who were still confused.

So, I brought in the idea of "what you notice"?  Matrix Discovery Lab

When I was first designing it, I thought I had to do add, subtract, multiply, and determinants in one day.  Then, I remembered I had planned to do multiplication the second day.  So, I told the kids to do the first and third sheet.  All I told them was that we were starting matrices.  None of them had done or seen them before.

I showed them matrices of different dimensions with the dimensions written and asked, what do you notice?  Some noticed the brackets.  Some figured out the rows and columns, but without those vocab words.  They talked about the height and width.

Then, I gave them 2 addition problems that worked with the answers and one that was not possible.  They figured out why it did and didn't work and they figured out how to add the matrices.  They didn't have the vocab, so they said things like "add the upper left number plus the upper left number and put it in the upper left spot."

Awesome.  They were struggling a little bit to describe it without having the vocab, so they were seeing a need to know the vocab. 

Next up was scalar.  They saw that this looked like a distributive property.

Turn the page and next up is determinant of a 2x2. I gave them two examples, each with the answers.  I told them they could use their calculator.  They worked hard trying to figure something out.  I would say about 3 people in each class figured it out.  Finally, they were onto the 3x3 with answer.  Nope, they didn't figure it out. 

Then, we shared.  What did they figure out about the first few problems?  And, I gave them the vocabulary.  We worked our way through the worksheet, adding the vocabulary and important tips, like how and when.

When I got to the 3x3, they thought I was making it up.  I did the diagonals method.  I color coded it on the board and they got it. 

The usual questions came up, when are we going to use matrices, what is a real world problem with this, what is a determinant used for.  I hinted that they would soon love them.  We have already done 3 equations with 3 unknowns and I suggested that matrices might help us with that type of problem. 

It was a fun class. 

I am going to see what they can do with multiplication.  I am secretly hoping somebody may have already googled it.  I will see if they were curious enough to find out before I teach it.  I think if I was a student I would have done a sneak peek.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

How I stifled creativity in math class....

I didn't mean to, really, I didn't.

Last week, in our 20 minutes after block, I had the Algebra 2 kids take out the big whiteboards and work in groups of four to do the four 4's problem.  I instructed them to try and create math equations using only four 4s and the operations to equal 0-25.  They got right to work and I heard some great conversations.  The whiteboards were great.  All four kids working all over the place.

Round 2: I learned that 20 minutes wasn't long enough to do all 26 equations, so I made changes.  I was only going to have my second class do equations totaling 0-20.  Okay.  Oh, yeah, and Back to School parent night is this Thursday, so I will keep a board to show parents. 

My tell the kids.

Before I introduced the problem, I told the kids I want to keep one for back to school night.  Then, I explained the problem and they were slow to start.  They were afraid.  They felt they had to be neat and work in order.  I told them they didn't need to do it in order.  Only one person in each group was writing.  The others were thinking and sharing, but only one person actually writing.  They would carefully erase if they didn't get the next consecutive number. 

Oy, what had I done.  I told to forget it, dive in, be messy, work out of order, make mistakes.  Nope, they were too perfect. 

Live and learn.   Here are two examples:

By the way, all the groups got stuck at 19.  One boy came back after school to ask if he could use a factorial.  I said sure and he did it = 4! - 4 - (4/4)     At least he was still thinking about it.

Saturday, September 21, 2013 Review

I borrowed the idea from Bob Lochel to have my Accelerated Algebra 2 students write a review of's online calculator.  We only used it once in class so far, but the kids loved it.  They wrote some great reviews.  I cut and pasted some into a google doc found here

If you haven't tried Desmos yet, what are you waiting for? 

We were looking at all the graphs we are going to be working with this year and added sliders to see the transformations. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Noticing and Wondering

I have two classes of Accelerated Algebra II, mostly sophomores.  One big class, one small class.  I showed them some equations and asked them to notice and wonder.  The two classes did it quite differently.  I thought I would share.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Disney Project - one of my favorites

Last year at this time, I created a Disney project for my Accelerated Algebra 1 9th grade classes.  It went better than I anticipated. My school has laptops, so they had those to do the research on.  I kept it simple and told them they would have a week to plan Disney.  Their final product is a power point shared with me.  They needed to have at least one math equation, graph, and table in their product.

That's about all I gave them.  (Check back later, I will attach the actual project but I left my school computer at school.)  Update: Here is the Disney Project

Then, we got into groups - they chose them because they would be working with these people.

Next, we brainstormed.  They had to ask me questions about planning the trip.  What did they need to know to plan it?

How will we get there?  I have five groups, so I did five different scenarios.  We live in MA.  One group is flying from Logan.  One group is flying from Providence, RI.  One group will drive the family car.  One group will rent a car.  And, the final group will drive the family car to Maryland, stay over night for free with a family friend and then fly from Maryland to Florida.  There were ooohs and ahhs, and laughs.

Where will we stay?  You have to stay in the park.

When are we going?  You are going Saturday, Nov 2nd - Sat, Nov 9th of this year.

Who is going?  A family of four, 2 adults, one 14 year old child, and one 8 year old child.

Then, they were stuck.  I let them think.  They finally came up with money - how much money do we get?  I gave them $8,000.  They liked it, thought it was good.

Then, we brainstormed what they would need to spend their money on and they did pretty good.  They even thought of parking at the airport.

They quickly got to work and the room was abuzz.

Some groups broke up the work - you do the travel, you do the food, you do the park tickets.  Some started with the travel and all researched different airlines or car rentals.  Some brainstormed in google docs, some on paper.  I loved it.

But, it was the conversations that were priceless:

Conversations heard while planning a trip to Disney: (directed to each other, not me)
"How many nights are we in the park?"
"Can we get a Prius?"  Heard in both classes.
"I did miles/hr.  What else do I need to do?"  
While looking a McDonald's menu, "I am going to save money."
"Can we use my dad's flight points?"
"Can one of the adults be a grandparent so we can get a senior discount."
"I'll get the park tickets.  You get the plane.  We will keep it on the cheap."
"Oh, the Chevy Spark gets $30 mpg."
They used google maps to see the trip.
"Let's camp." "No way, that's $54/night, way too expensive."  "No, that's the cheapest place in the park." - says the group who chose to fly first class.
"We're going to do buffet all day."
"This is so confusing.  How do adults do this?"
When they find the Disney packages and after pricing it separately - "Would it be cheaper to do the package?"
One group is dividing up the family - I'm the dad, you're the mom, etc.  They are "The Millers" and finding pictures of families on line.  "I can't find any good moms."
"How many nights can we stay in the park if we have to travel there and back?"
"Do I actually have to book the car?"  ME: NO!
"$3,000 per week for food - that's ridiculous!"
"Do we have to count the road trip back from Maryland?"  Ummm, yes!
"Can we rent a nanny?"
"When it says under 14 is that 14 year old an adult?"
"Southwest says 2 and over are adults, does that mean we have 4 adults?"

There were lots of giggles and they were really engaged.
Love it!  I only give them a week to do it because some of them would go way overboard.  I assign it now so I can have some nice projects for parent night next Thursday :)

I will try to remember to attach it tomorrow. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Barbie Bungee - Why did I wait so long?

I think I have been reading about the famous Barbie Bungee for about 2 years now.  I don't know what I was afraid of - lack of time, mostly.  But, you know, just make time. 

I did Barbie Bungee today in two Accelerated Algebra 2 classes.  It was a hit.  They had already learned how to make scatterplots and determine lines of best fit.  Then they made their predictions.  After the activity, I used the Barbie data to introduce the correlation coefficient and how to do linear regression on the calculator. 

Here is all my stuff set up for Barbie:
If you notice the white circles with numbers, those are paper plates that I cut the middle out of.  When my husband and I were practicing Barbie Bungee, he was having a hard time seeing where her head actually went, so he wanted something flat so he could "hear" her head hit...voila the paper plates.  I bought my little boxes from Staples this summer and they were perfect for little boxes of rubber bands. 

Another note, I had a skirt on today to wear, but realized I would be standing up on a table - so don't wear a skirt.  I realized this in time at home to change.

Here are some kids doing it:

I did take a video but can't figure that out yet.  We did have one group who named their Barbie Simone.  Poor Simone lost her head (literally).  I bought really cheap Barbies.  Another one lost her leg. 

It was awesome!  I got to finally have fun with my students in a way I got to know them. 

I highly recommend you try it.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Taco Carts, Marshmallows, Venn Diagram Elephants, and Name Tags

Not necessarily in that order.

It is Thursday and it has been a great week.  I thought I would share.

First, we did whiteboarding with Dan Meyer's 3 Act Taco Cart.  I loved it.  I did it in my Accelerated Algebra I class.  I didn't have to tell them the Pythagorean Theorem.  I didn't have to tell them to divide by the rate.  They figured it out.  It had a great entry point and the kids were hooked.  They made their guesses and went to work.  Here is one board. You can see their guess of "Dan" in the middle and the 4 students' work:
 In my Accelerated Algebra 2 class, rather than just review the different types of numbers, we used the whiteboards to make a Venn Diagram.  This one isn't quite right, but hey, we learned from our mistakes.  The "I" for irrational numbers turned into a squiggly little animal and then the group "saw" and elephant and went for it.  We did R for Real Numbers, Q for rational, I for irrational, Z for integers, W for Whole and N for Natural numbers.  It was a great discussion.  Some didn't know the difference between natural and whole.  Some didn't know what an integer was (insert gasp).  Some asked what they were if they weren't real numbers, ahhhhh, coming soon to a math room near you. 

I used the name tags with noticing and wondering statements.  From this blog:  Name tags  We folded a paper in half the hot dog way, wrote their name on one side and other side was divided into three days on which to write "I notice...." and "I wonder...."  It went so wonderfully, beyond my expectations.  First, voila, I have a name tag.  I wasn't even considering those benefits to the first week of school, duh!  And, second, it really got the kids noticing and wondering.  They really struggled with it at first.  I am glad I did it for three days because they did get better.  Some things they wrote:

"I notice this room is really hot.  I wonder if it will always be this hot."  Me - No, in the winter, we will be wearing scarves and mittens.
"I notice a large tv.  I wonder what it is for."  Me - Back in the old days, we would hook a vcr up to it, then teachers got computers, and we might be savy enough to hook our computers up to it, but now we have computers and projectors so we don't need the tvs.  They used to project the students making announcements too but we don't do that anymore either.
"I notice catapults in the room.  I wonder if we will use them."  Me - Yes, we will be launching M&Ms soon.
"I notice lots of inspirational posters around the room."  Me - Thank you for noticing.  I love being surrounded by them.

And, finally, the Great Marshmallow Challenge.  I did this with my group of 8 seniors in Futures Math Class.  (They are pulled out from a regular class scenario.)  They did awesome.  We had 2 groups of four.  One group went really tall and it bent over right away.  The other group tested it midway and got it to work.  Then, doubled it in height and it started to bend, so they squished it down some and voila.  
There were some leaders, some frustration, some competitiveness, lots of conversation and smiles and laughs and work!
We watched the TED talk after and had a conversations.
Here are some pictures.

What a great week.  And, tomorrow is Friday, which brings along Barbie Bungee!!!!!!
Thanks to the mathtwitterblogosphere!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Graphs & Transformations on Desmos

I have been borrowing a lot from math blogs and twitter but I finally had some time to put something together myself.  Granted, it is built off of someone else's ideas, from here:  Notice and Wonder Equations

Instead of direct teaching all the equations and how they are transformed, I want to use desmos.  Oh, such cool sliders!  So, I typed this up and included noticing, reflection, and prediction.  Here you go: 
Graphs and Transformations on Desmos

I was so excited I am typing this during prep period.  Off to lunch duty.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Having fun getting to know my students

I was trying to find out who did this originally so I could give them credit, but I can't find the person.  I changed the end a little bit.  Autobiography

Today was our 2nd day of classes and the kids handed in their "autobiography".  I loved reading through them. 

I learned that most of my 14 and 15 graders have lived in our town for all of their lives.  Most of them do sports, a whole variety.  I have the accelerated math students so most of them like math. 

They had a hard time with the "write a sports play by play of math class."  This one was my favorite:

"He started with addition and subtraction.  He hit a homerun on timed quizzes.  The ball was turned over to algebra and they started to run trick plays.  He was confused at first, but then he figured them out and tackled every play.  He has still yet to meet an opponent that has beaten him."

They want to learn about: quadratics, graphs, calculus, sig figs, how to open their locker, and functions, LOL.

Here are two pictures about what they don't like about math.  Two different people in two different classes:

These were two more favorites.
And, one more: (what do you want to learn this year)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

First Day of School and Bucky the Badger Explains it all

I had my first day of school yesterday after a busy month of August preparing for it.  It went very well.  I had a packed agenda and didn't get to 31-derful in my Accelerated Algebra 1 classes but I did in my Accelerated Algebra 2 class with just 10 minutes left in the class.  They worked in pairs and I had three pairs succeed!
    But, more importantly, I opened with the Bucky the Badger 3 Act by Dan Meyer.  I did it in both levels of Algebra 1 and 2.  I prefaced by explaining what a three act was and that I got to meet Dan Meyer in person and how I hope to use more of them in my classroom.  We listened to the first act about this football mascot having to do pushups for each football score.  One game, the team scored 83 points, and the question becomes, how many push ups did Bucky have to do?  They listened, they were interested. 
      Now, I asked them to guess.  Just quickly guess.  Don't do any math, don't write anything down, just guess.  They were uncomfortable.  Was I for real?  They shifted in their seats.  They looked up in the air.  They looked to see if anyone else was writing anything.  It was hard for them to take a chance and maybe be "wrong".  I moved them along quickly to - pick a number you know is too high and a number you know is too low.  They wrote all of these in their notebooks.  I asked for some of their predictions and wrote them on the board. 

    We moved on to Act 2.  What information do they need to know?  They answered - how many points for a touchdown, how many for a field goal, do they always make the extra point, how many touchdowns and field goals were scored, were there any safetys scored, and finally, what was the order that it all happened in.  Act 2 shows the answers and they were off to work.  I encouraged them to work with their neighbor and to have some discussion.  It was fun to watch them work and listen to their thought processes.  Some worked by adding horizontally, some did a 2 column table, some a 3 column table, some were totally clueless, but slowly worked through each score.  Some lumped the 7 touchdowns together and figured out that that wouldn't work.  There was a group of 2 boys where one came out to 1 number too high and the other boy was 1 number too low.  Interesting. They were persevering (a good math practice).  They didn't want to give up.  They wanted to figure it out.  I gave enough time for most of them to do it.  Some of them found their small calculation mistake or they found out the mistake to what they were doing.  A bunch of them figured out a pattern - imagine that!  I shared the different ways I saw students working.  In the future, I will let them share, but I was quickly running out of time. 

    In Act 3, I shared the answer.  I didn't get into the bit about the "was it really the same badger", but I did ask them about their guesses on the board and a little intro to "what do you notice?"  They were all too low and all around each other.  I asked them if they were indeed uncomfortable making the guesses in the first time and they quickly answered yes.  They don't want to guess.  They want to do the calculation and get it right.  I am going to show them it isn't just about getting the right answer but all the different ways the problem can be solved.  I extended the problem by having them think about if order mattered.  Would it have been a different number of pushups if they 2 field goals were scored first in the game?  I got a mixed batch of answers and asked them to think about that later that night.

   They were persevering, finding patterns, having a math discussion, finding and fixing mistakes, estimating, and problem solving.  I loved it and I think they did too. 

    Now to get ready for day 2.  Thank goodness I had today off.  I went math supply shopping on my day off and practice playing with Barbie bungee.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

My favorite project from this summer

I was out on a run and it happened to be trash day and I came upon a coffee table someone was throwing away.  It was a little dog chewed but it was cute.  It was painted blue and was probably 3'x3'.  I wanted it, inspired me to run home a bit faster.  I came home and got my husband and the van and we went on a mission to save this table.  We got there just before the trash truck.

My husband rounded off the dog-eaten corners.  I sanded the table up a bit and painted it green for our school colors.  Then, I went to pinterest and found my favorite quotes, uploaded them to snapfish, ordered some pictures, and mod podged them on. 

I have a bunch of kids each year who ask "can we sit and work in the hall".  My hall is a nice quiet dead end, so I usually let them.  But, now I have a cute little work station where they can sit on the floor or maybe a few throw pillows and have the table to work on. 

Here are a few shots.  I love it!

Monday, August 26, 2013

My math classroom so far....

I have spent a lot of time on twitter this summer and reading blogs, so I got a lot of new ideas for my classroom.

Here is some of my classroom so far.  We still have 9 days until the kids arrive.  I am still waiting on some posters to arrive.

Here are my 2'x2' whiteboards I made and a little thing to use to wipe them. 

Here are my signs (idea borrowed from someone) 

   Here is my twitter bird @hhsmath 

Here is my supply center:

A little garden of fake flowers

8 common core practices (again borrowed)

I need to firm up my first few lessons and then bring on the students!

Friday, August 16, 2013

literally...a whiteboarding problem + a football bonus (QRs too)

I bought the materials for making group white boards then I decided to turn it into a math problem.  I put it on google docs and made a QR code for it.   Hopefully this will work.  QR codes are so easy to generate.  This is a static one but apparently there are new "dynamic" QR codes.  I haven't looked into that.  You need a QR reader on phone or computer to read it.  I-Nigma is a free app for the phone to read it.

If you can't do the QR code thing, try harder.  And, if you still don't succeed, here is the problem on my google docs. 

White Boarding Math Problem

I also did one for Dick's Sporting Goods as my son and I were shopping for football stuff.  We had two coupons and wanted to save money. 

QR code for this:
 And google link if it doesn't work:  Dick's Sporting Goods - football questions