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