Wednesday, January 27, 2016

New term - My To Do list

Out with the old term and in with the new as we have midterms this week and start our second semester on Monday.  For us, that means we have a new teaching schedule - for example, I taught Algebra 1 periods 1 and 3 this term, next term they are periods 2 and 7.  It also means some of the kids change.  Not all of them, but some in each class.  So, I treat it like September all over again, only this time, I don't have the summer time to get ready.  I need to do it this week. 

So, I started a To Do list.  And, it seems the more I do, the more I feel accomplished, only to find more to do.  This is mostly to remind me next year what needs to be done.

Add to this that our school hosts the AMC math test on Tuesday that I am in charge of and need to get ready for.

Given my exams are copied and ready to go, answer keys are made, analysis sheets are printed, reviews are done....

Here goes:
  • New calendar/syllabus for each class - for me through the entire term
  • New calendar/syllabus for each class - one unit for the students
  • New calendar drawn on the back board for February
  • New calendar written in my planbook (old school style)
  • New class lists printed (not written into my grade book (again old school style) yet because kids are apt to change, so I use the lists for a couple of weeks, then write in grade book)
  • New policies and expectations copied - for all students - needed for the new students, reminders for my old students
  • New seating charts - I change seats each month and I will now have a class with 28 kids so I needed to request two more desks for my room.  This is my first year doing desks in groups, so I needed to configure them a little different to fit the 28 desks.
  • New email group lists according to class
  • New classes into Canvas (our LMS) - will have to remove old students at the end of the week and add new
  • Clean out old papers from my files on desk
  • Clean out closet
  • Clean out email - oh that feels good.  I got it from about 500 emails to 52 in my inbox with ZERO unread!  Yep!  Gone.
  • Hang new posters
  • Post a new Sudoku puzzle.  I have a giant board and try to update it each month.  I don't know when the kids do it but every time I look it is complete and correct.  Maybe the elves come in at night and do it?
  • New lesson plans for the week - I like to be planned and copied a week ahead of time
  • Find conic cards - we are moving in our conics unit in Accelerated Algebra 2 and I have a nice set of laminated conic cards for sorting - found them when I cleaned out the closet
  • Print color coded foldables for conics - I do not do interactive notebooks but for this unit, I do have the kids do foldables the night before I teach it using the book and filling in the info - all copied and ready to go
  • Conics desmos project - printed.  I will hand this out on Monday and they get two months to do it.  I love seeing their final projects.
  • AMC test - have kids sign up, order tests, ask for parent volunteers to help administer test and donate waters, reserve cafeteria, sharpen pencils, collect math tools
  • Blog - loving #MTBoS's blogging initiative and getting to read so many new blogs
  • Read twitter for new ideas
All of the above is done!
And, now, back to grading......

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A Better Question for Quadratics #MTBoS blog3

This is my 3rd post in the series on the #MTBoS blogging initiative:


When teaching quadratics in Accelerated Algebra 1, I teach solving by all the methods.  Sometimes they ask, why so many methods?  I try to show them the advantage of one method over the other.  I want them to analyze the quadratic before they just jump in and try it.  I would say they are 50-50.  50% will try factoring and 50% will try quadratic formula.  However, over the past few years, some kids are turning to completing the square as their first mode.

On my quiz for this unit, I have a favorite question.  I give them three quadratic equations and I ask them to solve them using factoring, completing the square, and the quadratic formula.  They must use each method once and explain why they chose that method.

The first quadratic equation is a factorable quadratic with a = 1.  It is the only one that is factorable.  Kids will mess up by not looking at all of the problems first before deciding on a solving method.  They will do the first with the quadratic formula because they like it.  Then, they try one of the others and it is not factorable and they write - no solution or not factorable.  Okay, well, if it isn't factorable, then use another method to actually solve it!

By this quiz, we have also learned complex numbers.  The second equation has "a" not equal to 1.  I would choose to do this one with the quadratic formula because I think I am more likely to make a mistake doing completing the square when "a" is not 1.  The last equation is not factorable, but "a" is equal to 1, so do completing the square here.  I try to give the kids a hint and have the constant on the other side of the equation.  I do accept either method on the last two as long as they can explain their reasoning.  The second one is a complex solution.

They are allowed to use their calculator on this part of the quiz, so if they really made the connections, they could check these by graphing it on their calculator, but I don't think they do that yet.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

My Favorite - ZAP - a review game

I love a good review game.  I had a hard time coming up with My Favorite for the #MTBoS blogging initiative because I have so many favorites. 

I have a lot of review games in my inventory and I give some thought to which one to use when.  This week we were reviewing for midterms next week.  It was a good time to do a mix of difficult problems from the entire term.  With ZAP, I use 16 questions and put them into a powerpoint to project.  The kids work in their classroom groups and each has a white board.  They hold up their answers and the first person to answer wins 5 points for their group.  It does involve speed and competition but it gets us to move through 16 problems in the class period.  Even after the first person gets it, I give the other kids more time to work and hold up and check their answers.  If they are still stuck, we will go over it.  The ZAP board helps adjust scores so it isn't always the fastest or smartest team winning.  There are some good ZAP cards (multiply your score by 2) but there are also some bad cards - ZAP your score (revert to zero).  It keeps the kids engaged.  They work in groups and help each other.

I blogged about it previously:  ZAP - A review game

I bought library pockets online and made my pretty board:  Just write on the index cards and add them to the pockets.  The correct team earns 5 points and then picks a number.  There are positive and negative plus two silly things  - stand up and sing "I'm a Little Teapot" and "do 10 jumping jacks".

Monday, January 11, 2016

Thank you

I am a mentor in the #MTBoS Blogging Initiative.                     

                                                   MTBoS Blogging Initiative

I happened to have this blog post fall into my lap yesterday.  It fit the challenge:

I was at the gym, exiting my boxing class, when a young man approached me.  He said, "You probably don't remember me."  My memory is terrible these days and I am terrible at remembering names but from somewhere I pulled the name, "Jimmy!"  I was shocked I remembered it through the years and a beard and mustache, but it all came flooding back.

I tutored for ten years before I started teaching and I tutored Jimmy in math.  He was the middle of three boys and when he went off to college, I started tutoring the youngest brother, Marky.  I remember tutoring Jimmy and Mark would be off playing the piano.  I found it so relaxing.  We would have great conversations.

I asked what he was up to.  Turns out he has been an English teacher for 10 years and he didn't want to bother me at the gym but he wanted to tell me I inspired him to be a teacher.  Yes, you can bother me to tell me that.  I so appreciate hearing it.  It truly warms my heart and he made my day.  I said, "How can you have been teaching for 10 years?  I have only been teaching for 11 years."  I guess it must have been early in my tutoring time that I tutored him.

We caught up for a little bit.  I asked about his brothers.  Marky has three little kids, twins were born just two months ago.  The older brother has two beautiful daughters.  No kids for Jimmy yet.  I asked if his parents were still here in town and they all are.  The parents must be thrilled to have these successful young men and lots of grandbabies.

Jimmy said, "You used to love the Bare Naked Ladies, right?"  He was right.  His brother used to have a small radio talk show and interviewed them right after they broke up.  He told Mark he should email me but he never did.  After this meeting, I remembered that Jimmy loved Bon Jovi, LOL.  Seems like a different lifetime.

It was so good to see him and hear that he is doing so well.

This is why I teach.

Shirts Volume and Surface Area

I got this idea from Alex @AlexOverwijk in person and his blog Slam Dunk Math.

He spirals his curriculum and gets to work with the shirts for a few days.  I knew my small class would not be interested for more than one day.  But, I did have their attention today - at least the girls.  They were working.  The boys did not.

I brought in my t-shirts:

Before class they were asking questions, but I formalized it on the board with "What do you notice? What do you wonder?"  Should have taken a better picture of their wonderings? How much did you spend?  How long did it take you to get them all? Are they clean? Why do I have that many?

I answered the ones I could and then we focused on how many shirts.  They looked at me like - we will just count.  I said, no.  They said, "We have to guess?"  We do Estimation 180 every day so they knew that was coming.  I handed out sticky notes and asked them to guess.

Then, I asked what the shape was.  We are working on 3D shapes, surface area, and volume now.  They first guessed pyramid but we got to it being a cone.  I asked how they might measure that.  They asked for string, scissors, and measuring tape which I provided and they got to work.

We haven't done the formula for a cone yet but I told them 3 cones would fit into a cylinder and we worked with the formula.

They found the circumference, then the diameter, and the radius.  Then, we calculated the Volume.  We got a really big number - now what?  They were stuck.  I told them I would give them a little pile of 8 shirts.  "What we have to do all that measuring again?"  Yes, now, you know the process.

They found the volume of the 8 and then were able to put it together and do big divided by little times 8!  Yeah! That was a huge jump they successfully made.
Our answer:

A student bet me her life savings we would not calculate the exact answer.  And, granted we didn't get exact, but we were only 3 away.  We talked about why we were a little off. 
The actual answer was: 65

Finally, I asked how much of the hallway the shirts would cover.  I asked how this was different.  They linked it to surface area.  They got excited to work in the hallway.  I gave them one to work with.  We figured out how many tiles one t-shirt took up and made our prediction.  We were off again because the shirts were different sizes, but they had fun. 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Group Fun Sarah's 1-100

I love Sara's blog post about 100#s

I tried it in groups today and the kids loved it.   It was so fun.  I put up the timer to see how far they could get in 2 minutes.  I had 6 groups range from the #20-52. 

Then, I told them I was going to now just start the timer to count up to see how much longer it would take us.  Surprisingly, it was the group that was at 38 who ended up winning, followed closely behind by 3 more teams right away, all about 2:20 minutes more was needed. 

I used the sheet without the quadrants.  The team that won did notice the pattern :)  Lots of fun.  They wanted to try again, but we ran out of time.

Here is the class deep into competition: