Friday, April 18, 2014

Making a Graph Updated...

A while ago, I used to make graphs for my worksheets in a way that, at the time, seemed reasonable. Hah! and Double Hah! I have seen the light. I don't know where I heard about this technique, but I am using it now, and just today, I enhanced it to be easier for me. 

Here is a finished graph that took about 4 minutes to make from a blank space:

I like this process because I can never seem to find my old "made" graphs, and if I do, they are never the right size.

Also, I used to make a similar grid using "tables", but then I would go and insert shapes with textboxes to do the scale. Tedious. I just realized today how I could do it all with tables. Viva la tables!

Here are instructions in case you are in need of graphs.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Quick PSA for Precalculus

We are now into our Logarithms and E Unit, but before that I wanted to review exponent rules and manipulations for a day. We did that, but I showed my students THIS Public Service Announcement. To set the stage for their project.

We went over 6 different exponent rules, and I mentioned that if everyone remembered them really well just from taking notes and practicing them, then we wouldn't need this review. I said that they each were assigned one of the 6 rules, and they had to make a PSA for that rule. 

We discussed that JUST restating the rule was not effective and sort of besides the point. We discussed that humor or shock value is effective. We discussed linking new things to things you know. We also discussed that the thinking of the actual content was the hardest part, and then you had to ink it out, so just use your "pockets of time" in the next 2 days to brainstorm through some creative ideas.

I also only gave them until the NEXT class to do it (8.5" x 11" paper, colored, correct, effective...). I also joked with them that if I had given them a week, they would have left it until the last minute anyway, so just pretend I assigned it last week.

Don't know if this will be effective or not, but I liked the project, and I liked seeing the wittiness and creativity of kids that I may not otherwise talk to that much because they're not the yappers in class. Here are some samples.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Time for AP Calculus AB Review

I handed this sheet out too late last year, and so didn't promote and stress effectively enough this aspect of their studying:

This year, I took some time in class today to stress each bullet. Basically, the theme was, "do something that will realistically work for you", and "show me that you have put some thought into this", and "if you find it's not working, then revise your schedule on the fly".

I personally know how it is that time just slips away if I don't have a firm plan of action on what to do when.

Hopefully, this will help the little boooooogers.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Seven Segment Display

In all of my classes this year, for the most part (unless I'm thoroughly bogged down and re-use an old key or such), I am doing the homework assignments that I assign my students fresh each year, and if I assign a project, I do it with them. I think this keeps me honest and I can keep my skills fresh and each year I can see what the issues may be and also commiserate with the students if things come up. Maybe everyone does this.

Anyway, in Digital Electronics, there is a Seven Segment Display project that we do. Here is what an SSD looks like. The students are supposed to do the logic and circuitry either to light up their birthday mm-dd-yy or to spell out a word/phrase. My phrase is "Go run 26.2". I have been working on it off and on with the students from the outset. Then I got "all that" and expected it all to work swimmingly the first time I did the breadboard. Hah! I have had a pickle of a time tracking down my errors. Then there are the students in various states of distress or completion or such that I have to help or talk down from the cliff or push along to actually put out some effort.

Our current phrase to each other is, "I am smarter than a plastic board!" to keep us going. I also keep their motivation up by telling them, "I have NEVER had a student fail this project, and you will NOT break my record" whenever they start whining, "but what if I don't finishhhhhhhhhhhh?"

Well, well, well, I just finished mine, and here is my YouTube proof. Woot! What do you know, I AM smarter than plastic!


Tuesday, March 18, 2014


We just finished our spring break and it's back to business as usual (or maybe unusual since we need to remember how to teach/learn again). I got to go to Italy for a week and LOVED it (how could you not). 

We went to Rome, Siena, and Cinque Terre. 

Cool Rome Things: 
* You can just walk around town and be simultaneously hit with modern and ancient structures. 
* Catacombs.
* Pantheon.
* A mix of tourists from ALL over and chic locals going about their business.

Cool Siena Things:
* Panforte Panpepato!
* Medieval Buildings.
* Gorgeous churches.
* Great streets to walk around and observe and see the doors.

Cool Cinque Terre Things:
* Views.
* Trails to walk on between towns.
* Water.
* Hills.
* Easy trains between the 5 towns.

* I love Duolingo and promise to be Italian-Fluent soon .... you know, like my "people" (or future people ... or people wannabes).

* Hey Roman Bus Driver, just because it's the 1,000th time you've been asked this question, it's just my 1st time asking it. Sorry to make your eyes roll.

* Hey badly-chaperoned students coming back on the plane from NYC, no one wants to hear about EVERYTHING about you all the way back home. Use your inside voices so that only 2 or 3 people around you can hear.

* Dear US coffee sellers, I think a field trip is in order to learn how to make non-bitter coffee.

* Dear TexMex food, thank you for the tradition of being our first delicious meal back when we return from "non Texas".

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Straight Line Motion and AP-Style Questions...

Last year, I broke up notes into 3 different days, and yada yada yada'd my way through things in this unit. I did examples. I put definitions. I did tables and graphs and stuff. Do you see all those "I"s floating around?

This year, I gave a flipped lesson on ONE page of all inclusive notes on Straight Line Motion. Then we did "Waldo". I think that went okay. Today I did something I learned of in an AP workshop where one person is in the role of either positive/negative velocity and a 2nd person is in the role of pos/neg acceleration. They walked it out, and we discussed how the forces either work together to speed up or against each other to slow down. Someone made a funny video of it in my class. Good times.

Then "we" did THIS. I think it's good because it mixes calculator and non calculator skills. It also asks specific ONE question each on pos/veloc/accel type things that I found on free response questions. I also like the answer bank because of the immediate feedback the kids get so that they work harder and more instantly on figuring out things.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Straight Line Motion: Calculus

I don't know if this was effective today. We had a late start day, and the kids are already in SPRING BREAK mode, and everyone was brain dead. Did I kill them, or are they just being teens? The second one. Yes. 

Anyway, this  is what my students worked on to get a sense of position, velocity, and acceleration. I think I need to follow it up with more of the same, just to get them in the right frame of mind.