Friday, May 27, 2011

Proud "Mama"

This year in IED (the Project Lead the Way engineering course) I decided to assign a "cardboard" chair project. I had gone to a workshop in February, and 2 other IED teachers presented this project, and I totally had to do it. My class started right after our spring break in March, and I decided to do the project with my students. I JUST finished my chair, and my students' chairs are in various stages of completion.

I altered their project to fit my school's needs and time frame and such, and the kids stressed out and grumbled and such, but then I heard various whispers of them being impressed with themselves for designing and creating something totally from scratch and from their own imaginations. Part of the specs were that it could only be made out of cardboard, and it had to support 200 lbs.

I finished mine today, and it worked! Woot! Anyway, just a bragging post to show pictures, and because I was hopeful that it would work, but deep down wasn't quite sure I could pull it off.

Quarter Scaled Mock Up:

In Production:

Finished Product:

Goofy Person In Chair:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Like Terms

Oy! We're reviewing for our geometry finals. We're including a ton of algebra embedded very sneakily into problems. We have to dredge our minds to remember that using the Pythagorean Theorem on a right triangle with sides of length: x, 5, and 3x means that I can't just write, "3x^2"; I have to write "(3x)^2".

Then we have to remember that sometimes like terms are tricky little buggers. How do you add x^2 + x^2? Hmmm, maybe it's x^4, or maybe it's 2x^4, or maybe I just don't know. Here's a conversation I tried to get started so that a student could see the light and say, "OH! but of course, Ms. D, that's OBVIOUSLY 2x^2". It went something like this:

Me: Okay, the numbers in front are just counting numbers.
Me: For example, what's one cat plus one cat?
Her: A kitten.


We FINALLY got it. This time.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Units Conversion

Probably in math classes across the country no matter what level (algebra through calculus), right now, if you asked a student, "how many feet squared is 100 inches squares?", the majority of them would JUST divide by 12 to get their answer. Right? Right?

I've tried various things throughout the years, and things "stick" for the unit, but later, say the following year or years, I ask the same question, the student reverts back to JUST dividing by 12. Must be hardwired into their heads.

Anyway, this came up again yesterday in geometry class with the following problem:

You want to paint the exterior of a cylindrical container with a 4 inch radius and 15 inch height. Paint costs 86 cents per square foot, how much would it cost.

I had an answer bank on the sheet, and LO AND BEHOLD, their answer was not on there. Hmmmmmm. Then I prompted: be careful with your units. OH! Okay, convert convert. OH! the answer is STILL not on there. Hmmmmmm. The dreaded JUST dividing by 12 dilemma. Anyway, I held up a piece of white paper and basically did what you see here below.

It SEEMED to make sense to the students. I liked the visual and the methodical dividing the side by 12 AND the algebraic equation by 12 right afterward, so they see what happens. It SEEMED to stick, but I'm not going to fall for that again. I'll quiz them again next year or two to see. My optimistic self thinks, "YES! I've solved the problem of world peace." Don't burst my bubble. Anyway, one more example to add to the arsenal.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Wolfram HWK on 3D solids

I have no idea how this is going to work, but I'm going to try it anyway. My 9th graders will be out of class all week in one of my preps. I'll catch them back up during review week on these basic topics on V and SA, but here's their homework due Friday:

I have found in the past if I leave things open enough for this type of population, they (most of them) run with it. This will be their chance to explore.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

3D Cram Session

This week will be the last week of new material before we start reviewing for finals. This week is also our week of EOC testing. So, I won't see my 9th graders at all, and I still want to refresh their memories on volumes and surface areas of 3D objects. Sheesh, I have to manage my time better next year and remember that we have more "wasted" weeks than I planned for. Let's see 6-8 days of material crammed in 2 block days, 2 of which I don't see them. Quality instruction. What makes me not TOO worried is that they've seen it before (not that it's immediately accessible in their memories), and they're hard working and will do what I ask via e-mail.

Anyway, my vision is to "teach" them via e-mail and online quizzes. Here's the formula sheet they'll paste in their notebooks:

Now I'll get to use to make some "homework" quizzes I can check virtually.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Haiku Fun

On the latest test for my 10th grade geometry kiddies, my last "question" was: Write a haiku about geometry, and I refreshed their memories ... (3 lines: 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables).

Along with the "non answers", and the kidlets who didn't know what a syllable was (eeeeee), here were some fun ones:

Geometry, huh?
Well, it is so very hard,
But it's also fun. *

*(but hard.)
[Love the fact that she had to stress the difficulty]

In geometry
you're the master of numbers
watch while I compute.

Math can be fun. Just
try geometry. Really!
You will love this class.

Geometry is
equations and big circles.
It is very fun!

What am I taking?
It's a geometry test.
That's what I'm taking.
[Too funny]

Math is difficult.
Geometry is worse, though,
but I still love it.

Geometry is
an intelligent subject.
There's so much to it.

Geometry is
scary, horrifying, fun
but I learn the shapes.

Math is very hard
I'll cry uncontrollably
But D_____ ____ is cool.

I need "vinegar".
Math makes me really angry.
You evil llama.
["vinegar" is in reference to me bringing balsamic vinegar to school and the kids thinking it was a bottle of wine and me playing along. "llama" .... I don't know, somehow I got labeled the "llama lady". Don't ask.]

I need to pass this
Geometry. Pretty Please.
I will try my best.

Geometry is
About the shapes and logic.
It be more math, bleh!

Oh, Geometry!
You make my head ache so much.
Why Geometry?

Don't be sad with math.
It is useful in some ways.
Yea, Geometry.

Love geometry.
It is extremely helpful
all around the world.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Self Teaching Segment Area

We have 4 crazy weeks left of school. Every time we blink either our schedule is shortened for (fill in the blank) assemblies, or students are missing for AP exams (but only for some classes of your prep), or students are pulled out for EOC field tests (and again only for some classes of your prep), or since there's a FAIR for the environment, so we have 40 minute classes and then a ton of prep for the fair. Weeeeee.

Anyway, lots of deep breathing going on here. Funny story. I brought some balsamic vinegar to school for my lunch salad, and I happened to leave the bottle out on my messy desk after lunch. Some time during my afternoon classes a student asked, "is that wine?!" I played along and said yes, that they were driving me to drink.

Anyway, in the spirit of needing the kids to self teach a LOT the next couple of weeks, here's what we did yesterday. I'm LOVING the answer bank concept. The answers are jumbled up, but the kids have immediate feedback on whether they did things correctly. They also are more apt to immediately go back and search for their errors if they don't see their answer. ALSO, I don't have to spend the extra time coming up with a corny joke to make up and to fashion to fit. ALSO, I can have repeat answers, and it doesn't matter because I just put both of them down.

Here it is:

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Teacher Appreciation Week

Funny Story. This week is T.A.W., and I think our AP nudged our students into writing thank you letters to the teacher (or some such gesture) because I'm getting them trickling in. They're sweet and make my day.

Anyway, today in geometry, I'm teaching the FASCINATING area concept, and I wanted to make a visual point, so I scanned the room, and saw a student seemingly doodling and not looking up. I called her on it and got her attention and went on. Flash forward to the end of class. I'm walking around the room, and I see there are cookies on her desk, and I jokingly said, "Oh! Are those for me? Thanks!" guffaw, guffaw.

Then she says, "yes, they ARE for you, and here's a note with it. THIS is what I was doing when you called me out in class."


Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Radical Like Terms

I threw out a goofy story one day a few weeks ago to get the kids to manipulate radicals properly, and it seemed to help some kids, so I thought I'd share ... and I guess I'll share in building up order instead of the order in which it happened.

I make sure to ask a student (or class) what this means: . I get a variety of answers:
* I don't know
* 4 times ?
* are you asking me?
* what?

So then I look suddenly across the room, "Look over there! What's that?". They look. "Just see those 4 cute little s running around!" And I go on to describe that you're just counting in shorthand how many there are.

And then if there's a problem like + , I expand the story: "... and over by the door, 8 more sexy s just joined the party! How many are in the room now?"

I guess it sticks with SOME of the students because today we had a problem like: (12)() and someone was wondering how to multiply it. So I asked: "what does mean?". Pretty quickly someone answered: you have 12 little s running around. And then we were able to finish the problem (and you have 12 sets of those 12, so .....

My next goal (someday) is to have them do a dramatic interpretation or story or SOMETHING emotional about + . I've read that things that pack an emotional punch in some way stick better in your head. Or maybe it's just the punching part ....