Thursday, April 25, 2013

APCS AP Exam Studying

After a conversation with some 10th graders today: "I wish teachers would teach us HOW to study for exams", I got nervous. In my mind I HAVE done that. I think. Once. For final exams. But apparently, it's not a message that sticks. Or maybe they're so used to being bossed around by us/me, that when they aren't, they think, "woo HOO! Free time! No Homework! Study Shmudy."

So I came up with this assignment for my APCS class (while I'm on a field trip with other students .... no stress here .... only a handful of class days before the AP Exams, but SURE, I'll help chaperon).

Maybe if they have the schedule, they'll be more likely to use it. Don't burst my bubble.

Monday, April 22, 2013


... And I don't mean dear old me!

Our school is relatively new, and so we have our first graduating class this year. We're starting all sorts of new traditions and going through growing pains and figuring out what works and doesn't work (or figuring out that we have to figure it out).

I don't know if it's a function of being such a small public school, or if it's just business as usual, but for most of the year this year our seniors have been:

"UGH! I'm so over it!"
"UGH! I can't WAIT to get out!"

Well, I could go on, but you get the picture.

As people with feelings, or maybe I'll just speak for myself, ... as a person with feelings, my first reactions are:

"The NERVE!"
"Don't you know the blood/sweat/tears I put out for you?"
"Do you appreciate NOTHING?!?!?!"

I could go on, but again, you probably get the picture.

Then I started to think. This is a natural process. Of course they want to leave. It would be weird if they wanted to stay in HS forever. Also, it's not ALL the seniors, but just a vocal few that phrase things this "in your face" way, and of course I then extrapolate, and it's EVERYONE that HATES us/me/math.

Maybe it's also part of the natural process (or maybe I'm just making myself feel better), that they are anxious about leaving after being here for so long, and they are trying to not get nervous/scared/worried about next year, but instead they're trying to replace it with relief of leaving.

My new inner and outer response the the kidlets is:

"Of course you want to leave. It would be weird if you didn't. You're ready for your next life phase."

(and of course the little voice inside me will still whisper: ruuuuuuuddddddeeeeeeee)

Monday, April 15, 2013

Quick and Easy Visual for Tangents to a Circle

I was helping a student recall that 2 tangents to a circle from the same exterior point are congruent (as segments). Instead of talking it out, we did this. It was a quick and effective way to test out various scenarios. We set it up so we could read the distance from the exterior point to each tangent point.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Geometry: Two Dimensional Areas

The year is winding down, and it's time for 2D area, 3D surface area and 3D volumes. I know my geometry kidlets have been learning areas of triangles since they were in the womb, so I didn't want to spend much "lecture/learning" time on it. I also wanted to do something different for parallelograms. Basically, I wanted them to spend the bulk of the period on practicing challenging area problems.

So, I thought I'd have them draw a large (palm sized) triangle in their notebooks, and then we would eyeball all 3 altitudes by lining up the ruler markings with the base to allow perpendicular segments. We'd measure everything in cm, then use calculators to get area.

We also talked about accuracy and how since we are measuring to the tenths place and THAT'S iffy, then when we calculate, we can only expect accuracy to the integers place.

Once we did this, I asked if anyone was off more than an integer for their 3 calculated areas (the 3 scenarios of bases and heights). Some kids were off a lot.

Well. It seems that I wasn't clear or it wasn't clear and I just assumed they'd know which base matched up with which height. Silly me.

So I went back and color coded my notebook and had them do the same. Here is what it looks like:

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Volumes of Revolution

Whew! All AP Calculus topics DONE (okay, except for optimization ..... and a thorough job of accumulation functions). But, I figure with my now intensive 3 weeks of review, I can hit those (again) and maybe it will have a chance to stick in their overfull brains.

We just did Volumes of Revolution (and cross section areas), and here is the sheet I used for the revolving volumes:

It's a mix of information/ideas from the great site: and from my ideas.