Saturday, November 24, 2012

Deep Breaths & Mantras

* They're still children.

* They must be allowed to fail if that's the path they're on, and they're not taking any of the multiple opportunities to get help.

* They don't get answers wrong to annoy me.

* What do you MEAN math's not the end all of your joyous tasks???

* Every day is a fresh start.

* Homework in calculus is only worth 10%. I should not get my panties in a twist because they are trying to find loopholes to "doing the right thing".

* They are people and not grades.

Breathe innnnnnnn, breathe outttttttt.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Flipping Idea

A couple of weeks ago, when I was starting my calculus class, it turned out that about 6 of the students hadn't watched the video. Out of 22 students, that's not good. I was so frustrated and grumpy and chided them and mumbled that now I'd have to babysit them and actually take their notes as a homework grade and yada yada yada. One of my finer moments.

Yes, I have started taking the notes for a grade (it's only been one class! success! :))

But then after I learned about screencast-o-matic and also movie maker in which I can splice together different screen shots or different videos, I had an idea yesterday, and I implemented it. We happened to have a club meeting on Saturday, and one of my calculus students was at the club. I had her make 2 short video clips, and I spliced them into my flipped lesson in addition to splicing in a goofy photo bomb picture of myself.

My thoughts are that maybe I can have stealth students quickly record a short applicable webcam video (periodically? always?) and then put them in randomly. Then the students will be CLAMORING to watch their flipped videos. Right? Right?????

This lesson happened to be about related rates problems involving cones. There's invariably an upside down cone filling or draining of liquid. One of my student's clips was, "why would you have a cone-shaped tank?". Her other one was, "how does this cone keep from falling down?". My goofy face was plugged in after I made some mistake in writing my notes (shocker!), and then I popped my face in there and then continued.

Ahhhhh, at least I keep myself amused.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Creating Quick Graphs for Documents

I'm playing around with screencast-o-matic that I found out about from an awesome colleague, so I thought I'd make a video on how to make a quick xy-plane of any size you want for your documents:

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Grading Exams...

I'm grading my 6 weeks calculus exam. On one implicit differentiation problem, I stated it as: show that dy/dx = ...... , so the kids HAVE the answer they're shooting for. They need to do the differentiation and get to the answer.

I love how the Magic Math Fairy sprinkles dust on some of their work and 10's become 6's or negative numbers *POOF* turn positive just because they have to.

They're so cute.....

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Classes & Objects in Java

I didn't find a satisfactory way to teach this without yapping at the kids and having them take notes and zone out and such. I knew I wanted to make analogies to link it to what they know. I didn't have time to create something.

Luckily, I came across this website. And I made up this sheet:

It took them all block period, and MOST who were on task finished. There was good discussion on what classes and objects and subclasses were. I think I'd like to add to the sheet (maybe for homework or a follow up). The add on would be more questions about them creating classes and subclasses and objects going along with this analogy.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Intermediate Value Theorem

In Calculus we've "learned" the IVTh a bit ago, but as in all things, once we come back to it, students seem to have a hard time explaining what the theorem was. As I was talking to a kid today doing corrections on a section quiz, I gave her an example and asked her to match up my scenario with the terms of the theorem.

This seemed to help her (but then I did that at the start of the topic also), so I decided to make the following worksheet for the rest of the class. I think this will be different than me just relating a story because the students actually have to go in and match up what goes with what. Here's the sheet.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Back in the Day .... Dinosaurs....

That's what I felt like today.

In precalculus, like all teachers, I want them to memorize and have a quick recall of (eventually all 6 functions and all 4 quadrants but for now...) sine/cosine/tangent of all special angles in the 1st 2 quadrants. I do timed quizzes where they have to get 100% or they get a 0% ... and they can take it as many times as they want.

I think the repetition is good for them. Also, I tell them, "hey! Make flashcards! Study!" we made a foldable (2 circles with a radius cut out and them sandwiching the other and the bottom is the unit circle with stuff around it).

Anyway, a student was waiting for a friend to do test corrections after school today, and she said, "hey ...", while she was fiddling with her iPhone. "Look what app I bought." She showed me the "unit circle app" that she bought for $0.99. You do something and a random graphical image of a reference triangle shows up on the unit circle and the sine and cosine values are shown.


Dinosaurs, I'm telling you. Rawr.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Teaching Methods in Java

I'm going to be teaching methods this week in Java, so I made up the following packet for the task. I'm still feeling my way around the best way to do things. Next year (cross my fingers the class will make), I'll teach methods sooner.

Currently, my students are working on a "Match Making" graphics program. I found some code online, that will make text boxes and allow use of the user input for "painting". I played around with it a bit and had the kids practice via a guided packet. Now they're to prompt the user for boy/girl, eye color, and 2 traits they decide. Then they're to draw the "dream date" based on the input. Can't wait to see their results.

Friday, November 02, 2012


I just learned of NACLO, and thought I'd share it with people. This is the North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad, and it's a FREE contest that's held in late January next year (2013). This seems like a cool career path (computational linguistics) that students may not have been aware of.

Here's a link to past contests. And there look to be super fun problems.

Some things that Computational Linguists think about and work on:
* speech recognition
* detection of deception
* search engines
* spam detection
* how (and why) do languages change?
* what do human languages have in common?