Friday, September 26, 2014

Learning is Hard

Students are learning to solder in Digital Electronics. I let them tinker and figure a lot out for themselves. I do give them tips, and we had a safety discussion, and we saw a soldering video and we talked some more. But basically, once they have the kits, they have to jump right in to something they are not comfortable with. 

There are casualties. 

Hopefully, this is not a symbol on how they feel inside.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Basic Derivative Rules

Last year our school got "schooled" on Kagan strategies, and one I liked was "Quiz Quiz Trade". I used that today for about 10 minutes for my calculus students to help each other learn some basic derivative strategies for monomials.

They always struggle if there are radicals or x's in the denominator or fractional exponents. I have tried in the past to get them to rewrite the f(x) first as axb. But after they nod their heads "yea yea", they go back to messing up.  

Quiz Quiz Trade to the rescue. They get practice, and they have to explain, and they have another student helping them, and they want to understand. I think it helped this year, since I had less questions when they started their homework.

Here is my template for cards that looked like this:

Quiz Quiz Trade Rules:
You have to model this and keep an eye on them and move them along.
1. You raise your hand high when you need a new partner and you search for 
    another hand and you pair off.
2. You greet each other with eye contact (social skills)
3. One person holds their card, question side facing partner.
4. The quiz-ee tries to answer it.
5. If correct, you praise the quiz-ee (social skill).
6. If wrong, you give hints on how to get to answer .... until answer correct, 
    then praise.
7. The quiz-ee is now the quiz-or and does 3-6.
8. When both done, TRADE. and go to 1.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Back to School Night

It's that time again: Back to School Night. Our school is following the "no schedule" rule, so that after a brief overview in the "cafetorium", the parents can wander the halls and pop in on various teachers at their convenience as opposed to rushing from class to class and being talked to for about 5 minutes before they zip off to another class.

Because it's not always possible to talk with every parent for as long as they would like, I have made up a half-sheet hand out that sums up why the courses their kids take from me may be useful or interesting. I didn't list everything, obviously, but just enough for "dinner party" conversation.

I'll also have some projects laying around and our notebook of things learned so far (or maybe last year's notebooks).

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Stolen Ideas....

I found a "study sheet" of one of my Calculus students practicing for their trig quizzes, and I totally stole her idea for today's trig lesson.

(excuse the sideways issue!) I feel it will be a great visual resource when they do these special radians in their heads.

Templates HERE.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Unit Circle and Radians

Breaking News: Kids struggle with fractions!
Alert: Kids can't describe how 3π/4 relates to π.
News at 11: Radians? What new torture is THIS?!

I tried something new today in precalculus to help cement the "special angles" around the unit circle. Based on the spontaneous comment of one of my students ("this REALLY helped."), I am hoping for greater and sooner fraction success this year.

First I made templates and printed them on various colors of papers (one color for each special "radian"):

Each student trimmed the circles and pasted the yellow "unit circle" in their notebooks along with a blue slot to store wedges:

We then had a discussion about π/6 and I had them place various radians in standard position and we discussed reference triangles and values around the sides:

I made sure to do some negative angles:

We finally discussed the π/6 angles and worked through a problem:

 Now I sit back and wait to see if THIS year they are fraction geniuses!

Function Notation Error

No matter how clearly I think I explain that f(x + Δx) ≠ f(x) + f(Δx), I still have the "believers".

Yesterday, I drew a graph to explain it to a student, and she had the big, "OH!" moment, so hopefully, THIS will work. Here's a short video of what I did:

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Yearly Goal

Aaaaaannnd we're back into the swing of things at school: frenzied hamster on the wheel looking over her shoulder while madly scrambling faster, so that the big boulder does not plow into her because she did not complete a task.

Fun things for the 1 week of school so far:

* Love my students.  Because I haven't taught all the geometry kids now for a couple of years, I have tons of new student (to me) in precalculus.

* My advisory students are just funny and sweet.

* I've purged a bunch of things I've basically never used but felt I needed or "would use someday" from my classroom, including the teacher desk, and now it feels more roomy.

* I keep thinking of this quote, and it gets me through just about everything.

* I think my operating theme for THIS year is: take care of each other above all else.

It's more important to have kids feel heard and valued and loved than to "get through my to-do list". People before paper! Be present! Enjoy the little whipper-snappers.