Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Studying for Math

Today after school I was helping a couple of students.  The boy I was helping was saying that he enjoyed all the cutting and coloring we've been doing lately (I have only supplemented foldables with "regular" notes, and so the first few days have been lots of charts and foldables).  I told him that the next few days we will be back to "regular" notes and the girl next to me said she was disappointed.  She told me that she really likes the colored foldable notes and that before she never knew how to or that she could study for math.  She said that now, she knows how to study for math! 

What an absolutely amazing thing to hear from a student!  It makes all the hard work worthwhile to hear that, especially when so many students say they can't study for math.  

Monday, September 10, 2012

Great Ideas 3

And the need to put all these AMAZING ideas I keep finding on the internet continues!

Force Vectors:
Forces are a topic our A2T kids struggle with, not because of the formulas, but more due to the lack of understanding and concrete examples.  Kate Nowak suggested these videos and I am looking forward to using them later this year.

GeoGebra & Angry Birds:
Angry Birds always fly in quadratic formats... what a way to use something the kids are hooked on and get them to use quadratic equations with it!

Parallelogram Review
Always looking for quality questions to use for review for my Geometry students.

Congruent Triangles
Have actually used this one from Shireen before--it's great!.  And I agree with what many people said on her blog... I hate the use of CPCTC.  I have tried several different options (1. making them write out all the words for the first week, then letting them shorten it, 2. writing it as a conditional statement,  3. giving up and letting them just use it).  I still lean towards making them write it all out--seems to have the best results.

I love foldables--have I mentioned that before???   Anywho....this brings it to a whole new level!  Love the colors!

Foldables & Graphic Organizers
Even more ways to use foldables!

Review Add 'em Up
Kate Nowak used this for solving exponential equations by changing the base--great way for the students to check their own work.

Special Right Triangles
So cool that a dollar bill does this!!  Will have to remember this when we do special right triangles in Geometry and in A2T!

Spherical Geometry
If I ever have extra time--maybe before a break, this would be a nice break for the kids.

$2 Whiteboards
Loving this idea.  It would be great for proofs to get the kids thinking and talking about them.  Someone (sorry, I don't remember who!)  mentioned that the Crayola Dry Erase crayons work better--I'll have to look into those.

I hope to actually start using some of these ideas this year!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Points, Lines & Planes Chart

Today was our first day of school, so we saw all 8 of our classes (we are normally on a block schedule and only see 4 a day).  Sooo... our classes were each 34 minutes instead of 82.  In that time I spent about 5 minutes going over my syllabus (I still have a traditional one) and about 5 minutes pointing out important things in my classroom.  I then gave the students about 15-20 minutes to fill in the charts (which I posted about here).

For my first class, breaking up the chart into pieces worked exactly how I had envisioned.  The kids chatted with each other and me, they were out of their seats switching pieces with each other and interacting.  It was lovely!  Second class was similar--a few of them started just copying from each others charts instead of from the pieces of the notes, but that was very few of them. Again, I would say this was a successful way to get them the boring vocabulary notes they need.

Then came my last class.  Once they copied the first four pieces (they were seated in groups of 4), all they wanted to do was just trade charts and copy from each other's charts instead of from the pieces of my notes.  I know in the long run that it doesn't make much of a difference, but it did mean that they weren't really talking to each other and that they were just huddled in a big group.  I was a little disappointed in this and once I re-explained my expectations the kids were better about it.  I think part of it was them being lazy and it was also the very last of the 8 classes they had today (plus lunch and homeroom twice), so they were probably exhausted.  

Overall, a good idea for getting them the notes and I will use this again next year.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Blogger Initiative Week 3: Why I teach

I had a tough time choosing a prompt to respond to this week--they were all great questions and I just don't have good answers to many of them.  Hence the response to the ever asked question, "why are you a teacher?"  This question is usually not ended there; it usually includes some form of "you are too smart to teach."  Nothing gets my blood boiling faster than that small addition to the question.  Where did this idea that only people of lesser "smartness" should be teachers come from?  Do we really want our children (our future) to be taught by people who don't know math, can't spell or speak coherently?  I certainly wouldn't want that to be the case!

Unlike many of the math bloggers out there, I don't have some miraculous story about how I was in the corporate world and then changed careers---this is all I have done and all I have ever wanted to do (besides a few terrifying moments when I thought that, despite fainting at the sight of blood, I thought I could be a nurse).  I used to make my younger siblings sit and play school with me while I handed them worksheets with spelling words and addition problems.  (yes, I was that mean big sister)  Even on the days when I am so very frustrated with the way teachers are being treated and villainized, I may say I would switch careers, but I can't imagine spending my life doing anything else.  

I love teaching.  I love that moment when the lightbulb finally goes off for a student and a concept they have been struggling with clicks.  Kids are funny, insightful and fun!  Teaching is one of the world's most rewarding jobs, even on its toughest days.

And now, the more pertinent question--why teach math?  Well, the answer I always tell my students is that I didn't want to grade 100 essays on the exact same topic.  And there is truth in that answer.  Also, as a kid, I always had a hard time buying the truth of being told that certain elements of a story where put in place with specific intention (example:  who is to really say whether or not that tree is a symbol for life, vitality, etc?)I was always good at school, I LOVE to read and I probably could have taught English.  However, I absolutely love the beauty of math.  I love that each problem is like solving a puzzle and there is a great sense of satisfaction when you get to the end of a problem and the puzzle is complete.  

Wow, I actually had a lot more to say on that topic than I thought I did.  Now it's off to keep re-planning for the first day of school !

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Foldables and My Turn to Give Back

First of all, I need to say a huge thank you to the blogging community for being so willing to share!  I have been reworking my first unit in Geometry (we start school on Tuesday, and I had put stuff in to be copied in June, and am trashing most of it) and I have stolen a lot of stuff from this amazing community to (hopefully) improve my first few lessons.

The following people have given me ideas/worksheets that I have tweaked to make my own:
Angie at Coefficients of Determination - her foldable for parallel lines and transversals is awesome

  • I took Angie's and tweaked it to work for me--switched the fonts around a bit and focused only on parallel lines and transversals; I took out vertical angles and linear pairs since I teach them the day before

Sarah at Everybody is a Genius - Her foldables for Points, Lines and Planes took what I had done for the last 2 years and improved upon it!

  • Again, I looked at Sarah's stuff and tweaked it (only very slightly) by changing the font and adding a very small section.  I even stole two of her diagrams because at midnight last night when I was finishing these up, I was too tired to redo them
MissCalcul8 at MissCalcul8 - Cutting the squares of the chart up is pure genius!  
  • I have been looking for something a little more interesting to do on the first day than just sit and copy notes off the board and this is the perfect balance of academic work and allowing the kids the freedom to talk.
    • So, I will be doing the Pts, Lines & Planes chart as a day 1 activity (we have shortened blocks that day)
    • The second day of school I will be doing the Points, Lines & Planes Chart
  • My versions:  
    • Day 1 - Points, Lines and Planes Chart
      • One note on this chart-on Box.net I have a Word document of this file, but any time I upload it, the numbers in the boxes shift.  However, when it is downloaded, it seems to open fine.  So.... for those of you who like to tweak these for your needs, there is a Word document in addition to the PDF.
    • Day 2 - Points, Lines and Planes Chart

And finally... My turn to give back!  I made a final foldable last night--for kinds of angles.  It's not terribly unique; a hotdog fold and 10 flaps, but I am hoping that it is at least a more interesting way to take notes than using plain old looseleaf paper.  I won't get to use this for a couple of weeks, so I won't know for sure how well it works (or not).  Feel free to take it, use it, tweak it, etc.

One last note--how do I get those nicely embedded images in Blogger--I can only get the link to the document and then I have been taking screen shots of my documents to get images? 

  • Follow-up:  The kinds of angles foldable worked well, but I didn't get to use any color or fun with it, as I also had to give my pre-assessment for the SLO's the day I did that lesson.  However, the notes took far less time than they have in the past and I think the kids got a better lesson out of it since it was interactive and is a little more fun to look at than looseleaf paper.
  • Follow-up 2:  A BIG thank you to Mrs. H who told me to go to Box.net for embedding--it works way better than Scribd for Blogger!