## Monday, May 13, 2013

### May is not a good month for teachers....

Have you ever noticed how the month of May is unexplainably busy? At lunch, the veteran teachers were telling us about how this is one of life's greatest mysteries but May is not a teacher's friend.

Any who, I owe you all like a million posts but I think I will delay these every so slightly.... but here are their topics :)

- Formative Assessment Lessons (professional development that focused on these lessons)

- Angry Birds Level

- Conical Art

- Identifying Conics investigation leading to group work leading to fun with fly swatters

- Real World Racing to solve work rate problems

my brain is dead at the moment as I only got 4 hours of sleep after a 12 hour drive home from South Carolina but I'm sure I have other ones coming.....

Thanks for your patience!!!

## Thursday, April 4, 2013

### iCECREAM exponents

Welp folks, complex numbers are now complete and we are on our way into Quadratics.... after a brief stop at the midterm next week. While the kids were testing today, I decided to draw up a concept that a student and I had combined efforts on.

At the beginning of complex numbers, we discussed the concept of "i" and how when it is raised to certain powers, it can take on different values, alternating between 4 distinct ones. To help remember what i raised to a certain power is, we create the coordinate plane and remember to divide the exponent by 4. This generic explanation did not sit well with some of my kids. When needing to explain the concept to a friend, a student decided to put this in terms of popsicles and how much eating several popsicles would cost.

I decided to tweak this a bit and put it in terms of icecream scoops! She saw the result of my drawing today and absolutely loved it so I will share it with you!

What do you think? Does it make sense or should I tweak it some more?

## Monday, April 1, 2013

### Moving On and Moving Up

Sorry for the lack of posts recently! I haven't said anything about it recently but those of you (a few) who regularly follow this blog might have noticed a lack of posts and rather short posts. As of last week, I became the proud owner of my own condo!

Now, many of you know that moving is not the most pleasant of events. Packing and Packing and Packing.... Ugh. BUT, I do have all summer coming up to pinterest attack the condo! Stay tuned!!

The kids have been curious about the process of purchasing a condo so this has lead to quite the interesting conversations about finances with the children. They've decided that they will be dieting on ramen noodles when it comes there time.

Anyways, this whole process has taken place over Easter break and is continuing on to next week while simultaneously responding to emails from parents/students and grading a project I have coming back this week and a test. Ugh. I will have loads to do next weekend on top of moving! But through this all, you still hear nice things :)

Like from this mother....

"you are all to be commended for running a fine academic program that provides such an opportunity to kids to excel (if only they get off their collective duffs now and then)!"

As teachers, we rarely hear accolades but when we do, it comes at the perfect times <3

## Wednesday, March 27, 2013

### Factoring Trinomials (A not 1) - The Unconventional Way

My Algebra 2's today were dealing with factoring (4 different ways). This is typically an Algebra 1 skill but we place it in Algebra 2. We deal with GCF, Difference of Squares, and the two types of Trinomials. Last semester, I found a really funky way of factoring trinomials and this semester, I finally put a story behind the method.

The story goes as follows. We start by always looking for a greatest common factor as he gets carried on to the final answer. (He doesn't deal with the shenanigans that are to follow). Then, the evil King Trin kidnaps the new A coefficient and hides him away in the C value. This has now disguised our trinomial as a trinomial where A is 1. This is then easy to factor by looking for a value that multiplies to be C but adds to be B. After this trinomial has been factored, we come to the rescue with the A being placed back next to his x. However, there is an impostor in our midst. To find the impostor, we take the GCF of each parentheses. The impostor is then revealed and he is banished from the kingdom. The leftover factors then rejoice and rejoin with their original GCF. They then live happily every after <3.

The kids had some fun with this story as I was told all day long that it was not nice to kidnap values and then make them go poof. When the impostors are banished, a few kids claim that they are stabbed but I just say they are forced to go away.

This can be a fun method and an easy one too especially if the original A value is not so nice :)

## Friday, March 1, 2013

### Real World Matrix Stations & Gallery Walk

Nearing spring break! Nearing spring break! I'm one week away from being on spring break! But before I get to fly away, I have to finish my second unit with the kiddos. The second unit has to do with systems and matrices and I for one, LOVE MATRICES! I'm not sure why but for some reason, I love that there is a pattern. For the most part, the kids so far seemingly enjoy them as well. But today, I of course needed to give them a context, some real world applications so we embarked on the word problems.

Last semester, I tried doing stations where kids had to go around the room to answer the various questions and they hated it. They got overwhelmed and just wanted to call it quits. So this semester, I decided to change it up a bit. I still love the idea of stations, getting my kids moving, but I decided that because this topic can be difficult, it'd help if they had partners to help them.

I started off the lesson by doing an example with my kiddos and asking them for thoughts on what I should do and how I could solve this using matrices. I took their thoughts and asked question where they explained why they were doing these actions and finally came to our conclusions. We talked about what made this problem difficult was the fact that we had to decide how to set up our matrix equations. This of course, is the issue with these types of problems, How do I set it up so that I get the results I want?

So I split the kids into groups and each group got a question to answer together. Then, they were to create a display illustrating their work and explaining how they know their answer was correct. The kids who are in my class again decided that they liked this way much more which was quite reassuring. Plus, the kids loved that they were able to create some "art" in their math class. Great way to end the week.

After the kids created their poster, we hung them up on the wall. Once the class was done, we selected a representative of the poster to defend their work and explain their work to the gallery attendees. The rest of the class then walked around the room and attempted the problems and asked questions about how students set their problems up.

The best part was the fact the kids came up with different ways to solve the problems throughout the day so I got to encourage each group to find another way to set up the problem. After the lesson, we talked about how they felt and for the most part, kids thought they learned a lot more and could handle these types of problems.

Oh, of course my last class of the day didn't get to the gallery walk so I started giving groups the other problems when they were waiting on other groups to finish. Stupid Friday Funk....

Another thing, something I would change would be to create more structure with the gallery walk. Perhaps a "passport" with spaces for the kids to take notes at each station that way we can guarantee that they've made the journey to that station.

## Thursday, February 21, 2013

### Add Em' Up - 3x3 Systems

We've just begun our second unit this term in Algebra 2 and the first stop was 3x3 systems. These, as I explained to my kids, can be very tricky. The smallest error, not making a negative a negative or adding incorrectly, can ruin an entire problem that might have taken a whole page to accomplish.

After a lesson on solving these systems using elimination, I decided that my kids needed even more practice in class. Practice makes perfect! Rather than having my kids do some boring classwork without any external motivation, I searched to create a game that had all the classes competing against one another.

My pinterest board is full of ideas across the curriculum. An idea that I had pinned originally was for Add Em' Up using exponential equations (originally intended for my Trig kids) so I decided that I could easily modify the game to fit into systems.

Now this isn't an original idea, and I must give credit to original Add Em' Up creator, so thank you. I love finding and tweaking everyone's ideas out there in cyber world! But here is how it goes....

I split my classes into groups of 4 kids (I varied their ability based upon their first unit score, etc.). Each group was given four pieces of paper (pink, yellow, green, blue) that had four systems problems on each. Each color paper varied in difficulty. Students were to solve one problem on each of the papers. After solving these systems, students added ALL the solutions (so 12 numbers on each paper) and checked to see if this added total was the same as mine (hidden in the folded paper on the board). As soon as I gave this detail out, there was a gasp (recognizing that they might not know which problem was wrong).

I set it up as a race throughout the day so that each group in each class was competing against one another. In the first class, I had one group get 3 of the 4 papers done. I grew worried.

4 kids in each group. 4 pieces of paper. 4 problems on each paper. 16 problems total.

So this had each kid doing 4 problems total. My thought was, okay so about 10 minutes or 15 minutes on each problem....... This of course leads into the discussion of, okay so come test time, what if I give you 2 systems problems.... you can't take a half hour on this part of the test. Thus, the new part of the conversation became that this activity was supposed to help you practice your speed when solving these problems efficiently.

Conversations that I heard during this activity:
"This is hard!"
"I see what you did, you forgot this...."
"Ooooh, I see where I screwed up, I did something stupid."
"Can you help me find the error?"
"Yay!!"
"Can there be decimals?" <--- I used problems that only gave "nice answers"

I have to say my favorite part was the fact that I had "pockets" in each group who I knew could help someone else in the group. The grouping was great, they were continuing to help one another. But not only were my "pockets" helping out, all the kids were trying to help each other and find the mistake. Of course, Miss Rudolph got called on a few times and the mistakes were very very small.

Now a few things to change for other classrooms: remember, we are on block scheduling so I had over an hour for kids to solve these problems so you might need to tweak this or do this after spending a week on these problems. In certain classes, I had groups of 5 and these groups had a "checker" who was to be assisting in spotting mistakes. Some of my kids also thought that the yellow page was easier than the pink page but it's dependent upon the person I suppose.

Another way that this activity could be changed would be going from 3x3 systems to doing this with 2x2 systems. This would probably go a lot faster.

Overall, I really did love this activity and the kids were really into it. Small mistakes kept many of my groups from finishing and also made them grow very frustrated. I did like turning this into a life lesson though.

## Wednesday, January 30, 2013

### Decorating My New Room! - Wall of Remediation - Properties of Exponents Signs - Oh My!

The decorations are in! The decorations are laminated! The Wall of Remediation is up! I am ready for next term!

This past month has been a great opportunity for me to get organized in my new classroom (once again, we switch halfway through the year, thus why this is comparatively still rather empty). I really am an organized person so I was determined to be prepared this semester for everything! Well, not everything...

Keep Calm and Pretend It's Part of The Lesson Plan

right?

Anyways, here are a few pics!

This is the Wall of Remediation / Student Center. Here, each class has folders for each unit that will hold the remediation for that unit. On the left is my sign that explains the steps to remediation, in case they forget, as they often do. To the right further are the binders with solutions (not worked out) so it'll be their responsibility to check their answers. Further to the right are pencil sharpeners and hole punches. In the little basket are my homework slips so when they forget their homework, they just simply complete one of these and can hand it in to me! I am in love with this station!

This is one of my desk stations but I don't use it, I prefer the middle of the room location so I can project my laptop for the kid's to see the slides. But I did love having my new sign. "Hard work is a two way street you get back exactly what you put in." Totally perfect.

Now this, this is a little different. I found on teacherspayteachers these awesome properties of logarithm posters (free) and then I decided, well hey, I can make my own for properties of exponents as the kids often times forget these! So I did! I basically took screenshots of the log ones and then wrote over them.  I took a screenshot of the main page that I created (below) but I don't want to upload the pdf file because I feel like I basically took The Enlightened Elephants design. BUT, if you would like to send me an email so I can send you the PDF file with my exponent signs I would be happy to! I used all sorts of fun fonts so they sure are purdy!

So I kind of really love this wall / area of the classroom because whenever a kid has a question about this concept, I quickly say, have you seen the wall of exponent rules? And they're like, no, but a great idea miss Rudolph!

Lastly, this is also pinterest inspired but it will be my "MASTERPIECES" wall where if the kids earn mastery on their first go, they get to proudly display their test as a masterpiece.

Well, there you have it! Here is what the vistaprint order has produced decoration wise and what I have been able to do with a printer some glue and a laminator! It wasn't too costly and it is awesome to have the kids like it so much!

Quote from a student, "Why weren't you this organized last semester for us?"

Gotta love em! <3