Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Barbie and Ken finally went on their date! The results

Finally! I got to teach my fundamental counting principle lesson that I had come up with January!! I had previously posted about the lesson but now, I finally get to give the results. One of the classes that I'm teaching this semester is Trigonometry (once again, we break up Algebra 2 into two classes: Algebra 2 and Trigonometry - both have doses of other classes). The first unit of Trig is probability with the first learning target being the fundamental counting principle. The night before, I give them a preheat assignment where they watch a fun video about the principle followed by some questions. (Typically, it's a fairly easy concept so this goes over fairly well)

The next day, I had the kids get out the magazines they had brought in and started off the lesson.

1) They cut out articles of clothing. The boys, they typically only chose guys' outfits and the girls, obviously girl outfits.

One student, "Dude, this is so cool/fun" I loved it!

It's hard to get the kids to cut out "ugly" clothing just so that they had enough. I also laughed because some of barbie's outfits were wedding dresses.

2) I laid out what all they had to do on their poster and hinted for them to think about their homework the previous night. The only concept that was a semi struggle was whether they were to add or multiply the arrangements of barbie's two cases and whether the dresses should just be included in general. Of course, this made for a good discussion after the fact.

One girl, "Woah, that's a lot of outfits!"
Me, "Just think about how many articles of clothing you have in your closet!"

3) After the kids created the posters, I had them hang them around the room. I then chose a few groups to present either Ken, or Barbie Case 1, or Barbie Case 2. Together, we then also discussed what to do with the two Barbie cases.

When we were going over some examples as a class, Ken actually had more outfits... what does that say about my boys in my class?

The reason I am loving this lesson so much is that it is leading into our discussion with probability about why it is important to recognize when you don't know the total number of arrangements or when a specific event can happen :)

Of course, some of the magazine clippings ended up on the floor but I had to laugh because at the end of the day, the clipping above was on the ground (it's the cover to my project slides). Overall, the kids loved it and it was a great way to start the year with some fun! I just wish that I would have given them more time to do this project and enjoy themselves! Silly me!

Update: So when I did this in the fall, I decided that I needed some more time constraints. I tried them this past week and everything went so much better!
5 minutes - Find articles of clothing
20 minutes - Create posters / Do math
10 minutes - Presenting
Total - 35 minutes (classes were only 40 minutes this week due to OGTs) so I would have loved to extend each of those ever so slightly. I also would have added some time to go over some of the missed homework questions.

I also added the link to the video that I have the kids watch above.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Dear Math..... An insightful look into their true feelings on the subject

First week, DONE!!! Woo hoo!!! Congratulations to all of you out there who have survived your first week!

On the very first day of school, I issued my very first assignment to ALL of my math classes. Inspired by a pin I saw on pinterest for an English teacher who wanted to have her kids write a letter to English (based upon the Michael Jordan letter), I decided to adapt this to my math classroom. While introducing the assignment to the kids, I took the time to actually read the Michael Jordan letter (definitely found a few errors in there Michael). I have a flair for being dramatic so I took this seriously and actually had passion behind what I was reading and the kids were silent (chuckling at a certain Space Jam reference). I finally started describing what they would be doing after they initially thought "screw this, I'm not lying to you and telling you how much I loooove math." I told the kids to be honest with me and talk to me about your true feelings. The responses I've gotten back have been fabulous. Kids are actually excited to write this letter. They're using this as a way to vent about all of their previous problems and little do they know, they're reflecting about it as well. Tricky Miss Rudolph.

I've included a few excerpts from there letters below, some funny, some sweet, some insightful. Truly, it's the first time where I've gotten some genuine opinions about how my kids feel about the subject, not me, not my class, but my true passion.

"Thank you for giving me a calculator to figure out all of your problems. It’s been a wild ride, Bud...... I hate you, but I love you Math."

"I thought that you seemed really hard to get along with then but now I find you hard to handle. You are very good at confusing me and making me make simple careless mistakes that in the end really affect me. I wish that you could be a better friend."

"It’s been 10 years since my kindergarten teacher showed me the Navier–Stokes equations simple addition. ......... Thank you, Ms. Rudolph for tolerating all my questions that completely abandoned the range of reasonably pertinent questions."

"I didn’t pass a single test in Algebra II. A lot of the time I felt like I was a failure and that I wouldn’t succeed. However you taught me that it wasn’t that I was a failure, it was just that I needed some extra help and a little more practice. You taught me that passing the tests the first time around only meant that you don’t have to do remediation. It didn’t mean that you were smarter than the people who didn’t, or that you were better than them. It simply meant no remediation."
" I know you know what happened in algebra two but it definitely wasn’t your fault, it was mine. I didn’t respect you like I should have, I didn’t take the time to sit down and try to figure you out. I just assumed that you were just too hard and not worth it. I was so wrong. Once I got it, I got it! Everything made sense and I couldn’t believe that it took me so long to get to that point."   

Give this intro activity a shot, no pun intended, because your kids might surprise you and be extremely interested, for the first time, in a math assignment.

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