September 23, 2012

Proportions Activity

This last week in algebra 1, we spent time learning about algebraic proportions. We started by solving algebraic proportions then spent a day working on setting up proportion word problems. For once, we had a cushion day in our jam packed curriculum. So I scoured the internet to find a proportion activity. I found two things:

1) I Want to Teach Forever had a really great activity where students would find their measurements and solve proportions to find the measurements of a statue and action figure of themselves


2) NCTM Illuminations: Measuring Up Activity (the website is down? I can't get it to load but just do a Google search and you should be able to find it). Here is a copy of that worksheet

With my classes, I divided students into 10 groups of 3 students. Each student had their own piece of paper. In their groups, one student was being measured while another did the measuring and the last person was recording. They switched roles until everyone had their measurements.

One class made it to the Measuring Up activity, and we did it as a whole class activity. I called on three volunteers to do jumping jacks, say the alphabet, and hop on one foot for a minute. Then we set up proportions to find how many jumping jacks would be done in ten minutes and then in an hour.

After some reflection, I modified the first activity sheet for next year. My students struggled with converting to feet, so I think having them do it all at the beginning will make the rest of the activity easier to finish. Plus I switched the action figure part first, because that didn't require students to convert anything.
Here is my modified proportion worksheet

September 11, 2012

Classroom Engagement?

Week 4! Woo!

This week's prompt: A syllabus to a course states that "classroom engagement" is 10% of the course grade.

The obvious question is what do you mean by classroom engagement? Is this the same as participation? Or is there is a difference? I think classroom engagement is vague and can be interpreted in many ways. If I were to have this on my syllabus, I would take classroom engagement to mean students are actively involved in the learning process. This means they are taking notes, asking questions, answering questions, going up to the board to show their work, etc. Now I'm starting to think, how would you grade this? That gets trickier. I guess you could stamp notes and check them at the end of the week. I have tracked participation on a seating chart, so that's another idea.

Personally, I would not have "classroom engagement" on my syllabus because it is too broad and not easily measurable. What do you guys think? If you have this on your syllabus, I'd like to hear how you grade it in your classroom.

September 10, 2012

Made 4 Math: Reteaching Solving Equations

Last week in algebra 1, we spent the week learning how to solve equations. I gave the students a quiz on Friday, and as I graded them, I realized some re-teaching needed to be done.

Today I spent the day reviewing how to solve equations using a different method than I did last week. I used this worksheet to help me (I found it online, so I can't take full credit). The first page is all two-step equations. In the first column, I had students translate the math phrases to English. In the middle column, I told students that solving equations is kind of like opening a gift (first someone puts your gift in a box, wraps it up, and ties it with ribbon...then you untie the ribbon, rip off the wrapping, and take the gift out of the box).

Side note: I got the gift wrapping idea from Danica McKellar. I've only read parts of the book, but I plan to do a #MyFavoriteFriday on all of her books as I finish each one.

Back to review, the gift wrapping idea helped! They finally started to see that if we have 3x + 5 = 10, we do the last operation being done to x first. Reverse order of operations. It FINALLY started to click. One student told me it's like you're doing "bottoms up", sure. So in the middle column in addition to writing the inverse operation, I had them write what number goes with the operation. So 3x + 5= 10 would be (1) minus 5 and (2) divide by 3. Last column, they solved.

I created the second page, and they got the hang of this after re-explaining that we do distributing and combining like terms to help us make the equations look like the ones from the first page. For the second page, I only made them solve in the third column.

I think writing out the steps helped my students the most, so next year I will probably start with this activity first when I begin this unit. I think it will really help me have fewer headaches.

Hope this helps!

September 4, 2012

Math Autobiography

Week 3: Why do you teach? Why math? How did you get into teaching? What is your drive? 

We have all experienced that conversation, you know where you meet someone and the person asks about your profession. I never know how to respond. I have two answers, a short one and a long one. I feel out the person before giving out my answer.

Short answer: I wanted to make a difference in the lives of others. I was always good at math in school. I knew a career that involved numbers and working with people would be the perfect job for me. That's why I am a math teacher. I teach high school, because I enjoyed my high school experience

Longer answer: For years (middle school-junior year of high school), I wanted to go into accounting. Seriously. That was my ambition, and I wanted to ultimately be a CFO. Even though I was always good at math, I never really liked math class. This changed my freshmen year of high school. Ms. B was the best math teacher I ever had until then (she was only surpassed by my mentor/"math mom"). I loved all of my high school math classes. Fast forward to junior year. I lost my grandpa, and my outlook on life changed. I lost my ambition to make money and become a CFO. I signed up for the future educators class my senior year, and that class confirmed my decision to go into teaching. One week after graduating, Ms. T (mentor/"math mom") called my house and asked if I wanted to be her teacher's assistant for a summer math program for incoming freshmen. I'm still working with that summer program to this day, but now as a teacher.

And that's basically a good jist of why I became a high school math teacher. It's been a good journey! :)

September 3, 2012

Made4Math: Aztecbook

Today's Made4Math is a getting to know your student activity.

Last year, my principal told me that the first day should be about building relationships and getting to know my students. He suggested I have them write a news article about themselves. That was a good idea...but I thought there has to be something else I can do that involves less writing (hello?! math teacher over here). I ended up creating this Aztecbook. Our school mascot is an Aztec.

As you can see, this looks a lot like the now outdated fb profile page. Since most of my students are familiar with fb, they figured out pretty quickly what to do. I gave them markers and crayons. Some used them, others just used pencil. I let them be, and they enjoyed it. We did it the last ten minutes of class for two class periods...

We are still having schedule changes being done at my school (5 weeks into the school year :/ ). I got two new students last week, so once they complete their Aztecbook, I will upload a picture of the class profiles. I think I'll put them along a wall or bulletin board, maybe add butcher paper? Stay tuned.