Thursday, September 29, 2011
Fractals
Today I got a call at school around 12:30 saying that my boy had fallen at recess (while going after a ball during his kickball game, I later found out) and hit a permanant tooth on the blacktop. The tooth was bleeding and kind of loose and he was really upset. I arranged for a sub for my last class and headed out. After a trip to Dairy Queen for a milkshake (he'd missed lunch!) we headed to the dentist to get it checked out. Nothing was obviously wrong but we were told to keep an eye on it. I'm just hoping it doesn't turn gray/black!
This year I'm on a quest to do fun/applicable/new stuff in precalc. I saw in my precalc book (which I've used for probably 9 years and never noticed before) a lesson on fractals and thought I'd give it a shot. It took me a while to figure out how/what to do, but yesterday I decided to give google sites a shot. Here's my first attempt  check it out to see what you think! I'm using it basically as a webquest  I set up different pages with information/videos/activities for the kids to complete and write their responses on a separate page.
Here's what I'm planning to give them:
Fractal
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
A cubic pattern
It started with a function.
f(x) =
Their paper showed a graph and asked to find the zeros. We picked out 2 and 4 (checked with synthetic division) and ended up with 3/5 as our last.
Then it went through a process to build the cubic polynomial if you know the zeros (without doing all of the messy binomial multiplication).
Step 1: Factor out the 5. (This only works if the leading coefficient of 1).
Step 2. Find the product of the zeros.
(Which is the opposite of the constant term.)
Step 3. Find the sum of the zeros.
(Which is the opposite of the quadratic term.)
Step 4. Find the sum of the pairwise products (this totally confused most of the kids... ) which is .
(Which is the same as the linear term.)
So if you have the zeros of a cubic polynomial with leading coefficient of 1, you can use these patterns to find the polynomial itself. I thought that was pretty cool (and I found a couple of kids that agreed with me. The others not so much.).
The next problem was to find a cubic polynomial with zeros at 5, . (It ends up being f(x) = if you're playing along at home. :)
Oh, and a couple of other things happened today:
1. Got a new girl in my honors precalc 1st period class. She just moved in from a school on the other side of the city. She "didn't have a clue" as to what we were doing and had been solving linear systems in her old school. I gave her a copy of the summer work that the precalc kids had done for her to look through; she asked if there were notes somewhere that she could use because she didn't remember any of it. Oh my. I actually emailed a friend who happens to teach at the girl's old school to do some checking; she said she should be fine (is just kind of "flaky") and was going to check with the Honors Alg2 teacher to see what they'd been doing.
2. Had my first "I'm overwhelmed" crier in another precalc class. This student had been absent for a couple of days and hasn't made any effort (that I've seen) to make things up. She told me when looking at their review for tomorrow's quiz that she didn't know any of it. I told her to come after school and we'd work through some problems; hopefully she'll have calmed down enough to realize that she does know it and was just stressed out.
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Things I've Tagged (weekly)

Watch Patty's Calculus Videos episodes on blip.tv
announcing PATTY"S CALCULUS VIDEOS! free, indepth explanations on all the important topics! http://t.co/urvOM0td pls RT

Target Practice  Game time. Keep track of what you notice as you play. a. Warm up. Show a target function.... http://t.co/Oh4XYlTR

Facebook Hits 175M Active Users
tags: facebook

An Infographic on Facebook Facts and Figures (History & Stats)
tags: facebook
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Freshmen.
I'm formally admitting that I was wrong. Today in class we were able to review some problems, take a quiz, and go over a new lesson. Do you think I could've done that last year? Ha! The new lesson was on Solving OneStep equations, which all of the kids are familiar with and I probably could have skipped. Tomorrow's solving twostep equations and I'm not going to be here, so I'm trying to decide what kind of notes/assignment to leave them. I'd like to leave an assignment on which they can check their answers... I need to check my puzzle/pun worksheets to see what I have.
What really has amused me is the seriousness in which they take correcting their homework answers. Someone asked me the other day if she should mark a problem wrong on her assignment because she wrote a number in a different form that I did (maybe she didn't reduce a fraction or something  I don't know). I told her not to mark it wrong but to make sure she reduces (or whatever) in the future. She was relieved. And they're really concerned with how to organize their notebooks... I feel like I should have some sort of set method, but I know every student is different and I don't want to tell them one set way to do it. Is that bad? As long as they're organized and keeping stuff I'm happy.
(Oh, and I just noticed today that they all have graphing calculators.... gotta love it!)
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Thursday, September 15, 2011
How big is your foot?
1. How long would it take to pass a ball down a line of 457 people?
2. The world's tallest man was 2.72 meters. How big should his foot have been?
It was fun to see the changes in the classes (3 of 'em.)
Question #1
First period really got into it. They quickly arranged 10 people in the front of the room and passed the ball (which I conveniently had in my car... thank goodness for soccer practice last night!) down 5 times. Then they averaged their values, figured out their time/person, and multiplied to figure out 457 people. I think their final answer was something around 3 minutes, 23 seconds. And then as we moved on, 2 boys sat next to each other and passed the ball back and forth 457 times (yes, really). They were off the time by 2 seconds.
Third period took a different approach. They started with two boys about 5 feet away from each other throwing the ball back and forth 10 times. (Their interpretation of "pass".) Some of the other kids from the class intervened and decided they wanted more people in a line... they started out with 10 people in the room then asked if they could go in a hall. We ended up with 25 people in line passing the ball a variety of ways (hand to hand, rolling on the floor). Very funny to watch... and noisy, too. Sorry to my neighbors! After averaging all of the times they came up with something under 3 minutes.
Fifth period (Remember how boring they are? I'm still going with that.) was blah. A couple of kids were involved and had to drag others in to participate. Eventually we ended up with 22 people in a line in the hall passing a ball. In almost near silence. They did it a couple of times, were content with the results, and headed back to their desks. Wake me up when it's over, please. I forget their final time... I think I was sleeping.
(It was funny to me, though, that for the most part the kids were really concerned about getting the fastest time possible. The question mentions none of that.)
Question #2
Again, a winner. I showed a picture of Robert Wadlow (the man who I was referring to) and gave the kids free rein.
Gotta love the socks! 
Third period ended up at about the same point (with fewer people contributing their values), got a much better equation, and a final value of 51 cm.
In fifth period not too many people were jumping up to measure (surprise!) and they were all boys of about the same height and footsize. We decided we needed some variance (but they were determined to stick with people of the male persuasion) so we sent a couple of girls down to a freshman health class to grab a couple of little freshman boys. Very funny. The data ended up kinda crazy and they ended up with a 43.74 cm foot.
(In case you're wondering, I found some information saying that he wore a size 43AA shoe, which we looked up and determined that was about 49 cm.)
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Random today stuff.
2nd class 
1st class 
boring class 
3. Our network was down about 4 hours this morning so I was happy not to have anything planned that I needed to get online for (except the normal access to our gradebook, attendance, email, etc.). And luckily I'd even planned ahead a bit and got my Algebra 2 test printed yesterday afternoon... if it had been earlier in the day (instead of last period) and I hadn't been able to print anything I would've been hurting. Instead, the only thing that affected me was not being able to print out notes for the Algebra 1 kids. They'll live.
4. Had a walkthrough type visit today from our assistant principal. I realized later that I'm not even on his observation list, so I guess he was just wandering around to see what was going on. It was during the first trashketball class and we were having a good time (while learning!) so I'm hoping he got a good impression.
5. Early dismissal tomorrow and a precalc test. Those two don't normally mix well. I made up the precalc test to be what I think of as pretty short, so hopefully time isn't an issue. Then Thursday I have another short day because I'm going to a district techtype meeting. At least the nonnormal schedule changes make the week go quicker!
Sunday, September 11, 2011
My Week...
Personally, the death of some friends' 3 year old (from drowning in a pool) really threw me for a loop. I felt so horrible for them as a family but also tortured myself with the thoughts of "What if that were me?". The funeral on Friday afternoon was especially tough, of course. I know their healing will be a long time coming, but I'm glad the week is over. I spent some time over at their house this evening and was comforted to see that they're doing a little better. The mom is still taking the little girl's blanket with her everywhere she goes and is only eating a few bites a day, but she's also not constantly wracked with sobs. Baby steps.
Professionally, I had a great week at school (considering). I felt really good with my classes and finally know (almost) everyone's name. I don't know why I've struggled with this so much this year... maybe it's the biggerthannormal classes? Maybe it's just not trying as hard? I don't know. But I think I'm good now. I also felt better prepwise; there were actually a few nights where I didn't do any work and didn't regret it the next day! Until tonight, of course... I just typed up a review for my precalc classes (which I'll need 1st period) and didn't do any grading or Algebra 1 prep. Oh well. So tomorrow I may be regretting this! (But I was glad to be able to spend time with friends who need all the support they can get right now.)
I also fit in a 9+ mile run this afternoon... I'm so ready for this harebrained idea of running a halfmarathon to be over. One more month. What was I thinking?!
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Things I've Tagged (weekly)

Reflections of a High School Math Teacher
#ed331 I found this website to have some great teaching ideas. http://t.co/ZeaDrU7
tags: ed331

Interactivate: Function Machine
tags: alg1 function_machine
Saturday, September 3, 2011
Things I've Tagged (weekly)

1st HL maths class tomorrow. Topic: sequences. Th
1st HL maths class tomorrow. Topic: sequences. Thought this would be a great starter http://t.co/4FgHdJJ #mathchat
tags: mathchat

f(t): Absolute Value Both Rigorous and in Context
tags: alg2 absolute value

tags: connectthedots

tags: combinations precalc

tags: quiz alg2 precalc flashcards alg1