Monday, December 19, 2011

Finishing Up

We have some crazy two days ahead of us at school and I'm just hoping to hang on long enough to make it to Wednesday at 2:15!  (And then another couple of hours until my 2nd grade basketball team's practice is over... always an exhausting exercise!)

I'm not seeing one of my precalc classes tomorrow and am determined to get a quiz in (solving right and oblique triangles) so I needed a day that isn't vital but isn't a throwaway day, either.  Today during my tutoring period in the library I found a cute little map of the North Pole.  I wrote in some values on the map, came up with a story to match Santa's trip around the village, and hopefully it will work well enough that the kids can practice their solving triangle skills while determining Santa's distance traveled.  Here's what I ended up with:

We'll see how it goes!

My Algebra 1 kids are taking a test (I'll get them started on some exam review stuff on Wednesday) and Algebra 2 kids are reviewing for their Quadratics Quiz on Wednesday.

Two more days....

Friday, December 9, 2011

Loooong week.

I swear it should be January by now.  This week has taken forever to get through!

Kind of a weird day today.  They held a breakfast during first period today for all of the kids who are "Anderson Achievers", which means their gpa is above a certain value, they are involved in school activities, and they have no discipline referrals - basically all of my precalc kids.  I had 8 kids left in a class of 30 and that was because they forgot to turn their application forms in.  We had a quiz yesterday over graphing trig functions and I didn't want to start anything new without the majority of them here, yet I have 2 more precalc classes later in the day to deal with.  I refuse to bow to the pressure of the "Freeday Friday Funday" (which seems to be a staple at our junior high) and was searching for something to do.

Here's what I ended up with. It uses the idea of a person's biorhythms to create sine curves showing their cycles of intelligence, physicality, and emotion.  We had a discussion about this being only a theory (so it's not something you'd bank on) but the kids enjoyed plotting the sine curves to determine their "high" and "critical" days.  (There are gobs of them online if you want to check them out.)

A couple of comments:
1.  One girl said her dad had had a long talk with her about this - she was skeptical (thank goodness) but was excited to show him what we'd done when she got home.

2.  Had a lot of discussion amongst the girls about the emotional cycle (28 days) matching their periods. (And by that I mean their periods.)  Oh, the things they'll talk about.

Had a quiz today in Algebra 1 about solving systems by graphing and using substitution. We've been working on this all week and everyone seemed fine.  Until they got in class today and did the typical pre-quiz freakout. I'm seriously tired of that one!  I posted all of the worked out answers on the class blog last night and I'm guessing maybe 1 girl actually checked her answers on it.  The others decided to wait until today to check in class.... and then of course had questions.  Sometimes I wonder why I do the extra work!  Just hoping that it helped out that one girl.

I got a new student in Alg1 this week. A move in. From China.  Who speaks no English.  She's 17 and I'm sure has taken this level of class before, but because of the language issue they didn't want to start her in anything higher.  We've exchanged "hi"s and when I said "How are you?" she stared blankly at me.  Poor thing.  Had a discussion with the kids about how isolated she must be feeling; they're being extra-nice to her... or at least as much as they can be!

Introduced imaginary numbers in Algebra 2 today. I'm guessing that 7th period on a Friday wasn't the best time for that; they were pretty much freaking out and in major resistance mode.  Monday should be fun. (Not.) We didn't get to the idea of using the conjugate to simplify fractions, which is probably a good thing.

Lots of grading to do this weekend; precalc graphing quizzes from yesterday and Algebra 1 quizzes from today.  I'm totally graded out - having 90+ precalc kids kills me when I grade assignments.  I just finished up their temperature regression equations from last week and a sine/cos graphing applications packet that was due on Monday. And now the quizzes. Ugh.

8 days until Christmas break!  Hope I make it.

Friday, December 2, 2011

What's the temperature in Denver today?

Happy December!

It's my goal in precalc this year to have the kids apply knowledge whenever possible. We haven't been able to do that a whole lot (at all?!) so far in trig, so it was nice to get to graphing sine and cosine curves.

We've spent a couple of days graphing with periods, amplitudes, and horizontal and vertical shifts, so I'd assume that 90% of the kids could do that without a problem.  Give 'em an equation and they can graph it.

Yesterday I gave each student a strip of paper with the name of a city and their average daily high temperatures for each month (found them here).  I also gave them a full size piece of graph paper and a half-sheet of directions/questions for them to complete.

It was amazing the thinking they had to do.  Everyone seemed comfortable with having 12 as the period of the graph, but how exactly do you fit that into the equation?  (Some kids put 12... or 1/12...)  What happens if you set January as month 1?  Uh oh - a horizontal shift!  And what trig function is it showing?  Sine?  Cosine?  Has it been reflected?

Something that had become almost automatic for them turned back into a thinking game.


Today I told the kids (after they'd turned in their results) that I didn't want to grade them all.  After being accused of being lazy, I passed the graphs and equations out (making sure that no one got their own) and told them to grade it for me.  (Had to give them some directions, too, of course.) They plotted the data points on their calculator, typed in the equation, and had to figure out what was wrong.

More thinking?!  Oh my goodness.

First were the problems actually graphing the functions on the calculator. Check your mode. Did you remember to type the variable?  Adjust your window?

Then the identifying of the equation errors.  Graph isn't wide enough?  So what's the problem?  Could you fix it?

Graph isn't tall enough?  Is in the wrong place?  How could you fix it?

I also had the kids rate the equations on a scale of 1 - 5.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that they were very generous with their scores. Someone who hadn't even included a sin or cos in their equation (or a variable...) was given a 4 out of 5.  Wha?!  And then one girl was given a 4.5/5 because (although her equation was virtually perfect).

I'm happy to say that I think most kids have a better understanding of the different transformations of a sine or cosine equation and what exactly they do to a graph.  Hopefully.