Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Trig stations

I'm at the point in Precalc where I would normally give a quiz over trig values without using a unit circle. But with today being the last day before Thanksgiving I didn't want to cram in a quiz without knowing they were ready. And I definitely didn't want to move on with something new!

So I pondered.  I have a unit circle turkey coloring page that I could give, but that would've taken about 10 minutes... and I definitely didn't want to leave them 35 minutes of free time!  I also had a couple of other fun-type stuff that I could give, but again, nothing that would take the whole period.   So I decided to set up some stations and give the kids some options.  They had to choose at least two options plus one required one.  I gave each of them a quarter-sheet with the stations listed so that they could keep track of what they'd done (and I could make sure that they did what I asked them to do!).  Here's what I ended up with:

Station 1:  War
I copied a deck of cards (cut them with the help of a student aide - thank goodness for her!) and set up 3 stations of max 3 kids each.  Standard War rules apply.  (Some of the boys had a bit of an argument during 1st period and a bottle of water was thrown. Silly boys.)

Station 2: Radian, the Turkey
This used to be Radian, the Snowman, but that was when we didn't get to the unit circle until December. I altered the picture a bit so that the kids could make a turkey out of it. I'm going to post a bunch of them on the wall so that they can enjoy the pretty pictures. :)

Station 3: Trig Dice Game
Several years ago at an OCTM conference I picked up several sets of 1" foam dice. On half of them I taped the 6 trig functions and on the other half I taped special angles.  The kids roll one of each, answer the question (correctly, hopefully) and move along the game board. I usually give them pieces to move around (or have them use a coin) but today I pulled out my white-board crayons which erased awesomely on the laminated game boards.

Station 4: Trig Dot-to-Dot
In theory I like dot-to-dots, but this one didn't work out so well.  There are unrationalized and rationalized answers on it, so the kids weren't sure which ones to use (eventually we figured out it should've been the rationalized ones).  And the answer is a picture of a barn.... not quite so obvious.

Station 5:  Row Game
I definitely like the row games - it's basically two columns of problems but each set of problems has the same answer.  The kids didn't think they were so much fun, though.

The required station that everyone had to do was to fill out a unit circle in less than 4 minutes.  It's amazing at how quickly they're able to do this now!  So cool.  And very neat to see how proud they are of themselves when they get it done the first time (or faster than the last time).

Two other activities that I thought about including:  a Trig Crossword Puzzle and some Trig Cut-Ups.  Maybe next year.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Things I've Tagged (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Two more days...

It's felt like months since we've had a day off of school (except for weekends, of course, which are normally so crammed full of stuff that I am able to relax more during the week!).  That Labor Day to Thanksgiving stretch is certainly a killer!  But can you believe that it's almost Thanksgiving already?!  Yikes.

Working on trig in precalc and it seems to be going pretty well!  I've taken a page out of Ms. Cookie's book ( I referenced it here) and have been giving them a unit circle every day to practice with (writing degrees, radians, ordered pairs).  I don't know if I'll go so far to "grade" it, but they are definitely appreciating the value of knowing all of the points and angles around the circle.  On day 1 I had 3 kids (one in each class) complete the entire unit circle in 4 minutes.  On day 2 I was up to about 12.  Niiiiice.

Yesterday was when I introduced reference angles for the first time... but I let the kids come up with their importance.  After our unit circle 4-minute frenzy, I gave them this half sheet:

I was really pleased with some of the relationships they saw in the angles.  Recognizing the reference angles with our special radian angles was a piece of cake (and I'm embarrassed to say I'd never made the connection before!) and in two of my classes they saw that all of the degree answers were the same value from the x-axis.  Hopefully that will help the idea of the reference angle stick!

I'm heading to my alma mater tomorrow (Miami University!) for a math competition.  Our calc teacher takes a group of kids each year and I've never been able to go until this year. I'm not going as an official chaperon, but I am riding the bus (ew) because it's totally out of the way for the calc teacher to come to school then drive to Oxford (she lives halfway between the two).  Should be a fun time - I know most of the kids she's taking (I think there's 9 of them) and it's supposed to be a pretty day.  Besides, any day that I can get a bagel at Bagel & Deli is a banner day!

Just gave a factoring quiz in Algebra 2... I feel like I've rushed a lot this year with them, but it's so hard to slow down because they're all doing so well!  I'm almost 2 weeks ahead of where I was last year and feel like they haven't missed out on anything.  My plan is to include factoring on everything we do now so that they don't forget it when the time comes when we actually need it.  We'll see how that goes. :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Trig! (almost)

Pam Patterson just sent me a link on twitter that's AWESOME. It's a list of assignments (with linked activities) that a teacher named David Pleacher gives to his precalc classes (who just coincidentally are using the same book that I do!).  Heaven.  I actually have quite a few of the resources he uses, but it's always nice to find some new ones!

We talked about the unit circle today in precalc - it's nice to be able to bring together all of the "random" things we've been doing the past week (like radians/degrees/special right triangles). I always like the kids to know where the ordered pairs on the unit circle come from, so I hand out notecards, we draw the special triangles to fit in our unit circle, label the sides, and voila!  The ordered pairs.  There's always the awkward moments where the kids are trying to see through their notecard to find the 30 degree angle so that they can draw the triangle.  Today (after doing this twice already... and multiple times for the past 10+ years) I had a revelation.  WHY NOT USE PATTY PAPER?  We have a ton of it (so I'm not scrounging up note cards) and it's see-throughable.  I can't believe this wasn't obvious to me years ago.  I grabbed a box from the math department office and used it 5th period without a hitch.

My Algebra 1 class finished up Barbie Bungee today... and boy, them working with Barbies was quite different than my Algebra 2 class. They looooved it.  Barbie had quite a few more accidents, though - and that was just on our walk to get to the final bungee location!  Needless to say, they were quite excited about our "field trip" to the football field for the big drop.

Factoring today in Algebra 2!

What a big day it's been.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Missing students

I've had three types of students miss multiple days here lately. I've broken them down into three categories...just because I like to think like that. :)

 1. The ones who disappear without word for 3+ days. I later find out they've gone on a vacation. These are the type that, upon return, are shocked to find out we moved on without them. Had one of those return today... he didn't even dare ask me if he'd missed anything, thank goodness. He was out for all of last week.

2. The ones who are gone for 3+ days and ask for assignments in advance (and continue to remind me about it, because my memory isn't the greatest when it comes to stuff like that). I like them even better when the work's all done when they come back! One of my students went on a cruise in the first month or so of school and came back with every assignment done. Little did I know that he would not complete another assignment! (Ok, that's a stretch, but it's not too far off!) Related to that is the students who contact me about assignments after being out several days - those are emails that I welcome! One of my freshmen was absent for 3 days last week and emailed me asking if I would send her what she'd missed. She came in today without missing a beat.

 3. The students who are gone unexpectedly for long stretches (either from illness or some other emergency). I found out over the weekend that the father of two of my students passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack. You really just have to feel so badly for the family. One of the students already arranged for a friend to pick up the work (and I guess was concerned about getting behind). I'm not sure what will happen with the other. I hate to think of them spending time on their schoolwork right now (honestly) but it may be a nice way to feel somewhat normal. Hope they're ok!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pumpkin pi!

Math tweeps

I created a gdoc today to try and organize the math people on twitter.  I'm leading an inservice session next week (along with @mseiler and @dhausberger) and thought it might be helpful to have a list of people on twitter for math teachers who want to get started.

Please add yourself to the list if you're not there already!  Thanks! :)