Monday, February 25, 2013


Without going into too much (well any, actually) detail, I wanted to share this quote that a friend sent me a week or so ago that I've been thinking about a lot lately.

I have a formula for knowing if a next step is the right one for you:

If you feel both excited and scared, that is it. If you're just excited and not afraid, there is no challenge, no stretching, no initiation; you are still in your safe zone, and growth is unavailable. If you're just afraid, there is no positive motivation. Why walk through a fear unless there is something you are walking toward? But if you are simultaneously turned on and frightened, do it and watch your growth skyrocket.

Alan Cohen

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Polar Graphs


Polar Graphs 2013, a set on Flickr.

The results of the precalc kids' polar graphs. They turned out really neat!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Playing with Polar Equations

It's been fun the past few days to show the precalc kids what their calculators can do. We started with parametric equations were fun to play with, and now we've moved on to polar equations.

I found a parametric equation that produced a heart after a quick google search on Valentine's Day. Some of my precalc kids embellished it a bit.

I don't always do a lot with the polar equations, but this year after I discovered that desmos would graph polar equations (and you can add sliders to help you show the different options on the rose and such) I thought it might be fun to take some time and investigate.  On Friday I gave them this worksheet that has some really cool graphs on it.  I edited it so that the kids couldn't see what the graph would produce. Lots of oohs and aahs were heard!

Then last night because I had oodles of spare time on my 3-day weekend (ha!) I sat and typed this up. (I stole borrowed a lot of this from this worksheet I found online. Don't let the comic sans font dissuade you from checking it out.) I figure we'll spend a couple of days on it in class, and their own polar equation design is due on Thursday.

I was talking with some friends last night... it was nice to have a "3-day" weekend, because it really gave me a 2-day weekend, as opposed to the normal 1-day weekend that we all usually get. It's not just me that dedicates Sundays (or in this week's case, Monday) to school work, right?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

My Weekly Tags (weekly)

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

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What to do?

I'm reaching the end of my rope with my Integrated Algebra 1 class.

Aside from one or two boys (depending on the day) their behavior isn't that bad. If you walked in my room you'd mostly see what looks like good things going on. Either we're reviewing old material or learning new stuff. Kids are quiet. (Except for that one kid... but you know.)

The problem?

They're not listening. They look like they're listening. They act like it. When I ask a question people raise their hand to answer.  But nothing's going in.

Today we had shortened classes because of a 2-hour late arrival (for inservice). On Monday we'd started some exponent rules (short cuts, I called them) and I wanted one more day today to review them again.  Kids were saying this would be the easiest quiz.  Awesome! I thought.

Before I passed out the assignment, I asked everyone to look at me. I told them that instead of doing the whole worksheet that I was giving them, I wanted to them to do one side only. I showed them which side and even told them what it said at the top (while walking around so everyone could see). I told them that if they didn't hear my instructions I was going to make them do the whole assignment.

I passed out the papers.

As I was doing that, at least five kids asked me if we were doing the whole thing.  Really?!

I told them yes.

Right now 7 out of 17 kids are passing.  And it has me wondering what I'm doing wrong.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

From the mouths of seniors

This morning in precalc:

A senior who's been slacking and now realized he has to start working or he'll have to take the final exam: This isn't even bad, Mrs. Fouss. I like this.

Me: You sound surprised that it's not bad.

Student:  I am.

And then he went on to tell me that I probably shouldn't grade yesterday's quizzes because "literally" everyone got like "a 20%" and it'll make me look bad if I give them all bad grades.

But then he told me that we'll have to Skype next year when he's in college because he'll miss me.

You win some, you lose some.

Monday, February 11, 2013

What is a perfect man?

Because I can't resist sharing these...

Last week's quote:
"Perfect numbers like perfect men are very rare." - Rene Descartes

Some of the more interesting responses:
She is saying a perfect man is rare and she relates it to the variety of perfect numbers. She obviously never had a boyfriend.

I am no expert on relationships, but from my ranting friends, I think that perfect numbers are less rare and more reliable than "perfect" men. At least perfect numbers never change. Men may seem perfect at first, but then they always end up changing.

Perfect #s are rare and so are men who haven't been infected by psychotic women.

If there's a so called "perfect" guy I feel like he'd get really annoying really fast.

Perfect men aren't rare. It's just that some girls don't look in the right places. Guys do it also. People's expectations are sometimes too high since everyone has flaws, it's hard to find that "perfect person".

This is not true. There are plenty of perfect men, ______ for example.

Here I am.

Except for me.

Agree! Men as a gender are not perfect as many women have pointed out. Men as a human race are also imperfect.

This quote is not talking about men as a gender. it is saying men as in all humans. Humans all have imperfections. In the real world, numbers usually do not work perfectly. In my experience in construction, no matter how perfectly something is measured and cut, the board rarely fits perfectly. According to numbers it should, but it doesn't. This shows how numbers are rarely perfect.

I agree with this quote because a perfect man is very hard to find, like perfect numbers. You only come across these things if you're lucky.

I disagree because there are lots of attractive boys I know!

It's a lie, all numbers are perfect so if all numbers are like men, then all men are perfect. Boom.

And one to finish on. . .
I disagree because Hannah Montana once said "Nobody is Perfect" and that is totally true.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Planning for Next Year

A few years ago I didn't put too much thought into what classes my precalc kids should take next year. It was either AP Calc AB or Advanced Math.  The kids with As and Bs went to Calc, the ones below that went to Advanced Math.

Case closed.

And then the school decided to complicate things and added in a few more choices. In addition to the old Calc (which was AB, I later learned), we now have AP Calc BC. AP Stats was also added as a possibility.

The decision between AB and BC Calc causes me much stress. Next year will be the third year we offer it. The first year it was late in the year and I had 6 - 8 kids in Precalc that really stood out so it was easy to recommend them. I'm happy to say that they all did well in BC.  Last year I thought about it all year. I had a few that were clear-cut choices and some that I was on the bubble with. My no-thought-involved kids are doing well; the ones I really had to think about are not.

So now I'm worried. And there's an extra wrench in the plan.  Three years ago the district started offering Algebra 1 to 7th graders (which I still think is crazy). Those kids are now sophomores in Precalc. Some of them I think could handle BC, but then there's the idea of what do they do as a senior? We don't have a multi-variable calc, so they would probably have to do an independent study. The others I'll recommend for AB as a junior then they can take BC/Stats as a senior.

I put together a google form (love them!) for the kids to fill out to indicate their choice and a few details why. I even added different questions depending on their answers.  Have I indicated how much I love me a google doc?  :)  I agree with most of the kids preferences, but there are a few students that I don't agree with. Guess I'll get to have some fun conversations tomorrow!

Here's the form I used.  Feel free to answer questions to get through it if you'd like. I'll just throw out your responses. :)  What I love is that I can sort the kids into what class they'd like to take and I can also share their responses with the AP Calc teacher.  That way she knows what's coming!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

My Weekly Tags (weekly)

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

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Solving Systems Foldable

We've spent the last several weeks solving linear systems in my Integrated (General) Algebra 1 class. Graphing was ok although you'd think they never graphed a link before. Substitution was a train wreck. Elimination went pretty well as long as they can get the whole adding/subtracting negative numbers thing down.  I've been giving them a lot of word problems here lately and most of the kids are now able to write the equations for the system, then use elimination to solve.  I'm pretty happy with that!

I compartmentalize a lot in this class. We learn a couple of skills, review, and quiz. No big unit/chapter tests (if you don't count the exam). But for systems I thought it might be nice to try and pull everything back together.

Ok, so you can graph/use elimination. But can you decide when to use what?

We're quizzing tomorrow on elimination/systems of inequalities. And then I think I'll spend the next few days on the process of making the decision of which method is most appropriate for the system (and then solving it).

I was shopping around for a foldable for the kids and their INBs today when I visited msmathwiki (organized by my friend and fellow TMC12-er Julie Ruelbach).  There were several systems foldables linked there that I checked out and liked @druinok's the best. But I wanted to edit it a bit. So I emailed and Shelli, in her infinite generosity, sent me the word doc.

Here's what I ended up with:

The outside

The inside

Here's the pdf.  (Shoot me an email if you'd like the editable doc!)

And just for fun, I made copies on some pretty pink paper. The boys'll love it.

Monday, February 4, 2013


Last week's Tweet Me hashtag was #WhyILoveAHS.  I thought I'd share some of the funny responses.

  • I have teachers who care about my education and help me learn!
  • I love AHS because everyone can find something they like and everyone feels welcome.
  • Sports and friends
  • Mrs. Fouss!!! < 3
  • Football and baseball
  • Donkey basketball!  (That was from me.)
  • Because I can dress crazy.
  • Because of our awesome swimteam!!!
  • It's a great learning environment
  • Basketball and because it's so easy
  • I have made so many new friends, and I love Mrs. Fouss!  
  • I have a love for bugs and AHS is filled with plenty! No. . . I am just kidding. I actually like AHS because I like the music programs and sports games.
  • Because I love school.
  • Because I get to see friends and Mrs. Fouss!
  • Because our lunch food on homestyle chicken tenders day tastes good.
  • I can practice cockroach smashing.
  • All the students and staff work hard to ensure that success is shared by all.
  • My house is more boring & I < 3 my teachers and friends.
  • Because cats!
    • retweeted by @Jesse
    • favorited by @sophie
    • @sophie No.  (from @Daniel)
    • @Daniel Yes. (from @Sophie)
    • @Daniel @Sophie C'mon guys, peace & love. #don'thate  (from @Darcy)
  • Because @Mikey is here.
    • RT @chet: "Because Mikey is here." You too big guy. (From @Mikey)
  • The giant cockroaches and the smell of sweat and fear!

My quote for the week was one by Albert Einstein.  One of the funny responses I got:
"Albert Einstein was a light in a dark world. He enlightened his followers through  many scientific equations. He also got bad grades because he was bored. His hair was a demonstration of a bad haircut."

I'd used a Disney font for the quote because it was something about using your imagination.
Another response:

Some of these kids really make me laugh.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

My Weekly Tags (weekly)

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