Monthly Archives: February 2015

Day 114: All About That Base

Algebra is starting exponents. Yet again, I pulled an opening activity from Dan. This time it came from a video.

Here is a quick rundown

  • Ask students to break 25 down into as many pieces as they want.
  • Multiply those pieces.
  • Talk to a neighbor, compare.
  • Who has the largest?

This took a good 15-20 minutes till students were satisfied and convinced their number was the largest. Almost every period settled on a different number. I am not going to push them to reach one magical number.

It got tiring and time consuming to write 2(2)(2)(2)(2)(2)(2)(2)(2)(2)(2)(2)(2)(2)(2)(2)(2)(2)(2)(2)(2)(2)(2)(2)(1) into the calculator and on papers so eventually the idea of 2¹²(1) came up instead writing all those 2s. This lead really well into talk about exponents.

Day 113: Science Practice Performance Task

Almost all my students were out today taking a practice performance task for science SBAC. I proctored it as well. Here is a quick rundown of the task:

  • Students spent half the time reading through articles and analyzing their credibility.
  • They then used those articles to create an argument in favor or against a given prompt.
  • The second half of the task is students writing their argumentative paper, using notes to support their stance.

All of this was on computers in word. Students did a great job of navigating between articles and their documents, focusing on important information and looking at urls/sources for credibility.

Lots of Englishey-Sciencey cross-curriculum going on, which was fun to see.

Day 112: Basketball

I used today as review in both algebra and geometry. There are a couple different types of review I have tried in the past. Racecar Math and Station Reviews have been my go to. Today I tried Basketball, which I found over at Dan Meyer’s site.

Every period was really into it. There is never a flawless type of review but this was definitely worth the time. I picked up a mini ball for under $5, set up my trash can on a wall, and put these rules up on the board.

1.  I will put up a question.

2.  You will answer it on a sheet of paper (turned in).

3.  Once you have an answer, stand up.

4.  Correct 1 = shot, Incorrect = 1 shot for me.

5.  Once you have answered correctly, you may not stand up again till everyone in the room has tried.

Other notes

  • Talking = 1 shot for me
  • You can pass your shot off to someone else
  • Three people can shoot per problem
  • I am terrible at basketball

I ended up losing to every period but of them. Most of the time it was down to the wire and students were on the edge of their seats cheering. There were some random name that state flag and capitols thrown throughout the mix.

For those wondering, we averaged about 14 review questions per period. This was a lot of fun!



Day 111: Instructional Value?

Right now in algebra, students are just wrapping up graphing systems of inequalities. According to my exit slips/formative assessments they are pretty good at it.

I spent a whole lot of time the last couple weeks digging around for activities and resources on rich problems involving systems of inequalities. Here are a couple of my favorites:

Ohio Jones by Dan Wekselgreene

Lego Pieces by Fawn Nguyen

I regret not using either of these this year.

However, I am in a weird position that I haven’t ever really found myself in…

Normally when I find an activity/task I am excited about I go for it, without any hesitation. Right now though, I feel a pressure just to get through the content. I dunno, I guess I am trying to say I don’t really feel like spending extra days exploring and setting up struggle for students with this particular concept.

And I am normally all about that.

I started teaching linear inequalities by asking students how many solutions various equations have…

y = x + 3

lxl = 5

y = x + 3

then dropped

y > x + 3

It took so much time to get through one linear inequality and I am not sure what value this approach has over just telling students the short cuts of shading/line types. It does not feel to me that the time we sunk into it was worth it. The transition from pure math or interesting problems into using a system of linear inequalities to solve them is rocky. Hopefully by next year I will have some time to think and come back with a better understanding of my struggles right now!

Day 110: Triangle Similarity

Algebra spent the day working on systems of linear inequalities. I wanted to show students other resources available to them other than myself, other teachers, and other students, so I put on a quick Khan Academy Video. There has been some discussion lately on the MTBoS over this sorta thing, which I am staying out of.

I believe it is important to provide students with as may resources as possible to help them succeed. In my opinion Khan is one of those. I used youtube to help me through some tough Calculus, it didn’t replace any classroom experiences but was an incredibly helpful resource.

Geometry is working on triangle similarity. They were struggling with solving proportions so we spent quite a bit of time working on review. I threw up a few pictures which I wrote about here and we talked about them (where the unit rate appears and answering the questions via unit rate vs proportion).

Day 109: Favorite Tweets #2

This is a continuation of Favorite Tweets.

It is interesting to see how my favorited tweets have shifted since the beginning of the year. It looks like my more recent favorites have been more about facts/interesting bits than deep reflective sorta things.

Either way, here are a few of my favorite favorites.

Day 108: Stacking Dolls

Geometry is working on similarity. Today they went over Dan’s Stacking Dolls. This was a lot of fun!



It took a lot more time for students to ask questions and build on those than it took to actually answer the question. I remembered to go back over their list of questions at the end which brought some good closure.

I asked the extension question of Now I want  you to build a doll as tall as the Empire State Building which contains exactly 100 dolls. We talked about how they would approach it and they found some interesting loop holes of having one mega doll and 99 small dolls inside. Kinda off set the thunder of everything after that.

All in all I believe this was well worth the time and students seemed to enjoy it as well!