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Teaching High School Math by Jennifer - 1M ago

Curve Sketching is a topic that Calculus students need to practice over and over again.  So, I decided to give them some practice by using this fun idea that I originally found on the Math = Love blog {Math = Love Two Truths and a Lie}

First, the students and I played a quick round of two truths and a lie as a small icebreaker.

1) I graduated from the University of Illinois.
2) I played the oboe in high school.
3) I lived in Hawaii for a year.

My students know me pretty well, so they quickly figured out that I never lived in Hawaii :)

Then I gave each set of partners a copy of the Two Truths and a Lie form.  Students could do this activity by themselves, but I thought for a first effort maybe partners would work better.  This form is specifically geared toward this particular Curve Sketching activity, but it could easily be changed to target whatever topic you want.

I decided to give my students an equation to work with.  This way, I could target a couple of groups with some more difficult equations.  But, you could easily just tell students they have to come up with their own equation.

I told students they need to use words like maximum, minimum, increasing, decreasing, concave up, concave down, and point of inflection in their 3 statements.  I did allow students to use their calculators to check their work.

Here is an example of my work:

Finally, after each group was finished, I had them fold up the bottom of their paper so other students couldn't see it.  We had a gallery walk around the room and students had to identify the lie on all of the other group's papers.

This was a really fun activity and I hope to incorporate this activity into other topics in some of my other classes!

{Do you like this idea?  If you would like to purchase the forms and equations used in this activity, please visit my TPT store at: Two Truths and a Lie Curve Sketching}

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Teaching High School Math by Jennifer - 2M ago

I don't know about you, but I have a ton of post its sitting around everywhere.  Every color and size...I even purchased the Post Its Teacher Treasure Box :) I use them often!

I was ready to start teaching Riemann Sums in Calculus the other day and I happened to look down at the post its I had on my desk and I realized...hey I can use these!

So, I made this one page worksheet to get my students started on learning Riemann Sums.  The worksheet is the perfect size to use the post its that are 1/2 inch in width.  (For example, see them here: Post It Page Markers )

I introduced the idea of Riemann Sums to the class and we did an example at the board.

Then I had everyone take 15 post it page markers. [Teacher Tip:  If you put 15 post its on each student's paper before you start this activity, it takes a LOT less time]  Students will also need a pair of scissors.

This is how one student's paper looked as she worked on the assignment.

Would you like a copy of this activity for your students?  Download the one page pdf file from my TPT Store...

Teaching Riemann Sums with Post Its
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Teaching High School Math by Jennifer - 3M ago

It's that time of year again - when we all get REALLY ready for Winter Break.  We teachers are no different than the students!  There is still work that needs to be done, but if we could only make it fun somehow to keep our student's minds on math :)

I have teamed up with some of my secondary math friends to compile a list of some terrific, fun activities you might use in your class this December.

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Teaching High School Math by Jennifer - 4M ago

I seriously hate grading homework.  But, kids are kids, and if you don't do something with it, they simply won't do it.

Even worse, it seems like some kids just copy the homework off of someone to just get it done.  Or, they use one of the readily available apps to scan or input the problem and immediately get the answer.

I've tried many methods of checking homework...walking around the room and giving points for completion, giving short homework "quizzes" on problems from the night before, giving no homework, collecting the homework and only checking one or two problems, giving online homework, etc, etc, etc.

Nothing was working for me, and last year I got to the point that I stopped checking it altogether.  I assigned it, but I never checked it.  I went over it the next day.  Not surprisingly, the kids that faithfully actually did the homework and asked questions got better grades, but I couldn't seem to get through to the others the necessity of giving homework.  Checking the homework seemed like such a waste of time - and when I did check it, it took soooo long.

So, I thought about a different system I could use all summer.  This is what I came up with and it seems to be working for me right now.

Each day I assign homework as usual.  I go over it the next day.  I take some questions, but I don't do all of it.  I pay close attention to the questions that I think the kids will have problems with.

This continues throughout the week.  Students keep all of their homework that has been assigned in a binder.  I keep track of the assignments on the board.

On Friday, I give a quiz during class.  The quiz covers whatever we have done that week.  {I rarely give chapter or unit tests}.

During the quiz, I collect the student's binders and give each student a homework grade for the entire week.

The grade consists of points for completion and I might check one or two problems for correctness.  I entire this one grade into our online gradebook as their weekly homework grade.  If I take any points off, I enter a comment which tells the reason for taking off points.

Students get their binders back at the end of class.  My homework check is done - it hasn't taken any class time.  Students get points for work they have done and I don't have to take papers home!

In addition, in my PreCalculus and Calculus classes I have written sets of short homework problems that have QR Codes right on the page.  Students can immediately check whether their answer to each question is correct.  This seems to encourage them to try every problem.  This packet is also part of their binder.  Even if I don't ASSIGN a page on a specific topic, students have that page to practice with the answers already included.  (If you're interested, check out my PreCalculus and Calculus Homework sets here: PreCalculus Homework , Calculus Homework )

Do you have different methods of checking homework?  I'd love to hear about them in the comments section.

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Teaching High School Math by Jennifer - 8M ago

Let me tell you...making a breakout box for your class to use is no small task!  But, I had a lot of fun making it and I am hoping my students will have a lot of fun with it too.  I am planning to use this as a first day activity in my Calculus class to review some necessary skills and avoid the first day here are the rules speech.

In order to make a Breakout Box, you first need to gather your supplies.

There is a company you can order a box with supplies from [Breakout Edu], but I wanted to buy my own supplies and make a couple of changes.

Here are the supplies I used (with some links to amazon if you're interested):

1) 16 inch toolbox - I bought this from WalMart
2) Directional Lock {Amazon Directional Lock}
3) Hyper Tough Tool Bag - I bought this from WalMart
4) Word Lock {Amazon Word Lock}
5) Vaultz Binder Locking Pouch {Vaultz Locking Binder Pouch}
6) Blank Jigsaw Puzzles {Amazon Jigsaw Puzzles}
7) Black Light Flashlights {Black Light Flashlight}
8) Invisible Ink Pens {Amazon Invisible ink pens - set of 3}

I ended up buying enough to make 4 complete breakout boxes.  It was expensive, but I am hoping that I will be able to use these supplies several times a year.

To start this activity, I will hand each group of students a card with directions, 4 problem cards, and the locked toolbox to begin.  Students solve the 4 problems which will give them the combination to the first lock which will be on the large toolbox.

Inside the large toolbox, students will find the Hyper Tough Tool Bag and 5 additional problems on cards.  Students solve these problems and unscramble the letters so they can figure out the combination to the word lock.

Inside the Hyper Tough Tool Bag, students will find 3 final problems on cards and the Vaultz Binder Locking Pouch.  Students solve these 3 problems to determine the combination the Binder Pouch.

Inside the binder pouch, students will find a jigsaw puzzle they need to put together along with a black light flashlight.  Students put the puzzle together and then use the black light to read the secret message on the puzzle which is written in invisible ink.

The invisible ink tells the students where they should go to get their treat.  I am giving candy bars as the treat :)

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Teaching High School Math by Jennifer - 8M ago

This would be a great activity to use for the first day of a high school math class where students know how to solve multi-step equations.  I plan to use it for the first day of Geometry class.  It will be ever so much more fun that just TELLING students where to sit.

I purchased 2 sets of My Name Is cards from the Target Dollar Spot.  Then I made up 30 different equations.  However, there are 2 equations whose solutions are the same number.  For example, you can see from the picture above that the top two equations both have a solution of -6.

Pass out one card to each student as they enter the room.  Give them a couple of minutes to solve the equation.  I will have the desks pre-numbered with the solutions to the equations.  So, for example, somewhere in the room there will be two desks next to each other with -6 on them.  As students find their seats, ask them to trade cards with the student who has an equation with the same solution.  This way all solutions should be verified.

Since students now have a partner, they can introduce themselves and find out something interesting about the other student.

Do you like this idea?  You can find the activity with the cards premade for you in my Teachers Pay Teachers store here:  Partner Solving Equations Activity

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Teaching High School Math by Jennifer - 9M ago

One of the biggest ideas in high school geometry is getting students to write a two column proof.  Although proofs seem to be emphasized less these days, it is still an important concept to get across to students.  Step by step logical argument is an important skill that can be applied to any career or aspect of life.

I like to start teaching proofs with something the students can relate to.  I ask one student to come to the front of the room.  I ask him or her to take of their shoe {must be a tie shoe!}.  I then ask for a volunteer to give that student verbal directions on how to tie his or her shoe.  I tell the demonstrating student that they must do exactly what the directions say.  I use this exchange so students will hopefully see how important it is to be very specific and step-by-step with their directions.

Next, I like to use a couple of puzzles to continue to develop the idea that a step by step process is necessary when writing a proof.  I use word puzzles that are sometimes called word ladders.

We then move on to another thing that students are very familiar with - solving algebra equations.  I setup several algebra equations in two column form.  Students get familiar with the format of a proof and start to understand how to move step by step through the process.

Finally, I feel that my students are ready for the big event...writing an actual geometry proof.  Unfortunately, this sometimes doesn't live up to what I might have built it up to be.

As we move through the properties and apply them to geometric situations instead of algebraic ones, students start to get the idea.

Soon, we make it to congruent triangle proofs where these ideas are really applied.  Introducing the ideas of congruent triangles slowly with MANY examples helps students get the idea.  Using lots of different activities {task cards, board work, fill in the blank, etc}

I just finished making a flip book that I am going to use this year to introduce Congruent Triangle Proofs with CPCTC.  One example on each page that students can fill in as we go.  When we are finished, they can store it in their notebook by gluing down the back page if they wish.

Good luck!

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Teaching High School Math by Jennifer - 9M ago

Digital task cards in math class?

How can I continue to use task cards when we are going to a 1:1 environment?

Here are two ways to enjoy the benefits of task cards digitally:

1) Use your task cards one at a time as entrance or exit tickets.

For example,

Here is a recent task card that I made for my geometry class.

At first glance, this might seem like a regular task card you might hand out to your class.  But, upon closer inspection, notice, that there are places where the students can insert text boxes to write an equation, find the value of x, and find the measure of a specified angle.

You can assign the students this one task card at the beginning or end of a class period.  They send their answer back to you electronically and you immediate see how everyone is doing!  No papers to flip through (or accidentally misplace!)

Students see the task card image as part of their question and then choose their answer below the card.  You can make multiple choice questions or students can type their answer.  This is even better than sending the students task cards one at a time because you get immediate data from Google!  A great way to formatively assess students!

Just like anything else, task cards in a 1:1 environment have their place.  Having the students write in mathematical notation is still a major stumbling block.  But for now, I hope you can find a place to use these two options in your class.

{ Want to see more digital activities in my store?  Check out this link: Digital Math Activities }
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Teaching High School Math by Jennifer - 11M ago

I had been thinking all winter about how to entice my AP Calculus students to come in on a {gasp} Saturday or Sunday to review with me.  I know they are all busy...they are in many activities and have many other AP classes to study for.

So, I brainstormed with the other AP teachers at my school, and we came up with the idea of AP Saturday.  Here's the general idea:

We started the day off in our Leadership Center with a general pep talk to all of the students.

After the pep talk, students were dismissed to attend half hour sessions of their own choosing.  Each teacher that was present divided the two and a half time period into 5 specific sessions.  Students were given a schedule that listed what each teacher was planning for each half hour session.  (For example - from 9:30 - 10:00 my students and I worked on reviewing area and volume - from 10:00 to 10:30 we reviewed separable differential equations and so on.)  Publishing ahead of time what we each planned on talking about allowed students to pick and choose what they felt they needed to attend.

I bribed gave my students 2 points extra credit for each session they attended.  Some students came, some didn't, but I believe this offered students the opportunity to review and ask questions in a relaxed environment.

Involving other AP Teachers in the school got more people involved and enticed more students to come and study :)

We ended the day by having pizza together in the cafeteria.

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