Beginning of the Year

As we come down to the final week before school starts, I'm getting back in the swing of waking up (semi) early, but still going to bed late. Since I am teaching three new preps my focus will be less on Algebra 2, but it is still my favorite class.

Sequence of Topics
We use Pearson Algebra 2 books, I try to follow the sequencing, but sometimes it doesn't make sense.

Chapter 1- Expressions, Equations, and Inequalities
Chapter 2- Functions, Equations, Graphs
Chapter 3- Linear Systems
Chapter 4- Quadratic Functions
Chapter 5- Polynomials
Chapter 6- Radicals
Chapter 7- Probability and Statisitics
Chapter 8- Trigonometry
Chapter 9- Sequences
Chapter 10- Logarithms
Chapter 11- Rational Functions
Chapter 12- Conic Sections

First Week Activities
To start out with on the first day, not all of our students have iPads yet, so we do a Math About Me to get an easy A and start the year on a positive foot. Students need ten numbers that describe themselves and their picture in the middle or on a presentation, could be digital or paper copies. If students hand in a paper copy it goes on the wall to be my first student work of the year.

Second day I am going to start with a BreakOutEDU game, to show them that this year math will look and feel a little different, I like to focus on activities and projects!

Find better ways to use the iPad, for activities instead of presenting or worksheets.
Use time more effectively, get students use to bell to bell.
Remember that math isn't serious.

Mentioned above, but I do try to learn all my students names the first two days even though the shy ones might squeak through to the following week.

Class Set Up
I am playing around with different organization, but I think I've settled on groups of 4. 

Video Game Success: Making Video Games with Math

Start with Pixel Press Floors

Pixel Press Floors allows you to create your own video game.  In our algebra and algebra 2 units we talk about lines and graphing lines for a solid part of our curriculum.  I wanted students to collaborate and have an ending project that brought a final bang to our unit.

This app allows you to draw on screen (in paper mode) and draw out the different levels of the game. There are a ton of lesson plans and tried and true ideas here:

The Rules for the Project

  • Student's need to create at least one level where they have an undefined, positive, negative, and zero slope.  They also need to have at least one other slope that is different from the rest (e.g. y=-3x instead of y=-x.)
  • Student's level needs to be playable, you need to be able to get from beginning to end as a player of the game.
  • The student's need to take a screen shot of their different levels to show their different slopes and use Desmos to graph each of the different slopes.
Here is an example level:

Students final examples should look something like this:

I want students to have a different final project.  Students will peer assess with others in the room.  Student's will need three other people to play their level and look over their paper they will have to write.  They will have a rubric to fill out about the playability of the game and the features of the game.

How Infographics Boost Math

  • 65% of learners are visual learners.
  • Looking at and reflecting on data is something all students struggle with.
  • Infographics make data easier to understand.
At the beginning of next year I want students take their knowledge and apply it more often.  We normally have a day lesson on classifying rational numbers.  Next year after I give students the lesson they normally have a card sort they do in groups, it is a fun activity and gets them to work together early in the year.

After they are done with the card sort their homework will be to create an infographic.  I will have students download Canva. Canva is a graphic design app that allows students (and teachers) to create presentations, handouts, and other graphics such as infographics.  (I use Canva to create my presentations and handouts for conferences)

Student's will create an infographic on how to classify rational numbers and will be hung up around the room.

Here is an example I made earlier today:

This is a simple mock-up and the rubric for the assessment is yet to come, but having students demonstrate their knowledge in a graphical way will get students on the right path of thinking when it comes to math next year.

Top 10 Apps for Making Innovators

In "The Innovator's Mindset: Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity" by George Couros he talks about getting teachers to foster an environment of wonder, exploration, and forward-thinkers.  Couros goes on to state that to have innovative students we need innovative educators.  Here I give you 15 apps to get students to develop the skills and create learning learning experiences to release your student's talent.  These are in no particular order, if I forgot any that you think should be mentioned put them in the comments down below.

1. MSQRD (Masquerade) (free)

This app allows students to record themselves in 30 seconds.  The most amazing part of this app is that you can apply filters and animations over your face like SnapChat.  This app allows students to publish to Twitter if you have a classroom hashtag or students can send you an email with the video inclosed.  They have different filters in the picture I took a picture with the American flag, student's could record their voices over a different flag from a country of their choice.

2. Pixel Press Floors (free)

This app allows you to create your own video game.  It allows you to draw on screen (in paper mode) and draw out the different levels of the game. There are a ton of lesson plans and tried and true ideas here:

Once you get going you can create different levels of complexity that include different problem solving steps.  In my class students create their own and test it as an assessment and students rank its difficulty level and math included.

3. Morphi (free)

Morphi is an app that allows students to create and print a 3D model to a 3D printer directly from their iPad.  Students in my math class made weird 3D dice and we found the experimental and theoretical probability after they printed them.  At the time we did not have a working 3D printer so we printed them at the DoSpace in Omaha.  You can check that out here.  Morphi is a great tool I haven't found another that works as well for high school students without moving to Google SketchUp or another computer program.  They have an educational app, but currently costs $8.99, which might be worth the purchase if you had one iPad in your classroom.

4. Tickle (free)

Is a one stop shop for coding devices.  I use this app with my students to code a BB-8 with artimetic sequences and later in the year we code for graphing points using our Parrot Drones. This app is extremely hands on when it comes to coding software on the iPad.  Its ease and layout makes it easy for students to pick up and 'fly' with.

5. Locks ($1.99)

Locks is our only paid app, because you only need one for your classroom.  BreakoutEDU will be a top 10 educational company by the end of the decade, because BreakoutEDU thrives on bringing growth mindset of problem solving and critical thinking to the forefront of education.  If you haven't seen BreakoutEDU before I would suggest touring their website before purchasing here.  The goal of BreakoutEDU game is to get out a series of locks before the time expires, but with the app you don't need locks just app. So the $90 box is the same thing as the $1.99 app.

6. Seesaw (free)

Seesaw has been my go to blogging platform this past year with my students.  This collaborative app allows teachers and students to have a class blog for free.  I use to use, but now they charge $20 for the same thing that Seesaw does. (And it does it better.)

The ease to use Seesaw is signing up and giving students something to put in their folder.  With ease of use and a free place for students to publish to the web, makes it an ideal tool of any innovator.

7. Block Craft 3D (free)

My students love Minecraft, but in the app store Minecraft is quite expensive especially for an educator.  The equivalent is a free app Block Craft 3D which allows students the same experience as Minecraft, but without the price.  The only thing I wish Block Craft 3D had was the ability to communicate with others in the game.  

Otherwise we use this app in my Standards class especially since it easier to talk about volume, surface area, perimeter, and other geometrical terms with a visual that they made.

8. Padlet (free) 

Padlet is an old-y, but goody.  This app never disappoints when you have students collaborating in groups.  I use this in all my group projects to have students brainstorm and sort their brainstorming into groups.  It is a digital, yet concrete way of digital communication with an iPad.  This communications tool is a great tool that all innovators should have in their repertoire if they are heading to college, workplace, or even high school. 

Bloxels is another app made by the same company that makes Pixel Press Floors where you can create your own video game.  This app is great for more elementary or middle school classrooms.  You can buy the bloxels or use the app in the same way where you fill them out to make different levels.

Great app to start making students problem solvers of making difficult puzzles and levels for other students.

10. Typorama (free)

The last app is Typorama, this app takes pictures from the internet, library, and camera roll and allows you to insert text and filters over the top.  This is perfect for having students make their own memes and infographics.  This app is high quality I use it when I take pictures or post to Twitter, because the detail level is incredible.

This app is perfect for the innovator who takes notes in a unique way and produces great visuals.

Gas Station Problem and Unit Rates

I was at Hy-Vee the other day filling up using our fuel save points when an interesting question popped into my head.  I was thinking if you were a gas station attendant how could you know if a person was using a fuel saver and which pump had the highest fuel saver discount based on the number of gallons and fuel price.

I made this activity to engage student thinking about Unit Rates and instead of fuel saver points they have to find which pumps are losing them money.

So I creepily took down the notes of every pump at the local Hy-Vee gas station, luckily enough I did the math on them all and had some surprising results.

The assignment is here:

It focuses on higher thinking about unit rates than we might typically cover.

After students complete this part of the task they have follow up questions:
  1. Which pumps need to be fixed?
  2. How much money was lost if we make $.10 on each gallon sold? Show your work.
  3. How much money did we make?
  4. How did you find your answers? (Write one paragraph)

Debates in Math

I have been looking over my Algebra 2 curriculum to find places where I could include debates in the math classroom.  I was trying to find ways of including more formal debates where students take in all of the information.  My goal is to give students a day to find all of the information, that night have them make a poster, meme, or infographic to demonstrate that learning.  The next day students will present their arguments to the class in a fishbowl activity.

  1. The first would be about Functions, Equations, and Graphs.  Students would be split into groups of 2 and one would be graphs the other would be equations.  Students would have debate on which is a better demonstration of functions equations or graphs.
    • Students would then have to produce a poster or meme.
    • Then the next day students would argue about which is better.  A list of questions that I will pose to students to get them talking will be added later.
  2. The second debate would be about Quadratic Functions and Equations. Same concept on groups of two but it would it include the best way to solve quadratics.
    • This time students will be placed into groups:
      • Completing the Square
      • Quadratic Formula
      • Graphing
  3. The last one I will incorporate is probability.  I'm going to go a little off script and give them an article to read and then talk about analyzing data.  Is the article true or not students will have to determine if the samples and survey are sound. 
I will add more as I become more proficient in dealing with debates and keep you posted as we have them in class.

5 Math Projects for Project Based Learning

At Schuyler Central High School next year we will have a new course in every subject area under what we call "Project Succeed." This will be a credit recovery class where students will undertake 5 projects throughout the year to earn those 5 credits.  If students do 3 of the 5 projects they earn 3 of the 5 credits.  Since this is the first year of the course, I am going to do 5 projects that someone else has done before.  Next year I will try to incorporate different projects that are more authentic.

1. Conceptual Art Project
This project is putting students in the drivers seat of incorporating art and math together.  Students will have the opportunity to put one concept of mathematics into a work of art.  They can create a watercolor, painting, or sculpture.  Students will then write a one page paper on what math concept was described and how it came out in the artwork.

I was thinking of using the timeline of this other Calculus Artwork Project.

2. Making a Math Treasure Map
This project has students using Google Maps to create a mathematical treasure map where students are given clues that lead them to the buried treasure.  Students will use coordinate geometry, and equations and lines to make the map.

3. Paper Folding 
This project has an "art-y" feel exactly like the first one.  Students will use origami to make a 3 Dimensional shape.  You will explore the relationship between surface area and volume. Is one always bigger than the other? Can you make cubes with the same surface area but different volumes?  Students will work in pairs to create either a cube or tetrahedron and then derive the surface area and volume formulas. 

4. Nutritional Math
In the launch activity students use unit rates and proportional reasoning to calculate how long they'd have to exercise to burn off different McDonald's menu items.  They then discuss which they think is a better representation of nutritional information.  Students would then create their own infographic for number of minutes in each activity to burn off a particular McDonalds item. 

Students would then create a personalized menu tailored to their own bodies, diets, and exercise routines.  

5. Three Shots
This last one I want to be more of a data based project where they are collecting and analyzing datat, we will see what I eventually get to.  In Three Shots, students will compute the probabilities of a Memphis basketball team win, loss, or tie when fouled at the buzzer and explore this even further in two project tasks, To Foul or Not to Foul and That Is The Question.