Friday, March 4, 2011

Logarithm Love

I just finished what was maybe my favorite unit ever! Logs and exponents . . . My students struggle with it every year. I get questions like "When are we ever going to use this?", and "Who had so much time on their hands to think this stuff up?" Translation, "Not only do I not understand this stuff, I don't understand the point of learning it". This unit was at the top of my list for improvements this year.

It seemed like the scores were higher than what I usually see for this test. To compare, I looked up the scores from last year's test. This year's class average was 4% higher than last year's. I know I am comparing two different groups of students, but this year's class has struggled more overall than last year's class. I feel like my improvements made a difference. So what did I do differently?

Time: I am lucky enough to have some flexibility in what I decide to teach and how much time I spend teaching it. So, I let myself take a couple of days for reinforcement instead of teaching something new every day. That really has me thinking about my course as a whole. I want to look for ways that I can go deeper with fewer topics for next year.

Accessories! This unit was interwoven with a ton of fun. I used my own log & exponent dominoes (shared below), Log Flash Cards, and Stations Review. I also used f(t)'s Add Em Up and Log War. It is like you take a basic t-shirt and some jeans, then you add a fun necklace, a cute jacket, and the perfect pair of shoes. Yes, I just compared math to fashion! What I mean is -- these activities made the unit more attractive and engaging for students. And they also completed the unit by providing extra practice and reinforcement in fun ways. That seemed to also bring a deeper level of understanding. If I had unlimited time, I would make a ton of these types of things and use them more often.

Still room for improvement:  Students consistently did poorly on any question where they had to use properties for logs. I want to find a better way to teach that next year.
Log and Exponent Dominoes


  1. Hi Amy,

    Thanks for posting the cookie recipe. Here is a little mnemonic I use for log properties. Really, it is part of the story of logarithms. In any case, my students seem to internalize the properties sooner and thus can pick up how to use them faster.

  2. Hi glsr! Thank you for the link to your mnemonic for log properties. That is definitely the kind of thing I am looking for. Thanks for sharing! Amy

  3. Thanks for posting! How did you have your kids actually play dominoes? I've never actually played the original! I'm sure they are going to love it. Thanks! Scott

  4. I don't have them play dominoes in the traditional way -- just line them up in order.