Thursday, January 10, 2013

How I Sextupled the Time It Takes To Teach End Behavior

In Algebra 2 . . . I used these cards:

Hi Students! Here's a deck of cards. Each one has a polynomial function and its graph.

The degree of each polynomial is determined by its highest exponent. Talk with your group and agree on the degree of each one.

The leading coefficient is the number in front of that term with the highest exponent. Talk with your group and agree on the leading coefficient for each card.

Now we are going to focus on the ends of the graphs. Look at the left side. Does it point up or down? What about the right side? What you are looking at is called the "end behavior". Group the cards according to end behavior. Show me when you're done.

Next I want you to look for similarities in each group. What do the degrees have in common? What about the leading coefficients?

In 5 minutes or so, all of the groups had identified what the groups had in common according to even/odd degree and positive/negative leading coefficient.

We did some practice once they had this figured out.

Oh, and then I played some music and showed them some polynomials one at a time and they showed end behavior with their arms. And there was dancing.

This used to take me 4 minutes. I would write four rules on the board and they would copy them down.

Today it took 24.

But it was fun. And later I saw somebody end-behavior dancing in the hallway.

This approach is better than just telling them, right?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Most Read in 2012

My blogging slowed down a lot this year. I had half as many posts in 2012. This fall has been especially rough. I added some new responsibilities at school and in general have been all "How can I survive today?" instead of "Let's reflect on teaching practice and write about it" or "I tried this cool new thing I'd love to share".

I guess that is okay. I mean, I never wanted blogging to be this thing that stresses me out. I just thought it would be a way for me to stretch myself as a teacher, and it has. Just taking the time to think about what I am doing that is worth posting forces me to reflect and improve. If someone else can benefit from what I share, then that is a bonus!

I don't want to stay in survival mode, though. Here's hoping I can find the time to be more creative and adventurous in 2013!

Anyhoo . . . Last year I started the tradition of compiling my most-read posts at the end of the year, so here's this year's list (a bit shorter than the last one):

Green Pen is the New High Five:  I still use this on a regular basis in my classroom. A correct answer earns a green star and a green pen and the responsibility of coaching someone else near you.

Visualizing Volumes:  I used party decorations to show volumes of rotation in calculus.

Pieces Final Project:  Using function families and restricted domains to create a picture. Posting this resulted in a lot of great feedback which will improve the project for next time. This totally solidified my love for blogging!

2 PIzza Boxes and a Hot Glue Gun:  I glued together two pizza boxes to create privacy for test taking without moving desks. The truth: I discovered two incidences of cheating while using these. While they  will prevent accidental glancing around, they can't prevent deliberate cheating.

Factoring Before You Know How:  An activity to introduce (or practice) factoring trinomials.

Dry Erase Practice Folders:  Use recycled file folders and dry-erase contact paper (or laminating?) to create re-useable skills practice.

And one more post that wasn't read a lot, but I am just proud of it:

Teaching Students to Coach:  A nice little video that paints a perfect picture of how I want my students to work together.

Here's 2011's Top 10 List.

I also want to take a minute to thank all the very kind people out there in the math blogosphere. I started this blog thinking that I have received so much from all of you that I would try and give something back. The truth is that I could never compete with the generosity and kindness of the math teachers whose blogs I read, who also take the time to comment here and help me improve. I don't want to mention names because I know I will forget someone, but I am really grateful to be a little part of this community. Thanks to all, and happy 2013!