Wednesday, April 30, 2014

My script calculator

Today I showed the students how to set up an equation so that my script calculator will solve for a variable without the student having to do the actual mathematics.  For instance in a ratio, you can put in 3/4 = 9/  and it will fill in the 12 so you don't have to do the actual math.  I knew that but did not share it with the students until today.  This was in Algebra I class.  In Algebra II, I have been working with the students to get them to learn to use free graph calc to find the values in a polynomial using the table part of the app.  Tomorrow I am going to talk about composite functions etc and then will have the students add to their Haiku Deck presentation on the section.  This is my class full of seniors and I am trying to make them more independent.
Finally, I shared the teaching channel with others in the Technology PLC and we found one that showed a website for students to use because it has audio, buttons with hints.  I will discuss the site tomorrow and figure out if it works on the iPad.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Teaching channel and a reading assignment.

I went to a conference this past weekend and in one of the workshops we were shown several different examples of good teaching using The Teaching Channel.  I saw one great lesson on having students sort equations into always, sometimes and never stacks.  The students were working in groups but they had to support their choice with both verbal and visual evidence.  I liked the way you saw the teacher handling the class, explaining and creating a safe environment for students to try.  That is one lesson I want to try.  I saw another teacher have students work a problem on a paper, turn it in and she looked at the answers, sorting the yeses from no's and finding the best no answer.  She would copy the problem on the board and begins by asking students what is done correctly.  After, she then asked if they could find what was not correct and used this as a way of creating a dialog and assessment.  I think I will begin using this next year in my teaching.  I also plan to watch videos over the summer so that I can improve my teaching.
Today in my College prep math class, I gave students a section to read and create a presentation for using Haiku Deck.  Over the last few weeks of school, I want to have them become even more independent  since they are going to college next year.  If I had I movie on the ipads, I could have them take this a step further by importing the presentation into imovie, add sound and create a great presentation.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Baseball math

Yesterday, I spent the period going over some mathematical formulas for baseball statistics for use in my Algebra II class today.  I've arranged for them to have a statistical lesson via videoconferencing today.  We discovered that the batting average formula is similar to a simple one step equations and can be solved the same way.  The slugging formula is a bit more complex but similar to the formula for finding your GPA.   I was able to introduce the students to statistical deviation which is a topic I don't usually get to so this is really pretty good.
appzest has a EZ statistics lite app which tests students on various topics of statistics.  The lite version is free and has limited questions but has a data base of questions which can be used for students to test their knowledge.  I am going to go looking for apps that might explain more about probability and stats over the summer. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Appzest EZ radicals

This is a free app which has several chapters.  Each chapter starts with a quick review and then follows with a short quiz.  The app explains the answer either as a reinforcement of the correct answer or to explain why the chosen answer is incorrect.  At the end, the student receives a score.
The app covers an introduction, finding nth roots, simplifying radical expressions, multiplying, dividing, adding and subtracting, using the distributive property, conjugates, radical functions domain and range, radical equations, introduction to complex numbers, adding and subtracting complex numbers, complex conjugates, multiplying and dividing complex numbers, complex numbers with math operations, absolute value of complex numbers and i to the power of n. 
This is really a neat app.  Tomorrow, I"m going to check out another one.  It is sometimes hard to find apps to uses with the upper levels.

Monday, April 21, 2014


Today I had my algebra I take the 5th quiz in Mathtoons number skills.  Some of the problems required students to divide a fraction by a whole number.  I had several students comment that they didn't know how to do that.  This is really the first time my students have commented on their weaknesses.  The other thing that one of my students discovered is that many of the mathtoons quizzes from the individual apps are in the app called Ultimate Thump.  I'm going to go through the Ultimate Thump to see which of the apps it combines. 
I am beginning to see some good uses for these apps in all my classes next year.  I have to check through the two to three geometry apps to see which have quizzes on quadrilaterals.  The best time for the quizzes is after the warm-up and before the actual lesson. 
Our real life math problem had to deal with some thieves who stole 30,000 liters of diesel from a pipeline.  The theft was valued at $70,000 so I had the students calculate cost per liter, cost per gallon and how many gallons the 70,000 would buy based on the current price of $6.20 per gallon.  The students really were surprised about the amount it came to in US currency.

Friday, April 18, 2014

QR Search and rescue

In the normal search and rescue you put equations on a paper with the answer to a different problem.  So when you calculate the answer, you go looking for the paper with the answer and then do the equation for that one and go find the next answer.  Usually my students end up trying to take shortcuts but if I put the equation in a QR code with the answer written next to it and a letter to identify which problem it was so they can write it on the paper, the kids cannot take the usual short cuts.  They can then take a picture of the finished work and send it all in to me or deposit it in a dropbox.  Next year I am going to figure out a way to have students send in work to me and for me to send them work to cut down on the paper.
I think I'm going to do the QR the final week of April.  I can report back on how it goes.
I can put the QR codes around the room so that students can get up and move.  It is also a way of helping them learn the process so as to become competent in Math.  This can also provide them with a safe way to learn the material.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Mathtoons equations

I just figured out today that I can have my Algebra 1 class take a quiz every couple of days using Mathtoons equations.   As they take the quiz, there is a correcting mechanism that notifies students when they miss a problem and why.  Unfortunately, most of my students just ignore the information and keep selecting answers until they get the correct one.  The only other bad thing, is that the quiz has the same questions so students who redo the quiz will eventually get 100 percent.  Right now I am grading them for taking the quiz, not for their grade.  This is nice because I am getting them used to using the program.
I am thinking of having student write down one problem they miss on the quiz in a QR maker app and then let me scan the problem.  I expect them to copy down the correct answer and explain why they missed it.
Over the weekend I am going to read up on QR scavenger hunts to see how I can adapt the activity as a Search and rescue activity.  I would give them a problem they have to solve and then they have to go find the QR code with the answer written on the bottom.  Then they use that QR code for the next problem.
Over the summer I will be posting actual lesson plans using the ipads so as to keep a log of my ideas so I have  a record of them and perhaps get some feedback on my ideas.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Warm-up lead to real life teaching moment and G7 geometry.

As noted in yesterday's blog, I wrote some math questions dealing with rent controlled apartments and landlords offering tenants who had been there money to move.  As part of the process, my students learned that if a family took the landlord up of $50,000 to move out of a rent controlled apt that rented for $549 per month, it equaled 7.5 years of rent.  On the other hand if they had to rent a new place for $2500 per month, the money would only pay for 20 months of rent.  If the landlord could raise the rent from $549 to 2500 per month, that was a 355% increase. This discussion lead my seniors to ask about buying a house.  I went to and we started checking out some places in the city closest to our town.  They were so interested that we will continue discussing the topic tomorrow in class.
In geometry, the students used G7 geometry app by appzest to take the quiz on quadrilateral shapes.  Most students got all the questions correct.  The app has information for the student on the section and then when the student hits go, the student is taken to the quiz.  There are 5 multiple choice questions in each section and the student is told if the answer they chose is correct or incorrect and why.  So either way, the student's learning is reinforced.  I like this feature in an app.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Ways to help students learn material.

Today in Geometry, I had the students work with parallelograms and their rules.  I am toying with a couple ideas to help students learn the rules so they can apply the rules.  I have thought about having students take pictures of each problem, show their work and then import the problem into Haiku Deck and then explain which theorem allowed them to solve the problem.  When they are done, they will show me the presentation.  This will give them the opportunity to connect the various theorems to the actual work.  I've noticed in the past my students do not always connect the theorems with what they are doing.  I should have things done and able to report back in a few days.
I came across something in yahoo news about landlords in San Francisco who are offering people money to move out of their rent controlled apartments so the apt can be rerented for a higher amount.  One family who lived in an apt for 24 years was being offered $50,000 to move out of their $549 a month apt.  This is enough for me to write some neat problems and to educate my students about rent control.  This is something they may never run into so I hope to expand their horizons.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

New warm up and update on Zoodle Comic

I am getting more work from my students.  Once they finish the comic strip, I have them save it and then either they e-mail it to me or I e-mail it to myself.  Once I get it, I can grade it and print the comic strip off so I can show them to others.  The comic strips are turning out quite well.
One of my students today asked if he could look up how fast a hummingbird beats its wings.  In the process of finding that info, he discovered the following information about hummingbirds:
1. Their heart beats 1360 times per minute.
2. They can fly 27 mph
3. on average they beat their wings 70 times a sec but if they are mating, it could be up to 100 times a second.
4.  Their tails make a whistling noise. 
They requested some problems using this information for warm-ups on monday.

I stumbled across a bit on how some folks used two sides of a 29 story building to create a tetras game.  I am trying to get enough information to create some warm-up problems.  Today I showed my students a couple short clips on the event and they thought it was neat.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Zoodle comic

One of my students turned in his comic strip made using the app Zoodle comic.  I let them choose one of 7 word problems.  They had to select a problem and then in the comic strip,  explain the problem, show how to solve it and come up with an answer.  The others are still finishing up their comic strips but this was the first one turned in and it turned out quite well.  I thought I would share it with everyone.  I blocked his name so as to keep his privacy.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Testing week

This is a testing week so I am not on as often.  I will be writing up real world problems to use in the future.
I saw an odd news article discussing the installation of a gourmet cupcake dispenser in NYC so people will be able to purchase cupcakes 24 hour a day.  What is interesting is that the company who is doing this has dispensers in several other cities.  What makes this machine different is that it has a 760 cupcake capacity which is larger than the other machines this company uses in other cities.  They will be charging $4.25 for each cupcake and you can purchase up to 4 cupcakes at a time. 
I need to do a bit of research to find the average price of a gourmet cupcake in NYC so we can do a price comparison.  The article did not say how many cupcakes they expect to sell but I can ask the following:
1.  If a several people used to machine to purchase 4 cupcakes on their way to work, how many people could buy cupcakes?
2.  If a cupcake cost $2.00 to produce, how much gross profit could the machine make?
3.  What percentage of the sale price is gross profit?
4. If the machine sells out of cupcakes every 6 hours, how many cupcakes would they sell in a 24 hour period?
More tomorrow.