Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Discovery education.

I stumbled across Discovery Education which has a ton of resources for various subjects including math.  According to their banner in my NCTM daily e-mail, they are getting ready to unveil a digital textbook that is made for the 21st century student.  As I explored the math resources for grades 9 to 12, I found a lesson plan that has students researching various proofs of the Pythagorean theorem and then making a poster on the material.  I think they could also make an infographic or a presentation.  There are lots of possibilities.
In addition I found quite a few matching vocabulary sheets, brain boosters or word problems, and a couple resources to help students learn material on their own.  This is wonderful having more resources available.
This site also has materials for grades k to 8, puzzlemaker, lesson plans and it has resources for both parents and students.  I have bookmarked this page for my personal bookmarks so I can use these in the classroom.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Keynote and solving systems of equations.

This past summer I learned how to create animation using keynote.  I just realized today that I could use keynote to prepare an animated presentation showing the steps to solve systems of equations either by graphing, substitution or elimination.  I show videos, demonstrate the process for substitution and elimination but I think I need something a bit more because it is not quite enough to help them learn it as well as they should.  Since I've done a keynote animation showing classification of triangles by sides and by angles, I know the basics.  But tonight, I realized that I could apply the same animation process to create something where coefficients and variables might move around. So I have a process for next weekend - create a keynote animation for solving systems of equations. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Tonight I just discovered OpenEd which is a website filled with common core based lesson plans, videos, assessments, and games for students.  It covers grades K to 12 and best of all it has an app for the ipad or an android based mobile devices. 
All you need to do is sign up to access all the material available.  You can set up classes that students can use a code to get into.  You do not need to have everyone set up their own account, or even provide an e-mail.
During the search for material I can choose to search for a lesson plan, a video, an assessment, or a game.  The descriptions tell you which are free and which are part of the premium package.  You can add any of these things to your class lesson.  The high school section of common core math has classified things according to the standard stands of Algebra, Functions, Geometry, Number and Quality, and finally Statistics and Probability.  I love that each item has information on the common core standard it matches, ratings, type of license, etc.  You can mix and match as your needs require. 
I need to set up a class and try it out.  My only concern is if the ipads can run most of the games or if most will not work.  I am off to check things out.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

IXL more uses

Today my Algebra I classes were beginning linear equations so I had them use the guest feature of IXL and try 10 problems on identifying linear functions vs nonlinear functions.  I used this as the pretest for the unit and early next week, I will have them retake the test so I can see how much they improved.  I like being able to do a pre and post test although I do not always get a chance to use either as much as I like.
Then in my Geometry class, I had IXL on my computer and went to the section on using SSS and SAS to prove congruency and I projected problems on my smart board and had the students write down their answers on SAS Gloss on the ipad.  They would hold the ipads up so I could check answers.  They were pretty good at choosing SSS or SAS but not as good on any other reasons on the proof.  This tells me I need to work on their understanding of the reasons for why they can do certain things.  I then put up a couple questions on AAS and ASA just to check but I could not really use it as a pretest today so I think on Thursday I will have them do 10 questions on AAS and ASA proofs.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Geometry Drawer or Geometry 2D-pad.

Geometry 2D-pad is the version of Geometry Drawer set up to maximize the ipad's ability.   I tried playing with it a bit before I resorted to the help spot on the website because it was not as intuitively obvious to use.  What is nice is that there is a blog you can access for instructions on constructing various geometric shapes using this app.  This  app actually has a users guide but you have to go to the blog site to find it and read it.  If there are instructions contained within the app, I could not find them.
I think I need to play around with this app a bit more to actually figure out how to change dimensions of various shapes.  I also plan to read more on the blog and check out the users manual to learn more.  I think this has quite a bit of potential but until I figure it out, I cannot use it in class.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Dragon Box lite

I stumbled across this lite version of Dragon Box app and finally got around to trying it last night.  I downloaded it because it markets itself as an algebra app.  The idea is that as you work your way through various levels you feed the dragon and watch him grow and each level has a specific algebraic lesson associated with it.

 I began by exploring chapter one, lesson one.  I was wondering about the algebra part because I was just touching swirly green masses to get rid of them.  This lead to matching opposite colored items and putting one on the other side.  Not too long afterwards, I began working with the letter C.  I soon discovered they have the person begin learning the process with nonmathematical representations before introducing algebraic representations.  By the time this happens the student is ready  to use  algebra and would be comfortable with it.  this app only has the first chapter and it really gives you an idea of how it works.
Dragon box comes in two versions, the 5 + for younger children and the 12+ for older students.  Its a bit more expensive at $7.99 but it appears to be quite good.  I am seriously thinking of buying the full version so I can see the full package but based on the information it gave at the end, it looks good and goes quite far in teaching algebra.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

My script calculator and Boss Maths system of equations.

I knew that in my script calculator, if you put in the equation in just right, it supplies the answer so the students do not have to actually show their work.  I realized this when a young man wanted to use an iPad during the test to answer a couple of simple problems like 2x + 3 = 8. I had a suspicion on why he wanted it because I discovered this myself.  That is why I always require them to show how they got their answers Please note on the picture that it shows the answer.

Right now my Algebra II class is working on solving systems of equations using graphing, substitution and elimination.  I have the Boss Math's app that helps students solve systems of equations. 

I like it because it has an introductory section and shows three ways to solve the equations.  Then there is a test section where students may test themselves on each of the ways and they get scores so they know how they did.  I plan to use these tests for a quick assessment next week to see how they are doing. 
This is what the first page of the introduction looks like.
This app teaches a comparison method but I plan to use it for the substitution and elimination methods.  I would not use this to teach solving systems of equations but I would use it to refresh, differentiate and scaffold along with assessment.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Torn between two trains of thought and comic strips.

I have been having my students use Desmos quite often because it allows them to graph without knowing how parts of the equations provide information for graphing.  A fellow teacher of mine told me that his college professor had them graph everything because in the real world everyone uses a calculator.  I understand that but I also think students should be able to look at a graph and know if what they put in is actually close to what it should be.  Many students forget the exponent, the x or other term and it doesn't come out properly and they don't realize it is the wrong equation. 
The second thing I realized is that my students do not read much and may not have any idea how comic strips are put together.  So I did a search to see if I could find something on providing the elements of a comic strip.  I found a lovely document from Plain local school district that has the essential elements of a comic strip.  Since I assigned the students to create comic strips on a word problem and most of them are just putting the information on the frames without any characters, I realized they probably are not familiar with comic strips so I have to take a bit of time to build up background knowledge.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Graphic organizers

I use Simple minds which is a free mind mapping app for the iPad as a graphic organizers for my students.  Today in Geometry, I had them start a new mind map titled Congruent Triangles.  We added two legs, one on Side-Side-Side and the other on Side-Angle-Side.  This way they have a graphic organizers as they work on the worksheet where they have to identify and then prove two triangles congruent or not congruent.
I am still figuring out how to do this particular worksheet using technology because I have them color each matching side or angle a different color.  This way it is easier to tell if all three sides match or if the angle is between the two sides so they can use SAS.  I've found in the past that if I just let them go ahead and identify the triangles without using the color, they do not take the time to look at the triangles and make more mistakes. 
We are just using a simple two column proof with statement and reason.  Since many of my students are classified as ELL, this simple proof gets them to practice their mathematical vocabulary and it allows them a chance to build a good foundation so when I move to a more complex proof, they can do it.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Project based learning in Math

I like to assign two to three projects a semester to students as a way of finding out how much they know and if they are able to transfer their basic knowledge.  I found this website that has 6 geometry projects that integrates technology into the project and requires students to utilize their knowledge.
The projects run from one on vocabulary to creating art that uses triangles.  I like the ideas that I find on other sites because I do not always have the background to create my own. 
The first project listed is to sell geometry.  In other words, they will form marketing teams to cover vocabulary, shapes and use in every day life.  This could be done using a pamphlet, a movie such as one for youtube, perhaps even a presentation such as keynotes or a slide show. This one has quite a few possibilities.
Another project is for older students to create either a book, presentation, etc to explain geometry to younger students.  This would qualify as peer tutoring and a literacy activity for all students.  I think I may do something like this when my geometry students are finished with their comic strips.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Math projects and the ipad.

I keep looking for ideas to use the ipads in my Math class and I found one on the edutopia website.  Its actually for a trig class but I think with some adjustments I might be able to utilize the idea in other classes. 
This is a project for trig in which students create a video on certain apps showing how they solved a certain problem in detail.  This one requires students to use right triangle trig to calculate height of an object or the speed of an object.  The goal is to write-up their work so that it can be duplicated by other people.  In addition, students has certain questions they had to answer within their presentation.  The logic for this is that many times people have to create presentations for their job where they convey specific information.
I could easily do this same assignment in my College Prep class or with a bit of adjustment I could easily use it in geometry.  Students need to see the connection between real life and the math that we teach.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Quick and easy formative assignments.

I belong to several groups on google and someone shared this link for quick and easy formative assessments.  It has some really nice ways  to use formative assessments.  In addition most of these suggestions could easily be done on mobile devices.
One suggestion is using concept maps and on mobile devices any mind mapping app would work well.  Exit cards could be done by having students create QR codes with a QR code maker, write the answer on a white board and showing you.  The one minute essay could be done in an e-mail, a google doc, a word doc and sent to you.  I printed off the information to pin up on my bulletin board.
Over the weekend I hope to work with Mathtoons new create your own quizzes app for several classes.  I'll let you know how that goes.