Friday, February 27, 2015

Rate x time = Distance.

Today the science class is doing experiments using the RTD formula.  The kids are running or walking down the hall for a specific distance and then figuring out their rate of travel.  This is great because I've been giving my students RTD problems such as "If John travels for 15 min and goes 10 miles, how fast is he going?"  I discovered that my students are not thinking about the units rate normally used.  Most did the 10/15 so the rate is 2/3 or .6667 with no labels. This lead to a discussion of what unit does their answer represent (miles per min).  On Monday, I plan to have them find the rate for a snail, a cougar, a human, a lizard and a couple of other animals.  I plan to write their answers on the smart board or perhaps do a matching on the smartboard and follow this with a discussion about comparing rates with the same units.  This will give them a better perspective and when I compare rates beginning Tuesday, I am hoping they remember to change the rates into the same unit. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015


I've been at a technology in education conference for the past few days and kept coming across some great new info that I never got a chance to post anything.  One of the most exciting things I ran across was the app "Floors" from Project Pixel Press.  This is an app that allows students to draw arcade type game plans on graph paper and then convert it into actual games. They can use the graph paper in the app, regular graph paper or a template from the app.  It takes no knowledge of coding and is fast to learn.  The company even includes some lesson plans.  I think I figured out how to use it in math once we get to area and volume so that I can give students parameters on area or volume of various parts of the actual game.  This is kind of a fun app that does have mathematical applications and offers some real world skills because they have to plan three levels of the game.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Solving word problems and activities students can do.

Today as I worked with students on using the K (What do you know), F (What do you need to find,) C (What things do you have to consider), and W (the work).  I likened this to solving a murder mystery.  The K part is the dead body and what ever information you get from it such as it was a young woman who was strangled and found in the woods.  The K for us is the information we are given within the word problem.  The F is finding the murderer and in math the problem tells us what to find.  The C in a mystery is to think about everything, the evidence, the suspects, etc while in math it might be a formula, the operation,  an idea of how to attack it.  Finally is the work where in both mysteries and math, we do the work to find the answer. 
This lead me to the idea that perhaps I could have students create an actual mystery book in which the detective solves the crime using maybe book creator or other type of app.  This is an idea, I plan to play with before I have my students do it. Perhaps when they are done, we can have them share the completed stories with their families.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Note taking.

Today I read an article on note taking.  In it they commented when students take notes using handwriting, they actually remember the material better than if they typed it.  This reinforces something I read during my Master's thesis, they said that handwriting is the kinesthetic part of reading and there is a connection between the hand and the brain.  So if handwriting words and letters helps reading, it only makes sense for learning material in general.
This changes my idea about note taking apps.  In the article they mentioned that today's notes usually include media/recordings, diagrams, graphic organizers, pictures, written materials, so if you put a note taking app on the iPad, it should allow the students to utilize all of the above. There are some suggestions in the app but I prefer going after apps that can be used independently and do not require you to access the internet in any manner unless you choose to.  I do not always have proper access to internet at school.
After a quick search I found inClass, Evernote, Penultimate, Supernote all are recommended.  I would recommend you check these and others to see which one works for you.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Geometric shapes quiz

This is an app I downloaded one day when it was free.  Geometric shapes is normally 99 cents and in my opinion it offers some nice advantages.  It actually is focused on deciding the vocabulary word that is illustrated and selecting the letters to make the word.  If the letter does not fit, it cannot be put into the space.
It covers triangles, circles and polygons.  I like this because it has a picture for them to attach a word and helps them remember what the terms mean better.
Today, I ended up having class in the computer lab because my room was flooded due to a burst water pipe last Friday and this morning the room reeked of mold and mildew so I could not use my room.  In Algebra 2, I had one of my students get the white boards and markers from my room and the kids worked together to simplify the polynomials.  They loved it and want to do it again.  At the end of the class period, I decided there is nothing wrong with low tech as it is a type of technology.  Sometimes I think that we (including myself) get too focused on the high tech things that we forget about technology we already had and used before the iPads. Collaboration low tech style.

Friday, February 13, 2015

EZY Trigonometry

It seems as if the higher the level of math, the fewer apps available to use in the classroom.  I have looked at a couple apps similar to this one but this is the one I like to use in my classroom because the hypotenuse moves.  In the other similar apps, you have to type in certain values to get the values.  This one, the students see values as they use it. 
I like this as it is an interactive unit circle that students can move the arrow around to create the required triangle. 

Students have a choice of degrees, radians or pi so they can find the same values for each choice of systems. Theta is listed on the lower left side.  In addition, the values for all 6 trig ratios are listed across the bottom.  There is a button in the upper left corner that allows students to bring up the table listing values for the main 6 trig ratios.
I've had my students use this app when they've filled out their own.  The nice thing about this app is students can look up the values for any theta.  Furthermore, I have let them use this app to find values for trig ratios on their worksheets.  If I wanted to take things a step further I could have them draw the angles for the problems.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Numb3rs TV show

Due to a problem with the heating system at school, I have the day off and I am watching Numb3rs reruns via DVD's.  When it was on, I used many of the lessons in my classroom after I showed the appropriate episode as it gave students some ideas of how it was used in real life.  One episode, I remember is the couple who went cross country and the lesson used mapquest and the rate/time/distance formula to plot their path and making predictions.  So I wondered if there were still lessons available and yes Cornell university still has a website up with information on the first three seasons and the wolfram info for seasons 4 and 5.
I am aware that some of the math is a bit of a stretch but I teach students who do not have access to many of the situations shown in the series so this exposes them to the idea that math is everywhere in the world even if you are not aware of what is going on. 
My plan over the next couple of weeks is to download all the lesson plans, worksheets, etc I can find so I have them in one place and so I can make adjustments to incorporate additional technology into the lesson plans and plan to use these as part of my regular teaching and have a few set aside that could be done by a sub when I am gone for any length of time. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Further uses of Lion Grapher

I am going to be presenting at a technology in conference next weekend, February 21, 2015.  The topic is integrating iPad apps into the classroom, your lesson plans while meeting state standards.  After playing with Lion Grapher in the classroom, I know know the sequential use of the four modes will allow students to learn more about sloping and graphing.
Line mode would be first so they can move  a line (y = -1x + 0) up, down, left or right to explore what happens to the y-intercept as the line moves.  In addition, you can change the slope and sign for further exploration.
Point mode lets students put in two points and the app will map the portion of the line lying between the two points and it will provide the m part of the y=mx + b.  This is a good way for students to check their math when they calculate slope by hand.
Intercept mode has the student input a point and the y intercept.  It graphs the full line and shows the equation. This is a nice way for students to check their work after they've used the point slope form.
Lion Mode is great for calculating the slope off the graph because the student has to figure out the slope from the y intercept to the lion's head by counting square on the graph.  This helps students develop a connection from the visual picture for the slope and the mathematical m.
The order I would do this in would be, Line mode, Lion mode, point mode and intercept mode. I like this app a lot but my kids don't like it only because they find it difficult to use the app at first.  Once they have the hang of using it, they like it.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Inequality kickoff

Today I had the perfect situation to use this app as a way of introducing my students to graphing inequalities.  Since this app has 10 levels, I could start the students on the lowest level to just graph simple inequalities such x > -2.  It took them a bit to get the hang of using the program but it means that I can have them work on it to become more familiar with solving inequalities.  On Thursday I will put them on a higher level so they have to solve one step inequalities which will require them to change the sign because of the multiplication or division by a negative number.  I plan to have them use this app regularly to get the additional practice they need.
On the other hand in Algebra II we were reviewing the rules of exponents and I had them do quiz 9 in the Mathtoons exponents app and many of them struggled with it.  So I had them move to Quiz 6 on exponents and they did a bit better but still struggled.  This gave me a quick assessment so I knew what I had to cover during the quick informational part of the lesson where I reminded them of the basic rules. 
I am getting better at using various apps to do a quick assessment of where my students are.  One thing I need them to do is when the app has an explanation of what they did incorrectly, they need to slow down, read the material and process it.  I just got the idea for students to list the question they missed, write down why they missed it and what to think about next time.  Yeah.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Used G6 and G8 geometry apps

Today during my geometry class, I used G6 and G8 geometry apps to help my students review previously learned material after they completed their reading assignment.  What is nice is that each app has a list of topics the students can choose from.  The front page gives them information that they can study before they take the actual quiz.  At the end, they receive a grade for the section they completed.  Since I do not always have time for a formal review, this worked well and fit in beautifully.
They reviewed similar polygons, theorems for congruent triangles, and bisectors and angles.  I was happy that most of the students actually took time to read the questions, check for answers.  According to the company that makes these apps, they state these apps are for review, not for teaching concepts.  Furthermore, they state that these apps line up with common core standards.
Although there are only a few questions in the lite version, the questions make a student think if they do not have as solid a base in that topic.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

movies, videos or television

I saw that the telestory app is free today.  Telestory is an app for ages 6 to 8 to create their own television show.  Even though I teach high school, I downloaded it to play with.  It also made me wonder why we don't do more in the movie/video/show dept as far as math.  Over the past hour or so I thought about how many ways we could have the students use this type of media in class.
1.  The history of a mathematician.
2.  A show on a particular aspect of math.
3.  Solving problems using animation.
4.  Movies of stories students write on a certain topic.
5.  A music video focusing on relationships between mathematical concepts such as medians, altitudes, perpendicular bisector or angle bisector.
6.  Videos designed to show younger students or peers how do to something.
7.  A cartoon on vectors, etc.
These are just a few ideas I came up with that students could create in mathematics using various movie/video/show apps. 
Too often, I feel that in math we are limited by other people's ideas of certain apps can only be used in art, English, language arts or elementary.  I know it takes me a while to get to a point I can come up ideas for using apps.  I want to assign my students some fun group projects that involve the production of a video.  I am off to figure out critera and a list of projects for students to choose from.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Thoughts on trying to teach two classes in one period

Due to reasons beyond my control, I have to teach both pre-algebra and algebra together in one period.  They assigned me two TA's but I usually only have one in the room at any time.  I am finding that having the ipads is a help because I can put the pre-algebra class on it to practice solving one step equations using i-spy x while I instruct the algebra class or I can have the algebra class use lion graph to practice finding equations of a line while I work with the pre-algebra.  This makes it so much easier for me and this way I am able to meet the needs of both classes. 
The other advantage with ipads is on a day where the class period ends up significantly shortened or I need to incorporate scaffolding, I can individually assign apps to the students to work on their weak area.  I know that I need to have many of my students work on strengthening their ability to work with fractions and I use the app with the video instruction and practice to help them. 
I just read something that talked about collaboration using an ipad and how to assign various jobs using various apps.  For a group of students one has the camera to record the work, another uses a word document app, the third creates a graphic organizer and the fourth is responsible for posting the work.  I like this as I've been wondering how to do collaboration and wasn't sure how to assign the tasks. This is a great start and something I can work use in class with a slight adjustment.