Function Notation Slider

I pinned a great idea for function notation and then found out it's from someone I actually know {I love when that happens}. Download the files and read Kathryn's original post here.

I'm basically posting about this for my blog readers who are not part of the MTBoS because I love it so much. The blue part is on card stock and the green part is just copy paper. A student told me I should have used card stock for that too.Next year!

We taped the green piece down on the empty squares with dotted lines. When I asked students what they thought those empty boxes were for one of them said "For us to make up our own numbers!" which is a great idea. The blue box slides while the green part stays attached. I almost made them glue it down before I realized then it wouldn't slide at all. Oops!

I also really liked the definition of a function that I found online: "f(x)" means "plug in a value for x into a function f". I also like to emphasize that f(x) is a label, a way to name an equation, and that we never do math with it.

Short and sweet!


Unit Circle Table

I was searching our MTBoS database for unit circle ideas when I found this post by Henri Piciotto called The Human Unit Circle. A teacher makes cards, takes students outside, and they form a human unit circle and then the sine and cosine curve.

Mine is not as kinesthetic but still kind of cool.

First I printed the cards on blue and green card stock {in keeping with the theme of my room of course}, cut, and laminated.

Then I thought about how I could create a perfect circle when I noticed the perfect prop- my circle table.

I used washi tape {love!} and Sharpies and ta-da:

I have 8 Trig students so we worked quadrant by quadrant. I passed out the cards and ask students to decide if they were cosine or sine of our 'special angles' and then pair up. 

Next I asked them to go to the table and put their cards in the correct place. We finished all four quadrants and then they brought up patterns they noticed right away.

"The numbers for 30 and 60 are just flipped."

"The numbers on the same color of tape are the same except for negatives."

"The numbers for all the 45's are the same except for negatives."

Finally they took their INBs to the table and copied down the numbers, going back after that to fill in the radians and degrees for each angle.

Better than me just putting it on the board.


Magnetic Proof Pieces

One simple thing I've done this year in teaching congruent triangle proofs is I printed and laminated some of the most common reasons found and attached magnets to them.

I also drew up three common "facts" that we look for when the information in the given is not enough.

This has been great for students to refer to while they are writing proofs. On one section I was able to tell them that every reason came from one of those pieces and that helped students complete proofs instead of leaving some parts blank.

 I still don't know why they want to really throw out 'definition of midpoint' when the given says 'bisect' but you can't fix everything!



If you ever have the chance to make a big purchase, over anything else, I recommend a curriculum.

When I first started teaching {seven years ago} I was given textbooks and the worksheet workbooks that come with them. The end.

The next year we received a grant and an instructional coach who introduced me to the Common Core Standards. A currciulum was unheard of at that time that aligned to CCSS. I didn't really know how to create lessons or good assessments or a curriculum at all. The coach helped me a lot and shared some lessons from other teachers as well.

Over the next few years I became very active on Twitter and math blogs and I began to beg borrow and steal any and all lessons I could, just to have something to teach or 'cover' a standard.

In years five through seven, I began to feel more confident in my ability to create lessons and activities and assessments. Although not to a level that I could comfortably call CCSS. But I had a curriculum.

Year 6 I became the only math teacher of all 4 preps. A whole new course to design. Hooray.

Year 7 an online senior math course was cut and added to my schedule. A whole new course to design. Hooray. 5 preps.

And all along I had a sinking feeling deep down. "This curriculum isn't aligned. It's not good enough. It's not even close to Common Core level. You're skipping important stuff. You're never going to fit it all in. You're teaching too slow. You're not preparing your students for college. Our math program is not as good as surrounding schools. You're lecturing too much. Everything you do is packets. You're boring. You're not doing a good job. You're failing."

This all came to a head in a meeting that didn't go well and left me feeling like a failure. I began to really hate my job for a few weeks. Like hated every day, complained, woke up mad to go to work, and really re-thinking my career choices. I was so unhappy.

I e-mailed some math teacher friends from another school and they mentioned a curriculum they had bought for one course. I looked into it and there were complete curriculums for 3 of my 5 preps. Hooray!

I presented them to my admin and used the bad meeting as a way to show them I need more support. {Short note: Although there are many disadvantages in working at a small school, like say, they won't hire another math teacher; they have always supported me with the resources I need and of course, sending me to TMC every year!}

They bought all three.

It has been great so far. {I don't really want to discuss the curriculum, this is a general praise for any curriculum that you don't have to make!}

No curriculum is perfect or complete. But what a curriculum does is give you a foundation.

Before, my lesson planning consisted of opening a blank Word Document, googling a topic, begging on Twitter, and browsing blogs and Pinterest.

Now my lesson planning consists of cutting, copying, and pasting. I started the curriculum halfway through a school year so I can't just go with it. But now my brain has been freed up to make improvements and activities. I don't have to create every single thing so now I have the freedom to create really good things. I've made task cards, dry erase templates, puzzles, and games.

Before I looked at a blank page and thought, how can I fill this? Now, I look at the base and think of how to make it better, how to boost student engagement, how to make it interesting.

It's an important shift.

When you have to create every detail of 5 courses, there isn't always time for creativity and engagement. Sometimes it's just having a worksheet made for all seven periods.

So what I'm saying is this...maybe you can't find or afford your dream curriculum. Maybe you're stuck with a curriculum you don't love. But if you can somehow swing a curriculum to act as your base, your foundation....then you have time and freedom to build.

One good thing at a time.

P.S. If you're an administrator reading this, please please please, make sure all of your teachers have some kind of curriculum provided for them- especially newbies!


Converse, Inverse, Contrapositive Sort

I feel like I got this original file from someone and then changed it to work better for me. If that person is you, go you! All the credit to you.

I used this in the past after introducing the concept of the conditional statements through Sam Shah's great activity found here.

Students cut up these strips:

They look at how the original has changed to form a new statement {and look back at some kind of notes we've taken} and then they place them on the 'mat' {printed on pretty paper} in the correct place.

I show the answers when students are finished.

Students glue to mat, cut out mat, and it all magically fits in the INB.