Made 4 Math #22 Unit Plans

I posted about some of my summer plans which include creating unit plans and writing essential questions. I looked at some backward design ideas and various unit plans and I created a template of my own based on what I've read and what I think might actually be useful.

Not sure how well this would work but it seems like a principal would really like it. If I describe the lessons within a unit then it wouldn't matter if my timing was off as much. Theoretically, I think that means I could create this ahead of time (or actually after the fact since I could write them after I teach this year) and turn it in as my lesson plans? I'm not sure yet.



What Is Universal Design for Learning?

My current (and final!) grad class is on Systematic Approaches to Instruction and we are currently discussing Universal Design for Learning. I will be posting some notes and excerpts from our readings. This excerpt comes from Chapter 4 of Teaching Every Student in the Digital Age which can be found here: http://www.cast.org/teachingeverystudent/ideas/tes/

Chapter 4: What Is Universal Design for Learning? 

Addressing the divergent needs of special populations increases usability for everyone.

Universal Design for Learning extends universal design in two key ways. First, it applies the idea of built-in flexibility to the educational curriculum. Second, it pushes universal design one step further by supporting not only improved access to information within classrooms, but also improved access to learning.

Non-educators often make the mistake of equating access to information with access to learning. In reality, these are two separate goals. In fact, increasing access to information can actually undermine learning, because it sometimes requires reducing or eliminating the challenge or resistance that is essential to learning.

As educators, our aim is not simply to make information accessible to students, but to make learning accessible. This requires resistance and challenge.

Knowing the instructional goal is essential for determining when to provide support and when to provide resistance and challenge.

Principles of the UDL Framework
Principle 1:
To support recognition learning, provide multiple, flexible methods of presentation

Principle 2:
To support strategic learning, provide multiple, flexible methods of expression and apprenticeship.

Principle 3:
To support affective learning, provide multiple, flexible options for engagement.

The three UDL principles share one common recommendation: to provide students with a wider variety of options.

The framework of UDL consists of instructional approaches that provide students with choices and alternatives in the materials, content, tools, contexts, and supports they use.

We know we should provide students with sensory alternatives to ensure that those who have difficulty with one sensory modality (such as speech or sight) will not be excluded from learning opportunities.

Similarly, bottom-up motor alternatives, such as special keyboards or voice recognition software, can ensure that students with physical disabilities will not be excluded from a particular learning task. This kind of alternative crosses modalities, offering students a completely different way to obtain or express ideas.

But realistically, even the most creative teacher can only present one option at a time. And even if we did manage to use a variety of approaches and media to present concepts, our students would still need to practice those concepts and apply them on their own.

The UDL framework can guide these three pedagogical steps, helping teachers to set clear goals, individualize instruction, and assess progress.

By simply removing express reference to the medium and stating the goal this way, we open the door for more students' participation and success.

Create ramps, not hurdles!
Rose, D.H. & Meyer, A. (2002). Teaching every student in the digital age: Universal design for learning. Association for Curriculum and Development http://www.cast.org/teachingeverystudent/ideas/tes/


Made 4 Math #21 Piecewise Functions and Cup Stacking

I'm doing piecewise functions in Algebra II this week so I created a worksheet and a Powerpoint on evaluating piecewise functions.

I expect it to be pretty easy so I put the answers on the Powerpoint so I can turn it into a game. If it turns out not to be easy, I'm going to have students use colored pencils to circle which function needs to be used; you can see the idea on the second slide, kind of.

Also, in Algebra I we are working on linear functions so I am using Dan's Stacking Cups idea as a fun lesson to end the week. I made a Powerpoint of the questions I want to ask so I don't forget about them.

I also used the same design for my Powerpoints because it's Thanksgiving week and I like matching.


#myfavfriday Whiteboards and Pipe Cleaners

My favorite thing is having four whiteboards in my classroom. I want to say wall to wall but that's not quite accurate. I love having one next to the SMART board so I can display things and still have a space to write on. I love that I can send almost all of my classes to the board when I run out of lesson or I didn't plan anything spectacular. Super nifty.

I also loved this spur of the moment idea I had the other day. My students are struggling with looking at an equation and being able to graph the transformations so I bought some pipe cleaners and used the graph side of my white boards. I wrote a parent function on the board and added one transformation at a time.

As I wrote the transformation, they manipulated the pipe cleaner on the board. This really clicked for some of the students. One student said "Well, why didn't we do this in the first place?" and another student "This is soooo easy."


Summer 2013 Plans

I know it's a little early to plan for summer but in a few weeks the first semester is over and the second semester is the downhill slide.

I really just need to get some thoughts down in print for what I want to do this summer since I will be done with grad school and have complete freedom!!

Unit Plans: I still need to decide what these should look like. Here's the template I've designed so far (Could this take the place of my lesson plans?):

Do I want to create detailed individual lesson plans as well? The state people always love my lesson plan form.

Mathematics Assessment Resource Service: I know Pam Wilson has used the FALs from this website and I'm interested in using those and the tasks. I need to go through and pick the ones that would fit into my curriculum.

Update lessons: I'm trying to do this as I go but sometimes I just write a sticky note and put in somewhere. Fix suckiness!

Create essential questions for each unit. Have students write an essay an answering the question as a form of summative assessment. Create a rubric (with student input) for grading essays.

Mental Math Mondays: I give mental math problems as opposed to bell ringers.

Teach students to give feedback comments on each others work. Track common errors in yellow pages possibly? I saw somewhere where students had yellow pages in the back of their binders that they used to write important formulas, things to remember, and common errors. Unsure about this idea though.

Use the colored pen quiz feedback idea ala Frank Nochese?

Create a SBG board similar to Dan's Wall of Remediation. Need to really think through the logistics of this since I have three different content areas. I'm thinking I could make small cards and have three rows. I could just post the cards for one quarter at a time. How do I want to use these? Students complete one before they can reassess? Will also need answer keys. I want something I can easily print so I don't want to physically write on index cards. Want to make SBG more visible and acccessible to students. *ponders*

Let students pose questions. Compare their answers to other responses and reflect on if they are correct or not.

Use way more instances of "What do you notice/wonder?" and hook students by having them make estimates first.

Use Educreations to compare and contrast, summarize, explain, and integrate visuals.

Daily Doozy

Question Frames 

Create a "Today you need..." sign (laminated) where I can post pictures of supplies the students need to get before sitting down.

Review hockey game! Bowling, golf?

Teach midpoint, bisect, and AIA in terms of proofs so that students are ahead of the game in marking and writing congruent pieces.

Re-organize my filing cabinets and big cabinets. Use the bottom shelf for big things. Store supplies in filing cabinets. Buy 11 1/2 x 15 tubs for every unit I teach; include all activites, manipulatives, and handouts for each unit.

Parent functions and parabolas with play dough?


Welcome to My Life #DITLIFE

Welcome to a day in the life as a high school math teacher!


6:20 Wake up.

7:30 Arrive at school. Go to office, check mail, put lunch in refrigerator. Go to classroom, turn on computers, turn on heat, print originals of today's activities after waiting for computer to boot up. Go to copier in library and start running copies. Go back to classroom to get other originals. Students comes in to talk to me about a field trip- she doesn't want to go anymore because she just moved and can't find her dress clothes so she is the only student not dress up. I talk with her and try to convince her to go anyway. Then go to the teacher's lounge to make more copies since I needed colored paper. Copier jams. Switch paper to another copier. Finish copies. Bell rings. Down the hallway a student asks for a homecoming questionnaire since she lost her first copy. I tell her to ask someone else because I'm busy and feel guilty.

7:57 Class starts. Students are watching Channel 1 news program. Student teacher is in charge of this class. I print out extra homecoming questionnaires. While she teaches, I finish creating answers keys on my powerpoint for today's Algebra II class-I'm being observed by people from the state. I separate all my copies for the day and put them into bins. Grab all previous originals and hole punch to put into binder and clear off my desk. Look at my copies for Algebra II and realize my bulleted numbers are all out of order. Spend 10 minutes trying to fix them so I can reprint and recopy.

8:47 Bell rings. In comes Algebra II which student teacher is also in charge of. She starts teaching. Done with answer keys I finish grading 26 geometry tests that I didn't finish last night. Enter all grades into online gradebook. Create a fancy lesson plan for my Algebra II class to impress the state people. Print it in red but my color printer double prints and makes it look crazy. Change to blue and print again.

9:37 Bell rings. It's my plan period. Spend 5 minutes discussing how class went with the student teacher- I was observing her while doing my work. IC comes in to make sure I am still okay with getting observed. I agree. Discover I will be observed by 5 people. Create 5 folders with fancy lesson plan and all the materials for that day. Go to office, check mail again, go to the bathroom, recopy Algebra II papers that had the messed up bullets. Go back to classroom and get SMART board and powerpoints set up for Algebra II.

10:27 Bell rings. As students come in I warn them about observers. Two students are gone on field trip. One student asks to miss class so she can drive with the driver's ed instructor. Class of 12 has dwindled down to 9. Lady comes in to tell me I'm actually being observed by 7 people. We start class with a bell ringer. Interrupted by phone call from guidance counselor warning me that state people are on the way. Continue bell ringer. & adults enter the room and sit in the back room. All air is sucked out of the room. Continue teaching even though students are completely silent. Interrupted by phone call asking student to come to the office. Continue teaching.

11:20 Bell rings. Seven adults remain to question me about class and give feedback while 22 middle school kids come in, crazily of course.

11:23 Tardy bell rings. Adults leave, student sit. Realize I didn't create a journal activity for today so make one up off the top of my head. Finish activity from Friday then realize I also didn't create anything else for today and we still have 25 minutes of class left. Run various ideas through my head, think of one, go search through filing cabinet for it. Find it, start playing.


12:09 Bell rings. Student comes to turn in homecoming questionnaire that she rewrote on notebook paper because I didn't have time to print one for her. Feel more guilty. I straighten up classroom, set up classroom and SMART board for my next period, lock my door, turn off lights, and go to lunch. Listen to nosy people gossip and generally be negative for as long as I can take.

12:33 Back in my classroom. Make sure everything is ready to go. Realize I haven't taken attendance all day. Update attendance. Go to bathroom.

12:43 Bell rings. Students come in. 4 students missing. Struggle through bell ringer. Model lesson on board that we've been working on for a while and students act like they have no idea what I'm talking about. Work example after example after example. Student asks to go to nurse. Continue working. Student comes back from nurse and draws all over desk rather than participate.

1:30 Bell rings. Students come in. Start bell ringer while I pass out tests. Students record grades and shade progress on pages in their binder. Class cleans out the notes from their binders and throws them away. Some actually make it in the trash can. Go over bell ringer. Realize I didn't go over test. Get tests back out and answer questions. Put away and go back to board. Model lesson on board with student participation. Pass out papers. Students are supposed to work independently but are either talking or need my approval on every answer before they can move on. Go crazy going back and forth between telling class to be quiet and answering questions.

2:20 Bell rings. Students come in. One student needs to go to take a test and one needs laptop help from tech guy. Another student has been absent for two weeks for medical reasons so I have to go over material from two weeks ago with her so she can make up a test. Another teacher calls to ask if student x can come down and do a retake on some tests. (Think about student x who shows bad attitude and lazy class effort) I say no he doesn't need to but then change my mind and give him the benefit of the doubt. He comes down and tells me he is going to make up tests until he has a 95. I alternate between printing him practice problems, grading them, and helping the other girl practice on the board. Alternate for rest of hour. Boy leaves with a 94.21 and girl is ready to take test tomorrow.

3:10 Bell rings. Students leave. I straighten up classroom and shut down computers. Clean off my desk and pack my bags. Grab my coat, phone, water, and binder and head to the office. Check my mail and head to the lobby.

3:17 Start cheerleading practice. Girls are running one lap around the levee. While they run I yell at them and threaten them with more running when they start walking.

3:30 Go in lobby. Girls are stretching.

3:35 Start practicing cheers.

4:20 Cheerleader mom comes in to pay for cheerleader's stuff but needs change. I go to office. Assistant Principal has no change or access to change. Principal makes change from his wallet. Go back to mom and pay principal back. Go back to practice.

4:50 Practice ends. Go to my room, grab my bags, shut off lights, head back to lobby. Wait until bus comes and all cheerleaders have left.

5:00 Drive home.

The rest of my night consists of a nap, dinner, a bath, a general waste of time, and now blogging. Which means it is 11:11 and I haven't done any work for tomorrow. I'll probably be up until at least 1:00 AM finishing things. It's a normal night.


This was harder than I thought. Even though this was long, I didn't even go into detail with my teaching, conversations, and internal decision making. I kept wanting to go into detail with everything but at the same time trying to keep it short and sweet. This was actually a day with minimal interruptions compared to some.

I hope this helps get our point across of what it is like to be a professional educator.

What I do is both valuable and undervalued.

I hope you can understand.

Made 4 Math #20 Parallel Lines and Transversals Investigation

I was so excited last night when I created this lesson. I usually teach angle pairs with parallel lines and transversals with direct instruction and a lot of drill and kill. My instructional coach heavily encouraged me to use this song that she made up and I did two years ago...but the students mixed the words up and I think that actually made it worse.

My most successful way of teaching it has been to draw dotted lines connecting the two lines to literally create a box so students can visualize interior and exterior of the 'box', basically the way Sarah posted here.

My coach also recommended the shading and when I saw Sarah's picture I tried to come up with some type of colored pencil investigation. I ended up with something that we only colored once but that's okay. I was just really happy to try something new. I've been doing some independent investigations in Algebra II that worked well but there is something about these sophomores that they just never stop talking. One student finished this  whole packet in about 10 minutes while the majority of the class only got halfway through. They are either constantly talking or need my approval of every single answer they write down before they can go on. Any remedies?

I modeled one example on the board and had students give me names to label the angles rather than numbers. Then I just questioned them by saying which people are inside the box but on opposite sides of the transversal, and questions like that. They seemed to do well with it and for the most part did well on the investigation. They struggled the most with corresponding angles but that seems like a pretty common trend.

Tomorrow I plan to steal Sarah's flash card idea to start delving into angle measures and solving for x. Thanks for all your good ideas Sarah!

Last but not least, here is my investigation:


#myfavfriday mp3 Converter

Another converter I've been using is to convert Youtube videos into mp3s. This is great if you are ever in charge of a dance or if you just want to use songs in your lessons. Most of the time Youtube has the clean version of songs.

Anyway, the website is www.youtube-mp3.org and all you have to do is paste the link of the video you want to convert into the box. Click Convert Video and it works immediately. Just download the mp3 and save. It's super simple and works quickly.

I've also just started using desmos.com for graphing. Go to the site, click Launch Calculator. Type in an equation or a list of ordered pairs (with commas in between every pair) and it will automatically graph. Next click the blue Share button and choose the Image button in the bottom right hand corner. A new window opens with a picture of your graph. Right click and and choose Save As... to save the image.


You can then insert them where needed.


Better Online Math That's Not Online

I'm taking these straight from Dan's post:

These are all ideas I can implement in my classroom on my own- without the technology. Eventually, this will be created and become the norm in education. But why wait? Let's teach better math now.

What other ideas can we come up with that creates an intellectual need for students to learn more?


Made 4 Math #19 Parent Functions and Transformations

I'm really proud of myself for a couple of reasons that all pertain to the blogosphere. One is that I at least feel like I'm more on track this year based on what others are posting. It seems like every idea that comes up is either something I taught last week or something I'm planning for next week. That just makes my teacher heart happy.

Second, I took some ideas from other good bloggers and made two really good activities for my students. Teacher heart smiles again.

Third, my students really liked those activities. They said it forced them to read attention. They said they learned more than listening to me talk because they actually had to do all of the work themselves. They even said that students talked less because they were more engaged...they actually used the word engaged! Teacher heart passes out.

For my first activity, I shamelessly stole Pam Wilson's file Function Families Investigation. Her description reads: "modified through the years – this small group investigation allows students to learn how to enter different types of functions in graphing calculator; students group functions based on shapes of graph, then give a description of similarities in the functions’ equations."

With her permission I have modified it and will link to it here. The changes I made was to first type out very clear and very thorough directions on how to graph equations on the calculator because I knew my students would need it.

I also created a sheet of 16 graphs for students to sketch their answers on. I modified the equations so that there were 4 equations for the 4 parent functions I had in mind: linear, quadratic, exponential, and absolute value.

I basically used the same reflection questions at the end but I changed the graphs and added a couple of questions to the end.

Last but not least, I added a foldable at the end of the document. It lists the name and equation of the parent function as well as a description of what the graph should like. The space below gives room to glue 2 of the 4 graphs from each group. It works best to glue above and below the type. Then I had students fold the bottom up until it hits just below the parent function name. Then we cut the bottom half so that we have a 4 window foldable with tabs. I did not pass these out until students had completed the investigation and reflection questions.

The activity was awesome and very few people screwed it up. Here are some things to look out for: students graphed exponential functions as linear functions because they either ignored or didn't realize that the x was an exponent. Also, some students ignored the absolute value bars or thought that they were 1's. This resulted in students having 12 graphs with straight lines and 4 with parabolas...which made the sorting and analyzing next to impossible.

Also, students can't read. They would ask a question that was literally answered in the next sentence. Some just sat there waiting for me to tell them what to do. I warned them from the beginning that I was going to be a jerk and answer almost every question with "Read the directions". Then I proceeded to do so.

I made up a slide of the right answers but it just wasn't needed. And since students were working at their own pace, there was never an appropriate time to show it without ruining it for another student. Once they finally caught on...it was beautiful.

And so I proudly present:

Function Families Investigation

The foldable was printed separately on colored paper and made for a really nice transition into the next lesson...Function Transformations.

I planned this lesson to be an individual activity as well. You read the feedback from my students at the beginning of this post and that encouraged me to continue in that vein.

For transformations, I looked at several different bloggers' post but ultimately still created my own. I created a set of 8 transformation cards for the 4 parent functions with 6 sets to a page. The eight transformations were left, right, up, down, skinny/steeper, wider/flatter, flip, and then more than one combination of those.

For linear, I couldn't figure out if there was a transformation for left and right so I just didn't include those. Therefore, each student should have 30 transformation cards. I labeled them Transformation 1, Transformation 2, etc so that I wouldn't give away what the transformations were and I printed each transformation on a different color of card stock which greatly helped in the sorting.

From there students used their foldable to write in the parent function names and equations on all 32 graphs...which they hated and a lot of them skipped. I thought maybe I should just type them in but since I wasn't lecturing at all, I think this was an easy way for the students to commit those four function names and equations to memory.

They then sorted and found the cards for Transformation 1 and matched them to the correct graph shape (again reinforcing what they analyzed the day before). They wrote this new equation in the 'new equation' box and graphed it on their calculator. I plan to have students go back with a highlighter and highlight the part of the 'new equation' that is different from the original.

Next they graphed the new equation on their calculator and sketched it with a colored pencil on the graph. Now the parent graph is already on there and I did that on purpose so they could easily see what happens to their colored graph.

Therefore, the next step was for them to finish by answering the question "What happened to the graph?" This process is repeated throughout all 8 transformations.

And that ladies and gentlemen is Function Transformations:

The whole class hasn't finished yet but after they do we will go back and use the foldable to write down the transformations and the equation with the part that is causing the transformation to happen written in colored pencil.

My plan after that is to do a review game where I give students the equation and have them sketch the graph without a calculator and maybe vice versa where they have a picture and must write the equation. More to come on that...

My one annoyance is this...what do you do with the students who get done before everyone else? Oh wait, that's the same problem I always have. Maybe the real question is how do we get everyone else to speed up?


#myfavfriday File Converter

A tool I've been using more often is this pdf to Word converter. It's free and easy and quick. Any pdf I find online I can then save to my computer, upload to this website, and the website converts it to a Word document. They send it as an attachment to my e-mail where I can download and then modify or copy and paste. Some nights this is a complete godsend. From what I've seen so far it looks almost exactly like the original pdf. Even the address is easy to remember: http://www.pdftoword.com/

Also I just bought a new six drawer organizing bin that I LOVE and then of course I had to reorganize half the room to get everything looking how I wanted. I got it from Wal-Mart for about $20 but I know it's not sold in every Wal-Mart. The drawers are 14 x 14 which is basically huge and perfect.

And last but not least, our Student Council sold 'mumpkins' this year- baby pumpkins decorated like mummies. We've tried paint, ribbon, pom poms, glue, etc and this was our best idea yet.

We wrapped the pumpkins in colored self-adhesive medical gauze, used tacky glue to attach googly eyes to the gauze, used a sharpie to draw on a mouth, wrote on leaves as tags, and stapled the tag directly onto the pumpkin. We cleaned, decorated, and tagged over 150 pumpkins in one hour...now that is efficient.