Friday, June 26, 2015

Summary of Responses to the Golden Rectangle Experiment

From time to time, I will update this post as to the responses for my Golden Rectangle Experiment.

Before looking at the graph below to see how the research is going…make sure your vote.  Go ahead, I'll give you a second…go back to this post and vote.

The Golden Rectangle Experiment

As of today, June 26, 2015:

91 people have voted and here is a chart to represent the results of the voting.

As time goes on, I will report back :)

Monday, June 15, 2015

An Experiment About the Golden Ratio

This is an experiment that deals with the Golden Ratio.  I am not going to explain anything about the Golden Ratio here.   I just want to know, which of these rectangles is your favorite?

Vote in the google form below.  Be nice, don't vote twice :)

And, if you wouldn't mind typing in your zip code, I sure would like to know where I am getting votes from.

I will add another post soon so you know which rectangle is winning!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Writing in the High School Math Classroom

Writing in math class…wait you're going to give us a grade on how well we write… this isn't English class!!!

I am sure you have heard those words :)

It is seriously astonishing how poorly my students (and maybe your students too :) can explain things that they have learned in math class.  Even when I think I have explained things UNBELIEVABLY WELL I have been discouraged to find that my students can't explain or sometimes even write a coherent sentence about the given topic.

When I have my students write, or explain, how they solved a problem I encourage them to follow these four steps:

1) Read the question.  Circle keywords, underline important vocabulary, put a box around the question - whatever marks help you understand what the writer of the question is asking about.

2) Graph the coordinates or sketch a picture.  I can't believe how many students don't graph points when they are given.  I don't tell the students that they have to graph each point exactly or get out a piece of graph paper, but just draw a quick sketch so you can at least tell what quadrant the points are in!  If the problem doesn't give any coordinates, sketch a picture of what the problem is talking about…pictures are worth 1000 words!

3) Show the math, do some algebra, set up some calculations.  This is math class after all, so you probably are going to have to do some math to explain what is being discussed.  In this step I try to encourage students to SHOW ALL THEIR WORK so that can reference it in the next step.

4)  Finally, make connections between the question and step 3.  Explain how your algebra or other calculations show that your explanation is correct.  I tell the students that they should have had a hypothesis about what was going to be true from the beginning of the problem.  In this step, they are explaining why their hypothesis is correct based on their calculations.  This step trips students up because they forget to connect their calculations.

I don't know about you, but with standardized testing going more toward this type of question, I know we need to work on it!  Last year my students to the Aspire test for the first time and I know they were completely unprepared for the writing types of questions.  Definitely a new thing to work on!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Using Google Forms in the Classroom

Google Forms is seriously my new best friend.  We switched to 1:1 iPads this year and I have found two ways to use Google Forms that are very helpful to me in doing my job.  I hope these descriptions might help you find a new way to use them.

1) COUNTING BALLOTS - One of my jobs is to coordinate all the all-school elections we have…for example, Homecoming Queen, Student Council Elections, Class Officer Elections, etc.  Over the years that I have done this job, we have gone from paper balloting (which was seriously horrible as I had to count the ballots BY HAND), to using a scantron machine, to now using GOOGLE FORMS!  Previously, there was always some type of complaining afterwards…ugh it was NOT A FUN TIME!  Using Google forms allows me to quickly create a ballot, email the link the the appropriate students, and then collect the results.  Easy Peasy.  There can't be any complaining because the computer counted the ballots.  Not to mention this is a huge money savings as those Scantron Ballots are super expensive.

2)  IMMEDIATE FEEDBACK - Using Google Forms allows me to give my students a quick question, have them fill out a form and get an immediate response.  (There are other apps that do this too - see my post on Socrative for example.)  The best part about Google Forms is that there is an add on app (FREE :) that lets Google grade the question(s) for you.  (It is called Flubaroo).  Not only that, but it gives you the option to email the students the correct answers to your questions.  Seriously a time saver!

One of my major hesitations to using google forms previously was that I couldn't type mathematical notation into a google form easily.  I have two ways that I can work around this.

A) Still give the students the questions on paper and just have them enter the answers into google forms.

B) You can insert a picture into google forms.  This is handy when you want the students to see the problem online.  It is most helpful when the answers are still numbers that the students can type in, or you can take a picture of the answer choices too.

[This is is the first post about google forms.  I will follow up later in the week with specific tips about using google forms in the math class.]

Do you have other ways you use Google Forms?  I'd love to hear about them :)

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Physics Task Card Activities

This is a post about task cards and puzzles I have created for my AP Physics class.  I teach AP Physics - Mechanics.  So, these activities are specifically geared for that course, but could be used in other Mechanics courses as well (some could even be usefully in calculus).

Check them out :)

1)  Free Fall Task Cards - this is a set of 10 task cards that students can use to practice solving problems about Free Fall.  Each task card includes a QR Code that can be scanned so students have immediate feedback.

2)  Potential and Kinetic Energy and Conservation of Energy Task Cards - this is a set of 12 task cards that students can use to practice solving problems about Energy.  This packet also includes two worksheets that can be used as examples about a pendulum and a roller coaster.  QR codes are included on each task card.

3) Coming Soon - Projectile Motion Cards

4)  End of Year Word Puzzles - do you need something to fill some time or a short sub activity?  My students loved these Crossword and Word Search Puzzles.  The word search puzzle gives the symbol for various different physics terms and students will find the word that goes with the symbol.  The crossword puzzle features 25 different vocabulary words that students should be familiar with by the end of a mechanics course.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Mental Math Challenge

Mental math is a serious problem.  I know that, as math teachers, we have all experienced the sinking feeling in our stomachs when we see students pull out their calculators to multiply by 10 or add 1!  It makes me want to pull my hair out :)

So, I decided to challenge my class the other day.  I told my Geometry Honors class that we were going to have a Mental Math Challenge.  They were not allowed to use a paper, pencil, or calculator.  They had to sit and listen to me give 4 directions such as…

Start with the number 5.

Add 10.

Divide by 3.

Add 2.

What is your answer?

Then they had to enter their answer immediately into a google form.

No repeating, no calculator, no pencil…it was a serious recipe for disaster!

Quite frankly, I was surprised when I graded the google forms.  Students did HORRIBLE!

My students are great - the kids are good and they study…but they need help with mental math :)  I figure that mental math is like exercise…you need to keep doing it to keep your mind healthy!

So, I created these task cards to help.

I think they can be used in a few ways.

1.  You could use the stack of cards as a center.

2.  You could read the directions on each card to the class, and then choose a student to scan the QR Code.  (If you don't have a smart device to read the QR Code, no problem, an answer key is included).

3.  Give a few cards to each student or group and have them trade.

4.  Make the cards into a stack - punch a hole and put them on a ring.  Bring them in a car for one of your children :)

4.  The cards are easy to make differentiable - some are more difficult than others.

I envision creating another stack soon that also involves some negative and some larger numbers!

Let me know what you think in the comments below.