Monday, August 13, 2018

Fun First Day Math Activity - Algebra Review Using Clue





Last year I did a breakout game with my calculus class for beginning of the year review.  I will probably do that again this year to help them review some things for PreCalculus.  You can read about that here: Making a Breakout Game

But, this year I decided that I wanted to try something with my Geometry class too.

I have to thank Stephanie Howell for this idea.  I heard about it on the podcast Hacking Engagement - you can hear it too - Hacking Engagement Clue Game

So, here are the steps I went through to make this game.

First, I came up with the questions I wanted students to use to review.  I didn't want this to be too hard, or take too long, so I decided to limit it to 10 questions.

I gave the students a number and had them sit in a specific seat when they entered the room.  I didn't want them spending time figuring out who was going to be their partner, etc.  I decided to let them work in groups of 4 on this task since that is usually how I organize my groups - and it was the first day after all :)

To start the game, I projected this on the board:


Students will also notice that there are cards with problems posted around the room and that there are envelopes posted on the white board with stickers on them.  The stickers say Clue #1, etc.  Each clue corresponds to a problem number.


When the students solve a problem correctly, they can open the envelope with that problem number on it.  The envelopes have pictures/words in them that the students can use to eliminate suspects, locations, and methods.



You may wonder how the students know that their answer is correct.  That is where some technology comes into this game.  Students will enter their answers into a google form.  The google form is set up so that if there answer is correct, it stays white.  If it's wrong, their answer turns red and they are invited to try again.  Here is what the google form looks like for this activity.



As students eliminate suspects and work each problem, you will want to make sure that they are working with their group but not passing along answers to others.  Here is what the list that students use to eliminate suspects looks like.


Finally, students will discover who is the suspect and where the treats are.  Once they discover that, they can head off to that location to get their treat.

I had fun making this activity, and once again thank you to Stephanie Howell who came up with original activity.  I just made it specific for my class.  You can use this idea to work with any subject area.  I hope this inspires you to make your own clue game - let me know how it goes!



Friday, August 3, 2018

Using Uno as an Intro to Teaching Proofs



I recently came across this idea on Pinterest, and I LOVE it.  I am sorry, I don't know who the original credit goes to for coming up with this idea is...if you can claim it - let me know :)

As we all know, getting students to understand the whole IDEA of a proof is difficult.  Then throw in theorems, postulates, reasons, statements UGH...it's too much.  The reason I love using Uno to start teaching proof is that you begin the lesson with something students are familiar with - many have played Uno before.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Math Lessons from the Swimming Pool



My daughter loves math and no matter what we are doing, she always wants me to teach her a math lesson.  Since we have been spending a lot of time in the pool, I came up with some things we could talk about while in the pool.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

New Game to use in Math Class - GimKit



If you are like me, you are always looking for something that will engage your math students.  What will keep them thinking, but also learning?  Is it possible to have them beg to continue playing??

This happened to me the other day in my high school math class.  It was driving me nuts that my students STILL didn't know their convenient trig values (sin 30˚, cos π, etc, etc).  We were headed into the AP test and reviewing some integral problems.  It came down to the end of the problem and the kids needed to know what the cos π was to finish the problem.  Sadly, I still had kids asking if the cos π was √2/2.  Ugh!!

That night I was listening to a podcast and I heard about a new game called Gimkit.  Matt Miller from Ditch That Textbook called it similar to Kahoot, but with PowerUps.  COOL!

Gimkit is similar to Kahoot, but there are some differences as well.

One difference {that the kids love} is that you can buy powerups to help you up your score and to try to get higher on the Leader Board.  There's nothing better than being in first place!  Here is a screenshot of the "shop" on Gimkit.  Students can buy a PowerUp to increase the amount of money that will be gained or lost per question, increase the amount of money that you get in a streak, multiply the amount of money that you get, or buy insurance in case you get an answer wrong.




Another difference is that the questions appear on the students' screens and not on a big screen.  On the big screen, you can see how much money everyone has in the game at any given time.



Students can also be given the game as an assignment instead of a game that must be played in the classroom with all of the other students.


And, by the way, GimKit was made by a high school student!  Do you want to know more about it?  Check out their website.  Gimkit


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Saturday, May 5, 2018

Reading Critically in Math Class


One of the biggest problems I have encountered lately in my math classroom is that students simply aren't reading the problem.  Students will even tell me - there are too many words - I'm skipping that one.  These aren't students that have trouble reading.  These students are taught annotation skills in their English classes, but for some reason that skill doesn't transfer over to math class.

The most frustrating part is students that I end up with in my calculus class.  For the most part they are great math students.  We work all year to learn the calculus.  We practice different types of questions.  We review.  We play games to review.  Then we get to practicing multiple choice questions and free response questions from previously given tests.  Students get things wrong because they answer the question about the derivative instead of the actual function, or they find the velocity instead of the acceleration, and on and on.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

AP Calculus Review - Engaging Ways for Students to Practice




It's that time of year again...Calculus Review!

This year, we are fortunate that the AP Calculus test is later in May - May 15 to be exact.  I finished the material about 2 weeks ago, so I have been working with plenty of review time.

But, with lots of review time, it becomes a challenge to keep students engaged.  I know that we have to keep practicing multiple choice questions and free response questions, but we need different methods to do it.  The students get tired of hearing me talk :)

So, here are a few ways to keep students engaged in practicing:

1) Speed Dating - I wrote about Speed Dating in Calculus several years ago when I made each student a question EXPERT and had that student explain their question to every other student who sat in front of them.  (You can read that post here.)

Another way to try speed dating is to start the students in groups of two.  Make as many questions as you will have groups.  Set a timer for 2 minutes.  When the time starts, students can only speak to the student they are partnered with.  They work on one of the questions.  When the timer goes off, one student moves around the circle one way, and the other students moves around the circle the other way.  Students work with many other partners, and with only 2 minutes to work there is no time for goofing off!



2) Try Puzzles - My favorite type of puzzle to give my calculus class is the Super Secret Number puzzle.  In this puzzle, students are given approximately 10 questions of the same type.  Students work the questions and then add up their answers.  This is the Super Secret Number.  When students think they have the Super Secret Number, they go up to the board and scan a QR Code with the Super Secret Number embedded in it.  If their super secret number matches my Super Secret Number, they are probably correct.  Exciting!

I have Super Secret Number Puzzles in my store for many different calculus topics.

1) Chain Rule

2) Equation of Tangent Line

3) Implicit Differentiation

4) Position, Velocity and Acceleration

5) Curve Sketching

6) Natural Logs and Exponential Function Derivatives

7) Riemann Sums and Trapezoidal Rule


You can try one for FREE here:  Super Secret Number Puzzle - Derivative at a Point

3) Make Students Responsible for Explanations - One of the biggest things I struggle with is that not all of the students need me to review and explain the same things with them.  Some need help with u-substitution, some need help with the chain rule, some need their algebra corrected...you understand.  So, sometimes I feel that going over multiple choice problems in class as a whole group is a waste of time.

So this year I am trying a new way of going over a practice test we did.  (From Barron's, not from a secure test :)  The students took the entire test over two class days.  They entered their answers into a google form so I could analyze which questions were the most often missed.

Starting tomorrow, students will be assigned a slide in Google Slides.  They have a specific question they must explain in Google Slides.  They can insert text boxes, a picture of their work, a link to a video they might find helpful, a graph, etc.

Then other students can look up any problems they need help with.


Finally,

4) Be Sure They have the Basics - There are some questions on the AP test that are downright difficult, but there are some that are basic questions that students need to be able to answer easily.  So, I have a mastery test on Derivatives and Integrals that I give my students.  This Mastery test tests to see if students can use the product rule, quotient rule, chain rule, u-substitution, etc correctly.  I have 4 different forms of it.

You can see it here: Mastery Test Derivatives and Integrals

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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Speed Dating in Geometry




We tried Speed Dating in Geometry today!

I have tried the idea of Speed Dating before, but never in a geometry class.  I have used it in upper level courses before, but I wasn't sure how it would work with a younger group.

I am happy to report that things went great!

It took a bit of work to get things organized, but after that, this activity ran itself.

Here is a picture of my class while they were working.


I had a geometry worksheet ready to go with 13 questions on it.  I had the students sit with partners that I had selected using flippity.com.  [I had 13 stations set up around the room with a problem number on each set of 2 desks.]  After I gave the worksheets, I had each set of partners start with the problem number on their desk.  I set a timer for 2 minutes which I projected up onto the screen.  After two minutes the timer went off and students got up and switched stations.  One partner moved one way and one partner moved the other way.  This gave students the chance to work with many other partners throughout the class period.  No one could get too comfortable because after 2 minutes, they had to move.  This really kept the students working!

At the end of 26 minutes or so [2 minutes per question], the students were back in their original seats.  I had them enter their answers into a google form so I could easily check their answers.

I think it's great to vary the activities in your classroom and get students up and moving - at least every once in awhile :)

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