Friday, July 18, 2014

What Does a Math Teacher Do in the Summer?

I was so inspired the other day on Pinterest by these fascinating looking sculptures that 5th grade students made! (

I decided I needed to give it a try.

So, I explored the links that I found on the website above.  This project looked fun and challenging!

Here is how it went for me.

1) I started with the template given on the website.  I didn't want the pieces that big though, so I copied, cut, and pasted, and made the template into a size that was manageable for me.  I got 5 pieces onto one sheet of paper.

2) I thought … ugh a lot of cutting!  So, I got out my trusty, rusty Silhouette Cameo and used the print and Cut feature.  This was a lot easier than cutting out all 30 pieces.  (Let me know if you would like to try this and I can post my Cameo Print and Cut File)

3)  Here is what I had after I cut the pieces.

4)  One of the tips given on the above website is to make sure that all of your pieces are facing the same direction, so I piled all of the pieces into a pile so I was sure they were all going in the same direction.  I put a dot on the face of each one.

5)  I then started building - I really had no idea what I was doing at this point - LOL.

6)  As I continued to build, I noticed that the pieces come together in either sets of 3 or sets of 5 and seem to alternate.  This is a picture of about half of the project complete.

7)  As I got closer to the end, it was harder and harder to get the pieces together!  As I got to the place where I didn't think any more pieces could fit in, I realized that there was NO WAY I was going to be able to use all 30 of the pieces.  So, KUDOS to the 5th graders that figured this one out!  In fact, I didn't use 6 of the pieces.

I still think my final design looks cool, but not quite the same :)

Monday, July 7, 2014

Keep Calm - Do the Math

There have been a ton of cool shirts that I have seen lately made on TeeSpring - so I decided to give it a try myself.

After some help from their very nice tech people, I created my own shirt and I think it looks pretty neat :)

If you are interested in being part of the cool kids that will be wearing these shirts this fall, check out this link - only $15 plus shipping.

Keep Calm - Do the Math shirt

Have a great day!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Firecracker Freebies!

Each one of the following stores has a freebie link on their Facebook page today only!!

Awesome :)

Check them all out.

Teaching High School Math Teaching High School Math - That's ME!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Big Picture versus the Little Picture (Or, How an Administrator Looks at the World)

I have been teaching for quite some time now, and I have developed a theory about several things - one is fractions (see my FRACTIONS POST).

I have a new theory now called the Big Picture versus the Little Picture.  Sometimes this theory is called How an Administrator Looks at the World.

OK, imagine this…when you are an administrator, you have to look out for everything - and I mean everything - who knows what is going to come at you next?  It could have to do with curriculum, it could be discipline, it could be finances, who knows???  You have to consider everything while trying not to tick anyone off.

When you are a teacher, you worry about your own little piece of the school building.  What's vitally important to you is just a very little piece of the entire big administrative picture.

I think good administrators must try to look at the little picture and make adjustments where possible.  They need to listen - teachers do have great ideas at least sometimes :)

There maybe be a big picture reason why that particular student needs to be in my class, or why I have to have the study hall in my classroom during my free period.  It might be a perfectly good big picture reason, but to my small picture mentality those things just seem like a big pain right in the you know where.

Administrators need to try to listen and explain and rearrange when a teacher comes to them with a little picture problem.  Sometimes the reason can be easily explained - BUT, and this is a big BUT, sometimes the reason cannot be explained for privacy reasons or whatever.  This is where we, as teachers, have to trust in the administrator to make the decision that is best for everyone concerned.

Trust - vitally important - between teachers and administrators.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Writing about Mathematics

I have been thinking about students understanding math…I remember taking calculus in college.  I suppose that the TA and the professor talked about the derivative being the slope of the tangent line to the curve at a given point.  I memorize definitions of things pretty well, so I am betting that if the professor told me that, then I "learned" it.

But, I also remember starting to teach calculus.  All of a sudden it hit me - OHHHHH the derivative is the SLOPE of the TANGENT LINE!!!  I'm not sure if I can adequately express this in words, but it was an AHA moment.  Even though I memorized the definition, I didn't truly understand what anyone was talking about.  I could repeat the definition back, but I hadn't internalized the definition.

So, what I have been thinking about is HOW to get students to internalize definitions.

One thing I came up with is asking students to write about math.  I am thinking that if students have to write a paragraph about a certain subject, teachers could check for misconceptions about a given topic.

I am still developing this idea, but here is an example of what I have come up with so far.  This is specifically on the topic of medians and altitudes in geometry.

Give students a list of words - For example:  median, altitude, slope, midpoint, perpendicular, right angle, etc - and a diagram.  Then, students must use all of the words in their own paragraph.

For students a little less sure about the relationships in math, or not as advanced in their writing skills - make up a paragraph for them and then leave the important words out.  Have them cut and glue the important words into the paragraph into the correct place.

Writing practice AND a chance for students to practice the math concepts they have learned in a little bit different way - Awesome :)

If you like this idea - check out my new Writing about Geometry - Medians and Altitudes activity in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.

Or, if you are one of the few, the brave, the proud calculus teachers out there - check out my Writing About Calculus - Limits and Continuity

More Writing about Math activities to come - Stay Tuned!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Calculus AP Fun Review!

Reviewing for the Calculus AP Exam is so important, but it is enough to make me want to hit my head against the wall!  [[What do you mean you don't remember the value of sin (π/2)? ]]

So, who among us couldn't use more review material??  One thing that I think could help my class is just trying to get instant recall for certain things, like the derivatives of the trig functions and the formulas for mean value theorem and average value.

So, I created a Calculus Card Sort which students can use like flash cards or like a matching game.  There are 32 cards in this sort.  Here are examples of 4 of the cards:

In addition, I have a Calculus Review Outline and Study Guide - this isn't really that FUN, but it does help students review all the topics - complete with problems - in an organized manner.  (I have also included an answer key for you :)

Need more???  Check out my calculus review bundle!

Calculus AB Review Bundle

Friday, April 4, 2014

April Secondary Link Up!

Maybe someday it will get warm here in the MidWest.  I thought we were moving in that direction, but today it is FREEZING again!

Let's all warm ourselves up with an April Secondary Link Up!

Background by Doodle Oven, Graphics by Creative Clips

Please link up to two paid and one free product.