Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Class Challenge

I have a mission in life right now and it is for my entire calculus class to get the equation of the tangent line problem right on the AP test…it drives me nuts that some of them do that problem wrong EVERY TIME no matter how much I talk about it!

So, I came up with the idea of a class challenge.  This can really be applied to any math class, but it seems especially appropriate for an AP class.

I came up with this in the middle of the night when I seem to do some of my best thinking :)

So, I gave the class a very straightforward question - in my case - the first time I tried this I used this problem:

Find the equation of the tangent line to the curve y = (3x-2)^2 at the point where x = 0.

I told the class:  If everyone in the class gets this right, I will give the entire class 5 bonus points.  (To be honest I knew this wouldn't happen the first time I gave this challenge, but I am hopeful that some of the kids will put pressure on some of the other kids to LEARN HOW TO DO THIS!)

The next day, the kids really wanted to know if they got the extra credit…they definitely didn't - at least 4 kids got the question wrong.  I wondered if the ones that got it wrong would admit it, or just keep it to themselves.  It seemed to me, as I looked around the room, that the kids that got the question wrong knew it, and looked kind of sheepish about it.  A couple of them admitted it themselves, but it wasn't something that I shared.  I didn't tell the class who got it wrong or how many students got it wrong.

But, I'm definitely going to try this again in a couple of days.  I am hopeful that the class will be getting their bonus points soon!

Once we accomplish this task, we will move on to another type of problem.  Like maybe a tricky limit question that is actually a derivative in disguise.

I feel like this could be applied to other classes too, but I suppose you have to be careful.  I wouldn't want any students blamed for messing up everyone's extra credit.  However, in my class, the kids have all been together in honors math for awhile, and seem fine with it.  We'll see how it goes!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Huge Sale at Teachers Pay Teachers!

Now that Thanksgiving is over, it's time to turn our minds to shopping!

Teachers Pay Teachers is having a big sale on Monday and Tuesday.

Each seller has the option of putting their own store on sale and the TPT is giving an additional 10% off if you use the code CYBER.

I put my entire store on sale for 20% off - here is a link to my store if you are interested!

Teaching High School Math

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Teaching Slope and Equations of Lines - Fun!

Teaching slope and writing equations of lines is REALLY IMPORTANT!  I tell my students that no matter how much you wish this topic would just go away, it will be with you throughout all of the rest of your math classes.

I have to admit, the topic of slope was a mystery to me when I first started learning algebra.  I mean I knew the formula but I made no connections to what slope actually was.  I don't know if that was my misunderstanding, or the way my teachers presented it - I'm sure it was me :)

Students need to have a solid understanding of slope, y-intercept, parallel lines, perpendicular lines, and writing equations of lines in order to be successful in calculus.

Here are a few ideas and activities I have found that I think will allow students to practice these ideas without boring worksheets.

1)  Slope Posters  -

This is a link to slope posters that I have in my TPT store that uses cute superhero graphics to show the different types of slope.

2) Monster Themed Power Point Presentation -

This is a presentation that presents information about finding the slope and y-intercept of a line from a graph with fun monster graphics.

This is a link to Monster Power Point Presentation in my TPT store.

3) Equations of Lines Christmas Puzzle -

This is a puzzle that you could use at the end of your unit on writing equations of lines.  Students solve 22 questions and then match their answers to form the answer to a funny Christmas riddle.

Here is a link to my Christmas Equations of Lines Puzzle

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Happy Fibonacci Day!

It's Fibonacci Day!

A little information about the Fibonacci sequence…

The Fibonacci sequence begins like this…

1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, …

The next number is generated by adding the two previous  numbers together.

There is so much to study and learn and wonder about when thinking about the Fibonacci sequence.  It leads us right to the golden ratio and to wonder about things such as DaVinci's Mona Lisa and the pyramids in Egypt.

So the question is, why is it Fibonacci Day today?  

Well, it is 11-23 of course - the first four numbers of the Fibonacci sequence!

I love teaching the students about things like this that aren't easily placed into the curriculum.  Do you know of any good resources that I can use in my classroom?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Success in Secondary November Linky Party

It's time once again to link up your favorite Secondary (grades 6 - 12) activities!  You can link up to 2 paid and 1 free activity.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Studying for a Math Test

Do your students ever ask?  How can I study for this test?  You can't study for a math test can you?  You either know it or you don't...

Here are some tips that I give to my high school classes:

1)  Be Neat and Organized - If the teacher gives notes and examples on a specific topic copy them down or organize them in a binder or notebook.  It would probably be helpful to date them when you get them.  If you have a textbook that has section numbers, label your notes with the section numbers.

2) Review the vocabulary - I always tell my geometry class - I'm never going to ask you to define a word, but you have to know what the words mean to answer the questions.

3) Review examples - Surely the teacher has given some example of problems that will be on the test.  Go over them.

4)  DO examples -  One of the biggest messages I try to give my students is you have to DO PROBLEMS.  You can't just watch the teacher do them and you can't just look them over.  You have to try the problems yourself.  I suggest that they have their mom or dad rewrite some problems (that they have the answers to) on another sheet of paper.  Students should try to work the problems completely without looking at either the written out solution or the answer.  Only after they are finished should they check.  Incidentally, I feel that Task Cards with QR Codes can really help in this respect.  Students have the answers to the given problems, but they can't see the answers until they actually scan the code.  (See examples of my  QR Code Algebra Bundle here).

Then, when you get to the actual test...

4) Read directions - When you get the test, be sure you read the directions carefully.

5) Answer the Question That is Asked - Make sure you read each question carefully.  Answer the question that is being asked - not the one you assume is being asked.  For example, in geometry there is a quiz that I give that asks for the number of sides a polygon has if it contains 540 degrees.  Some students answer 5 and some answer pentagon.  It drives me nuts...

6) Don't Answer a Question that Isn't Asked - This one is mostly for my calculus class because they have to be really careful on the free response questions on the AP Exam.  If the test asks to tell where a function is increasing, don't tell where it is decreasing just increases you chances of making a mistake!

Have a great week!


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Fun Halloween Middle and High School Math Activities

What are you doing for Halloween in your math classroom?  In middle and high school, we know the kids still want to celebrate Halloween, but they probably don't get to with a fun parade or a party!  So, maybe we can celebrate in math class with fun Halloween problems or a game!

One thing I have found that kids like to do is get up and move around the room.  If you shop at Target or Michaels, you might have noticed the fun foam shapes that they have for almost every holiday.  Sometimes they have them in the dollar spot, but this time I found a package of 35 pumpkins in the art section for $5.  They are two different colors.

Ideally, I like to play some kind of matching game with these.  I put problems on each pumpkin and then have the students find their match.  The trick is figuring out something you can match so that each student has to do some kind of work.  For example, giving some students something to factor and some students something to multiply using FOIL works well because both students have to do some work.  (I used this last year for Valentine's Day - see it in my store Valentine's Day Factoring Activity).  Solving equations doesn't work so well because some students just sit there with a number on their pumpkin - they don't have to do anything.

This Halloween, I think I am going to do a graphing matching activity.  Some students will have an equation, some students will have a graph, and some students will have to write the equation of a line given a slope and a point.  They will find their 2 partners.

It is easiest if you can write right on the fun foam with a sharpie.  That worked for my Valentine's activity, but I don't think it will work so well for graphing - at least for the graphs.  So, I think I will print those out and then attach to the fun foam with glue dots.

If you aren't up for this matching activity, here is another activity you could try from my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.  This set has a total of 40 task cards that can be used for students to review algebra skills.  Each card has an adorable graphic on it from either Whimsy Clips or Dots of Fun.  There are 10 different topics covered and 4 questions on each topic.

Halloween Algebra Review

You could use this as a stations activity or you could make a game out of it.  Students could draw a card from the stack then compete against another team.  The possibilities are endless :)

Hope you have a great week!

[ETA:  Here is a link to a newer blog post which gives links to many more fun Halloween Math Activities]

Friday, October 18, 2013

Success in Secondary Linky Party

clipart by whimsy clips - border by jax and jake

It's time for the October Success in Secondary Linky Party!

It's starting to get cold here in the midwest - I was actually cold at school today.  Do you remember during the summer when you didn't think you would ever be cold again???

My kids and I are making the final decisions on their Halloween costumes - my 4 year old keeps changing her mind.  I hope we can agree on something when Halloween actually gets here!

Anyway, it's time to link up your favorite 3 secondary activities - link up to two paid and one free item. 

Hope you have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Congratulations to the winner of my One Year Anniversary giveaway!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Celebrating One Year on TPT!

October is my one year anniversary on Teachers Pay Teachers!  Can't believe that it has been a year since I read an article online about Deanna Jump and thought to myself - hey I wonder if I can do that!

In celebration of my anniversary, and my loyal followers, I am giving you the presents!  I am having a sale in my Teaching High School Math Store store - 10% off this Saturday and Sunday - what a deal - if there is something you have been wishing for, now is your chance :)

Also, join my friend Kristen Dembroski - she also is having a sale in her store and a giveaway on her blog!  She has the cutest graphic for sure!

Kristen Dembroski Blog

Here are a couple of things I have available for Halloween:

Solving Equations with QR Codes - Halloween Theme

Halloween Factoring Activity

Calculus Halloween Puzzle

I am also celebrating with a giveaway - enter below and win a $10 gift certificate to Teachers Pay Teachers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Genius Idea for Interactive Notebooks...

OK, I'm sure this isn't a GENIUS idea, but I just thought of it and I think it will save me some time.
My classes like some of the ideas that I've used this year to make our notebooks more interactive - and actually, I've really liked them too.  One thing I've really liked is I can preprint some of the notes and they can put them right in their notebooks where they are supposed to keep such things!  One thing I have really NOT liked is the gluing!  Who knew how fast those little glue sticks get used up???  Next year I will definitely have to ask each kid to bring their own - that will definitely help.

So, to help solve this problem, I started thinking about stickers - how about if we just stick some things into their notebook?  Of course this won't work for everything, but it did work for a topic we are currently working on in calculus...writing equations of tangent lines.  It drives me nuts how many kids just REFUSE to learn this topic.  I've had kids tell me before, well, I knew I was going to have to find the equation of the tangent line, but I don't know how to do that, so I skipped that one.  UGHHHH!! Way to drive me absolutely nuts - I mean we've done 10,000 equation of tangent line problems.

So, last night I made STICKERS!  These are formatted to fit on Avery labels 5163.  I am going to have my students stick these into their notebooks.  And every once in awhile, maybe I'll make a new sticker for something else I really want them to next time maybe the derivatives of trig functions.

Have a great day!

ETA:  Another thing I just thought of - this would be a much easier place to add some color if you needed to - not as much color to print, but it would still look nice for each student.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

September Success in Secondary Linky Party

Welcome to another Success in Secondary Linky Party!  I hope to have these linky parties during the school year on the second weekend of each month, so definitely stay tuned. (Special thanks to Jennifer Smith-Sloane for this fabulous graphic!)

I'd like to show you something new that I've been working on...there are just a ton of materials out there for algebra one, but I've been noticing that there is not quite as much out there for geometry.  So, as the school year goes along, I hope to continue to work on adding more material for people to use for their geometry classes.

This last week, I finished my first Geometry Self-Checking Practice Worksheet on working with supplementary and complementary angles.  This worksheet gives 12 practice word problems that deal with supplements and complements.  The great thing is that the answers to the 12 questions are given at the bottom of the page, although they are mixed up.  I love that the students know that they are probably right if they get one of the answers at the bottom of the page.

If you'd like to see this in my Teachers pay Teachers Store, please click here.

Now, on to the linky party!

Please feel free to link up to 3 products.

I'd sure appreciate you leaving a comment and/following my page if you link up.  HINT: If you'd like a new free poster for your math classroom, check out my facebook page!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Teacher Tech Tip of the Month - September

Welcome to this month's edition of Tech Tip of the Month.  I hope to make this a monthly linky party on my blog - the first Friday of the month.

I will blog about Tech Tips that I find, and I hope you will add your ideas from blog posts or from products that you have that use technology!

This month, my tech tip is about a app called JotNot.  Have you ever heard of this handy little app?  I heard about it from one of the teachers in my department.

Although the pro version of this app is 99 cents, there is a lite version that is free.

This app will allow you to turn your phone or iPad into a scanner!  

At first when I saw this app - I thought to myself, why would I need that - I can take a picture with my phone?  But, the beauty of this app is that you can turn your scan into a pdf (along with other file types).  So, it can be handy to take a scan of notes that I wrote on the whiteboard and then print them out to give to students.  Or, I can scan my handwritten solutions to homework problems and then post them, or print them out.  The information about the app even suggests that you can upload to dropbox or google docs!

What is your favorite tech tip you blogged about or discovered?  Either comment or add a link to this linky party!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Tech Tip of the Month - Get Ready for a Linky!

I decided to try giving the department at my school a Tech Tip of the Month since we are going to 1:1 iPads next year.  Then I thought - hey!  Let's have a Tech Tip of the Month linky party!

So, be ready...on the first Friday of every month, we'll have a Tech Tip of the Month, and then on the second Friday we will have a Success in Secondary Linky Party...

On your marks...

Get your link to your blog tech tip or a product that features a tech tip...


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Fun Calculus Activities for Limits

It's the beginning of school and it is HOT here in the Midwest.  I mean excruciatingly hot!  We only have AC in selected areas of our building and apparently the math department does not rate AC!

So, what can be done to make LEARNING ABOUT LIMITS fun???  Give some of these activities a try:

1) Limits with QR Codes Task Cards - This is my own activity that you can use after students have learned about finding limits algebraically.  Students will use the 16 task cards given.  After they figure out the correct answer, they can use technology to scan the QR Code on the task card to check their answer.  Instant feedback :)

2) Limits Card Sort - This activity is by Emily Hasty.  I purchased this activity last week - I haven't tried it yet, but I intend to try it before my students take a limits quiz.  The basic idea is that students will get a formula for a piecewise function along with 18 cards.  They have to figure out which 6 of the cards go with their function.  The cool thing is that each card is lettered.  If they pick the correct 6 cards, the cards spell a word so the teacher can easily check to see if they have chosen the right 6 cards - cool idea!

3)  Limits Joke Worksheet - This activity is by MrsCookKHS.  The best part - it's FREE!  This is a great review for limits.  Students work the problems - then if they work them correctly, they reveal a funny joke.

Hope you can find something that will keep everyone working through this horrible heat!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Tried a Graphic Organizer Today

I have been wondering whether my Geometry Honors class would like the idea of an interactive notebook.  Ughhh...too much gluing - why are we doing this, etc?

So, I decided to start small and try a graphic organizer for my first day of Geometry Honors notes.

Here is a picture of it, but I have it available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store (for FREE!) if you are interested in downloading it.  (download available HERE)

I had the students working on something else (factoring review) while everyone cut and then the glue sticks went around.

As I gave notes, I actually think that the students enjoyed having some of the work done for them.  It did make things go a little faster because they didn't have to redraw my diagrams.  (Although part of geometry is drawing the diagrams!)  Also, it did help keep the students' notes organized - everything I wanted to say fit in a specific box.  They should be able to go back and re-read their notes and understand what goes with what.

All in all, I give my first effort a thumbs up - although I am definitely going to need more glue sticks :)

Friday, August 16, 2013

Teachers Pay Teachers Back to School Sale!

Yes, it's finally time for the Back to School Sale!

You can use the BTS13 code on Sunday and Monday - Aug 18 and 19th and get an additional 10% off of whatever the individual sellers are offering.  Some sellers are starting their own sales early though - so hop on over and check it out!  (I'm starting mine Saturday!)

I'd love for you to look at the things I have in my store - I have a lot of great items for Algebra, Geometry, and Calculus teachers (if I do say so myself - LOL!)

Teaching High School Math TPT Store

Thanks so much for checking it out.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Success In Secondary - Back to School Linky Party

Happy Back to School!  It's time again to say hello to those smiling faces :)

What better to help with all of this back to school happiness than a Success in Secondary Linky?  (Shout out to Jennifer Smith-Sloane from 4mula Fun fun for this great graphic and the original idea for Success in Secondary Linky parties!)

Please link up here with your favorite middle or secondary school activity.  Please limit your post to 2 paid and one free item.

If you haven't followed my blog, I would sure appreciate it!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Tech Tip of the Month

I am the department chair at my school and we are looking to start using iPads next year schoolwide.  We are really working on finding ways to use iPads in the classroom and to improve our communication with students and parents.

So, I intend to try to provide a "Tech Tip" of the month to the members of my department.

Tomorrow, since it is our first department meeting of the year, I am going to try to get everyone excited about using QR Codes.

I am going to give each person a little welcome back tag with their name and QR Code on it.  If I would have thought of this fabulous idea earlier, I would have attached the tag to a little welcome back gift.

I know they won't all have a QR Code Reader installed on their mobile device, so I am going to show everyone how to do that and how to use and create a QR Code.  I am hoping that they will be as excited as the students are to see what the QR Code says!

Then, I want to show how I am using QR Codes in my classroom.  I have made several different types of Task Cards with QR Codes on them.  In addition, I have had students scan a QR Code when they come into the room so they can get the answers to their homework.

I am hoping that after I show the "Tech Tip" of the month, that other people in my department will develop other fabulous uses of QR Codes.

What do you use QR Codes for?