Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Blog Hop: What Secondary Teachers Learned in 2015

With 2015 coming to a close and a new year quickly approaching I have been taking some time during this much needed winter break to reflect.  To reflect on the things I have learned this year, how I have handled the stress of a new teaching job (with six preps!), and how I am doing balancing my work/life.  It’s never going to be perfect but every day is a chance to learn and grow.  Here are a few of the things I have learned over this past year!

1.  My new favorite teacher software I used and love:

TI Smartview.  You may think I am a little behind the times, but better late than never :-) I was introduced to it during my first year of teaching and I have seen it used but I have my own license in my classroom now and I love it!!  If you integrate graphing calculator use into your classroom and you have the money in your budget or even if you don’t (donorschoose.org is a great website, check it out!), this tool is now a must in my book.  It has made teaching my students how to use graphing calculators so much more enjoyable.  No more need to walk around and help each student find the right button to push to get the calculator to graph, the program projects the calculator screen as well as the buttons pushed.  This software is this math teacher's dream come true. 

2.  New strategies/units I did for the first time this year:
Task cards.  I used task cards for the first time this year and I can't get enough of them!  I felt like my students were doing a lot of worksheets and/or book work and I wanted to change things up. One of my favorite ways to use task cards is as a gallery walk so that students can get up and move around the room.  Here is a link to my linear equations task cards, a free download I have on teachers pay teachers!

Conic cards.  I taught Conic Sections for the first time this year and I was a little nervous.  Conic sections involve so many formulas and a's and b's and I am sure that it makes most students want to go "ahhh!" but I came across Conic Cards (which I have blogged about previously) and it made conic sections enjoyable for my students.

3.  My personal goal for 2016:
With two awesome little people in my house (11 month old and 3.5 year old) I have looked at cooking as a necessary chore that takes time away from loving on my little ones.  To me, it has been a dread task that I must complete each night purely for the sake of survival.  My goal for 2016 is to enjoy my time in the kitchen (this may require a glass of my favorite wine), to cook lots of food a few times a week so that I can spend less time in the kitchen during the week and more time with the kids, and to find simple, tasty meals that we can enjoy together.  Any recipe ideas and suggestions would be much appreciated!

I would love to hear what goals you have for 2016!  To read about what other secondary teachers learned in 2015 head on over to Secondary Sara.  Best wishes to you as you begin another year.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Conic Sections

Conic sections can be a very overwhelming topic for high school students with the formulas and foci and directrix and asymptotes and the list goes on.  We just finished an intense trig unit and I didn't want my students to get overwhelmed with all of the formulas so I went on the hunt for a way to teach it that would be initially focused on the differences between parabolas, circles, ellipses, and hyperbolas and I came across Conic Cards by Cindy Johnson (NBCT) aka The Conic Card Lady. 

Each deck of Conic Cards includes graph cards, equation cards, information cards, and formula/title cards.  We have been using Conic Cards the past two days in my class and my students have said that they really like this.  They feel like they are really understanding the differences between parabolas, circles, ellipses, and hyperbolas and by completing the matching they are seeing how the graphs, equations, and information are all related.  Because I am using these with my PreCalculus class I also have them do a little bit of Algebra work with each type of conic section.  Yesterday they used the vertex and directrix or focus to come up with an equation for a parabola in standard form.

Cindy offers this amazing activity for free by emailing her at johnson cindy 2002 at yahoo dot com.  When she shares it, she has a few requests (that I absolutely love)!  One of her requests is that you share your favorite original activity with others.  I have just posted a free download on my teachers pay teachers stores, Mabel Math, that I really enjoy and am excited to share with others.  Linear Equations Matching is a hand's on matching activity where students match an equation in slope-intercept form with its equivalent in standard form and point-slope form.  I love this activity because it really helps students see how all of the forms of linear equations have similarities.  Enjoy!

If you are teaching Conic Sections any time soon and you are looking for a new way to teach it, I encourage you to get in touch with Cindy Johnson!  I think I can safely say you won't regret it.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Teachers Pay Teachers Sale!

All products available in my store will be 20% off November 30th and December 1st during the sitewide cyber sale!  I hope you find some useful math teaching resources at my store, https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Mabel-Math.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Matching Activites

I have gotten addicted to matching activities in Algebra 1 class recently!  I like them for so many reasons.

They are a great way to change up how students practice their new skills, it is hands on for kinesthetic learners, and it makes students think about it differently than if they were doing practice problems out of the book.  Standardized tests often require students to pick answers from multiple choice options which is comparable to what they do to complete matching activities.  I make sure to include answers that make it impossible for students to just look at an answer and match correctly.  They have to do some work to get the right answer.

Each matching activity has students put together three different cards that all relate to the same equation or situation.  This helps students to recognize and understand that there are many different representations of the same equation/situation in mathematics (graphs, tables, equations, etc.).

I have one pair of students in class that doesn't like cutting them all out and pasting them to the paper so they asked if they could just write each card on the answer sheet.  I gladly let them do this - this activity allows for flexibility and options which are always good for the students!

So far I have made and used Absolute Value Inequalities Matching and Stem-and-Leaf Plot Matching in my Algebra 1 class.  Slope-Intercept Form Matching and Systems of Equations Matching are currently in the making, all will be posted on teacherspayteachers.com with more to come!  

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Graphing Calculators

My school just made a very large order of new graphing calculators for our math department and I couldn't be more excited!  Graphs are a huge part of understanding mathematics and I feel the importance of recognizing the multiple representations of a function (graph, table, equation, function values) is often overlooked as we work so hard to make sure that our students get all of the content they need in order to go on to the next math class.

That said, I have made it my own personal goal to use and make activities for my classroom that require students to represent functions in more than one way so that they are constantly reminded of the fact that it is all connected.  Some of these activities will be for students to work out by hand (no calculator) and others will include calculator use.  I have a lot of ideas and I am looking forward to putting them down on paper!

I can't wait to have my Algebra 1 students graph a line on the calculator, although I am sure a few of them will be mad that they have been graphing by hand this entire time while there has been a calculator that could do it for them :-)

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

AP Calculus Final Projects

It's almost the end of the school year!  After they take the AP test, my Calculus students are tired.  They put in a lot of hard work and effort throughout the year so I like to end the year with a project that allows them to show their creative side.  The results this year were amazing!

The requirements for the project are that they create a product or presentation to share with the class about something Calculus related.  I usually provide much more specific and detailed instructions for assignments but they embrace the freedoms of this particular project and I have yet to be disappointed.

Here are a few of the projects I got this year!

Two students found the volume of a banana using volumes by revolution.  They only had a 12% error!

 Two groups created board games to review derivatives and integrals.  They even included trig functions :-)  I will be using these as part of my student's review for the AP test next year!

A group of three students created and modeled a free-response question on perpendicular cross sections using squares!  Yes, they made it out of rice krispie treats and we ate it :-)

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Polynomials and Factoring Task Cards

It's been too long since I have had a chance to post.  We welcomed the addition of our little man into our family on January 17th and life has been crazy busy ever since! :-)

My latest teaching activity is Polynomials and Factoring Task Cards.  I made it a review activity for my students for their last test.  I gave them one class period to work on it before their test.  They liked that they had a lot of room to work out the problems.  I also provided the answer sheet at the end of the class period for those students that wanted to use it to check their work.  I designed the answer sheet in the same format as the answer key so that my students could quickly and easily check their answers.  They didn't like the idea of writing their answers twice but once they saw the benefit of filling in the answer sheet many of them were happy to do it.  As a result of the activity, they knew exactly what to expect on the test - no surprises!

I have found task cards to be a very helpful and effective practice when it comes to reviews for the test!  I plan to continue creating and using them for the other topics we learn in Algebra so you can be expecting more new task cards on TpT.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The What Did I Miss? Bulletin Board

After my first year of teaching, during which I spent endless amounts of energy and time digging through file folders of worksheets to find missing work for students, I knew I needed a better system.  I was looking for a system that kept me organized and made it easy for my students to find their missing work, on their own, freeing me up to spend more time planning good lessons!
The end result was my What Did I Miss? bulletin board.  I staple five file folders to the bulletin board and label them with each day of the week.  I put copies of the notes/work for the day in the folder so that students who were absent can gather their missing work when they return.  I put it right by the door so they don't forget and the pretty colors make it hard to miss!  As a high school teacher, I love that this puts the responsibility back on my students to learn what they missed and to come get help with it if they need it.  I am sure there are many other ways that this can be used besides as a missing work bulletin board.

I have found this bulletin board to be so helpful and I hope you do too!  If you are interested in purchasing this bulletin board template, please head to  my What Did I Miss? bulletin board..  Enjoy!