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.