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.

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