Conic Section Day 1-3

I always felt that my conic section unit was lacking and needed something that tied everything together. I had a bunch of activities, but nothing that was solid. I decided that the unit needed an overarching theme and some project based learning opportunities. I want it to be engaging and real world.

I settled on roller coasters.

Day 1:
Students have a virtual reality video to watch on DiscoveryVR where they ride a roller coaster. Then they have an introduction to conic sections where they are given play doh and a plastic knife to play surgery, I did this activity last year: Conic Section Surgery












Day 2:

I started with Parabolas and asked them to complete a Desmos Polygraph Activity over Parabolas.

Then I went over the first project with the students, students will construct a working paper roller coaster.









Students started their paper roller coasters.








Day 3:
Students read an article on Newsela about roller coasters and were asked to identify the main point, supporting details, essential elements, and asked them to circle words they didn't know. When they were done reading and annotating they were to summarize the article in two sentences using the essential elements.



Then we went over the first day of parabolas, where students graphed parabolas based on an equation.

Exponential Growth through TAG

After a great day of teaching exponential growth and decay, I felt like my students really knew the topic forwards and backwards. We did this Desmos activity as some students were finish up their MAP test.


It was a great Desmos activity, almost all the students wanted 100$ at the beginning and very insightful finishing questions at the end and I was pleased overall. Later that day I began to wonder if students would notice if something was exponential or not exponential if I gave it to them. I thought to myself how could I find a question that I could do that would model exponential growth or decay.

Then I found this game: 


I wanted an activity that got students out of the classroom. Since I have two periods at the beginning of the day we did inside in the gym, but the last time we went outside and played it on the Football field.

If you didn't watch the video, it is a simple game where one person is a shark, they yell "Minnows come out to play." the minnows job is to make it to the other side without getting tagged. The sharks job is to tag people, once a minnow is tagged they become a shark.

Here comes the math:
I had them start out with one shark, I made all the others line up and asked them how easy it was going to be this time down. All of them were confident that they could make it down without any real sweat, then I asked them what about the 5th time down? I was surprised how most of them thought it was still going to be easy, thinking of it linearly instead of exponential. We played it through the first time here are the pictures and the charts we did at the end.



Here is one of the charts that I made after each run down and back.


After all the students were tagged on the 4th down and back with ease. I asked them to estimate how many would get tagged on the fourth time back. Then I asked about the whole school, how many down and backs would there be playing with 576 students?

We came back after playing 2-3 more times. Then asked them how you could write an equation to model the graph. We did a short mini-lesson on finding equations of a exponential graph.



Solving Trig Ratios and Google Expeditions

Last year I did a solving trig ratios using Google Cardboards and the app Google Cardboard, but on Android devices the app is different from one platform to the next, so I needed an upgrade. I have been looking at Google Expeditions for a while now and finally had enough Google Cardboards and extra VR headsets (thanks Alice Keeler!!).

Google Expeditions was a great app and it allowed me to introduce other concepts like history combined with math. Another added benefit was that most of my students are from Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala and some of these ruins were close to where they use to live.


My favorite thing is that I can direct students to look at something while reading and comes with questions to ask the students. I didn't use all of the questions, but I did use the intermediate question when it came to the number of steps. I could direct students to use their made sextants to find the angle of elevation to answer the questions.


Here are some of the students on their expedition.




Here is a link to the worksheet that students had to fill out and guide them: goo.gl/uRcvkR




Probability Through Caine's Arcade

First day of our probability unit we watched this video.


Day 1: I chose this video, because most of my students are hispanic and I think the biggest thing in our school right now is empathy. We talked about having games of chance like in the video they just watched, what does chance mean? We did our first section of probability and told them they were going to create their own games, just like Caine did. 

We did a 5 question check for understanding and told the students they needed to finish the bottom half of the checklist today.

Here are other great resources including the checklist: http://cainesarcade.com/schools/activitykits/

Students designing their cardboard games.

Day 2: We talked about conditional probability. Did another check for understanding on Kahoot. Then I got lots of cardboard boxes from our recycling bin and had to make a quick pit-stop at Dollar General for more cardboard boxes.

Day 3: I had a substitute teacher this day, but students started creating their boxes.


Day 4: We went over theoretical vs experimental probability. I gave students 7 minutes to finish their cardboard arcade games. Then we went over theoretical probability again. We talked about geometrical probability from Day 1. Students were given rulers and yardsticks and had to find the theoretical probability of successfully completing their arcade game.


Day 5: We finished the material for our probability unit. I gave students 5 minutes to make sure their game is playable and to finish anything on the checklist. Then we went over that I would give them 5 minutes to go play other games to get other groups experimental probability, then the partners would switch and the other partner would go play games.




I thought this unit was much better than the 3D dice activity from last year, this project was more hands-on and did a better job of combining the curriculum and the project together.




Statistics Sampling through Articles

In our statistics unit for Algebra 2, we talk about measures of central tendency then we go over different types of sampling. The four we talk about random, convenience, systematic, and cluster. Students don't really know what these are, we talk about when people are surveyed there are different methods to survey those people. Then we go over survey biases. It is a pretty boring lesson, students already know mean, median, mode, and range. They don't really get why we go over types of sampling.

I trimmed down and this article from The Street:
https://www.thestreet.com/story/13954993/1/pictures-of-mcdonald-s-new-big-macs-are-already-sweeping-the-internet.html



To summarize the article it is about the new Mac Jr and Grand Mac, in the article it says, "McDonald's started testing the Grand Mac and Mac Jr. in more than 120 restaurants in the central Ohio and Dallas areas in April last year." This is the basis of what I wanted the students to pick up out of the article, but thought this might be a good chance to get them inferring reading in the math classroom. 

Students read the article, I gave them 5 minutes to read and answer the following 5 questions:

  1. What is the main point of the article?
  2. What are two supporting details?
  3. What type of sampling method was mentioned in the article?
  4. Why do you think McDonald's chose that type of sampling method?
  5. Do you think the authors view of McDonalds were positive or negative? Why?
I was surprised about the level of detail that students put into the article here were some sticky notes and students working on the article.




Next year I will try to put the article on ActivelyLearn, last year it was my go to place for articles and mathematics for Junior Standards Math. I will have to use more articles in math class, it was a good experience for me and my students.

License Plate Combinations

When we come back from winter break we normally start our probability and statistics unit. I normally take a week for probability and a week for statistics which normally melts into three weeks. I've always thought nothing of changing it, but during winter break Dan Meyer posted "Plates Without States"  Since we were going over permutations and combinations I thought this would be an excellent way to get students thinking about how many different combinations there are in license plates and why they make them like that.

To start the lesson I had students go through Dan Meyer State-Plate Game.  Students were definitely engaged and loved playing against each other in their groups.

Next we talked about license plates and I separated it from combinations and permutations.

I gave all of the students a blank license plate and a card. The card had a name of a city or state and a population that students had to take in consideration.

Here are some of the license plates that students were working on.





When students were done with their license plates, they took a picture of their license plate and put it on SeeSaw. The last part they had to do was comment on three others the number of different combinations that they had with their license plate.

Here were a few students figuring out and commenting on other students post.



I like this activity much more and students realized how license plates play a role in local governments and how the population of an area can control the different license plates possible.

I posted almost all of them in the back of my room here are a bunch of different ones that are posted.




Posting Teacher Goals

I was reading this blog post, I can't seem to find it now. It had 21 things teachers should try in 2017, number 19 was "Post Your Goals in Your Classroom."

I thought this would be an excellent way for students to see what I am working on in the classroom and maybe they can hold me more accountable.

There are lots of different things I want to do in 2017, I will post a list of what I want to do at the bottom.

Here are the three goals I posted in my classroom:

1. More Activities, Less Homework

I have been disappointed lately with our school's emphasis on homework and worksheets. I feel that some of our students are being pushed down and out with this emphasis. I want students to experiment with math and I want more formative assessments to understand my students knowledge.

Since we are 1-1 with iPads I see students trying Google the worksheet before attempting any of the problems. They know in other classrooms that they get their worksheets online and don't need to do the work and its easier.

Getting students using Desmos, WODB, and Estimation180 to challenge their thinking and their understanding of mathematics.

2. Students In Charge of their Own Learning

My students heavily rely on the teacher for their information. If they don't know an answer right away their hands go up. I want my students to be challenged, but also know that I am there to guide not to tell them the answer.

I want students to be able to go out and find the answer. If they don't know how to do something I want them to be able to go out and search for it, find a YouTube video.

3. Build Students Up with Growth Mindset

This last one is very similar to the second one. My last goal is for students to have a growth mindset, to start the year I normally have a BreakoutEDU box for students to do. I want students not to think of math as thing that "smart people" do.

Things I have Planned or Want to Do in 2017


  • Different types of seating
  • Caine's Arcade
  • Incorporating more VR
  • Walking Classroom
  • Incorporate more reading.
Here is a seating chart that I currently use and really like, plus my goals are posted!!




Codename: Numbers

The 2016 game of the year was Codenames, but for Christmas my wife and I were given Codenames Pictures, which is an equally awesome game. The basic gameplay is that you have a partner or a group where one person gives a one word clue and a number which correlates to how many it is suppose to cover, the first one to get them all wins.  There are neutral ones and one is an assassin which ends the game.



My thought: How cool would this be if you did this with numbers.

If I made board pieces that had a bunch of different numbers, students would use one word such as: even, odd, cubic, etc... this game would help build number sense.  Since you could play it with groups of 4 it would be a great station activity.

More to come with actual student gameplay.