Sunday, September 30, 2012

Algebra 1 INB Pages over Multi-Step Equations and Inequalities

Here are some pics of the most recently added pages to our Algebra 1 interactive notebooks.  My students are just now finishing up our chapter on inequalities.  Tuesday, we will start ratios and proportions.  After telling my students this, they let me know that they greatly dislike proportions.  I can't wait to change that!  I think what really bothers my students is the fractions.  Once I show them that fractions are nothing to be scared of, I think they will come around to proportions.

So far, my students love solving equations and solving inequalities.  I mean they literally love it.  They tell me over and over how much fun these problems are.  I couldn't be a happier teacher... 

I got a chance to share with all the teachers in my building about interactive notebooks last week.  I will write more about this opportunity later, but it was an amazing experience.  I could have talked about foldables and graphic organizers and ideas for hours.  I'm so excited that other teachers are going to try to implement foldables and more interactive learning strategies in their classrooms!   

In other news, I am incredibly behind in blogging.  I still need to blog about how I taught integer operations as well as solving equations.  I should really reflect on how my Algebra 2 and College Algebra courses are going.  I want to blog about the review auction game I played with my Algebra 1 students and how I've been using the idea of clock partners with my Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 students.  Then, I have posts planned about bellwork and exit tickets and interactive notebooks in general.  Seriously, when do you guys find enough time to blog about everything you want to?

I used Sarah @ Everybody is a Genius' brilliant notes over combining like terms.

Steps for Solving Multi-Step Equations (I used the flow chart available here.)

Graphing Inequalities (Outside of Foldable)
I taught my students to always rearrange their inequalities so the variable is to the left of the inequality sign.  Then, the students can just shade in the direction of the arrow formed by the inequality.  The 8th graders I student taught with had been taught this and it seemed to really work for them.  I am worried, though, that my students don't know why we shade one side of the inequality over the other side.  I need to go back and review this with them. 

Inside of Graphing Inequalities Foldable

Steps for Graphing Inequalities Notes

Solving 1 and 2 Step Inequality Notes.  I'm not too thrilled with this page. 

Compound Inequalities Notes

Compound Inequalities Foldable (Outside)

Compound Inequalities Foldable (Inside)

Compound Inequality Notes

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Newest Algebra 2 Interactive Notebook Pages

Here are the latest additions to my interactive notebook for Algebra 2.

Absolute Value Transformations
Stolen from here.

Absolute Value Transformations

Absolute Value Equations and Transformation Notes

Graphing Inequalities Notes

Solving Systems of Equations by Graphing

Foldable over 3 Types of Systems of Equations

Systems of Equations Foldable

Inside of Foldable

Properties of Parabolas (Axis of Symmetry and Vertex)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Comment of the Week

I heard a student comment this afternoon that didn't just make my day.  I'm pretty sure it made my week.

Student: "Somebody keeps texting me."

Me: "Don't they know you're at school?"

Student: (sheepishly) "I text at school."

Me: (appalled look)

Several other students: "Don't worry.  We don't text in your class."

Student: "I'm too unbored to text in your class."

Even though I'm pretty sure that I'm meant to teach high school, I can't help but love my 8th graders. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Busy Cubed

Well, I'm busy, busy, busy.

I did take time to do some baking today after I got home from school, though.  Fresh apple pie straight out of the oven cannot be beat.  It was a ton of work to peel all the apples.  But, I did finally get to use my Pampered Chef apple corer that I've owned for over two years now.  I love that thing!  It's absolutely amazing.  

In actual math related news, my Algebra 1 students LOVE inequalities.  We've been graphing and solving inequalities in one variable for the past two days.  They seriously think it is the easiest thing ever.  I'm also figuring exactly what was causing some of my students to solve so many of the equations incorrectly on our test.  One student asked today if I could make this next test worth 300 or 500 points.  I love seeing their enthusiasm over basic math concepts.

When I teach at a pace that is appropriate for the level of my students and in a way that helps all my students understand how to solve the problem, learning becomes fun for them.  My students don't need me to create games for them to have fun in math class.  No, I just need to do all that I can to set them up for success.  For many of my students, this just means breaking every problem down into steps and being there to help.  I hear so many students tell me of experiences with previous teachers where they didn't get help from their teachers.  My students don't want me to give them the answer.  They want me to provide them with just enough feedback to get on the right track so they can solve the problem on their own.    

Homecoming is this Friday.  Normally, that wouldn't really impact me.  However, this year I am the student council sponsor.  One of our main fundraisers for the year is selling the Homecoming t-shirts.  I've been stressing over these t-shirts since the end of August.  After multiple, multiple phone calls and e-mails, I was finally able to pick them up this afternoon.  Tomorrow I will distribute them, and I'll finally be able to mark this off of my to do list.  Students have been asking me for days when they will be able to get their shirt.   

I seriously have a new respect for any teacher who also is in charge of an organization.  I never realized, as a student, just how much work went into running a student organization.  I'm trying to make arrangements for us to attend our District Meeting in October and State Convention in November.  It feels like I'm not making any progress.  I know that when we are actually experiencing these events, all the hard work will be worth it.  But, right now, it's just overwhelming.  So much of my planning period isn't spent planning for my classes.  It's spent making phone calls and asking questions about how to do Student Council stuff.  The last time I was in student council, I was in the fourth grade.  I guess next year, I'll be a pro...

A student called me "Mom" today for the first time.  I knew that happened with elementary students all the time.  But, I wasn't expecting it from a high school student.

Then, I had a student ask me "Ms. H, were you ever a principal before this?"  No.  "Well, you look very principal-like."  This is my first year of teaching.  I'm in my early twenties.  Honestly, most people think that I look 16.  (At my first football game, the person taking the money for the tickets thought I was buying a student ticket instead of an adult ticket.)  I have the hardest time convincing people on the phone that I am a teacher.  They always assume that I am a student calling them.  But, this student thinks I could have been a principal...  I think this thought was partially based on the fact that I have a really fancy name plaque on my desk that was a gift from my cooperating teacher.   

I handed out printouts of grades today.  It's amazing how when you hand out a grade sheet and mark all the missing assignments that students all of a sudden start turning in those assignments.   

My eighth graders were devastated today.  Why?  We didn't cut or glue a single thing for our interactive notebook today.  Instead, I just had them take a few notes, and we jumped into solving practice problems.  Some of my older students, however, groan every time I ask them to take out their notebooks.   

Saturday, September 15, 2012

You've gotta love high school students...

There is definitely never a dull moment when working with high school students.

Scenario 1

Student: "Ms. H, are you married?"

Me: "No."

Another Student: "Does she look like she would be married?"

At this point in the conversation, I'm trying to figure out if I should be offended or what...  After a few comments from other students that it wasn't a very nice comment, the student clarifies: "Well, she isn't wearing a ring or anything, so she doesn't look like she would be married."  Was that what they really meant?  I'll probably never know...

Scenario 2

One of my students walks by me in the hall wearing pajama pants and a sort-of hat made out of a tube of black fleece fabric with pink pigs.  The other math teacher and I exchange a look of disbelief.  Next, the librarian comes down and tells us that we will need to send the student to the office when he comes back by us for his dress code violation.

Since he is actually in my next period, I assure her that I will send him to the office.  Well, he comes to the door, and I inform him that he will have to go to the office.  Why?  Well, you're not allowed to wear pajamas at school.  You'll need to go to the office.

Instead of complying with my request, he says, "That's okay, I'll just take them off."  He then proceeds to pull down his pajama pants in the hall.  The other math teacher and I are shocked.  I mean, students don't usually just start taking off their clothes in the hallway.  Now, I'm going to have a bigger issue to deal with than a dress code violation.  This is definitely not something they teach you how to deal with in your typical teacher education program.  Luckily, he was wearing normal, dress code appropriate shorts under the pajama pants.  I just didn't know that at the time when he announced that he would just take off his pants. 

Scenario 3

Student: "Ms H, did you go to college?"

Me: "Yes."

Student: "What college did you go to?"

I answer him

Me: "Why?"

Student: "Well, you have nice handwriting.  And, I heard that people who went to college tend to have nice handwriting."   

Umm...I thought it was common knowledge that all teachers have been to college, but I guess it's not...

Friday, September 14, 2012

Show and Tell

This post is actually just an excuse to post some pictures.

Graded some more INBs this week.  And, I actually had time to take a few pictures of their Mathematician Research Projects that I blogged about here

Isaac Newton Interactive Notebook Cover

Gauss Interactive Notebook Cover

Archimedes Interactive Notebook Cover

Pascal Interactive Notebook Cover

I also snapped some pictures of the factoring formula posters made by my college algebra students.  We just started simplifying rational expressions, and it makes it so simple to just direct students to the poster for the different factoring formulas.  I'm hoping these students will start referring to them on their own without prompting soon.

All 3 Factoring Posters

Difference of Cubes Poster

Difference of Squares Poster

Sum of Cubes Poster

Oh, and someone asked for an editable copy of my Request to Retest form.

Here, you go!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Snowball Fight!

Today, in Algebra 1, we had a snowball fight.  My students had never done anything like this.  Well, for that matter, I hadn't either.  This idea originated from Kate's blog as a first day of school getting to know you activity.  Well, we've been in school almost a month, and I teach at a very small school, so I didn't really need a getting to know you activity.  But, I did need a way to change up our review of solving equations.  We've been working on solving equations for a week now, and today was quiz day.

Snow Balls
Before the quiz, I wanted to find a way to discuss common errors to avoid in solving equations without any students thinking that I was picking on them.  Introduce the snow balls.  (Funny story.  When I told my 7th period that we would be having a snowball fight today, one student informed me that she didn't think that would work because it was still summer...)

Give each student a sheet of scrap paper.  I keep a box of paper that is clean on one side in my classroom for random activities like this.  Yes, each student will have to investigate what is on the back of their sheet of paper.  Comparisons will take place.  Some students will try to increase their social standing among their peers based on the fact that the back of their page is cooler than that of the other students.

Project 10 equations on the Smart Board.  Tell each student to pick an equation and write it on their sheet of paper.  Repeatedly remind them that they are only writing the equation, not solving it.  Expect to have at least one student solve the equation even though you asked them not to.

Next, ask each student to crumple their paper into a ball.  Prepare yourself for looks of disbelief.  Some students will literally not want to do this step.  They will try to daintily fold their paper.  Reassure them that it is okay to crumple the paper.

Set the Smart Board timer for 10-15 seconds.  Allow the students to have a snowball fight.

When the timer goes off, the snowball fight must end.  Each student picks up a snowball and opens it.

Tell the students that their job is to solve the equation.  However, some students should make a mistake on purpose while solving the equation.  Don't tell anybody you're going to make a mistake.  Just do it.

After students have correctly or incorrectly solved their equations, have the students crumple their paper again.

10 second snowball fight.

Each student finds a snowball.  If they open it and find the equation they just solved, they must trade papers with another student.  Now, each student's job is to look at the work and grade it.  Is it correct?  Or is there a mistake?  If there is a mistake, the student must correct it.

After the grading has been completed, ask students who found a mistake to share the equation (still projected on the board) and what mistake they found.  This is a great conversation starter for discussing common mistakes without making students feel like they have been singled out.

The students had a blast.  One student asked if we were ever going to do this again.  It provided a nice change of pace between our practice problems on the white boards and our quiz.  Most importantly, learning took place.  Students were engaged.  And, we got to have some fun, too.


Example of Snow Ball with Intentional Mistake

Most students worked the equation out on their own to see if the other student had solved it correctly. 

Example of a Correct Snowball

Some students were a little harsh in their grading.

Watch your positive and negative signs!

I also found this random note on one of the snowballs...

I love this! 

You're the first teacher who has ever...

My students continue to astound me with their honest and candid feedback.

Conversation 1

Me: "Did someone take my scissors?  I can't find them." (A student had recently came to my desk and borrowed something.  I thought it might have been my scissors when I couldn't find them...)

Students: "No."

(A few minutes later, I found them under my interactive notebook and next to the document camera...)

Me: "I found them."

Student: "So we didn't take them."

Me: "No, you didn't.  I apologize for blaming you."

Student: "Really?"

Me: "Yes, I apologize.  I shouldn't have assumed that one of you had taken them when I couldn't find them."

Student: "You're the only teacher I have ever heard apologize to their class."

Me: "Really?"

Other Student: "Yes, teachers never apologize when they blame students for something they didn't do."

The rest of the class agrees with this statement and adds supporting details.

Another Student:  "Thank you for apologizing."

Another Student: "Yes, thank you for apologizing.  I appreciate it."  

Conversation 2

Students are working 2 bellwork problems on factoring.  I am typing up the next 5 review problems to project on the Smart Board.

Student: "We need help."

Me: "Okay.  Let me finish typing this problem, and then I would love to help you."

Student: "Really?"

Me: "Yes, I would love to help you.  Let me just finish typing this, and I will be right there."

Student: "That's the first time I've ever heard a teacher say that they would love to help us."

Other Student: "Yeah.  Most teachers don't like helping students.  They don't like it when we ask questions.  No teacher has ever told us they would love to help us."

These students then proceed to tell me about teachers ignoring them when they raise their hands.

Moral of the Story

Students are very observant.  They notice what we say and don't say.  I need to be intentional in my every action.  Whether I mean for it to or nor, every action or inaction sends a message to my students. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Factoring Flow Chart

Factoring finally clicked for my college algebra students.  It was definitely a Hallelujah! moment.  The lowest grade on the factoring test was a 95. 

I'm definitely not your typical math teacher.  When students ask for help during a test, I give it to them.  I work at a school where most of my students are years behind in math.  When they recognize that they need help and they make an effort to better understand the material, I am going to give them the help they need.

This meant that for some of my students I worked out a problem similar to #2 and #5 on the board.  I sat down by one student who was struggling and put smiley faces by the questions she had gotten correct (every one that she had attempted) to motivate her to keep working. 

What helped my students most was having a factoring flow chart.  I spent a while searching the internet for one that matched how I had taught the different methods of factoring. 

I finally found the perfect flow chart, however.  Here's the link.  By continually referencing it in class, students eventually began to use it on their own.  That's when the light bulbs finally started to go off.  Students started to think "I can do this" instead of "This is too hard."

And, I can say that this is the first time in my life that I have the formulas for factoring sum and differences of cubes memorized.  I've used it so many times of late, it's become ingrained in my memory.

One of my students even decided that we needed to make a giant version of the factoring flow chart to hang on the wall.  She wanted us to do this so we wouldn't always have to get out our copy.  I loved this idea, but creating the whole flow chart wasn't really feasible.  But, yesterday in class, we did make posters with the formulas for difference of squares, sum of cubes, and difference of cubes to brighten our walls.  And, I think my students will use them more since they helped create them.      

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Interactive Notebook Pages of Late (Algebra 1 and Algebra 2)

Well, my Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 students just finished up Chapter 1 recently.  So, I thought it was due time that I posted pictures of our latest INB creations.  Some of these pages I love.  Others, I wish I could travel back in time and redo.

Doing interactive notebooks with my students has taught me the importance of planning out every aspect of my lesson ahead of time.  I've learned that winging it with interactive notebooks can lead to some not so pretty results.  My Algebra 2 students currently have a blank left hand side in their notebook from the day we practiced combining like terms.  My perfectionism hates this, but it's reality.  Some of my Algebra 1 classes take longer to complete things in class.  This means that their interactive notebooks don't exactly match my the notebooks of my other classes.  They have blank pages where activities we didn't have time for should have gone.  But, there's nothing I can do to change that.

I'll be honest.  Some days I get incredibly frustrated with the amount of time it takes for my students to glue in our foldables.  I don't even make them cut.  I do all the cutting because they cannot follow cutting instructions.  I think I could glue in fifteen foldables in the time it takes some of my students to glue in one.  I keep hoping that we will get faster as the year progresses.  We'll see...

Then, there are the days that I see the benefits of our interactive notebooks.  And, all that time spent cutting and gluing and folding and coloring are worth it.  My students actually use their interactive notebooks.  If they have created a foldable, they know it is in their notebooks.  They know exactly where that resource is.  And, this means that they actually use it.  It is such a beautiful thing to look out at my students and see them using their interactive notebook without being told to.   Weeks later, they are still referring to our rules for integer operations.  I love that these notebooks are empowering my students to help themselves. 

I absolutely love interactive notebooks, and my students do too.

So, without further ado, pictures!

Algebra 1 - Integer Operations

Algebra 1 Integer Operations Foldable
Inside of Integer Operations Foldable for Algebra 1

Algebra 1 - Integer Operations Wheel
Students had to pick 8 problems from the previous day's assignment.  They had to write out each step of the problem and explain why the answer would be positive or negative.  The circle is actually a Describing Wheel which can be downloaded here.

Algebra 1 - Distributive Property Foldable (Closed)

Algebra 1 - Distributive Property Foldable (Open)

On the LHS of the Distributive Property, I had students create their own combo meal to demonstrate the distributive property.  Since you don't want to see my lack of artistic skills, here is an example done by a student.

Algebra 1 - Chapter 2 Pocket

Algebra 1 - Solving 1-Step Equations Foldable (Outside)
Inside of Solving 1-Step Equations for Algebra 1

Algebra 1 - Solving 1-step Equations Frayer Model

Algebra 1 - Solving 1-Step Equations Foldable and Frayer Model

Algebra 2 - Combining Like Terms (In the blank space at the bottom, students solved several examples from the board.)  This page was taken from Middle School Math Madness.

Algebra 2 - Graphing Foldable (Parts of the Coordinate Plane and Quadrants)

Inside of Graphing Foldable for Algebra 2

Algebra 2 - Finding Slope Foldable (Outside)

Algebra 2 - Finding Slope Foldable (Inside)

Algebra 2: Functions and Relations Notes

Algebra 2: Function / Not a Function Card Sort (And, yes I glued one of my pieces on the wrong side and didn't realize it until I was finished gluing...)  Note to self: allow twice as much time for this activity as you think it will take. 
Stolen from Math Tales From the Spring