Math = Love: February 2015

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Rolling Dice for Point Slope Form and Desmos Awesomeness

This year I did something wrong.  Something seriously wrong.

What did I do wrong?  I'm not entirely sure.  But, my students are convinced that point-slope form is easier than slope intercept form.  This. Has. Never. Happened. Before.  My students normally dread point-slope form.  They cry.  They whine.  They threaten to drop out of school because algebra is too hard.  The week or so that we spend actively engaged in working with point-slope form is not a happy week.  At least it wasn't until this year.

So, what was different?  I can think of two things.

Giant Foam Dice and Desmos.

Instead of giving my students problems, I let them create their own problems.  Or, I guess I should say the dice created their problems for them.  First, students worked together in pairs of two.  Each pair got a giant foam die.  My math teacher coworker across the hall gave me these right before school started.  They are SO handy!

Decide before you start how to determine which numbers will be positive and which will be negative.  We decided to make odd numbers negative and even numbers positive.  This worked okay.  It led to a lot more horizontal and vertical lines than if you flipped a coin to determine positive/negative.  But, I think I'm okay with that.  Usually, I neglect to give my students enough practice with problems where the points form a line with zero or undefined (or Undefiiiiiiiiiinnnnneeeeddd! as Slope Dude would say) slope.

Roll the die twice to form the first ordered pair.  Roll the die two more times to form the second ordered pair.  At this point, students knew from their notes on point-slope form that they had to determine the slope of the line that went through these two points.  However, my students knew they had two options.  They could graph the two points and find the slope that way.  Or, they could use a table and their vertical number lines to find the slope.  (More about that here!)  Students could pick whichever way they felt more comfortable.  

It was so good to see kids using their notebooks.  It's a reminder that the notes we take in class really do make a difference.

Having found the slope, students plugged the slope and one of their points into the formula for point-slope form.  Then, we converted the equation to slope intercept form for even more practice with slope-intercept form.

This is where things take a radical turn from how I've done them in the past.  Usually, I would be like "Yay, we found the equation of the line.  Go us!  Let's do another one."  The problem with this is that my students aren't convinced that this equation actually goes through these points.  Assuming we've made no errors, I'm convinced.  But, then again, I'm an algebra teacher.  The thought of teaching equations is what makes me want to get out of bed in the morning.  My students?  Not so much.  

My students need to be convinced, though.  I could have them graph the two points and graph the line they found in slope intercept form.  But, knowing my students, they would probably just draw a line through the two points and "pretend" it matched the equation.  No, they need better proof.  Definitive proof.  And, that's what desmos provided us.

If my school had laptops, or ipads, or wifi access for students, I would let them each check their own work as they went.  But, sadly, that's not the type of school I work in.  We don't even have a computer lab that we can take students to.  I see the activities that other teachers are able to do with their students and desmos, and I get super jealous.  Extremely jealous.  Life goes on, though.  And, I remind myself that I am providing the best education for my students that I know how to with the resources I have been provided with.

Anyway.  Let's get back to how I was able to use desmos in my classroom.  I pulled up desmos on my desktop computer.  As pairs of students found the equations that went through their pairs of points, I had them bring their dry erase boards up to my desk.  I inserted the two points they had rolled with the dice into desmos.  Then, with great fanfare, I typed in the equation they had come up with.

One of two things happened.  Cheers because the line very clearly went through both points.  Or groans.  The students who cheered were sent back to their desks to repeat the process with newly rolled points.  The students who groaned were sent back to their desks to look for their mistake.

The feedback was instant and glorious.  Thank you Desmos!

And, there's just something different about the computer screen telling you you're right and your math teacher telling you you're right.

As the year has progressed, students still ask sometimes if we can "desmos" something when they want to check their work.  And, of course, I always say yes.  :)

Later on in the chapter, we were studying parallel and perpendicular lines.  We pulled out the dice again.  Roll the dice.  Form two points.  Find a line that is parallel to the line that goes through these two points.  Find a line that is perpendicular to the line that goes through these two points.  More desmos.  More awesomeness.  

Though, I guess we do need to work a bit on our spelling of parallel and perpendicular. ;)

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Finding and Interpreting Slope INB Pages

This has been a weird year of teaching for me.  It's year three which means that I feel like I'm kinda starting to get the hang of this whole teaching thing.  But, at the same time, I see so many areas that I desperately need to improve in.  I go back and forth between feelings of excitement over being able to parts of lessons and notebook pages from previous years and feelings of disappointment in myself for just reusing things from previous years and not making them better.  My notebook pages this year look a lot like last year's with a few tweaks and new additions.

I haven't really done a great job of blogging notebook pages this year because it's seemed like I'd just be sharing the same stuff all over again.  But, I do need to make an effort to share these new pages with y'all.

Here are two new pages I created this year for Algebra 1's unit on slope.  

Last year, I let my students design their own notebook pages over finding slope from a graph.  While this let me see what they knew and understood, it did not lead to pretty notebook pages that they could later reference.  I knew this needed to be remedied this year!

I have posters in my classroom that say WWSDS?  This stands for "What would Slope Dude say?"  After students use rise/run to find the slope and write their answer, I ask them to consider WWSDS?  Then, they compare their answer to what Slope Dude would say.  If their answer was positive two thirds and Slope Dude would say "Nice Negative!" this is a sign of a problem.  I've blogged more about Slope Dude and these posters here

One of the standards for Algebra 1 in Oklahoma is that students are able to interpret the meaning of the slope and intercepts of a graph.  I feel like I've always sort of rushed over this before.  This year, I decided to spend an entire 50 minute class period just interpreting the slope of graphs and tables.

We took a few notes about interpreting slope.  Then, we got lots of practice in the form of a poof book!

Here's my notes over interpreting slope:

I gave students a sentence format to use to interpret slope.  For each example in the poof booklet, we used this sentence framework.  My students in the past have regularly fallen for the incorrect multiple choice option that leaves out the word change in the interpretation.  I was hoping that by having my students write this sentence a crazy amount of times that the word change would become ingrained in their memories!

Outside of Poof Book:

The inside pages of the poof booklet are tables and graphs that I stole directly from EOI sample problems provided by the Oklahoma State Department of Education.

So, I guess I should have put these two pages at the beginning of the post.  Oh well.  I think you can figure out what order these pages actually went in our notebook based on the content.  :)

The Slope graphic organizer was a reused page from last year.

However, the finding slope from a table or points notes are new.

I always start teaching slope with the "scary textbook definition."  Students are freaking out.  They think they're never going to understand this new topic.  Then, we slowly break apart the fancy definition into something that is much less scary and more familiar.  Eventually, they realize that slope really isn't that bad at all.

There are a lot of days where we just take plain old notes in my classroom.  Not everyday is filled with foldable fun.  Maybe someday...

I did find a way to incorporate a foldable into this lesson, though.  My students used our new handy dandy foldable vertical number lines to find the differences in the x values and the y values.  

We only do slope as delta y/delta x or change in y over change in x.  The slope formula (y2-y1)/(x2-x1) has been banned in my classroom for two years now.  And, it's one of the best decisions I ever made.  When my students have to think about what's happening on the number line, they are much more accurate and careful than when they try to remember integer rules that they never really learned in the first place.  
I'm also a total convert to vertical number lines now.  They're awesome.  Of course I still just have a horizontal number line in my classroom.  Next year, though, I will have a vertical number line on the wall, too.  It's a must-have now.  

I love that students can fold out the number line when they need it.  Fold it back when they don't. I wrote more about the vertical number line here.  

Want to download these pages?  Click here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Veterans Day Decorations

I used to get really annoyed whenever I would find my own blog posts in my google search results.  But, lately, it doesn't annoy me anymore.  In fact, I often find myself rereading old blog posts to remind myself of how I did things in the past.

So, yes, I realize it's February.  And, yes, I realize that I'm blogging about Veterans Day which was way back when in November.  One of Student Council's jobs is to help decorate/plan the Veterans Day Assembly.  Unless you have a need to ever make patriotic decorations of your own, this blog post probably won't be of interest to you.  But, next November, when I'm trying to remember how we did a certain thing, I'll be back here looking at it.  

One of my super artsy students painted this beautiful banner to hang on the wall for our assembly.

Columns that we normally use for prom decorations were wrapped in red, white, and blue table cloths.

I had nothing to do with this paper link flag, but I thought it was a really cute idea!  

My main job was overseeing the creation of a balloon flag.  One of my coworkers had her son construct a pvc frame to build the flag on.  

I recruited my first hour freshmen Algebra 1 class to help me blow up the balloons.  To say this was chaotic would be a huge understatement.  I certainly didn't have the time, motivation, or lung power to blow up all of the balloons by myself though.  That would be CRAZY.

I'm pretty sure the kids helping me might have popped just as many balloons as made it on the final display.

If you look closely at the bottom row, you can see that we actually ended up being short one red balloon.  Oops...

And, I guess this post isn't complete without a picture of me in my Veteran's Day outfit.  It's not everyday you can pull off looking like the American flag...

Monday, February 23, 2015

Laffy Taffy Math-y Valentines

If you haven't noticed lately, my blogging has been a bit sparse.  Blogging has taken a bit of a backseat to life lately.  But, I think that's how it's supposed to be.  Today was a kind-of snow day.  We had school, but the majority of students left early.  This led to my principal letting me leave early so I could make it home safely.  I decided I should use a little of my extra time to try and write up a few blog posts.  

During my first year of teaching, I started a tradition of giving math-y valentines to my students.  That first year, I had students glue two mobius strips together in such a way that when cut, they made interlinking hearts.  Last year, they got pixie sticks and a cute card about parallel lines having the saddest love story. 

This year, I knew I wanted to do something involving candy.  A few days before Valentine's Day, I ventured to Wal-Mart and proceeded to walk up and down and up and down the candy aisle while looking for inspiration.  I was looking for any sort of candy that I could base a valentine off of.  I'm pretty sure some of the customers were giving me weird looks.  Oh well...  

Since V-Day was on a Saturday, my celebration with my students would be falling on the Friday before.  Friday in my classroom is Friday Funnies.  So, I decided Laffy Taffy would be good because I wouldn't have to come up with jokes to tell my students since there are two jokes on each wrapper.  I thought I would make a card that said, "Valentine, I'm so glad that your love of math is no joke."

Laffy Taffy Math Valentine

After buying the candy and heading home, I called my sister to ask what she thought of my valentine idea.  She decided that I should make it a pun instead.  So, on her advice, I changed the card to read "Love of math is no "laffing" matter."  I knew my students would groan when they saw this, but that's really the point anyway, right?  

One of my student aides got the job of cutting the cards on the paper chopper and taping the candy to the back of them.  

It was so fun to watch the students' expressions as they read the card.  I ended up getting a lot of comments of "Oh, Ms. Hagan..." along with a shake of the head.

If anyone wants the file to make these yourself in the future, here's the link.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Things Teenagers Say: Volume 28

Happy Friday!  We had our first two snow days of the year this week which made it a short but super crazy week.  There's just something about having a four-day weekend that makes kids a bit antsy in the classroom.  Though, I guess it did allow me to miss the post-Valentine sugar rush. ;)  Here's the latest installment of crazy things teenagers say.


Ms. Hagan doesn't eat chicken strips. She's not going to bite you.

[Said by a student to their younger sibling to convince them it was safe to enter my classroom.]


You bring the ranch. I'll bring the fried crickets.


Ms. Hagan couldn't go to China. She'd have to eat cats.


Do ovaries make you run faster?


I'm going to "common sense" you.

Me: You are going to pretend to be a function for us.  Your function is to square whatever input you are given.  Do you understand?
Student 1: Yes.
Me: So, if I say 10, what do you say?
Student 1: 100
Student 2: And, if I say 49, what do you say?
Student 1: Get a calculator.


I have to get all A's this semester so I can get a goat.


Math doesn't make me nervous. It makes me want to stab my eyes out. 


Me: Take of your hat.  You know the rule.
Student: But, I have to wear my hat. My hair 


Student 1: Are you going to leave us?
Me: I'm not planning on leaving anytime soon.
Student 2: But, if Ms. Hagan left, we might get a more interesting math teacher.
Student 3: I don't think it's possible to have a more interesting teacher.


Student: Do you like sour skittles?
Me: No. I don't like skittles.
Student: Ms. Hagan doesn't like Skittles.  Guys, I think we should jump her.

People who play bowling are old.


I bruise easily. I'm like a banana.


Don't serenade me every Friday. I don't like being serenaded.


Does anyone else have a balloon I can suck the helium out of?


Happy Valentines Day, you freaking relationship person.


I'm going to grow up to be an underground bear fighter.


Student 1: Ms. Hagan, have you ever shot a gun.
Me: No.
Student 2: If she doesn't eat meat, why does she need to shoot a gun?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Basketball Homecoming - Spirit Week 2015

Well, my student council kids have been busy these past few weeks getting stuff prepped for spirit week.  Since I'm forgetful and often have to look things up on my own blog to remember how I've done things in the past, I thought I might as well share our spirit week on my blog.

This theme is totally unoriginal.  I'm pretty sure one of my StuCo kids found this on pinterest.  We modified a few things to make it fit our school.

My students did an awesome job of making posters to hang in the hall to announce each spirit day's dress up theme.  The posters have been a new tradition we've started this year.  The kids come in one afternoon after school for 3 or so hours.  I think it really makes them more invested in the spirit week activities.  

Our theme for the week was "There's no place like HOMEcoming."  Each day focused on an aspect of the Wizard of Oz.

Monday - Oz the Great and Powerful: Wear your best and brightest green and bling

 Tuesday - Twister Tuesday: Dress Wacky (Mismatch Day)

Wednesday - Somewhere Over the Rainbow (Class Color Day)

I was a bit bothered by the fact that not all of these colors are in the rainbow...

Thursday - Lions, Tigers, and Bears. Oh my!  (Animal Print Day)

Friday -  There's a Storm Coming! (Spirit Day)
This especially fits my school because our mascot is the tornado!  

Monday, February 9, 2015

Things Teenagers Say: Volume 27

Happy Monday!  Hope you have a week full of crazy teenagers saying crazy things.  If you're not that lucky, here's a taste of the conversations that have gone on in my classroom lately  :)

Previous Volumes:
Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3 | Volume 4 | Volume 5  
Volume 6 | Volume 7 | Volume 8 | Volume 9 | Volume 10
Volume 11 | Volume 12 | Volume 13 | Volume 14 | Volume 15
Volume 16 | Volume 17 | Volume 18 | Volume 19 | Volume 20
Volume 21 | Volume 22 | Volume 23 | Volume 24 | Volume 25
Volume 26

Ms. Hagan, if you die, I want your pi necklace.  


I had a party with my fridge this weekend.  My fridge is my boyfriend.  He feeds me all the time.


Me: I'm not sure if sitting on this wobbly desk was the best decision.
Student: Don't worry.  Vegetarians can't break wood.


Student: Ms. Hagan, what would you do if you woke up tomorrow with no eyebrows?
Me: I'd cry.


Isn't Oprah like an opera singer?


What do Americans eat when they're hungry? A hamburger. Except Ms. Hagan. She eats a carrot.


Are you sure you are really a human? You like math too much.


Ms. Hagan, would you like to buy some ribs?  Oh wait.  You're a vegetarian.  Oh wait. You could feed them to your cats.  


Me: Keep your phone away unless you want me to keep it for the rest of the day. Hey, that rhymes!


Can I ask a question?  I'm curious about something.  I know curiosity killed the cat. But, I'm not a cat. And, I'm not ready to die. If I was going to die, I want it to be in a cool way so I can be remembered.


If somebody punched Betty White, she'd probably turn to dust.


Penelope is a princess name.


I bet your boyfriend would give us the answers to our test if he were here...


Me: Please take off the welding mask during class.


You are like my grandma. You have to make yourself laugh to smile in a picture.


I bet you met your boyfriend on


Ms. Hagan, your eyebrow game is weak.


Student: Is your sweater soft? 
Me: Yeah. 
Student: It reminds me of a washcloth.


I'm like a fish who fell out of the water 10 days ago.


They let angels teach Algebra 2?


Can we watch exorcism videos on youtube if we get done with our assignment early?


My hair isn't nappy. It's hot.


Ms. Hagan, I had to get up at 10:30 to help catch some cats. It made me think of you.


Australia has a queen?!?


Student 1: You don't look like the person who would own a duck.
Student 2: Yeah, you look like a rabbit person.


Me: Put away all your phones and ouija boards.


You have cat earrings on. I'm silently judging you, cat lady.


Student 1: Your hair looks great.
Student 2: I feel like I got tasered, so I don't really care.


[Student] is a bad word.


Can I give up? Never mind. I'll use some of the strategies I've learned.


I'm keeping my notebook forever. I'm going to put it in my hope chest.


Student: You should download the aa app.  It's so addictive. 
Me: I don't need any more addictions in my life.
Student: What else are you addicted to?
Another Student: Cats.


Student 1: You need to have a baby. It will help mellow you out.
Student 2: I feel like if Ms. Hagan was pregnant, she would be super crazy and kill us all.


I worked really hard to get these wrong answers, okay?


I don't know where to buy one. I've looked at Vera Bradley. I've looked at all the rich people stores.


What if someone got married on Pi Day and their cake had 3.14 tiers. Wouldn't that be cool?