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Alg2 Lesson next week

1 September, 2014 (12:23) | APStats | By: Glenn

Sometimes the internet is your savior and sometimes your timesink, but when reading @Cheesemonkey’s material, it  is always golden delicious bits of luscious learning.

Take, for example, her post on Transformations in Precalc. It is a fabulous exercise, and I am going to do it this week. I was talking with my fellow teacher in Alg 2 Honors last week that the way to write translations is using function notation, and this exercise has everything wrapped up into a foil package of wonderfulness.

But…. I am really … particular… about how I write things, and I cannot just use her files. They are hand written and scanned, and that is not as nice as typed and printed.

So, I remade them. Here is the Word DocX and the PDF of her 36 transformations. I have included her instructions and link to the blog post in the file so that full attribution will always go to Elizabeth.

Thank you Elizabeth! I will let everyone know how it goes next week. EEK! Tomorrow!


edited same day

Due to some further delicious efforts by Meg Craig (@mathymeg07) we have Day 2 of the speed dating sheets up!

Speed-Dating-Cards Day 2 DocX format

Speed-Dating-Cards Day 2 PDF format

My learners taught me today

28 August, 2014 (19:27) | Alg 2, APStats | By: Glenn

Algebra 2:


My learners blow my mind. I assigned my Honors Algebra 2 learners to write their name.

Seriously, all they had to do was write their first name.

In Desmos. With functions.

Heh, I am evil, right? It gets worse. They had just taken a quiz, so we only had about 10 minutes left in class. I showed them how to create an account on Desmos to save their work. I showed them how to type in a function. I showed them my name in Desmos. And then I showed them that if they scrolled down on the main Desmos page, they would see, well, they would see some amazing art created by learners like themselves.

That is it. That is all the prep, instruction, training, or anything else you want to call it, that I gave them. They had to take this bare bones instruction, write your name, and run with it. I never showed them circles, ellipses, or any other function. They learned it all themselves. Here are samples of what was shared with me:

skylar24 cloe10

Skylar = 24 functions, Chloe = 10 functions


janine35 gentry17


Janine = 35 functions and Gentry = 17 functions

Pretty representative. I did not say they had to use any special functions, just write your name. And I want to point out, I never showed them translations. They figured that out themselves by working with Desmos for ONE SINGLE DAY! Nice.

Then I started looking at the functions each person used. I noticed something very interesting that Chloe did. She only used 10 functions, but the “e” was especially interesting. You see, she did BOTH a domain restriction AND a range restriction on the same function.


See what she did there? Mind Blown. I am still stunned by the creativity she used with Desmos. When I asked her why she did both her answer was, “I was just trying stuff until it worked and looked the way I wanted it.” Genius. Necessity is the mother of invention.

Anyway, we finished up by rocking translations. They already had the main part of translations down because they played with Desmos. That was awesome. They are still trying to make things complicated, but I am almost finished breaking them of the assumption things have to be difficult.


AP Stats

I am short 40 books so far this year, so I need to do things to get my learners doing problems without the book. One way to do that is Relay Cards. This is how I play the game. I hand out problem 1. Everyone gets the same problem, so they can discuss it, but they have to write their own.  I use a magnet to hang the answer I previously made on the board. The learners can come up and read the key after they have tried it. Their answer must be the same as my key in meaning, not in words (usually. Sometimes it has to be exact, as in the probability section.)

Once card one is done, they come to me for card 2, and so on.

Having the key on the board keeps me free to answer questions and help while I hand out the new problems and double check the accuracy of the previous.

I just finished a set for Experimental Design.  I have other sets (created by Shelli Temple (@druinok) almost completely).

03 Relay Cards for Conditional Marginal Probabilities

Ch 6 – Relay Cards - normal models

These are a great way to get the learners talking about the stats, writing and working with stats, and the teacher does nothing but help, coach, and assist learners learn.

I like this activity greatly.

My learners figured it out

27 August, 2014 (20:49) | Personal | By: Glenn

Some of my AP Stats learners figured out why I have been high fiving them every time they enter my room. I showed some videos about the placebo effect today, and a couple at the end of class commented on the fact that the high five is kind of like a placebo, because high fives are given for great things, and I do it on entering so it changes their mindset.

They got me. I hope they don’t spread that around, it would start ruining all my tricks.

Nothing spectacular today in class, just finishing some notes on experimental design, blocking, placebo effect and lurking variables. In Alg 2, I gave them a quiz that had them really thinking. They had to graph the 8 parent functions, and then also tell me which ones had all positive y values. Which ones were always increasing, or had a vertex at (0,0).

Some had only one answer, some had 6 or 7 answers, so they had to really think about the words and connect the meanings with the big picture of each parent function.

Great thinking type of quiz. I am excited to grade them.


Finally, you know all those AP learners in Stats who ask, “Well, what if it is not normal?” or “why are we assuming that, couldn’t it be wrong?” Yea, I love the too. I learned the answer today in my Non-Parametric Statistics class. You handle them by doing non-parametric tests on them instead of parametric tests (t test, z test, etc).

DOH! Of course. I am excited by this class. Lots of great extension to the Stats content while not being too much work. Unlike the Qualitative Statistics course. That is going to be a ton of work. Oh well, I signed up for it knowing it would not be all fun and games. No reason to complain now.

AP Stats – Better learning this year

26 August, 2014 (17:20) | APStats, Success YES! | By: Glenn


I have done some things differently this year in AP Stats that have paid off tremendously. I realized it today when I put up a Barron’s flashcard as a warmup and although almost everyone got it wrong, everyone in the entire class could describe the graphs correctly.

2014-08-26 17.07.09

The words; uniform, symmetric, bimodal, unimodal, skewed left, and skewed right rolled off everyone’s tongue correctly with no hesitation at all. They did not have the concept of mean=median, mean>median or mean<median attached to the pictures, but the could and did describe the pictures correctly.  I wrote the words on the board underneath each one of the pictures AND then we discussed how the mean/median relationship would play out. The idea of mean = median because symmetry was an easy one, and once they understood that the mean moved but the median didn’t the answer popped off the board. [note: Simply replacing "less than" with "left of" was an obvious gimme for hold outs. There were also lots of "aha's" for why the skewed left and right are named as such.]


Why this year and not last year? That is one thing I was wondering about, that is I was wondering about it until I saw someone pull out their summer assignment and use it to help. The emphasis on vocab and front loading the vocab into the summer has made a huge difference in my learners competency and fluency with the words. Now I am just connecting the stats with the words, not teaching all of the words!

This also means I can take a few extra days now in the experiments/ survey stage because I don’t have to teach some things later. That will make a huge difference I think. The learners are, as a group, much more fluid and comfortable with the vocabulary. I think next year I may play with the list and add in more experimentation / survey words and fewer words used later in the year, but that is only to make the first couple of weeks of class easier.

Either way, this has been a very successful first couple of weeks. I will see how the quiz scores play out, but so far so good.

Quiz-Quiz Trade in Stats

25 August, 2014 (15:01) | APStats, Lesson idea | By: Glenn

Vocab is killer in stats class. If there was one single thing that determines success or failure in stats class it is mastery of the vocabulary. I am really trying to make that a smoother transition, and I think so far it has been successful.

One new thing I tried is Shelli Temple’s (@druinok) Quiz-Quiz Trade exercise.

They are 32 flash cards with a sampling situation on the front and the answer on the back. Nothing truly spectacular in difficulty setting up, but really, how much of what we do is super complicated.

I gave one class about 30 minutes to do in class, and the others 15, but all of them had great questions about why this was cluster, but that was stratified, etc.

On the quiz they are getting, the question I am most looking forward to the answers is: “Explain the difference between cluster and stratified sampling.” I hope this helps them see the differences in a sharper, more focused way.

And then there is tonight. This is a short post because of tonight.

I leave school in 15 minutes for UNR, where at 4:00 pm I have my first grad school class to begin my Ph.D. process. I am a little nervous, but a LOT excited.

I am not clear in my mind if I am going to use this blog as a platform for reflecting on my studies, or if I should keep them separate and start a new one.

Any guidance from the readers? All 2 of you? :)

Anyway, off to a class in Qualitative Research in Education.

Changing me, changing my teaching

22 August, 2014 (16:58) | Personal | By: Glenn

Wow, it was a GREAT way to end the week. I bought a new framed art piece last night at Ross.

2014-08-22 07.13.23

This corner is absolutely becoming a favorite of mine. I had several learners today tell me they really like it. I can honestly say that eight years ago when  I started teaching I would have never even thought of hanging something like this in my room. Never.

Today, I look at it and realize that without those types of rules, especially the ones like “Say You’re Sorry & Accept Apologies,” “Remember to Laugh” and “Love Each Other” you can’t achieve things like “Try New Things”, “Do Your Best” or, most importantly, “Never Give Up.” The first few years of my teaching were solely about the content, but now I have gotten it through my thick skull that what makes the content actually work, stick, or learnable is the humor, friendliness, and personality that goes into teaching it.

I think I am a better teacher than I was 8 years ago when I started, but most importantly, I think I am a better person because of the realization of how to be a better teacher.

AP Stats:

Today was a little tough. We needed to get through vocab on defining what experiments are. It was tough, and I stopped 1/2 way through. This morning was Senior Sunrise, so my seniors were checked out. They were tired and not focusing.

So, I did some vocab, got through some concepts, and handed out flashcards for Sampling methods and did a quiz-quiz trade and told them there was a quiz on it next class.

No sense brutalizing them with vocab when they had limited sleep. Make it up next week.

Algebra 2:

Still working on parent functions. I think I am also going to give them a Desmos assignment of making their name with equations and domain and range restrictions. The struggle with domain and range is hard, but a half hour playing with Desmos usually solves that.

Thank goodness!

We ended the week with a School Wide Ice Bucket Challenge! Yup, probably 3/4 of the staff on the football field with learners dumping ice water on the teachers, admins, counselors, and custodians. It was pretty cool. We raised a ton of money. The count is not in, but it was school wide, so very well worth it. We also had someone in the school family diagnosed with ALS this year. It was personal. I will link to that video later when we get it posted.

A busy day

21 August, 2014 (21:31) | APStats, Personal | By: Glenn

Some days are great because of keeping busy and the flow, and some days are just busy. Today was a great day. However, the first time I have sat down and had a chance to write is now, at 8:30pm. Whew.

AP Stats

Today was a “C Day” on our block schedule, which means I had all 3 of my AP Stats classes back to back to back. What a great day. We discussed the 4 types of bias, and then worked on stratified, cluster and simple random sampling via the “Rolling on the River” exercise. [Regular formatting and formatted for INB files.]

I like doing the Jelly Blubbers (last post) and Rolling on the River back to back. It is vital to have a wrap up and discuss what is different and what is the same, otherwise the learners can just get that there are different ways to do a cluster, and than one is always better. I challenge the learners to really think and reflect on the similarities between the two, and why did a cluster sample work out better in one case, but a stratified works better in the other.

Want to know the bad part? I took pictures of the data we created and didn’t save them somehow. I have lost the work. I asked the class to take pictures, so I know they have it. I lost it though. Boo.

[edit: I snagged one image from a learner. Yay]

2014-08-21 I asked the learners to make a boxplot with the data. I just want to see what they know.

Tomorrow I will wrap up the survey section with some questioning and see what they have learned so far. I really want to magically find 40 textbooks. I am short over 1 class of books to check them out. Very frustrating.

UNR Grad School

I ran from the last class to UNR for Graduate Student Orientation. No prep for me. Orientation was interesting, useful and informative. I was shocked, and I mean floored, that the University staff had never heard of though. The Title IX director did a 45 minute long session on sexual harassment (as in what to watch out for and not do it, not instructions for doing) and after telling all the TA’s to be careful about texting their students I suggested as a good alternative. She had never even heard of it.


Anyway, I start classes on a Ph.D. on Monday. That will bring up a whole new reason to blog and content to blog about. I wonder what is the best way to do that. Should I start a new blog? Just a new tag? Not sure. Anyway, I went from UNR directly to a local elementary school.

Elementary School

I met with the principle of a middle school and together we provided a unified front to let the ES parents know that the HS, MS and ES teachers are one team to help their learners succeed. It was the first time that we have done this, and I am hoping it made a difference in how the parents think about the different levels of school their learners will go through. I am really proud of how much collaboration we have between the levels. In fact, this year we set up a shared dropbox folder so all the Algebra 1 teachers in both of our feeder MS’s and the high school can share resources.

How cool is that!

Anyway, it was a terribly busy day. I look forward to tomorrow. I have 2 sections of AP Stats & Alg 2 honors tomorrow, followed up by the entire teaching staff doing the Ice Challenge after school.

Another busy day, but entirely fun.

Starting class positive

20 August, 2014 (17:01) | Alg 2, APStats | By: Glenn


Every single day since the beginning of school I have stood at my door and high-fived every single learner who has walked into my room. No joke. If I miss one because I was talking to someone, I go back and find them. Well, all except for one learner who gave me a funny look and said “no”. She has told me “no” every day since the beginning of school. That is okay. She told me today there is a chance I might earn a high five from her; just a chance. That will be a good day when that happens. I am looking forward to it.

Why do I do it? Last year I did it for a week to one class. One day I didn’t. I heard from several learners that they felt I had let them down because I didn’t give them that five.

I really want to make my class special. They should NOT walk into my classroom like they walk into everyone else’s room. Coming into my room should be something special, something unique, and something to be looked forward to, not despite the fact it is math, but BECAUSE it is math. High fives are one way I can make that happen.

AP Stats

I was asked on the twitters what I do for warmups in Stats. I use the Barron’s MC AP Flashcards as my warmup. Everyday the learners come in and there is a question on the board. I use my Elmo to project it, all large and in charge, and they have to come up with a solution.

One idea I stress is that these ARE the MC questions review for the AP exam. From Day 2 of the year, we ARE prepping for the AP exam and they need to focus like a laser on these question. Every learner must commit to an answer, every learner must decide why it is that answer and be able to defend and convince. It has worked well for me. They take it seriously, we have discussions about strategy on questions they don’t know, and we construct knowledge using them. I am happy with that.

Algebra 2

We are doing parent functions right now. But not in any way most people do, I think. Every function we go through this page and answer all the questions, even the ones that have no answer.

functions the Word file is also available.

We are going through all the parent functions and detailing all the info. Then, after that, we will extend the understanding and go deeper with this document:

By the time they go through and can do all of this for every function on my wall, they are golden in almost all the algebra they need.

This connection between topics, is crucial, and I am excited to start doing some modeling with them. I will have the time because of the time I get back later.

AP Stats sampling vocab

19 August, 2014 (17:06) | Alg 2, APStats | By: Glenn

Want to watch an ap stats classes eyes glaze over? Start talking to them about stratified vs. cluster vs simple random sample vs judgement sampling.

sleeping learner photo via

Really. Pull the powerpoint from the book, throw it on the screen, and watch the light dim from their eyes.

I didn’t do that. …. This year. I didn’t do it last year either, but I was not totally successful in this endeavor. Last year I did some activities AND showed the powerpoint. Not this year at all.

Last week on Thursday and Friday I showed the powerpoint I created that had the theory, the background and the why we are learning the vocab, then they looked up the words themselves.

Today we did the Jelly Blubbers activity. Jelly Blubbers teacher handout and the Learner Notes and a  Stratified Blubber Colony stratified blubber page I don’t hand out.

2014-08-19 14.36.45 2014-08-19 14.36.51 2014-08-19 14.36.57 2014-08-19 14.37.04

It drove the point home that judgment sampling is wrong because it creates bias, and that for certain things, stratified is terrific! We had a short discussion of why we need different ways to do the sampling, and what benefits are achieved by sampling.

This was the progression and order we did it in. The bias in the judgement sample is clear. They really liked the larger blubbers over the smaller ones.

All in all, it was a great day in AP Stats.

Algebra 2 was more … difficult.

There is a lot of vocab to go through, ie. Domain, Range, function notation, set notation and interval notation, etc etc etc.

We spent the entire period learning those. I really feel like it was not successful, HOWEVER, they were involved and active in the discussion about what the different ways of representing domain, range and the other ideas were. I think they learned useful things today, it just was not as an active day as I would want.

I will work on that tomorrow.

AP Stats vocab

18 August, 2014 (16:45) | APStats | By: Glenn

2014-08-18 09.38.58 2014-08-18 09.42.52

These two pages are representative of the MASSIVE vocab we are wading through in my AP Stats class today. I snapped a couple of pics as I was walking the classroom answering questions. It was a successful day, I think. …. Maybe.

I finalized a diagram I had in my head and that I have drawn by hand several times over the last couple of years.

statscycle Stats is about taking the population, extracting a sample correctly, and constructing an appropriate, useful model.

That reminds me of a quote I read today:


Anyway, I took the learners through my short ppt on the theory behind the journey we are starting. After that, they had to start looking up the vocab in the textbook and start developing the definitions for the 8 types of sampling, the 4 types of bias, and the other vocab associated with sampling.

Next up, the sharing of the vocab they found (which will all be the same, they all figured out how to use the book quickly). I will do that quickly, answer questions, and immediately move to “On the River” exercise. More on that later.

My Learners:

I was really struck today by the different ways the classes jumped into this exercise. Period 2 was very helpful to each other. They started discussing the vocab right away and were very animated. By contrast, Period 3 was silent. I don’t mean they whispered. I mean they were absolutely silent. It really freaked me out. I just wandered around and it took about 20 minutes before they started asking questions. That was highly odd.

By contrast, my 5th period had a table that not only was really thinking, but they determined what stratified sampling was without consulting the book. They asked me if it was legitimate to sample via strata (although they did not use that vocab, it was exactly their question.)

The level of their thinking really impressed me. It was the first day of week 2, and they are naturally coming up with the ideas of  stats on their own. Pretty cool.