Aug 162016
 

I took yesterday off of blogging because of being overwhelmed with todo lists for work. Fixed that. Yay! So, another #BlAugust post for me.

MTBOSBlaugust2016

OMG! I also earned a “Star of the Week” from Meg Craig for this post! Wow. That is an honor coming from her. She also made a shortlink for the page: bit.ly/mtbosresources. I guess I better keep it updated!

 

Stars of The Week

Okay, on to the post.

I attended a board meeting of the local math group last night. Some of the most amazing educators in my region (not just my county), and it is a pleasure to work with all of them again. I am on the board as the Higher Ed Representative, which is a good fit.

During the course of the meeting, a call was put out by a member for resources, activities, and other things for the newsletter. Of course, I volunteered a list of 5 or so things off the top of my head from the MTBoS. There was concern about the amount of time it would take to “find” these resources, so I volunteered fix that.

This collection of #MTBoS resources is here so I can find it easily in the future and to provide a page where other teachers can be directed.

First off, what is the #MTBoS? The hashtag stands for Math Twitter Blog o’Sphere. Dan Meyer has an interesting take on the MTBoS.

Sites that are ‘organizational’ in nature:

These sites try to organize or provide structure to the #MTBoS in some way.

Exploring the MTBoS: A site created by math teachers to help organize, explain, and yes, explore the MTBoS.

Welcome to the MTBoS: A site created to welcome teachers new to the MTBoS. It gives them support, some guidance, as well as helps them find some good tweeps (Twitter peeps) to follow and get to know.

A dedicated MTBoS search engine: Have you ever wanted a lesson on XXX, but googled it and came up with a bunch of crap? This search engine searches only math teacher blogs, K-12, and will pull up lessons that are tried and tested. If the lesson sucked, the blog post will tell you that, and how to improve it.

TwitterMathCamp: An annual conference that meets in July to connect teachers. It is PD for teachers, by teachers. It also has an archive of blog posts from every year. In addition there is a wiki of sessions, My Favorites, and Keynotes.

The MTBoS Directory: This site lists teachers who are self-identified as members of the #MTBoS. Want to join? Just submit your name. That is all it takes. It has a map of members to help you find local math teachers, as well as multiple ways to sort and select people.

The hashtag #MTBoS on Twitter: Ask a question relating to math or math teaching using the hashtag, you will get an answer.

A Facebook MTBoS group: Another way to connect with math educators

A Padlet of “High Fives” for others in the #MTBoS created by Sam Shah. He is amazing. The “High Five” is relevant because of the speech I gave at TMC15.

A Chat list of Educational Chats: They list themselves as “official” but of course there is no such thing. It is rather comprehensive, and although the chats change times each year, it is pretty complete and accurate.

A MTBoS LiveBinder: This binder collects and organizes resources for the MTBoS. There are a lot of different links in this binder.

Resources / Activities created by the MTBoS (many are crowd sourced, submit your questions too!)

  • Global Math Department: Every Tuesday evening, a presentation by a different math educator on a relevant topic.
  • Daily Desmos: Different Demos challenges every day. 6-12
  • teacher.desmos.com: Yes, Desmos is a company, not a person. However, they are an active member of the MTBoS!
  • Estimation 180: Andrew Stadel’s site with different estimation challenges for each day of the year. K-12
  • Visual Patterns: Fawn Nguyen’s site with different visual patterns, challenging learners to create the equation / expression for it. K-12
  • Math Talks: Fawn Nguyen also curates this site which prompts to get your learners talking math. K-12
  • Which One Doesn’t Belong: Mary Bourassa’s site that poses the age old question. K-12
  • Math Munch: Justin Lanier’s site that has lots of fun, engaging lessons. K-12
  • Would You Rather? John Stevens asks the simple question, would you rather have this, or that? Justify with math. 6-12
  • Fraction Talks: A great visual way to get learners talking about fractions. K-12
  • Collaborative Mathematics: Poses questions to get learners engaged with each other about math. K-12
  • Open Middle: Robert Kaplinksy created this site to collect open middle questions. K-12
  • Math Mistakes: Michael Pershan is fascinated by what teachers can learn by looking at mistakes. K-12
  • Talking Math with your Kids: Christopher Danielson’s passion for doing math with little ones is celebrated. K-6
  • Math Arguments: The Math Curmudgeon curates problems to create math arguments in your classroom. 7-12

Teacher resources (not for learners necessarily)

And this is before we get into lessons from:

Bit.ly links created to archive and store awesome lessons.

  • bit.ly/desmosbank – Managed by Jedidiah Butler, a way to store all the awesome things created by teachers around the world with Desmos. Add yours too!
  • bit.ly/cardsortbank – Created at the Descon16 by Julie Reulbach to keep track of the amazing Card Sorts her group was creating. Add yours too!
  • bit.ly/mtbosresources (this page so I don’t forget it!)

These are just a few of my favorites.  For more activities, teacher created materials, sites, and just all around engaging stuff go to the Welcome to the MTBoS site. http://mathtwitterblogosphere.weebly.com/cool-things-weve-done-together.html

I hope this helps. Now that I have it typed up, I am passing it along to teachers in my region for sharing as well.

Have a wonderful day!

Edited: 17 Aug 2016

Edited 22 Aug 2016

May 282016
 

I have been searching for a bulletproof, simple, and efficient backup solution for my PC for about two years now. I have tried several different tools, online versions, software versions, and nothing really worked for me. Maybe I was too picky. More like too lazy, really.

image of safe

First off, my requirements:

I have read repeatedly about the 3-2-1 policy of backups. Backblaze has a good explanation of it. 3 copies, 2 onsite in different devices, 1 offsite for security.

I believe this is a minimum backup requirement, and everything I do is to attain it. However, attaining it is a pain in the rear, which is why so few people really do it, I believe. It has taken me about two years before I found something really simple and easy that allows me to reach this goal.

I have two networked hard drives on my desk. One is a 4 terabyte drive, and the other is an older 500 GB drive. The 4 TB is the main drive, and the older one is a redundant backup.

I also have a 128 GB micro SD card in my Surface Pro. Finally, I have two 80 GB iPod Classics.

I require the software to be single purchase, and less than $30.00. That is the limit I placed on the purchasing. I do not want to pay monthly for backups, because I believe it will be a continuous expense over the PhD process and beyond. I also use Dropbox, (and have 76 GB of free storage on it) so I do not need a cloud service backup.

After using CrashPlan, and about 10 other softwares for a couple of months at a time, I have finally found a backup solution that works for my lazy self.

I purchased BVCKUP 2.  Cost for home use is $19.95. Here is why I purchased it.

It’s backups are not encrypted, just simply backed up. The software is TINY! I mean really small. It sits in the system tray, monitoring the computer, and does incremental (delta) backups on my schedule. Currently I have it backing up every 2 hours to the 4 TB drive.

It saves deleted files in a “deleted files” folder. This way, when a file is deleted, it removes it from the folder on the backup, but does not delete it.

Once a week (currently Saturday mornings) it backs up from the 4 TB drive to the 500GB drive.

Finally, the 128 GB micro SD card in the computer has second by second backups. The reason I am not relying on it at all, is that this chip is with my computer. It is encrypted, with my computer. If my Surface is stolen, the chip and the computer are useless because my password is brutal. If my computer breaks, I have it as a backup. However, the category of “stolen” negates this as a reliable backup system.

Last but not least, I have the two 80 GB iPods. These work fabulously as external hard drives. I reformatted them, and use them as backups. I backup to them and take it to work with me. One is always at work, one is in my bag. I swap them out at work.

Finally, I do nothing once this is set up. BVCKUP monitors the computer looking for the drives and the time. Bvckup recognizes when one of the iPods is plugged in and does the backup then and there. It is fast and small enough that there is virtually no hit to using the computer. I don’t notice it at all.

All I have to do is plug in the iPod, and Bvckup does its thing.

I turn on the 500 GB hard drive once a week. Bvckup recognizes it is on, and backups the 4 TB drive immediately.

I spent 15 minutes setting up the program, and now I do nothing but plug the drives in. I have complete peace of mind for all of my PhD files, my teaching files, my program’s files, the grants I am writing, the articles I am writing, etc.

I can break my computer over my knee, it could be stolen tomorrow, and I can have 100% of my files replaced on a new computer in less than an hour after getting home.

This is pretty powerful, and I thought that peace of mind is worth writing about. After two years of working on coursework for the PhD and knowing all along that I could lose everything if I wasn’t careful, I no longer have to worry.

Try it. I think you will like it too. It is completely free for two weeks, no strings attached. That is what sold me, to be honest. After two weeks with dead simple backups, I realized that one little worry was taken off my shoulders.

That is worth $19.95.

 Posted by at 9:05 pm  Tagged with:
Sep 062015
 

In my Feedly this morning popped up the article by Larry Ferlazzo called, “Disappointing NY Times Article On Teachers & ‘A Sharing Economy’.” Okay, let me be more blunt. I am not disappointed in the NYT, I am frustrated and a little ticked off. It stems from this article in the NYT: A Sharing Economy where Teachers Win by Natasha Singer.

Read the article. I call foul AND shenanigans. How much did TeachersPayTeachers pay for this fluff piece that was nothing more than an advertisement for teachers selling out other teachers.

youblewit

Maybe it is because I am active and love the #MTBoS (that is the MathTwitterBlogo’Sphere, if you are not familiar with it.) I embrace the sharing, the collaboration and the freely giving of resources that the math teachers do on Twitter, their blogs and the internet in general.

The article should have been titled, “A sharing economy where teachers win, but collaboration dies.” Sure, some teacher just made $1000 by selling her lesson plans to a 1000 different teachers for a buck. She won, but collaboration died. Is she seeking feedback from people who have used her lessons? Is she improving them by discussing and talking about how others have used them? Probably not. It is in a store, and people are buying it. There is no reason or need to improve it.

Meanwhile, in the #MTBoS, teachers are making, sharing, improving and resharing lessons all the time. They are coming together to make better lessons. And then, they talk about these lessons, which spawn more, better lessons. This is a collaborative community where ALL teachers win, and more importantly, our learners win. And our learners continue to win. Over and over again.

Seriously, look at the amount of resources freely created and given away.

First up, websites created by teachers collaborating:

  • Let’s start with the MTBoS Directory. No one claims this is an exhaustive list. It requires teachers to add their names to it, but there are currently 344 teachers in the list, all with an online presence, and all sharing things.
  • Nixthetricks.com – created by Tina Cardone and teachers all over the #MTBoS who contributed tricks. You can download the most excellent book for free.
  • Fawn Nguyen’s Visual Patterns and Math Talks. Both are excellent sites. I have used the Visual Patterns site frequently in my high school classroom, and am working on learning more about Math Talks and implementing them in the college classroom where I am now.
  • Would you Rather Math is a site I used regularly in my teaching as well. Great questions, created by and curated by John Stevens.
  • Michael Pershan’s Math Mistakes. See an interesting math mistake? Submit it to this site and have a discussion on the thinking the learner made while making the mistake. We can learn more from mistakes than we can from correct work.
  • Dan Meyer’s Google spreadsheet of 3 Acts lessons. More on this to come. I am working on an idea taking shape out of my current position as a Master Teacher with a UTeach model school.
  • Mary Bourassa’s Which One Doesn’t Belong. So Mary saw Christopher Danielson’s great shapes idea, and realized that there was some amazing math thinking that could be done. BOOM, another collaborative website created.
  • Open Middle Dan Meyer introduced the idea, Nanette Johnson, Robert Kaplinsky and Bryan Anderson ran with and created the platform.
  • Desmos Activity Bank A site created by Jed Butler out of the need to share Desmos files, first showed at TMC15 at Harvey Mudd College.
  • MTBoS Activity Bank created by John Stevens (second time his name is on the list) to collect and curate some of the awesome materials created. Anyone can submit their own, and searching is easy.
  • The MTBoS Blog Search also created by John Stevens (I don’t think he sleeps). This site allows you search the blogs of a long list of math teachers for lessons, content, whatever you are looking for.
  • Robert Kaplinsky has a Problem Based Search Engine, to find those specialized lessons that are, you guessed it, problem based!
  • The Welcome to the MathTwitterBlogoSphere website has a further collection of collaborative efforts that includes some of the above but is even larger.

But that isn’t even all of it. There are teachers who are collecting curriculum, links or materials and sharing it all back out; lock, stock and barrel. These teachers have “Virtual Filing Cabinets” full of lessons that have been tried and tested, re-written and shared back out. Some call their pages VFC’s, some are just curated sites of materials.

And then there are great organizations giving away curriculum:

  • Illustrative Mathematics, free ever-more-complete curriculum that is CCSS aligned and incredibly high quality.
  • Shells Center/Mathematics Assessment Project, good as lessons, problems or assessments. I forget about this site until I am desperate, and then kick myself because it is just so good and thorough.
  • Mathalicious has free lessons and paid lessons. I have used them in class. They are worth paying for!
  • Igor Kokcharov has an international effort in APlusClick. Lots of great problems and lessons.

And this list is FAR from complete. It is what I pulled together in 15 minutes of thought. And this list does not even begin to talk about the 180 blogs

So, NY Times and Natasha Singer. You blew it. You didn’t show teachers winning, you showed teachers selling out. If you want to see winning teachers, click on any link above and read their sites.

The above are all winning teachers. TeachersPayTeachers is an example of teachers losing out on this kind of collaboration.

Jun 082015
 

My learners have been using Plot.ly for a week, and have asked me a ton of questions on how to do certain things with their data. I wanted to add details to my last post on Plot.ly v. JMP and tell you the decision I made regarding the issue. All of the questions I have below are actual questions / issues  my learners ran into using Plot.ly.

Issue 1. How to add % totals to the columns of data in a graph?

One group of learners had a beautiful graph made in Plot.ly. It was nice, communicated well, but had lots of information in it. They wanted to put the % of each column in the graph to make it more informative.

In other words, they had this ……….and wanted this. (the reason for the arrow in a sec)

graph1 graph2

Yes, these are JMP graphs. Why? Because after an hour of looking, I could not find a way to have Plot.ly do it. Their help is silent on this issue, and I looked through a whole bunch of graphs shared on their website and found not a single one to do that.

As far as JMP, it took two clicks. I can’t show the menu because it is a drop down and as I tried to screen cap, it went away. You click the red triangle I pointed to, hover over to “Histogram Options,” and click on “Show percents.” If you want to “Show counts,” you can do that too. One or both! Two clicks. This was incredibly simple to do in JMP, incredibly difficult in Plot.ly.

Issue 2: Chi-Square test

I already dealt with the fact that Plot.ly calls graphs that use categorical information histograms in my last post. This has caused so. much. confusion.

But now my learners are trying to do the statistics for their data and see if there are significant differences in their samples. They are trying to DO statistical inferences. If their data is quantitative, they can do a t-test easily. Well, they can do a two sample t-test easily. They cannot do a one sample t-test or a matched pair t-test. They cannot do a z-test in Plot.ly, and as it turns out, you cannot do a Chi-Square test in Plot.ly unless you already have the summary counts.

Really? I can do the “histogram” to get the counts, but I cannot import those counts into the table to do the Chi-square? It won’t count the instances of words to count them for the test?

For example, if the learners data looks like this:

data1  Plot.ly will do a histogram for it and tell me what percent or what counts there are for Gender and AP/Honors.

If I want a Chi-Square test for these two columns, the only way I could make it work was to look at the graph of counts, write down the information into a two-way table, and enter the counts as a matrix in the graphing calculator.

To do the same thing in JMP, we do the following steps:

1.  Go to Analyze, Fit y by x JMP1

 

2. Click on OK. That’s it. The output contains the following:

JMP2  A mosaic plot of the graph which is nothing more than a stacked bar chart, except the width of each column is proportional to the total number of things in the column.

Next, we get the contingency table. If I click the red triangle, I can choose other values to include or exclude from the table.

Finally, the Chi-Square test p-value.

That was around 6 clicks, instead of making the graph, counting from the graph and writing a table, and then inputting the table to the calculator.

Issue 3: separating data by a response

The group who was doing the AP/Honors and work in Issue 2 had another problem. They asked for GPA and the number of hours you worked. But they needed the mean GPA of only those in AP/Honors and those not in AP/Honors, as well as the number of hours worked.

Plot.ly will give us the total 1 variable stats for the column of hours worked, but it will not give it to us in two groups of Y/N based on type of classes taken. It will not do it.

Enter JMP. 6 clicks. Analyze, Distribution, put the variable where you want them, OK.

JMP5

That’s it. You get a 1 variable stats for those who are in AP/Honors, and a separate 1 variable stats for those not in AP/Honors. Doing a two sample t-test is simple and easy once this information is obtained. This is not information Plot.ly can give us.

Issue 4: Linear Regression t-test

Last issue, and then I will stop. I have several learners doing quantitative projects that lend themselves to linear regressions and linear regression t-tests.

Plot.ly makes beautiful scatterplots. You can adjust the axis, overlay the regression line, insert the equation into the graph, etc. They are pretty.

But, if you want a residual plot. No go. If you want to reinforce the statistics of y=a + bx. No go.

This is what it looks like in Plot.ly.

plotly1 You have y=mx + b from algebra, you cannot do residuals, and you CANNOT do a linreg t-test.

In JMP, it looks like this:

JMP4 5 clicks, Analyze, Fit Y by X, put the variables in the correct spots, and hit OK. Notice this is the exact same dialogue box you use for categorical data. JMP uses the same path for different types of data, but tells you in the bottom left corner HOW it will act on your data.

You get output that looks like this:

JMP3 If you want the residual plot, hit the red triangle next to “Linear Fit” and show residual plot. That easy.

Bottom line

Although I fully understand that every single complaint I have had with Plot.ly can be solved by learning the programming language and learning to program the software, I don’t think I can ask high school learners, in the last 4 weeks of class, to learn it so they can do a project on statistics. Honestly, I don’t want to take the time to learn the programming language of Plot.ly so that I can do it for them, either.

Plot.ly makes BEAUTIFUL graphs. It is a powerful platform to show connections between quantitative data sets. But, it does a so-so to bad job on statistics.

JMP makes graphs that may not be beautiful, but the statistics is primary to the operation of the program and makes doing the statistics easy. I think without some major changes to Plot.ly to work towards the statistics side instead of the data representation side I will go back to using JMP next year.

It was just too difficult to teach the way Plot.ly handles or mishandles the stats.

 

Jun 052015
 

Capture

I pushed my AP Stats learners to use Plot.ly this year for their projects instead of JMP as I have in previous years. I am not sure if I like it better or worse, but I definitely have some frustrations.

Let’s go through the good points first.

1. After the learners had their data in Excel, it was very easy to import the .xlsx file into plot.ly. The learners had to make some changes to the first row, but that is to be expected.

2. As long as the learners hit “save” then they did not have to worry about losing their project. I have had previous years where learners lost flash drives or computer files the week before the project is due and had to start from scratch with their hard copy. I appreciate the fact that plot.ly saves the data IF the learners hit save.

3. Once the plots are present, downloading or screen capturing the plots are easy and quick. My learners liked the ability to  quickly make many different plots and then examine them and decide what they plots were really meaning. Changing colors, counts to percents, and other elements of the graphs was easy, fast and very user friendly.

All in all, not too many downsides from the learner’s perspective.

Here are my frustrations with the program as we have been using Plot.ly.

1. Many of my learners did surveys that had categorical Yes, No or Freshmen, Sophomore, Junior Senior responses. After compiling their survey responses, their data looked similar to this:

data

What kind of graph would you make with this type of data? You are correct a bar chart. Bar charts are for categorical data, histograms are for quantitative. So, I do that.

badgraph Not it.  I struggle with this for three days, tweet them for help, more than 4 times, and nada. Zilch. Don’t hear anything back, and am ready to give up on Plot.ly. However, I notice they have a “contact us” in the lower right of the screen. I email them, and a very nice person responds the next day and with instructions on how to make a Histogram.

What. The. Hell. A histogram? I follow her instructions.

data2 (you get the “choose as G” by the “Group by” button) and get this:

goodgraph The y axis is in percent (which takes an extra step to get), clearly what I wanted, but it is not a histogram. I do have a problem with a “Statistics” program that calls a bar graph a histogram. The instructions to make it a stacked bar chart are easy to follow and find, I chose not to do it for this comparison.

2. Ordering the x-axis is a pain. Many of the questions my learners had dealt with the difference between freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors. Plot.ly ordered the x-axis based on the order of the data in the spreadsheet. Which means to reorder the x-axis we had to sort the data in excel, (but we don’t want them in alphabetical order?) and reupload.

Really Plot.ly? You don’t have a way to specify the order of the axis? I searched. Trust me I searched long and hard. I ended up just telling my learners to not worry about it.

As a comparison, this is what it looks like in JMP (version 8 is what I have).

jmpdata graphing a “fit y by x”

jmpgraph After hitting “OK”, look at all the stats automatically generated! Also, in the contingency plot (made by default btw) the width is proportional to how many in that column, so the widths AND heights are informative unlike Plot.ly. JMP also automatically generates axis by percent, not counts.

jmpsort Ordering the data is as simple as clicking on Value Ordering under column properties.

I guess what I am saying is that clearly Plot.ly is not meant to be used as I am using it in class. There are easier, faster, and more statistically correct software to use. I will have to figure out what to use for next year because I am not completely sold on Plot.ly, but JMP has to be installed on computers. There are always gives and takes to every decision.

edit:

And right after I posted this, one of my learners walks in tearing her hair out. She has a mixture of categorical and quantitative data, and Plot.ly will not graph the categorical data at all for her. The menu options work completely different for her than for everyone else. She is installing JMP and getting it done that way. Sigh.

Oct 222014
 

I just sent this email to my department today. The subject was “If you still assign drill and kill problems”.

I am posting the text of the email without comment. It was spurred by a conversation on Twitter with @DDmeyer and @JStevens009.

Text is below:

Good morning all,

Hate to be the bearer of unwelcome news this morning, but if you are not keeping up with the world of math technology, it is reaching a tipping point of changing what we do. Check out the site: https://photomath.net/ and think about what it means to our profession and our classrooms.

Only around 30% of all kids have iOS devices, but in 2015 when it hits Android and the entire market is open, nearly 100% of our learners will have access to this. For free.

Kuta worksheets? Textbook problems? This type of software will render this type of homework obsolete. Desmos and TI-calculators have nearly done so already.

We have talked about the purpose and need to rethink what homework is for, and the tipping point is rapidly approaching where we really need to make some changes to what and how we handle it.

We need to think deeply about how we can create an environment of learning both in and outside the classroom, because the technology is making outside the classroom a moot point unless we make some changes long term.

Sep 112014
 

Today was my quiet day, only two classes. But, I was busy all lunch upgrading my learners calculators!

2014-09-11 12.28.03  Yes, that is the pile I have done today at lunch. About 5 learners have already come in and picked their calculator up, thank goodness. I am a bit nervous having $1200 of calculators sitting on my shelf, especially when they are not mine!

This is one of the things that we don’t often realize takes up a ton of time. The learners don’t realize that these things have operating systems, and that the operating systems change from time to time. When learners are buying calcs on eBay (which I always encourage because TI=ripoff) the calcs often come with out of date OS’s and are lacking functions that truly make the calc useful.

For example, look at the following two prompts, both come directly off of the TI-84:

TI-84NEWvs.  TI-84OLD

 

Which one of these screens would you rather see when typing in information?  Me too. The left one is much more friendly.  I say at the beginning of my class, every day for the next two weeks, “You want me to make sure your calculator is updated. Please come see me.” We had a 2 minute discussion of what the current versions were the other day when we were talking calculators too.

I think this is the biggest change so far this year on the calculator front. Last year, I had 5% of my learners ask me to update their calcs. This year, I am up to around 40% already. That is worth it. I am really annoyed in May when someone says, “Yea, I knew there was something about updating, but I never bothered.” That person probably is not trying for a 5.

How to make this process easy? For the NSpires, have 2 4 port hubs with cables plugged in. This allows you to shove out updates to 8 similar calcs all at once using the Teacher Software.

For the TI-83 and 84’s you have to update one at a time, but it is fairly quick using TI-Connect.

Oh, and it helps if you have a directory that looks like this: calc directory

All the current OS update files, old update files (bcs the NSpire must be updated to 1.7 before you can take it to 3.9), 83, 84, 84C images, etc. I download all the new files when they update (2 times a year for the NSpires, really TI?)

What a pain in the butt. But it helps my learners.

—————-

AP Stats:

Not much happened today. It was a continuation of yesterday (same content, different period). Tomorrow is my 3 in a row stats day.  I am going to challenge them with some bad graphs and another short relay card race on contingency tables. Then, moving on to 1 variable quantitative stats. Yay!

Alg 2 Honors:

It was an AMAZEBALLS Day.  We did this exercise with one quadratic function. Just one. But the conversation we had was so amazing. I gave then one, factorable function in Vertex form. Then we started going to town. The “wow, look at the connection here” and “oh, I get it why it was this!” and “wow, this is all the same stuff!” was terrific.

The homework was to do one more.  The future of this looks like doing another one. Then, I will give one in standard form, and we will have to teach completing the square. And they will get one that has imaginary roots, and I will discuss imaginary numbers. This one page will get used 200 times throughout the year to deeply understand the functions and the connections between functions.

functionfun  File can be downloaded too.

And the day was awesome because I said about 20 words, and my learners said about 200. I am shooting for a 5% ratio tomorrow.

Aug 042014
 

2014-07-25 12.48.04

My Favorites are some of the best part of the TwitterMathCamp experience, and this year was no different. I know one favorite I had was walking into this building and seeing that even a public high school could afford to build a dedicated Science & Math Center!

But inside the building, we were offering our own My Favorites. I had one my favorite that I offered, which is a cheap (free) way to record your class so you can observe yourself.

Take an old smartphone and remove all the apps. It is best to use a phone that has a SD card, but if you can clean enough space off of an internal memory phone that works too. Once you have at least 4 gig free, then you have enough space to record 45 minutes of video at 720p or 30 minutes at 1080p. Ideally you would want at least 8 gigs so there is extra space.

Once you have this phone ready, you can use whatever you have on hand to construct your own stand. Lego’s work great, a coffee cup, or even a paperclip. Learners will freak out at a tripod and video camera set up in the back of the room (I know, take it from personal experience) while they will not even think of the phone sitting on a shelf recording them.

Two other My Favorites that were offered by others that I really liked are Plickers and a very interesting and annoying problem that has incredible extensions.

Plickers are “Paper Clickers” and it is genius. Using a cell phone or tablet with camera and the paper funky symbols you can poll the class on a question and have the responses immediately tracked and recorded. You can show the class results in bar graphs, and later can use the results for data tracking and demonstrating what you are doing for your admin. Great discussion and engagement in class and  data tracking for later. It is a win-win.

Finally is this problem. IT is tricky, fun, amazing, and all around a well designed problem.

triangles

What proportion of the triangles is shaded?

That is it, just find the shaded area. The solution has extensions all over the place and is a great problem to try and work through.

I hope you Enjoy!

Jul 302014
 

Ok, I am doing this quick post instead of the longer, more thoughtful #TMC14 posts. Sorry, but this is too interesting to let drop.

@JustinAion had an idea to turn your twitter feed into a Wordle to see what it says about what you use Twitter for.

Great! So I did it, and I wondered right away if there would be a significant difference between Twitter and my blog.

So….  [click to embiggen]

Wordle TwitterTwitter

Wordle blogblog

 

Hmm, What do you notice?  Yea, there are some super, immediate differences. I use Twitter to talk with people. Twitter is about reaching out, sharing and discussing. But now exclude the people, and what do you notice? I see the RT in the lower right. I do share what other people have said, fairly frequently. I also see the “Learners” in the upper left corner. I talk about my learners fairly regularly too. “Think” “School” “Stats” are also fairly common. Makes sense, I am a math teacher.

My blog on the other hand is not about people, unless it is about my learners. My blog is about geogebra (honestly, that surprises me), AP, Tags (that is the sharing resources that I find through Diigo) and lots of learning words: consistently, effort, favorite, questions, mindset, etc.

Is there something truly interesting here? Not sure. But it does show me that I personally use Twitter very differently than I use my blog, and when anyone now asks me why I use Twitter or why I blog, I have an answer.

Twitter (for me) is for reaching out to people and communicating with others.

Blogging (for me) is for collecting thoughts and sharing out resources.

I think that is the most valuable part of the exercise. I learned something very useful for me to use in communicating with other teachers about the technology.

Ok, ok, TMC14 posts are being worked on. I promise.

Jan 172014
 

[I really need to return to blogging. My lack of focus on reflection has hampered me this semester, and I need to fix that. To that end, I am making a commitment to blog and to jog. Those are the foci this year of the ellipse that is my world.]

Yea, how often does that happen that a class gets excited about logs? It has not happened to me in several years, but this year I found a way. We started the second semester with graphing again. We have a standard list of things we look for, identify, and document on every single graph. The list is:

Domain:

Range:

Asymptototes (vertical and / or slant):

Minimums:

Maximums:

Vertex:

Y-intercept:

X-intercept:

End state behavior:

Every graph we do, we have to document all of these items. If we graph a line, most of the list is “none” but it creates the connection between all the graphs. Every graph has the same questions, it is just that some of the graphs / functions do not have those features.

So, I am doing this file on Desmos, and we are documenting. They have done all these as homework, so really we are checking answers and ensuring learning. Then weird things happen. They notice the symmetry of the inverses.

Nice.

Then they ask to see the graph of the line of symmetry. Even nicer. THEN! OMG. We put the translation into the h-k form of the line, and we see the translation of the line of symmetry.  [Okay, seriously. If you are not using the h-k forms to make connections, why not. See This post, or This post or any other of the several posts I have on this topic.]

And then I graph the exponential. …. …. They know there must be an inverse, but nothing we have done in class looks like that. …. And then, because I have the list of all the h-k forms on the board, someone asks, “Is that what the log thingy is for?”

And now they have a reason to learn logs. They are intrigued by logs. They are asking questions about logs. Because EVERYTHING in math has a forwards and a backwards, addition has subtraction, squares have square roots, and exponentials have logarithms.

They are interested and inquisitive about a topic that normally is not approached this way. I have done something good I think. Only time will tell if I can continue that on this topic.