Friday, February 22, 2013

Synthetic Division Scavenger Hunt

I'm a big fan of scavenger hunts as a way to introduce and reinforce a concept!  I don't remember where I got this one from (if it was from you, let me know so can give you credit) but I'm going to use it when I introduce synthetic division in pre-cal on Monday.
Synthetic Division Scavenger Hunt

My Weekly Diigo Bookmarks (2/22/13)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Function Composition Relay

I've taught function composition in Algebra II and in Pre-Calculus, and my students ALWAYS seem to struggle with it.  I remember it actually bringing a girl to tears in one of my first years of teaching.  So this year I decided to try and try a more informal approach to introduce the concept in hopes that it would make something "click" for my students.

I printed this out and cut apart the functions.

Function Composition Relay

Each person in a group got a different function.  Then I wrote on the board the definitions of composition (f (g(x)) and g(f(x))) and explained that it was like a relay, with the inside handing off to the outside.  I started with an example of composition on a number: f(g(2)) and explained that this meant that g would take the 2 and do "its thing" to the 2, then hand off the result to f and then f would do "its thing" and get the final result.  I posted several more examples of composition on a number on the board, one at a time, and had them calculate the results in their group.  We even did composition of three and even four functions.  Then I asked them "What if I want to know a formula for the relay so that I don't have to actually do the relay in order to figure out how it turns out?  In other words, what if I want to find the composition on x?"  We then did f(g(x)) together.  They were able to do any combination of function composition I put on the board, including (with a little help) the f(g(h(j(x)) composition.  It went great!  I will definitely be teaching composition as a relay from now on.

I will say that my students still struggled to recognize the symbol for composition when it showed up on the test.  If I reminded them that it was the "relay" operation, they would go "oh, yeah!", so I'm going to have to give them some more independent practice with the notation next year....

Math = Love (The Outcome)

I posted earlier this week that my students would be making math-themed valentine's while I was out with a sick kid. It was such a fun surprise to return to work and find these waiting for me. The kids did a fabulous job, so I thought I'd post a few of my faves.

And here's one from a student who used every word on the list IN ORDER.  Very impressive!

My Weekly Diigo Bookmarks (2/15/13)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Last week we started our study of Polynomial Functions in Pre-Cal with a discussion of end behavior, followed up with this worksheet to check for understanding.  So now that we know what the ends of the graph are doing, we move to what happens in the middle, or what I call "the wiggle".  I think I'm going to use a combination of these two activities, but I'm not sure yet what order I'll do them in.  I'm thinking I'll use the first one to introduce the concept of zeros and multiplicity and then do the second one to reinforce.  I've taken a completely different approach to this topic this year - I haven't ever been happy with the way the book teaches polynomials - and I'm hoping that this approach will help my students see the "big picture" instead of just teaching them a bunch of seemingly unrelated topics and processes.

Math = Love

I've been out with a sick kiddo this week, and I hate just leaving boring old worksheets for my students to do with the sub, so I was excited when I saw this in my Twitter feed yesterday!  I retyped it to give some specific instructions to my students and to add a few Calculus specific vocabulary words to the list.  I talked with my sub (a former teacher and assistant principal who retired but still comes back to sub) and he felt comfortable letting the kids get a little creative today.  I can't wait to see what they come up with!  It'll be so much more fun to "grade" these when I get back than it would have been to have a worksheet waiting for me.
Math Valentines

Friday, February 8, 2013

My Weekly Diigo Bookmarks (2/8/13)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

End Behavior of Polynomial Functions

I got the idea for this activity here.  I'm starting polynomial functions in my pre-cal classes tomorrow and will be using this activity.
End Behavior Of Polynomial Functions Sorting Activity

I'll start with a basic introduction to vocabulary (degree, leading coefficient), then I'm going to give each group a copy of the first page to cut out and sort based on the degree and leading coefficient.  We'll then compare the end behavior of the graphs in each group to come up with the "rules" for polynomial end behavior.
To make sure everyone gets it, I'll have them stand up and use their arms to show me the end behavior of some of the equations shown on the second page.
I've also included the exit ticket I'll use to assess them for understanding.  The last page is something they can cut out and put in their "Stuff You Must Know" folder (my current version of an INB that will be upgraded to a full on INB next year).

Update: I'm also including my End Behavior Foldable for my INB

KISD Math Vertical Alignment Presentation

We made our presentation to our district's other elementary campus and it was phenomenal!  We remembered to record the presentation this time, so you can watch below!

Presented at Patterson Elementary on 2/6/13.  Presenters - Jennifer Cook and Shaheen Matuni.
Find a copy of the presentation here.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


I posted last week about a fun lesson I had planned for my classes.  I wanted to share a few of my favorite results!  Projects like this are so fun to do because they let you see the creative and funny side of your students.  I had some students who just kept making new memes because they were trying to make one that would make me laugh really hard.  A few of them were successful!