#myfavoritefriday ACT Math Question of the Day

Ok, so I have been blogging now for a few weeks and have decided to participate in #myfavoritefriday. I have loved seeing everyone’s post, so thought it would be fun to join in. I will admit, I have been a bit intimidated, so hopefully it will get easier.

Last year, I was committed during the second half of the school year to get my juniors prepared for the math part of the ACT. I wanted to do it as part of my bell ringers that are mandatory by my administration. I have found them to be very worthwhile for a few reasons. One is for ACT practice without taking more class time than just the beginning of class. I also use bell ringers to review prerequisite skills. I no longer teach Algebra I content in Algebra II honors/gifted courses. Same is true for PreCalculus.

As I was in search of ACT problems I could use in my class, I found a website, DCHS ACT Math Question of the Day. Since finding this website, I have emailed the owner of this site and he is so nice. He said I could use whatever helps students. I know it is nice to just look at. All of the problems, he has even broken down into what category it falls in. I would take screen captures to put into my Smart Notebook file.


Two Things Are Better Than One? (Blogger Initiative Week 2)

When looking at the blogger prompts for week 2 of the blogger initiative, I initially thought there was no way I would share anything. As I looked over the prompts more and more, I did realize there were two things I would like to share, if for nothing else, feedback on how to make them better. That is part of what I want to get out of doing this blog. Blogging is for me, it is going to be a reminder of things I have done and continue to do. It is a way for me to reflect on what I am doing as a teacher so I can get better. Hopefully, along the way, I will get input from others on how to do “it” better.

I read through some of the new bloggers with the NBI, and I saw a post, I Still Suck at Teaching (and how I am going to fix that). This year I have felt this way more than ever and with all of the changes in our state (Louisiana), I am not 100% sure how I am going to fix it this year, but I am working on it. This post struck me though that I need to be finding more investigative activities for my students to engage in, from Geometry through Calculus. I am the only gifted math teacher at my school and teach Geometry, Algebra II, Advanced Math, Pre Calculus, and Calculus. So, time is tough. But, I thought, I have nothing good to even share, I have to not “suck at teaching” and get it together!

Coming back to the prompt I decided on, it was important for me to find a few things I have put together myself to help my students with investigative practices or constructing their own reasoning. Yes, there are things in Algebra II that students just have to do more “rotely” such as simplify rational expressions. But, there are things that can be more investigative. That is what I am challenging myself with this year, finding those things and creating meaningful tasks for them.

When thinking through my documents, I remembered that I had created a hands-on approach to teaching piecewise functions. When I would stand up in front of the room and teach piecewise functions in PreCalculus, it seemed like it was just a mystery to most students. I would even say, “Imagine cutting the function off at the endpoints given to you.” Then, a few years ago, I thought, why don’t I have the students literally cut out the graphs. So, I created an investigation for piecewise functions. Most people are probably thinking, DUH! Why wouldn’t I have done this before now, but at least I have it now.

This is what I came up with:

View this document on Scribd

I realize it isn’t perfect, but it seems to work. After doing this, almost every one of my students understand how to graph piecewise functions.

I realized I had another project, which I am sure many of you do, but I still thought I would share it. It is my culminating project for PreCalculus. I have had many great projects through the years. I need to take pictures of my projects from last year. I check them by putting the functions into the N-Spire teacher software on my computer. This is what I give to the students:

View this document on Scribd

I know I have a ton to learn and hope to have things to share through the school year, so I “don’t suck” and work on getting better everyday!


First Day Activity – Take 2

The first two days of school are half days for us. I posted about the activity I did for my few 9th and 10th graders, but decided I need to change it a little. So, this is what I came up with – Day 2 for my juniors and seniors. 


ImageI have used www.pollseverywhere.com before in different things, but never in class. That is what I used for this activity and it worked really well. I do have the free version so it doesn’t tell who responded or the person who made the comment. There is a way to do that, but it does cost. 

Overall, I am glad I did this activity in my classes. I got some really good and honest answers. I will probably do this again year after year. 

First Day Activity – Tweeting?

So, after thinking for a long time, I came up with this:

So, I didn’t have a ton of kids today because most of my classes are juniors and seniors and they attend tomorrow. But, already, I know I am changing the thing they are tweeting about. I used www.pollseverywhere.com that students text in today. Just tonight, a colleague sent me about www.socrative.com and I think I am going to try that tomorrow. I am also going to have them “tweet” a goal they have for this school year in mathematics. I like the idea of doing a tweet because it does make them direct their thinking to be more direct in what the students say.

The quote I have is something I am talking a lot about in my class this year. I hope it is something my students understand as important. Basically it comes down to goal setting and reaching a goal throughout the year. This quote will be on my syllabi and we will be discussing it. But after today with the few kids I had, I realized I needed to change the quote or do something a little different. It did work nicely when students submitted their responses. So, we will see what changes comes tomorrow with me changing up my thought process.

It’s Official – I’m Whiteboarding! (Blog Challenge, Week 1, #3)

I decided to take the blog challenge and glad I did. I have been so busy getting my online class in order and getting ready for students to start on Monday, that I have had very little time to get started. So, this blog challenge is prompting me to get started.

I decided on prompt 3 that deals with implementing or changing something for this year. I have been reading different blogs about whiteboarding and it really stuck with me. In Louisiana, we are implementing a whole new evaluation system, Compass. It is using the Donaldson Teacher Evaluations as 50% of our “score” and standardized test scores and/or student learning targets for the other 50% of our “score”. With the observations, the observer is looking for more student led instruction. So, it has had me thinking all throughout the summer. Not only do we have compass, but of course, we have the CCSS and the mathematical practices. When looking at all of these things, Whiteboarding just seems to make sense.

I have secured my 24″ x 32″ whiteboards. My wonderful husband went and got them this morning. I have decided to use my colored ducktape to make a cute boarder around them. I am still trying to figure out how best to attach a marker and eraser. I also want to glue pom poms on the end of the markers for quick erasers. Any ideas on how to do this?

I have found through the years, students love doing problems on the whiteboards. When I got my SmartBoard 4 years ago, it took up a lot of the space the students would use to work on the board. It not only took up the space where the whiteboard was, but my desk was also moved up to the front corner, taking up some additional board space. I don’t think buy in will be the problem, but I want to make sure to have clear procedures for using the whiteboards. One of the components of our evaluation rubric is classroom procedures. I am trying to figure out how to make smooth transitions with the whiteboards.

In addition to the whiteboards, I have figured out Splashtop, an iPad app that is basically a wireless “slate” for the SmartBoard. It is a remote and has wonderful response time. So, I will probably have one group working the problem out on the SmartBoard using the iPad as other groups are whiteboarding. More than likely, I will freeze the SmartBoard so students can work.

Another strategy I want to use is Polls Everywhere for quick checks where students will text in their answers to questions.

I am looking for suggestions to create more student led experiences for my students, even in the Calculus class. I am excited to be Whiteboarding this year and excited to continue to read blog posts on how well it goes.

Getting Started

So, I am taking the blog challenge and going to start a math blog to reflect and keep a log of what I am doing in my classroom, successes and failures. I have been reading math blogs for some time now and thought I might have something to share now and then as they have shared with me. Of course, I don’t ever think I have anything as great or as cool as other people, but I figured through this, I could try some new things, get input on some things, and in general reflect on my teaching. So, here goes, pitoinfinity. I don’t know why that name really, but have always used it for emails, ebay user name and other things. So, here goes, my math blog. My husband is shaking his head as I type in complete disbelief that I would do this. He is also a teacher, but a late comer from the business world. It is interesting to say the least, especially being in Louisiana right now as a public school teacher.

That is it for now, I am excited for this new venture and see what comes out of this. Maybe nothing, maybe something, who knows?