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:

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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:

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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!