Saturday, August 12, 2017

My 10th First Day!

My goal this week was to publish my #SundayFunday blog BEFORE it was due. I'm all about making progress, you see...

Click the picture above to find out more info about the Sunday Funday weekly blogging challenge! It has definitely been a help to get me to start formalizing my ideas for the start of another school year - my 10th this year, actually!

This week, the prompt is about first day lesson plans. I meant to grab my planner from last year to see what I did, but luckily I have a Google Slides from Day 1 last year, so I can review what I did, and add to it the new ideas I have for this year.


  • "Mrs. Reycer, by the Numbers" - I got this idea from someone in the #MTBoS last year, and I loved it! I create a slide with some numbers - each one has a different meaning for me. Students can guess, and that can be fun...but I end up telling them lots about me using those numbers! I also end up using it on Back to School Night to introduce myself to families.
  • Name Tents from Sara Vanderwerf. I used these last year and LOVED them. It helped me learn about students right away and give feedback daily for a week. I have seen in others' plans that they may ask specific questions...I'm not sure how I'll prompt them just yet, but I know I'll be using them. 
  • Mental Math - I'll give two (not at the same time) multiplication problems to have students figure out in their head and I'll ask them to share how they figured out the answers. I'll compile those different methods on the board, getting as many as I can. I generally use this activity to talk about being flexible with numbers. 
  • What is PrBL? (For my Geometry Class) I'll talk briefly about how this class might be different from other math classes they have experienced. For the first week, I won't assign homework - I will be observing how they handle the problems in class together and getting them used to the different types of problems.
  • Exeter square problem (Taken from Math 2 - will use in my Geometry Class): "It isn't too hard to see that a square can be cut into four smaller squares. And, as the picture shows, it is also possible to divide a square into seventeen smaller squares. In addition to four and seventeen, what numbers of smaller squares are possible? The smaller squares can be of any size whatsoever, as long as they neatly fit together to form one large square."
  • Problem Set (will use instead of the two above bullet items for Algebra 2 Honors. And I haven't edited at all yet from last year...though I likely will) - Students will work in pairs or groups of 3 to complete the math problems. I'll circulate and help/ask questions and students will present those solutions on Day 2.
  • Exit Ticket: Have students write down a fact about them with a number (like my "Mrs. Reycer, by the numbers") and not share it with anyone but me. I'll turn this into a matching game that we'll do on Friday of the first week. As a ticket out, students will also comment on their Name Tents and turn them in.
  • Homework: What is Math? from Sara Vanderwerf
On Day 2 I will talk about What is Math? and What do mathematicians do? (from the link just above)

That's the plan for now! Some is the same as last year and some has been modified...and may still be modified once I read even more blogs about what everyone else is doing too! 





Sunday, August 6, 2017

Goals for 2017-2018

I generally set goals at the beginning of the school year, but the #SundayFunday blogging prompt has got me thinking about them a little early. (Consider joining me for #SundayFunday - a weekly blogging prompt where you can get inspiration!)



I have spent the past year really focusing in on creating a curriculum for Algebra 2 Honors as well as trying to make some significant changes to the way we use our Problem-Based curriculum in Geometry Honors. While curriculum is always important, this year my hope is to make small changes with that and instead focus on student relationships. All my goals are centered around that theme. (As a caveat, I feel like I do always spend time working on relationship building....I simply want to center my goals around that theme this year!)

Something I used to do, but that got pushed to the back burner last year was to write cards to all my students. I started with having a list of all my students and through the course of the school year I made sure to write cards to every person. I also included a lot of teachers/staff/faculty in my card-writing. I LOVE getting cards/letters from people. There is still something about hand written card (compared to an email) that makes me happy. I am reviving this again this year!

I want to be more obvious with language changes in my classroom this year. I followed along a conversation on Twitter during/after #TMC that I believe was started by something Glenn Waddell said and/or presented. I want to make sure when I address my students, they don't have to think about their gender. No more, "hey guys." I want it to be my goal to use non-gendered language when asking for the attention of the group (or even smaller groups).

My other language shift is inspired from Tracy Zager's book (Becoming the Math Teacher you Wish you'd had). When students use language calling problems "easy" or "hard," etc as they're doing them, that can shut down other students who might not think they're so easy. I haven't done a great job with shutting this down in the past, but I want to have open, honest conversations with my classes about using this language. I loved the conversation that transpired in the book. I'm hoping that by being transparent about my desire to stop using that language, that it will be easier for students to not use it or to correct themselves when it happens.

Lastly (though not the last change I will make...but the final goal I'm setting for now), I want to seriously rethink homework. The biggest shift in my thinking has actually come from becoming pregnant. I've been spending a lot of time thinking about the tiny human that is about to join our lives and what I want for him. The students at my school can be assigned 30-45 minutes of homework PER class, PER night. That is crazy. I really want these kids to also be kids. I want them to have time to have a meaningful conversation with their families. I want to make sure that if I'm assigning homework, it is necessary. It doesn't mean I'll never assign it again. I simply want to be more thoughtful about it.

That's all for now...I'm going to #pushsend because I definitely meant to blog this yesterday!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Sum and Difference of Cubes

We are about four days into our polynomials unit (Algebra 2 Honors) and want students to see that being given a polynomial in standard form is simply not as useful as having it in factored form. So, we're going to spend a day practicing factoring.

That said, they've never seen how to factor the sum and difference of cubes. And we didn't want to just TELL them. So, instead, we thought of a way to have them figure it out!

Follow the link here for the whole handout, titled "4. Factoring"

Overall, I think it's helping students to make connections! Thought I would share the resource!


Warm-up
1.     Given 4 is an x-intercept of f(x), what must be a factor of f(x)?



2.     A portion of the graph of a polynomial is below, what (if anything) do you know about…


a) the degree of the polynomial?



b) its end behavior?



c) its roots? Their multiplicity?





3.     Identify the end behavior and x-intercepts of

a.  h(x)=x(x+3)^3(2-x)                                             b)g(x)=-x^5 +4x^4-4x^3        






c)  f(x)=x^5-3x^4-x^3+3x^2







Almost all the polynomials we have explored so far have been in factored form, which is convenient as we can easily find the intercepts.  Sadly, polynomials are often in standard form, which is far less convenient.  We already know to take a quadratic (a second degree polynomials) from standard from to factored form (by factoring).  This worksheet will serve as a review of those methods as we all exploring a few other ways of factoring as well. 

Sum/ Difference of Cubes

1.     On Desmos, or your graphing calculator, graph y = x^3 + 8 
           a.  What is the x-intercept? What is its multiplicity? 



            b. Given your answer above, what must be a factor of x^3 + 8? 




This means that (x^3 + 8)=(answer from above)(something).  But how do we find that something?

            c.  What degree does something have to be? 



Therefore (x^3 + 8)=(answer from above)(ax^2 + bx +c). 

            d.  Using what you know about distribution, what does a have to be?  c? 




            e.  Find b. 






            f.  So factored, x^3 + 8 = (             ) (                               ). 

2.     Try to same process to factor, x^3 - 27 








 (this is on the next page)
What you hopefully found is that
(insert answer to first)  and (answer to second)        (check your answers)

These are categorized as the sum and difference of cubes.  And are factorable as

            Give formulas here!  



Sunday, January 8, 2017

These are two of my favorite things!

This week, my phone has changed the way we do things in class (and the suggestion by @cmmteach of the #MTBoS). Often, I find that I want to students to share their work in class, but it always takes so long for them to write it on the board (especially in Geometry, when we have sometimes complicated figures that go with our work). SO, I have begun snapping a picture of their work, then sending it to Google Drive (must have the app on your phone) and almost immediately opening it on my computer! The student will go up and walk us through the work. Something that might be interesting as well is to take a lot of photos during their work and pause when I come to a really interesting solution. Then we could display that one and see if other students are able to explain it.




 I understand here that I could air drop, but it doesn't
 work when I'm on the school's network!





It's a small thing, and one a lot of folks already use...but I have been loving it!

The second thing is less related to work, but has been super fun and works with my Type A-ness. That thing is Bullet Journaling. I live for being able to check items off a list. And my weekly layout is essentially a combination of my to-do lists for each day. On top of that, it also allows me to track certain things, like whether or not I made my bed or drank enough water. This might sound terrible to some, but I have been digging it! I get most of ideas for layouts from either Pinterest or Instagram!




Those are the two favorites for me in this moment! I'm looking forward to reading about everyone else's favorites!

Monday, January 2, 2017

You say Goodbye, I say Hello!

I was telling my wife as we were setting goals for 2017, that it almost doesn't feel like a new year to me. August feels more like a new year as a teacher. That said, we're getting ready to start a new semester tomorrow and it will be a great time to try some new things and make some new goals!

2016 has been an interesting year! I had spine surgery in May that took me out of the classroom for the rest of the school year. Because of that surgery, I feel like a new person! I didn't know what it was like to NOT have chronic pain!



My wife and I bought a house this summer. We did a lot of work on it ourselves, turning our garage into a home gym, painting 5 rooms, removing a popcorn ceiling (okay, so I personally did NO work on that one...), and we have some upcoming projects too!



I started my ninth year of teaching in August! Along with the other Algebra 2 Honors teacher at my school, we ditched the textbook (as a main resource anyway) and chose to do our own thing. It has been very time consuming, but worth it! That said, with two other preps, those took the backseat. My goal is to put more effort into those other two classes this semester. I went into work over break to work on all my classes, and I feel like I'm in a great spot to start the new semester! (I'm happy to share this with you if you'd like it - send along your email address in a DM on twitter and I'll give you reading permissions on our Algebra 2 folder in Google drive!) (Our naming conventions changed during our last unit).

Goals for 2017:

I want to blog more consistently. I set my goal at 1-2 times per month for now, as I think it's completely doable. If I do more than that, so be it!

I want to read at least two professional books - starting with Tracy Zager's new book! I sent an email to my department chair asking if I could buy it with department money....we'll see what happens!

I want to re-engage in the #MTBoS on twitter. After the election, I crawled into a hole and didn't want to face the world....but I need my math folks. You all make my life better!

Apart from my professional goals, I set a goal of working out at least 275 hours in 2017 (my #fitbos goal) and I want to workout an average of 5x per week - for a total of 260 workouts (including hiking). I want to learn calligraphy this year, work on my friendships - both new and old, and make sure my wife and I have at least one date night per month!

Happy 2017 all! I'm looking forward to being/staying more connected with all of you!!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Sharing My Story

Recently (read as at least a week ago), I read Sam Shah's blog about his Notes on the Beginning of the School Year.  I loved the idea of getting to know my advisees better by first sharing some information about myself and then making individual appointments with each student. I framed it as telling them "My Story." Or....at least parts of my story, because...I can't tell them my story in 8 minutes.

I talked about growing up in Michigan, my parents getting divorced when I was in second grade, living with my grandparents through high school, and working really hard to make sure I went to college. I told them about teaching at my first school and how I realized my last year there that I really wanted to leave Michigan. I told them the story of how I came to end up at my current school. And how when I left everyone I ever knew and all the preconceived notions of who I was supposed to be, that I was able to be my most authentic self. I was able to come out as gay when I moved to Colorado. I found my wife, I embraced who I am.

I would like to think it was a pretty powerful 8 minutes. I have set up meetings with them over the next two weeks and I'm really looking forward to hearing their stories!

Just because. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Developing Understanding with Desmos

It's hard to believe it's already the fifth week of school! As one teacher put it at lunch the other day, "the shininess has worn off."

Although, I don't feel like that's true for me! I honestly feel like I'm having an amazing year. It's not perfect (could someone PLEASE help me spice up Pre-Calculus? The kids wouldn't even buy into the "What is a sandwich?" activity! It's dreadful! How do I get them to loosen up and interact?! Anyway, that's another blog post!)

I am teaching Algebra 2 Honors for the first time this year. Though it is incredibly time consuming to have a new prep, I'm trying to be thoughtful with how I do things instead of flying through it to save time. I've been spending many of my 4am-5am's (while I wake up slowly and drink coffee) exploring Desmos activities.

In our first unit, I asked students a few time to draw a plausible graph for a situation. I was trying to get at how they do with taking a word situation and/or picture and being able to convert it into a plausible graph. It's not something I directly taught in that unit, but I wanted to see how they would do. It was a mixed bag! So, enter the desmos activity "Function Carnival." Students drew possible graphs for situations then they were able to "play" them and then adjust if their graph was wrong.

As I walked around, I noticed students drawing things that weren't functions. When they would "play" the graph, all of a sudden there would be two cars on the screen. Without me having to tell students, they were able to figure it out (sometimes their neighbor helped them too!)

Fast forward to this week, when introducing functions for the first time. We did "Function Carnival part Deux." It introduced the notation of functions and the general concept of function/non-function. I loved having a situation/context that I could refer back to - and will continue to refer back to!

In class, after the Desmos activity, we did an "Intro to Functions Handout."

Also...how can you go wrong when it's "edited with love?"