Thursday, June 30, 2016

Trigonometry Task Cards

Towards the end of this past school year, my Geometry students were working on Right Triangle Trig.  Trig is not an easy concept for them to grasp and I had to think of ways to help make it easier for them to understand the process.  Trig has always been a challenge for my students and each time I teach it I go into this unit hoping for the best (because I love it!) but fearing the worst (They don't love it!).  They always get so frustrated and give up so quickly because they view it as being too difficult for them to learn.  In the end, many see the light and realize it wasn't as bad as they thought it would be, while some don't budge and remain struggling.

I had originally made these task cards for my class to use as practice this year but it was something I never had the time to finish up.  The end of this school year was a rough one and everyone was doing their best to keep their heads above water.  So needless to say I never got to use them but plan to this year with my new Geometry students.

Had I actually had the chance to use them I would have used them in one of the following ways:

Option #1 Students work in teams (my room has 4 large tables) and each team would get a task card from each page, work it out together and pass them around until they did all 4 then we would pass out the next page.  All students would complete all problems.

Option #2 Put the cards randomly though out my classroom, have students work in pairs and work their way around the room until they have completed all the problems.

Option #3 Put all cards in a bucket, have students work in small groups, they come up and draw a card out of the bucket and work it out with their team. The only downside to this option is that there is a chance some groups might not get a card from each page so they won't get practice from that kind of problem.

Well here are the cards...Let me know if you have any other ideas for options.  If you use them with your students let me know how it works out!

If you would like your own set here are the links.  If you blog or tweet about my task cards please reference where you got them from.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Domain and Range

In previous years I've always taught Domain and Range when I taught Graphing Functions/Equations (see my previous post) and it was enough for my students to grasp the concept.  However my Algebra 1 group last year, and again this year, needed so much more than what I've previously done.  Some years they are able to catch on quickly while other years need more explanation and practice.  So prior to my Graphing Functions/Equations page I designed one that just focused on Domain and Range to help these groups out.

We started with how to identify Domain and Range, what's the proper way and what happens if a number repeats.

I had the students pick two colored highlighters (one for domain and one for range).  I use a lot of color on my pages but it's always for a good reason.  We don't ever just use color to use it.

As a whole class we went through the different situations they would be presented with: XY Table, Set of Ordered Pairs, Maps, or a Graph.

For the XY Table they had to highlight the Domain and Range then write them in proper order.

For the Ordered Pairs they had to highlight each number that represented the Domain and which ones represented the Range. Then write them in proper order.

For the Map they had to again highlight the Domain and Range then put them in order.

The Graph took a bit more effort on our part.  I gave my students the option to either write out each point as an ordered pair or we could make it into an XY Table.  They prefered the table and found it easier to use so we went with it.  They again had to highlight and write the Domain and Range in proper order.

On the right side of the notebook we defined Domain and Range and then they were given the 5 different examples.  For each they were asked to find the Domain and Range.  Some understood it and no longer needed to use the highlighters while others relied on them for quite awhile. I always allow my students to use materials like highlighters and such on their progress checks, so some of them were still using it even on progress check day while most had stopped using them long before.

This is how the pages look side by side.  How do you teach Domain and Range?  What tricks do you use to help them remember the difference?  I'm always up for some new, fun ideas :)

Friday, January 29, 2016

Laws of Exponents

Every time I teach a unit on Polynomials (I know with my population of students) that I will need to start off going over the different Laws of Exponents.  In the past it always turned out to be a jumbled mess of notes that the students could never use or refer back to because you pretty much needed deciphering key just to understand it.  I tired a good handful of different foldables to get the information across but it just never worked.  I gave up and went on a google search to find someone way smarter than me who had already figured out what I couldn't.  Lo and behold Mrs. Williams came to the rescue with an awesome foldable, check out her blog!

Here are my instructions on how to put it together and the problems I used...

Materials Needed:
2 - 8 1/2" x 11" sheets of paper (2 different colors)
Favorite writing utensil  

Start with one of your colored sheets.  Fold it in half and cut it.  Then fold one of the halves in half and cut it again.  You will need 2 of the strips you just made.

                                          So now here are the supplies each student will need!

Take the large sheet of paper and turn it so it's landscape, fold it in half, and then fold it in half again.  It should be folded like an accordion.  Lay it on the desk so that it looks like a W when you look at it from the front. (This is super important!)

Grab the middle part of the W and cut it into 4 equal sections just until the fold. (If you don't cut to the fold the smaller strips will be hard to weave in and out.)

Now lay it back down on the table, again so it's a W, and weave the two smaller pieces in.  The center should look like a checker board.  Now you are done!


The magic to this foldable is if you put the two center pieces together, to make a point in the middle, you can pull the two pieces of paper apart to reveal a secret section.  This foldable always blows the kids minds!


Here is how I used it for the Laws of Exponents.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Assigned Seating Problems and Groupings

When it comes to seating arrangements in my classroom I'm a groups/pods/tables/etc. kind of teacher.  I try to instill in my students a sense of collaboration and teamwork.  I love when they work together to solve problems and enjoy seeing students helping and supporting one another.  The only issue I find with groups is that I tend to only have the students work with those in their group.  I hate deciding who is going to work with who and I needed to find a different way to do things.

A fellow coworker of mine numbers her desks, this way when it is time to assign students to a seat she gives them a number and they find their desk rather than trying to give them directions to their desk which they inevitably never locate correctly.  So I decided to do that this year, but being the teacher that I am I had to make it different and my own (not that there was anything wrong with her method, but she's an English teacher so she didn't see the Math possibilities behind this genius idea).  

Here is what I did…

I have 24 desks in my room and I put them into 6 groups of 4 desks.  Each desk is numbered 1-24 using a blue, green, red, purple pattern (repeated for all 6 groups).  I then created a seating chart like I normally would but put their number and color in each box.  I made sure that for each of my classes I had the same number of kids sitting in each color seat.  

On the 1st day of school, I always greet the students in the hallway making sure they are in the right class and helping others find their way around.  HERE IS THE MATH BEHIND THIS GENIUS IDEA!! This year I will be giving each of my students an index card that has a math problem on it with their name.  The answer to their problem lets them know what number desk they are assigned to.  I'm excited about starting with math as soon as they walk in the door!  I differentiated the problems on the cards based on the ability level of my students (the ones I've had before) I focused on solving linear equations but for my freshmen I gave them Order of Operation problems since this is a skill I know their former teacher was working on with them.  Some of my other ideas to shake up my groups is to have them work with their same color peers, maybe do even and odds, greens with purples and reds with blues, etc.  Can't wait to see how this goes on Wednesday for our 1st day of school!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Geometry Curriculum Outline

Recently I have received a few emails and comments from teachers who are teaching Geometry for Special Education students for the first time this year and need some help! I figured this post would be a great one to write since the beginning of the year is starting August 17th for me and I'm back to teaching Geometry this year. I'm so excited and can't wait to teach this class. Of all the math classes a math teacher can teach, Geometry happens to be my most favorite.

 Just a little background into my students and what my Geometry class looks like...Every year my students come into my Geometry class with no knowledge of Geometry, I mean NOTHING! They know shapes like squares, circles, rectangles, and triangles but anything beyond that they don't know. When I ask them what makes a square a square I usually get the deer in the headlights look from them. So when I teach Geometry it has to go down all the way to the very basics. Many ask me if I'm doing Common Core with them? My answer is always YES and NO. Yes, we do as much Common Core as we can and I always push my students to what they refer to ask their "exploding point", but when your students come in with no Geometry knowledge or skills it's hard to say we are 100% doing High School Common Core Geometry all the time. When it comes to Special Education students you have to teach them where they are at, not necessarily what grade it says they are in.

This was a common saying in my math classes this past year and I'm sure it will be again this year. It killed me every time one of them would say it.

This past school year I was informed I would be teaching Geometry again this upcoming school year, and since the group I will be having I've had in the past, I knew my class needed to be organized in a different way. So our school's Math Specialist (she's amazing) and I sat down and looked at the Common Core HS standards and the level of my students, we came up with this curriculum outline.  

So this is what I plan on following this year.  Each unit covers the same/similar skills but breaks it down by the different shapes.  So in each unit the students will know what to expect, but they will have to apply it to the each new shape that is introduced to them.  I'm hoping they will start to see patterns and make connections they might not have otherwise made.  We know this does not cover ALL of the standards but it is what I feel we can get through in a school year and what they will be able to learn and retain.  Obviously I will add to it if need be, and this is just a list of topics (it does not indicate the difficulty level of the questions they will be given).

How do you organize your Geometry content?  What resources do you use to outline your course?
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