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Showing posts from October, 2009

Catapults and Algebra 2

In a previous post, I talked about how I used Sean Sweeney's catapult lesson in Calculus. I also used it in Algebra 2, as an enrichment project for two students while the rest of the class was gone for a sports event. I also talked here about how I introduced the project without actually being there.

Unfortunately, time for the actual project was cut short by an assembly that ran long. From what I could gather from sub notes and the notes that the students left, they enjoyed it. Unfortunately, with the short amount of time that Algebra 2 gets (and it keeps getting cut shorter when the kids leave early for sports games!!), they never finished it. It might be something I resurrect once the pressure of the SOL test is finished. There is just so much material to cover and I want to be able to take the time to actually *teach* the material instead of just showing it to them last minute.

Maybe it'll work better next year...?

p.s. this post was started on October 13th...it's now …

On Catapults and Calculus

I stole Mr. Sweeney's catapult project and tweaked it (more like, added to it) for Calculus class.

It was fun! We not only calculated the equation of the parabolic motion of the projectile, but at the end we talked about how fast it was going using the limit definition of the derivative at different points during its flight. It was a really great discovery point of how the velocity is zero at the maximum height. We were also able to then talk about why that "makes sense".

The next goal was for my calculus student to help my Algebra 2 students with the project while I was at a conference...stay tuned to hear how that went!

(I started writing this post 1 1/2 weeks ago...and the other one has been started, too...just waiting for some TIME to finish up!)

Discouraged

Last week was a definite high. Things were going great! My observation went well, I was excited for the projects that I was leaving for while I was going to be out, and the substitute teacher that was scheduled to cover for me knew the language *and* the math! It was all looking good!

I arrived back at school to find my plans weren't completely followed. I know this is not unusual, but in preparing I thought I was ready for everything that could happen and that I had thought of everything...organized, etc. I guess not.

My Algebra 1 class that was solving 2-step equations like crazy on Wednesday bombed a quiz that they took on Friday (which they were supposed to take Thursday...but that's another story entirely). I felt like I needed to start from scratch again, and that everything from the week before was lost.

I had no Algebra 1 class today, so no chance to redeem. Tomorrow is a new day, though. We're going to correct the quizzes and then move on. We can't be solving …

Encouraged, Again

Last Monday I was feeling overwhelmed. I go through these phases when I plan ahead, get a few days worth of lessons/notes put together, and then I get through one day and realize I'm not really ready for the next day at all because things didn't go the way I planned. These phases often leave me frustrated and irritated that I spent time up front that seems to be wasted. In the long run the time spent is not wasted, but it's still frustrating to *think* you're ahead and then *realize* that you're just as far behind as you normally are, despite the extra time you put in.

Anyway, that's how I was feeling Monday. And Tuesday I was supposed to get observed for the first time this school year. "Great," I was thinking, "just great." I had a less-than-stellar lesson planned, introducing graphing one-variable inequalities and solving one-step inqualities. Not something normally covered in Alg1 (it's a middle school concept), but that's what m…

Really excited for this week!

I'm getting really excited for this week. Plans include catapults with Calculus and Algebra 2, complete with video instructions (really hoping that technology is my friend this week) and peer mentoring.

The goal for catapults is to work through the project in Calculus on Monday and Tuesday. We'll be taking it a bit more in depth than Mr. Sweeney's Algebra 2 project, talking about velocity and position relating to the initial discussions of derivatives. Then, on Thursday, Algebra 2 student will make a catapult from my model, and begin his investigation. Friday, Calculus student will join Algebra 2 student to help with the "math" of the project. All this will happen without me being there, which is why we need video directions!

I'm really excited for this, and the excitement easily turns into anxiety and thinking of all the ways it could completely bomb and blow up in my face when I return. But, it's worth a shot, right? Two-thirds of my Alg2 class is going…

GSP meets Algebra 1

I was pleasantly surprised when my ITRT (read: tech person) at school emailed and said she found out we had a lab license for Geometer's Sketchpad (GSP). Last summer I took an online course from KeyPress to learn how to use GSP and more specifically, how it can be used in Algebra classes. I was very excited to learn more about this software and to be given examples of how it can apply to the concepts we teach in Algebra classes.

Earlier in the year, I used GSP to demonstrate adding and subtracting integers. I was using it as a demonstration tool at first, projected on my SMARTBoard. One problem I found using it that way, was that the sketch itself was too small for the students to see, and I ended up having one student sit at my computer and do the manipulating. I tried to make it work, and to let students take turns doing the manipulating, but it just didn't work the way I wanted it to. It was good, however, introducing the basic concept of what I was trying to develop: addin…

Becoming more Human

Wednesday I gave a test in Calculus. It was covering limits at a point, at infinity, one-sided limits, continuity, etc., even some free fall questions leading into our next unit on differentiation. The day before the test, I was nervous that the test was not going to go well. Review, things that should have been easy, was like pulling teeth. I was starting to doubt myself and my teaching.

During the test, I was looking through some stuff in my classroom and I happened upon my limits test from when I was in high school. I got a B+, and there was a calculator and no-calculator portion. I instantly thought, "Arg! I should've made a no-calculator portion!" Instead of dwelling on that, though, I just looked it over and found my mistakes...very interesting ones. Since the class finished the test with time to spare, I decided to show my test, and look at my mistakes. Looking at the problems I answered incorrectly, I asked the student to decide where I went wrong and what the an…