Cannon School Math Department is Hiring!

Come work with me (and Julia Finneyfrock, Chris Taylor, and Danny Scurlock ) at Cannon School in Concord, NC.  It is about 15 minutes from downtown Charlotte.  Many of our teachers live in the amazing city of Charlotte!  It is an awesome place to work!

Upper School – Math Teacher
Cannon School is currently seeking candidates for the 2017-2018 school year in the Upper School Math Department. The Math teacher will be responsible for providing a safe, nurturing environment for students utilizing the schools instructional program. The ideal candidate will have experience teaching Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II with Trigonometry in addition to a willingness to teach a range of other High School Math courses.

Education/Experience Requirements: A Bachelor’s degree is required, Masters preferred. At least 2 years of teaching experience is preferred.

You can apply online.  The deadline is February 17th.

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http://www.cannonschool.org/page/about/employment-opportunities

 

New Year, New Blog!

Yes! It is that time of year again! It is time to dust off the old blog, or even be brave and make the jump to start your very own blog!

Please join us during the Explore the MTBoS for the 2017 Blogging Initiative! It is for old and new bloggers alike! Don’t be afraid – it’s just FOUR posts, one a week, to get you started (or jump-started).

Exploring the MathTwitterBlogosphere

Welcome to the Explore the MTBoS 2017 Blogging Initiative!

With the start of a new year, there is no better time to start a new blog!  For those of you who have blogs, it is also the perfect time to get inspired to write again!

Please join us to participate in this years blogging initiative!  To join, all you need to do is write just one post a week for the next four weeks.  To make it easier for you, we will post a new prompt every Sunday!  Once you have blogged, please fill out the form below.  Each week, your blogs will be posted on this site for all to enjoy!

This Week’s Theme:  My Favorites

This week, the blogging theme will be “My Favorites”, where you can post about one (or many) of your favorite things!  Called a “My Favorite,” it can be something that makes teaching a specific math…

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Exams / Testing Using Desmos

I use Desmos in class on a daily basis.  For our midterm, I decided to let my students use Desmos.  As new Algebra learners, many of my students often make small mathematical errors, especially on exams.  My hope was that using Desmos to verify their answers would help them see graphically when they had made an error, and be able to correct it.

How I created it:

I made a traditional exam on paper and then a Desmos Activity builder to go along with it.  I created a “Welcome to the exam” slide with instructions.  I created two slides for each question, one introduction slide and one working slide (usually a graph slide).  I also added “STOP” slides in-between each question to help the students.  Most of the questions were on paper,  then students verified their answers with Desmos.  However, I did have two slides where the graphs were on Desmos, and they had to write the equations of the graphs.  Here is a sample of the slides.

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How I implemented it:

If you have iPads, Desmos has a test mode app you can use.  We are 1-1 so my students did the Desmos part on their computers.  I did not want students having the exam on their computers, or accidentally sharing the exam, so I made sure that they were not signed in to Desmos.  Since we use Desmos frequently, I had to instruct my students to sign out of Desmos after they went student.desmos.com.  I sat behind the students, so I could see all of their screens at the same time to ensure they only were on this screen.  I had them close the window when they were finished.  When they put in the code without signing in, they have to hit, “Join without signing in.”

  1.  Go to student.desmos.com
  2. Sign out of Desmos  screen-shot-2016-12-23-at-7-33-59-pm
  3. Instruct your students to enter the code, and to click on “Continue without signing in.” I had them enter their first and last names. screen-shot-2016-12-23-at-7-38-32-pm
  4. I went around to each computer once they started to verify they were not signed in.  **To do this, at the top right hand side of the page, you should see their name, and then an option to sign in or create an account.  Then you know they aren’t signed in.screen-shot-2016-12-23-at-7-34-59-pm
  5. You can “pause” the activity at the end of the exam so students could not go back to individual screens after the exam. I did not do this, but will in the future. (Thanks John Rowe!)

How I graded it:

I had them put all of their final answers on the test paper.  This way I could grade it like a traditional exam.  I went to Desmos if I had a question about their answers.  For a few students, I was able to give some points back if their Desmos was correct, but they messed up on their test paper. I loved being able to verify their test paper answers on Desmos.  It helped me see what they were thinking and award partial credit where appropriate.

I loved it!

During the exam I kept an eye on the teacher dashboard to see how kids were doing.  I loved seeing kids quietly go, “YES!” and celebrate at their desks when entered their answers in Desmos and it worked.  I also liked using the teacher dashboard to watch the kids work during the exam.  I saw one student enter the incorrect graph, and then see that it was wrong.  They went back to their paper to think and work more, and was able to enter the correct graph the second time.  It was amazing.  The tough part was when students didn’t know how to do the problem, and then their wrong answer was verified on Desmos.  For the future, I really want to try to incorporate Desmos into more assessments, not just midterm exams.

 

What they said:

Most of my students really loved being able to use Desmos.  It was a great reassurance for the majority of the kids.  The last question (if they had time) asked students how they felt about the exam and if they felt Desmos helped.  I loved reading their replies!  My favorite was, “DESMOS WAS A LIFE SAVER”

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Here is the Desmos code if you want to check out the sample Desmos midterm in more detail.

Updated – Great tips from commenters!

For future, just “pause” from the teacher dashboard and that prevents them from accessing it outside of class time. – John Rowe

John Rowe had an excellent suggestion that I had not thought of before!  At the end of the exam, you can hit the PAUSE button so kids will not be able to access the exam later.  Brilliant idea and I can’t believe this didn’t occur to me!

I made shortlinks and printed them on the assessment paper which had the actual questions so being logged in wasn’t as much of an issue.  – John Golden

John Golden had a great idea about using just a Desmos calculator link instead of an activity builder and then giving the students short links on their tests.  I love this idea, especially for shorter assessments.  It is what I was looking for to be able to incorporate Desmos into smaller assessments.

Monthly Algebra 2 Blog Posts! #Alg2Chat

Thanks to all of the Algebra 2 Teachers who submitted a blog post this month!  Don’t forget about our Algebra 2 Twitter Chat, this Thursday at 9PM EST (#Alg2Chat).

We would love to have you blog with us!  Here are the topics that we will be discussing at the #Alg2Chat’s on Twitter this month.  It would be great for you to blog so you can share your blog link during the discussions.

9/8/16 – Student Engagement

9/15/16 – Rich Problems for Algebra 2

9/22/16 – Making Groups Work

9/29/16 – How You Use Technology

Fill out this form to submit your blog post.

Algebra 17 Magazine Mock Up

This should be titled, “Things I Should NOT Be Doing on My Last Day of Summer Break”!  But this was too fun, so I had to!  THIS is just one of the many, many reasons that you should be active on Twitter if you are a math teacher!

It all started with this tweet from Meg about this picture on my Algebra Review blog post.

That lead to a series of hilarious tweets by Meg and Mattie. And then the challenge, which I quickly accepted.

Well, I just did the cover.  I mean, it IS my last day of summer break!

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Featured are two of my amazing algebra students from last year.

 

Even though I just did the cover, wouldn’t it be so much fun to write this for real??  I would LOVE for you to join in on the fun and add a fun story title.  Or even better, WRITE AN ARTICLE.  How awesome and fun would this be to share with our students?  We should write REAL articles to help them, but with a funny spin.  Humor helps everything.  🙂

** Update: I showed the featured student the cover. Not only did she love it, she offered to write an article!  Wouldn’t this be a fun assignment for our students?

Here is a Tweet by Tweet account of how the action played out on Twitter today.  Read below or click to view it on Storify.

Algebra 1 Concepts Review for Algebra 2 Students

Our school is still on the traditional curriculum.  Our students do Algebra 1, then Geometry, then Algebra 2.  I’m sure that they remember everything from two years ago, but just in case, I always try to be a little proactive at the beginning of the year.  Last year I incorporated Delta Math at the beginning of the year for students to practice basics and Algebra 1 skills on a weekly basis.  I found it immensely beneficial as it reacquainted the students with skills they had learned in the past, but needed refreshing. This enabled me to spend more class time on Algebra 2, instead of reviewing Algebra 1.

For this year, I decided to extend that program by starting in the summer.  My school allows students to take any class they have the pre-requisite for, even if they were not recommended.  We have two levels of Algebra 2, and I teach the more advanced level. I have a fair number of students this year that were not recommended for the advanced Algebra 2 class, but have chosen to take it.  So, I must be deliberate in structuring Algebra review and support so that these students can have the greatest chance of success in my class.

Optional Algebra 1 Summer Assignment on Delta Math:  There is one question per topic (40 topics total).  The questions range from rounding to factoring.  I did not want to make it too difficult, as I do not want students frustrated over the summer.Screen Shot 2016-08-04 at 4.16.36 PMThere is only one assigned question per skill, but since it is on Delta Math students can answer multiple questions if they would like more practice on a certain skill.  As you can see, this student choose to do multiple problems on several skills, even though I only assigned one.

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It only shows the number of CORRECT problems in the Record.

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In the overview I can also see which skills students felt they needed to practice more.

Pre-Assessment:  In the first week back I will give my students a pre-assessment on Algebra 1 skills similar to the problems from the Delta Math Assignment.  I grade the pre-assessment by assigning each skill a concept score, B(Beginning), D(developing), or P(Proficient).  This will help them determine which Algebra skills they need more practice on.  I do not record the pre-assessment score in my grade book.  They will retest in at a later date for an actual grade.

Algebra 1 Concepts Review :

After the pre-assessment students need to review (or relearn) concepts so they can strengthen their Algebra skills and have more success on the upcoming Algebra assessment.  I teach freshmen and sophomores and I know it is difficult for some students to do this on their own, so I provide the following to support them.

  • I have an Algebra 1 Concepts Review Sheet that I will give to all of my students.
  • I hold help sessions during lunch and after school to help students with basic algebra skills they are still struggling with.
  • I leave the Delta Math Algebra 1 Review Summer Assignment up so students can keep working on skills.

Here is my Algebra 1 Concepts Review Sheet. 🙂

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Student Survey Question on Assessment

Since I have been creating an evaluation survey for the end of the year, I decided to throw a quick survey question on the assessment I gave today.

Please tell me what you like and what you think could be improved about this data chapter.

I got all types of responses, from bullet points to entire paragraphs!  I did not expect such a thorough response.  My students wrote GREAT thoughts, and I really enjoyed reading them.  I replied to every one of them.  It took a bit longer than it usually takes me to grade papers, but I felt like I was talking to every single one of them, about their opinions.  I don’t get to do that often enough in math.  I think I may put this type of question on every major assessment next year.

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Infinitely Many Bounces

We recently finished up our series chapter.  One of the last questions we talked about was about a bouncing ball.  We just touched the surface of infinite geometric series, so I didn’t want to start out the question with infinitely many bounces.  I wanted to scaffold the question so it was easier for them, then hit them with the zinger!

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First of all, their illustrations were awesome (and varied).  Almost every student found the total distance after five bounces.  Once they had confidence, I threw down the challenge, “What if I asked you what the total distance would be in infinitely many bounces?”  Since they all summed 5 bounces painfully by hand, they looked at me like I was crazy.  There were even some moans (infinitely many bounces, ALL that math)?  But after I gave them “the look”, and they knew there had to be a better way.  I told them they could work on the problem by themselves or in groups.  Several kids wanted some help, or even a hint.  But since I had just decided to ask them about infinitely many bounces, I didn’t have the answer yet.  I truly had nothing to give them, and I purposefully tried NOT to think of the formula or answer so I couldn’t give it away.  I try not to help students too much, but helping is in my teaching nature so sometimes I just can’t help myself!

Many groups of students came up with the infinite sum, and developed explicit formulas that seemed to work (but didn’t recreate the sequence of bounces).  With five minutes left, one student actually started screaming in class, “I got it!  I think I got it!”  And she did.

I didn’t tell her she was correct until the next day (I didn’t want the answer to get out before I gave all classes a chance to solve it).  When she found out she was correct, she literally went screaming down the hall.  The history teacher walking down the hall at that moment thought something was actually wrong with her.

THAT is the joy of mathematics, and I wish every student could feel it just once.  But more than once, I wish they could feel it everyday.  I also wish I could do this everyday.

I just discovered that we have motion sensors that will record bouncing data for us!  We could collect our own data.

I need to get better.