Went with dinosaur team names from teammaker. Precalc’s first try at a relay race. Very successful!
Tried out something new in Pre-Calculus H today. They were working sequences and series using python to calculate answers. The vast majority hadn’t programmed before, so that was a nice side benefit. I’m not entirely happy with the worksheet that helps them get started. It’s not bad, just needs some tweaking on the ramping up of difficulty.
A second question that is running through my brain:
How important is it to introduce programming into the math classroom? Does it benefit the students?
I attended the Wolfram sponsored – computer based math summit today and Friday in NYC at unicef hq. No picture today but I will share a question that is going through my head.
If you’d like to comment then I’d be truly flattered.
What role does learning how to calculate have in learning mathematics? Can the calculating part of mathematics be reduced/eliminated without harm?
(Eg. By calculate I mean, find the roots of a quadratic. By hand? Or with technology.)
Day in the Life (Mission 7 from the #mtbos). Warning: many days aren’t this busy. This was just a particularly crazy one.
Wake up at 4:45 AM. Get dressed, walk the dog. Leave house at 5:05 AM to get to the rink at 5:30. This is my eigth year as assistant coach for our high school’s hockey team, and it’s been an absolute blast. This is the first year that we’ve had early morning practices, which sounds awful, but it works much better for me and my family. I get to get home while it’s still sunny! On the ice from 5:45 until 7:00. It’s been a tough start to the year, we’re light in numbers compared to past years, and we have a couple of kids out due to injury and football still being in the playoffs (in the State semi-final!). Great kids, just very young. Talented group but lots to learn.
Drive to school, walk into classroom at first bell at 7:24, and class starts at 7:30. Pre-Calculus H (7:30-8:51) is the first block of the day, they start off by presenting homework answers around the room.
By asking around, it looks like they need more practice with the polar and rectangular form of complex numbers, so I make up 8 examples and they work through them and check with their groups when stuck. I put answers to the previous problem up next to the SmartBoard and answer questions while waiting.
They really are better at explaining some things to each other than I am, so I stay out of the way when possible. I like to sit in the back and observe them working for a minute or so throughout the practice.
We finish up with the polar/complex practice and tack to a different topic. Arithmetic sequences and series. Only 10ish minutes of basics, they’ve seen it before so they go pretty quick through the introduction set of examples. I have them bring out the computers, one for every pair of students, and many of them get to try programming for the first time! They’re using a pre-cooked python script that uses a recursive formula (u_n = u_(n-1) + 3) to print some terms of an arithmetic sequence.
from math import sqrt uterm = 1.0 for i in range(1,20): uterm = uterm + 3 print uterm
They had to match a couple of different sequences, and then we moved on to some non-arithmetic sequences as a teaser. What is happening to each term with i/(i+1)? What about 1/i?
Homework was a set of arithmetic sequences problems.
Because department chairs don’t have homeroom responsibilities, it’s time for me get some prep done. I look over my notes and get ready for Calculus BC (2nd block, 9:12-10:34). Pretty basic (boring? Hopefully not!) lesson on volumes of revolution. We had previously worked on area between curves, so this builds nicely on that topic. Disks, washers, and shells were all discussed, modeled and practiced.
<whine>Java stinks. I went to use some geogebra applets to show a (pseudo) 3D picture of the disks and shells. 20 minutes after fiddling with awful updates, it still barely worked. Native HTML5 please.</whine>
Good lesson, but I don’t feel like I have room to breathe in that class yet. It’s the first year I’ve taught it and the speed is relentless. We have time for some interesting diversions, but I don’t have my legs underneath me enough to really run with it yet.
Lunch (10:34-11:06). I had to use this time to plan for 3rd block Advanced Algebra. I really don’t like doing that, but this is the toughest of the four days (A, B, C, and D days). The previous day I have three classes too, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th blocks. The only repeat prep I have today was the Pre Calculus H class.
Anywho, ate a protein bar and threw together the lesson plan for Advanced Algebra. We were working on transformations, some quick notes (frayer model). I didn’t tell them a single rule, they had to figure it out on their own. In pairs they were investigating with Desmos on the computers and writing guesses of rules on post it’s. We would come back together as a class and write down the rules in more detail. The activity for the rest of class was finding the equation of a set of transformed parent functions. After completing a page, I’d check to see how they did and they’d continue on the next page. This can be a tricky skill for most of these kids; they get the visual of the transformation, but linking it to the equation is difficult.
Prep period (12:44 – 2:05). Spent 70 of the 81 minutes getting ready for the department meeting after school. Talked to the principal regarding specifics of our department’s teacher evaluation numbers, and talked about the changes to the math classes in the upcoming course catalog. Didn’t have time for any actual course prep. No matter, I have some breathing room on the next day.
After school (2:05-2:40), department meeting. Leave school at 3:00, pick up the boy at day care, walk dog, play with kid, feed him some food, bath time, bedtime, downstairs at 7:30. Ate dinner, writing this post while catching up on Homeland, skipped grading the pile of Calculus BC papers, posted this post, bed at 9:30.