Sunday, December 30, 2012

Quadratic Functions Foldable

I've been meaning to share this foldable for a couple weeks now, but I finally decided to do it now because I was just on Pinterest and noticed that someone had pinned a picture that I had posted of my students using it.

Quadratics are always such a difficult concept for my students. I think part of it is that they "hate graphing" before we even get started and then the fact that there are three different forms of a quadratic function helps to confuse them even more. I wanted a foldable that would be helpful in organizing all of this information.

We were working on graphing quadratics with standard form, vertex form, and intercept form (which I've also heard as factored form) before Thanksgiving. We worked on this foldable the day we came back from Thanksgiving which was a nice review, but also a nice lead in for writing quadratic functions.

Here is the closed foldable. It is meant to go in their notebooks vertically like this. Then they can pull out each section as they need it, like so...

For each form, I included how to find the axis of symmetry, the vertex, any other miscellaneous information (x- and y- intercepts) and a sketch of an arbitrary graph with the important information from that form.

And here is the file for the foldable: Quadratic Foldable

The fonts in the pictures are a little bit different because I used some fonts which wouldn't work on a computer that doesn't have those fonts downloaded. If you want fun fonts just head over to and be prepared to spend hours downloading fun fonts...or maybe that's just me?

Basically for all of my foldables the "thick" lines are for cutting, the dotted lines are for folding and the "regular" lines are just used to separate sections.

I called it a "springy" foldable when I was naming the file, but then while we were working on it in class I told them to fold the strips like an accordion and I liked that accordion quadratic foldable it is! Enjoy!!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

MIA Since September

Soooooo I've been MIA for a couple months. I didn't think it would be so hard to work and continue blogging at the same time....buuuuuut I was WRONG! Even though I haven't been blogging I have been continuing to read others' blog posts and I've been trying to keep up on twitter most days as well. I have also been creating lots of new resources and activities and foldables all influenced by the awesome mathtwitterblogosphere. I'm going to try to update within the next week or so with all of the new stuff I've been working on.

I just finished creating a quadratics scavenger hunt and I wanted to post it before I got sidetracked or something.

Basically, I have posted problems all around the room that the students have to walk around and work on. In the bottom right corner of each problem is the answer to another problem. Once they find the solution to the problem they are working on, they go look for that solution in the little box on the other sheets of paper.

I also created a "work page" to go along with the scavenger hunt so that it would be easy to see if students had the correct answers. I adopted this idea of a work page from Sarah over at Everybody is a Genius. (She has some REALLY great ideas!!)

Files can be found here:
Scavenger Hunt Work Page
Scavenger Hunt

I did this same activity with my geometry class a couple weeks ago and it went really really well. I love hearing them discuss math with each other! Hopefully the activity goes well today too!!

UPDATE: Students not only really enjoyed the activity and got a good review from it, but they were also using the foldable we had made earlier in the week! It made me so happy to see them utilizing their foldables and also happy that they found them useful. One student had been questioning why we were making foldables because he "doesn't like arts and crafts" but today he asked if they were going to be allowed to use them on the test!!! Finally buy in!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

#myfavfriday - "Prepared" Lunches

I HATE making lunch in the morning. I also hate making it the night before. Actually I always hate making lunch, but I have to have something to eat. I also feel like there aren't very many options for lunch if you do make it the day of (or the night before). I mean what are my choices when I have 20 minutes to eat...a sandwich? a salad? BOR-ING!!

One of my favorite time (and effort) savers is to make a giant batch of something, anything, on Sunday and then just bring that everyday for lunch for the week. I absolutely love just being able to grab a "to-go" container and be on my way. I've also very recently started "prepackaging" portions for my snacks (things like grapes, carrots, etc..) so that I can just grab those too.

Two of our faaaaaaaaavorite recipes are this slow cooker chicken chili recipe and this quinoa and beans recipe. Both found courtesy of Pinterest (btw how did I ever live without Pinterest??) I also make things like baked ziti or lasagna or something, but we're trying to eat a little more healthy (and pasta everyday for lunch just isn't what my body loves).


Thursday, September 6, 2012

My First Foldable

This year in my classroom one of my goals is to do less work and to not talk as much. I've mentioned before how I end up exhausted at the end of the day because I'm doing so much all day long. One way I am trying to do this is to make class more interactive and hands on. So far this year I have already used groups/partners I think more than I did in all of last year! I've also implemented some whiteboarding activites and my newest adventure is into foldables.

After reading some great advice on foldables from Julie (@jreulbach) from I Speak Math and Sarah (@msrubinmath) from Everybody is a Genius I tried my hand at my very first foldable yesterday afternoon. I have to say I am pretty pleased with the outcome and I'm hoping it goes over well with my students and that it helps them to remember and understand better.

I started off with brainstorming what I wanted them to know from the foldable. The section we will be starting is on the slope of a line and should be a short review since it is an Algebra 2 class. Since there are 4 categories slope can be classified into I decided on a 4 section foldable. Also, there were 2 things I wanted them to know about each category (beyond the "name" obviously) so I made it a 4 section, trifold foldable.

On the outside I put the 4 types of slope...

On the flap underneath that one I am going to have them draw an example of a line with that kind slope.

And finallyyyyyyy the inside inside
The REALLY important part of the inside to me is how to write the equation of a line with zero or undefined slope. I feel like that is one of those things that kids almost always forget so I wanted to make it a key part of my foldable.

So I'm happy at my first foldable attempt. I feel like the more I create the easier it will be aaaaaaand my mind will just start thinking "in foldables" haha. We'll see :)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

"When will we ever use this in real life?"

So it's week 3 of the new blogger initiation, it feels good to be more than halfway done! This week the "prompt" the really jumped out to me was:

A student comes up to you and says "why do we have to learn this?" (where "this" really means mathematics that goes beyond counting change or calculating a tip). How do you respond? (This prompt was inspired by Steve Grossman's week one post.) (Alterna-question: You are having a parent-teacher conference and the father says "Well I was never really good at math either..." when talking about his child. How do you respond?)

 I can't even count how many times a week I hear "why do we have to learn this?" or "where do you use this is real life?" I had a real moment of clarity one day last year when a student asked me one of these two questions and we actually had a REALLY GREAT class discussion about the value of math and how they will be using, if not mathematical concepts then mathematical/logical/rational thinking in their lives. This was the moment when I actually realized that I could see how math is all around us, and how it is used everywhere, but that my students didn't see that and needed to be shown/taught.

Now, I don't mean needed to be shown like the corny math problems in text books that force "real-life" application on so many mathematical concepts (I can't be the only one that feels a lot of "real-world" problems in textbooks feel very contrived...right?). I mean really shown in a way they are going to believe and going to accept. I mean I'm a math teacher and I enjoy math, but even I think problems like this one below just aren't cutting it for the kids. I mean seriously...who cares what the angles in a stone are?

My new response to the question "why do we need to learn this?" is that people won't necessarily use every (or any) mathematical concepts later on in their lives or careers, but that EVERYONE needs to know and be skilled in problem solving. I explain to my students that by learning different parts of math they are
teaching their brains how to think in a certain way and practicing that skill. It doesn't matter what type of job you have or what is going on in your life...problems arise and you have to be adept at finding solutions to those problems.

Also, new this year (because of all of the wonderful ideas I have gotten through twitter and other math bloggers) I am moving toward more group work and more collaboration between students. When I was talking to my new students about why we would be doing a lot of group work and why I thought it was important, I explained to them that in the real world when you have a problem usually you aren't isolated trying to solve that problem and I want to recreate that environment in my classroom.

Now the second half of this prompt is something I feel VERY passionately about. When I hear parents (grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, OTHER TEACHERS!!!) tell a student that it is ok they aren't good at math because they weren't either I want to scream! This is so detrimental to a child's thinking and does nothing but allow the student to believe they will never be successful and therefore they give up. I mean seriously, if there was something you were told you would never be good at and would never understand how much effort would you put in? Also, this comment usually comes from a trusted adult, so the child is likely to accept this as fact.

I VERY much believe that ANYONE is capable of understanding math, so much so that I did an entire "action research" project on it for my Masters. Obviously math is going to come more easily to some people than to others, but I still believe that it is possible for everyone to understand.

Another thing that I just do not understand is why we have this cultural acceptance of some people not understanding math. It isn't ok or acceptable to be illiterate, but for some reason people have no problem telling all sorts of people how they aren't literate in math. Like...what?? It seriously just boggles my mind.

As for my response to Mr. "Well I was never really good at math either" I would (and have) explained my thinking about success in math and ask for his support in helping his child be more successful in math. I would also share a personal story about how both my mother and father were not strong math students, but that my stepmother was a math major in college and how just having that one positive influence regard math I  was able to be successful and enjoy it. I think I would also point out that there isn't some special gene that makes you good at math or not so it isn't hereditary :)

On a random side note, my brother left for college at couple weeks ago (awww he's all grown up...I remember when he was born!) and my dad, stepmom and sister brought him up to school.This is a picture of them on the front page of the school poor brother is the one hidden behind the text that reads "An Inspiring Welcome to the Class of 2016" and he is the one that is PART of the class of 2016. Everyone kept thinking my sister was starting school, but she's only a junior in high school. This was just what I needed to give me a chuckle during a stressful first week back!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Made 4 Math - Decorated Clipboard

I use a clipboard when I walk around and check homework, but who wants to use an ugly brown clipboard?? Last summer I covered two of my clipboards with different scrapbooking paper, but I wanted to re-cover one of them because I wasn't happy with the way it turned out.

I started by ripping off as much of the old paper as I could and then using some sandpaper to try to make it an even surface again.

Then I went through all of my scrapbooking supplies looking for cute paper for both the front and back of the clip board. My clipboards are a little longer than 12 inches so I have to use two pieces of paper if I want to cover the entire surface. While going through my scrapbook stuff I found this SUPER cute paper that I NEED to find something to do with!

And I must really REALLY like it because apparently I bought another sheet at some point!

So these are the two color combo options I was debating between. I ended up choosing the pieces on the left.

Once I had my paper selected I traced around the clipboard and cut off the excess.


I decided to do the front and back of the clipboard in reverse pattern.

Now it's time for some Mod Podge!!

Ok so now here is the sad part of my paper kept puckering as I was trying to put it on. I was trying to flatten it out by using the paint brush, but I ended up brushing so hard the color on the paper started to rub away :( 

But I didn't give up! I ripped off the paper and tried again....and then I thought to myself "maybe the paper is too thin and that's why it is puckering" so I chose a thicker piece of scrapbook paper and tried AGAIN. Lesson learned...thicker worked!!!! I also decided to just paint the front of the clipboard instead of trying to cut paper out to go around the "clip" part of the clip board.

Aaaaaaaaaaand here is my finished clipboard. 

 So cute!! And I actually like this paper better than the blue and the green polka dots :) SUCCESS!!!

Friday, August 31, 2012

#myfavfriday - My Department

Ok, so I know it might sound kind of cheesy but I LOVE my department. I couldn't ask for a better group of people to work with or to spend most of my days with.

It makes it really nice to go into work when you have a group of people that you can count on to make your day enjoyable. We aren't just colleagues, we're friends too and how much better can work get than being able to work with your FRIENDS?!

I also know that I can go to any one of the members of my department for anything. I might be struggling with a student or maybe having trouble helping the kids understand a topic and I can always count on my department members to be there to help, offer suggestions and guidance.

So for #myfavfriday I am shouting out my department members!!! YOU GUYS ROCK :)