Archive for the ‘Math 10C’ Category

I take no credit for this idea at all. I was in a classroom this morning, and the teacher had the students play a game of Radical SNAP. The students were totally engaged, and were enthusiastically converting between mixed and entire radicals. It’s pretty simple to set up.

Materials: You need one deck of cards with the 10, J, Q and K removed for each pair of students, and one giant square root symbol per pair of students. This one should do the trick: Giant Root

Pair off the students in your class. Each pair gets a deck of cards, and should remove the 10, J, Q and K. Shuffle the remaining cards, and deal them so that each person has half the deck, face down.

Mixed to Entire

The students flip over their top cards. The student on the left puts his in front of the radical, and the student on the right puts hers under the radical. The first student to correctly convert the mixed radical to an entire radical wins the round.

Photo 2-12-2014, 11 01 43 AM

Entire to Mixed

The students flip over their top cards, and put them both under the radical. The first student to correctly simplify the radical or to identify that it can’t be simplified wins the round.

Photo 2-12-2014, 11 11 48 AM


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The first time Dan Meyer came to Edmonton, he had us work on this problem. It was engaging, and a room full of teachers dug right in. The second time he came to Edmonton, he explained his 3-Act Math format. During that session, which was almost two years ago now, I came up with an idea for a video Act I and Act III for the ticket roll problem. My idea was to film a roll of tickets unravelling along a marked football field. The math remains the same.

I didn’t film it for a number of reasons. Marked football fields that don’t have Eskimos playing on them are scarce in Edmonton. It would require several cameras, and I had only one. It would require editing above my level of ability. This week, it all came together for me. We are doing more and more video editing in our work at AAC. We recently hired a NAIT student to do some of that work for us, and bought a shiny new computer and the Adobe suite. One of the student’s jobs was to teach us how to use some of that fancy equipment.

The way I learn technology is to immerse myself in a project, and seek support when I need it. Today, I did just that. I put together my vision of Acts I and III for this problem, with the NAIT student nearby for support. I learned a lot about video editing. It was a great day of learning for me. The videos are not perfect, but they’re better than I could have done last week at this time.

Enough Preamble. Here’s what I did. I give you Ticket Roll Reworked. Presented in 3 Acts, of course.

Ticket Roll Act I

Ticket Roll Act II

As near as I can tell, Canadian ticket rolls are identical to the American one Dan photographed. His Act II information should work out perfectly here. I have a different Act II filmed and not posted yet. I’m on it. I’m hoping it will take this problem to an elementary level.

Ticket Roll Act III


Dan has sequels listed here.

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Domain and Range Lesson

A few weeks ago, I agreed to teach a lesson on domain and range in a Math 10C class. I told the teacher I’d make it interesting and engaging. Shortly after making that promise, I realized I had no idea at all how to make it interesting and engaging. I did what I always do in those situations. I begged for help on Twitter.

It turns out I wasn’t alone in looking for ways to teach Domain and Range. Marshall Thompson admitted he was also interested in finding something. Don’t worry, Marshall, I’m about to hook you up.

Dan Meyer jumped in and was, as advertised, not all that helpful. And he spelled cheques wrong.

I had given up hope. I was about to plan a typical boring lesson. Then Peter Vandermeulen came through.

Peter’s link was to this file. It’s really all you need. It’s a nice, fun, compelling and engaging way to get at Domain and Range. Peter tells me he got the idea from a workshop in his district. I made some additions and modifications, and I’ll explain the lesson below. I’ll present it how I would do it if I ever did it again. I learned a few things.

Domain and Range Lesson (2 Classes)

Introduction and Hook – Pictionary

Run off the documents below. They contain some blank grids and lots of different types of graphs. Cut them out. The idea is that one student will be given a graph and have to describe it to a partner, who will draw it without looking at it. You make it tougher if you don’t let the describor see what the describee is drawing until the graph is done.

There are two ways you can go from here. Peter’s lesson plan suggests pairing students off and giving them each one graph and one blank. Partner 1 describes his graph, while partner 2 draws. Then they switch. I’d put a time limit of 1 minute on each drawing. When the time is up, they can look at the original and the drawing and see how accurately the drawer was able to replicate the graph based only on the verbal description of the partner.

I tried to make this competitive, like pictionary. I put them in teams of 2 and had them compete against another pair. I photocopied  the completed graphs on card stock and gave each group of 4 the whole set, shuffled and face down. Each student was given the sheet with the blank graphs on it. Then the students took turns pulling the top card, and describing it to their partner. The pair sitting out in a round had to judge and decide if the pair doing the drawing did well enough to earn a point. I tried my best to make sure that the person describing the graph couldn’t see what his partner was drawing. It’s much more challenging that way. We played 12 rounds of 1 minute each, so that each student got to describe 3 times and draw 3 times. The competition was fun, but the noise level got pretty high in the room. Peter’s way might be simpler, quieter,  faster, and every bit as engaging.

Graph Templates

  • Word document so you can modify my graphs if you want.
  • PDF file in case my graphs look terrible when you open them with your version of Word.

The Lesson

After the game, have a class discussion about what kind of words they were using to describe the graphs to their partners. Students will throw out words like arrow, axis, quadrant, stops, keeps going, points, curves, straight, ends, begins, lowest, highest, farthest right, farthest left and more. Their language leads nicely into domain and range.

Give every student two different coloured pencil crayons for the domain and range lesson. Walk them through several graphs from the game, and show the set notation appropriate to the various types (set of points, between two values, going on forever in one or both directions). All I did was make a quick notebook file with screen shots of some of the graphs from the game. What I tried that was new to me, was using the coloured pencil crayons. I asked students to identify the farthest left and right points, mark them, and then colour the x-axis in that same colour. Then I had them switch colours, find the highest and lowest points, and colour the y-axis in that colour. It really made the domain and range pop out for them.

Formative Assessment

After the brief lesson, give them a short sheet with 3 questions. In a 60 minute class, this will pretty much be an exit slip, which is what I called it. In an 90 minute class, you’ll have time for the next part. Use the exit slip to see who understood the lesson, and who needs more help. As students hand them in, you can sort them pretty quickly. I sort them into three piles – “Got It”, “Mostly Got It”, and “Didn’t Get It”.

Day 2

Practice Time (I use this instead of assigning homework) Group the kids according to how they did on the exit slip. Those in the “Got It” pile are given some higher level questions to practice. Normally, I just pull these right out of the student resource. Those in the “Mostly Got It” pile are given some basic practice questions, as well as some higher level practice questions. Those in the “Didn’t Get It” pile work with me. We will go over some more examples together before I turn them loose.

Closing Activity

Peter’s materials contained a set of cards that I used for a closing activity. Half the cards have domains and ranges on them, and the other half have corresponding graphs on them. I didn’t modify these at all, and used them as-is. Peter’s lesson plan suggests giving each student one card, and having them match up with the person who has the corresponding card.

I went a slightly different way. I copied these cards on coloured card stock and separated the kids into groups of 4-5. I gave them an entire set of cards and had them pair them all off, working as a group.

Closing Activity Materials

My Thoughts

Thanks to Twitter, I think I delivered a way better lesson than I used to do on this topic way back when I was in the classroom. I’d like to try this lesson once more, exactly as described here. It is ready to go. If you try it, let me know how it goes for you.

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At a recent session in Wainwright, one of the participants, Mary Frank, showed me this demo. It’s similar to Dan Meyer’s Popcorn Picker, but I really like the payoff in Act III. Presented in Dan’s three act format, here’s the materials.

Act I – Video

Act II – Information

Have the students make predictions about whether the wider cylinder will overflow, fill right up, or have space left in it. If they want to run calculations, the tubes are simply 8.5 x 11 pieces of overhead paper. One is rolled vertically, and the other is rolled horizontally.

Act III – The Answer


  • How tall would the skinnier cylinder have to be to completely fill the wider one?
  • By what factor are the volumes different? Why?

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RAFT in Math

Several years ago, I attended a session on differentiated instruction with a wonderful woman named Dr. Vera Blake. One of the suggestions she made was that we use the RAFT model as a check for understanding. For those of us more mathematical than Englishal,  RAFT is a writing tool typically used in English classes. RAFT stands for: Role, Audience, Format, and Topic. It helps students focus their writing by clarifying what their role is, who their audience is, what format is appropriate, and what topic needs to be covered. I may have just demonstrated a rudimentary understanding of the process, but I’m a math teacher…

I asked Dr. Blake to tell me how I might use it in a Math class. She showed me how to use it as a review, and a check for understanding. I was wrapping up a quadratics unit with an11th grade class, and she helped me write a set of RAFTs to use as a review with them.  I created as many as I could think of, and had pairs of students randomly select one RAFT.  For example, one pair was given the role of the discriminant. Their audience was a quadratic function, and the format was a letter from a stalker.  The topic was “I know all about you!”  A pair of quiet and shy girls wrote a really creepy letter from the discriminant to the quadratic function. Their letter clearly demonstrated understanding of what the discriminant indicated about the graph of the corresponding function.

The class had a lot of fun with it. We had songs, raps, poems, letters, posters, radio ads and many other things performed in class after one day of preparation. Some other examples included a quadratic formula writing a cover letter to a quadratic equation to apply for a job, a dating ad written by a quadratic formula who was looking for love and understanding, and a workout plan devised by a personal trainer aimed at making a specific quadratic function skinnier. What all of them had in common, was that they showed an understanding of the class material.

There were some bumps. The group that had to write the dating ad had no idea what a dating ad looked like, so they searched personal ads on my computer. That probably wasn’t a good career move. Another group had to design a twelve step process in the manner of AA to solve a problem. They also searched on my computer for addiction programs. Despite it all, I managed to keep my job.

I had also forgotten to consider assessment, so I forced a rubric on their presentations in the end. I should have left it as a formative assessment.

If you are interested in trying one of the two I created, feel free. I’d love to hear from you about how it went.

Quadratic Equations and Functions RAFT Topics – Math 20-1 and Math 20-2

Relations and Functions RAFT Topics – Math 10C

Here are some samples of student work from the 11th grade class on quadratics. They were a little better when seen performed live, in front of the class, but you will get the idea. The girls who wrote the first letter are clearly better students of English than I am.

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While in the Pennsylvania Convention Center for ISTE 2011, I came across this intriguing piece of art wedged under an escalator.

I have since learned that the piece of art is by Mei-Ling Hom, and is called “China Wedge”. It  is composed of many Chinese cups, bowls and spoons wedged into a space under an escalator. It appears that the space is not entirely filled with cups, bowls and spoons, but they go about 2.5 deep all around. The sculpture, which was commissioned for the Center’s Arch Street Concourse, pays homage to Philadelphia Chinatown, which is adjacent to the Convention Center. (Source (Spoiler Alert):  http://philadelphia.about.com/cs/artmuseums/a/paconvention.htm)

I took some photos, because I wanted to turn this into a math story. I didn’t get all the shots I needed, so I have to give a big thank-you to Max Ray, who went back and took care of the Act II photos with his girlfriend, who happens to be a photographer and got great shots. The Act II photos containing referents and shots of Max are all the work of Kaytee.

Here is my attempt at a three act math story as described by Dan Meyer here.

Act I – The Video

Act II – Some More Information in Photos

Act III – The Answer
  • Word document containing all the information I could find about the China Wedge.
I struggle with this one.  Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. I’ve only one idea so far.
  • If the entire area under the escalator was filled with cups, bowls and spoons, how many more would have been needed?
In his last one of these, Dan asked whether this broad outline is enough for teachers to go by. I know it is enough for lots of us to run with. If you need more details about how to make this work in a classroom, contact me and I will spell it out a bit more. I would present it in much the same way I discuss in my learning through problem solving explanation.

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Roller Coaster

I got this idea from Frank Sobierajski at the ISTE 2011 conference.  It fits nicely in our Math 10C and Math 20-3 curricula. His take on the subject is available on this teacher tube video.

I took his idea and found a Canadian roller coaster.  Let’s take our students on a virtual roller coaster ride.  Most roller coasters have Point of View (POV) videos available.  I suggest finding one near you.

Bring up some facts about the roller coaster.  This one claims to have a 75 degree drop.

Find a picture of it, like this one.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:900behe.jpg

Have students import that image into GeoGebra, and check the math behind the 75 degree claim.

This 75 degree claim is either false, or the angle on the picture I found isn’t right. It’s possible that I haven’t measured from the same places they did. No matter what, it’s a good conversation in class.

I would follow up by having students find their own and check the claims made about them.

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