Saturday, February 11, 2012

Teaching Vocabulary - Cocktail Party (not sure if this is appropriate even though its only punch or soda)

This is how it goes.  Every student will choose a word/phrase from the vocab group. As an example, words associated with quadrilateral functions are: parabola, vertex, minimum, maximum, solutions, roots, x-intercepts, height, etc.  Students will define the word, provide examples, etc.  After 10 minutes, move the chairs to the side, all students will go around standing up and mingling with at least 7 people.  They will introduce each other as their chosen word.  Example:  Hello, my name is parabola, what's yours?  What do you do?  Well, my job is to ensure that the basketball or any ball travels from one place to another, etc.  Students are to switch partners every 5-7 minutes.  At the end, students will sit down and summarize the words and definitions tey learned.

Some things the teacher can provide - a list of words on the overhead and a table of small snacks such as pretzels or chips in a bowl, napkins and soda in small cups.  The words must be the group associated with the topics.

The activity should be a summarizer, rather than an intro - preferably before a test - so do this at the end of a unit.  Students should get credit for their summaries - like a mini project.  Post their summaries on the board as reminders of their activity. 

Twists to the cocktail:
- one student can 'perform' or act out their summaries
- another can rap their summaries
- another can just talk about it or their experiences
Videos on YouTube

I found some cool sites to teach quadratic functions and parabola so I created a powerpoint that included videos and photos as a model for students to create their own power point as homework.

I used a combination of (a) objects that are easy to spot and are shaped like parabolas such as buildings and (b) trajectories and movements in sports. 

My project was so successful because it was easy to make and something they can relate to.  Examples of their project included trajectories of a basketball being thrown, a football being kicked, a cannonball, extreme sports trajectories such as motorbikes, bikes, skateboards, snowboards.  They also showed the formation of an iceberg cave resulting from wave action as well as the handles of handbags (the shape of shoulders are parabolic) and shapes of the eye and lips (beauty projections). 

I used the sports trajectories a lot because the word problems involved a lot of balls being kicked or thrown.  It was easier to explain that solutions of parabolas meant the ball touching the horizontal ground or x-axis.  I guess what goes up must come down due to gravity.
How do students understand functions?

When I was studying Multiple Intelligence, I read that people learn to understand by first visualizing what's going on - they want to see the big picture in simple terms that they can relate to.  The simpler, the better.  So with my students, I always think of how I can help them see the big picture.  I think of it as concept building.

So with functions it was the use of lines and a ruler and being able to deciper whether a graph is a function or not.  They did okay, but I think that next time, I will make them create a 1-string guitar in a 5 x 8 notecard.  Make sure you prepare a bunch of lines - diagonal, horizontal, vertical and a combination of these lines in mini-xy plane.  You can 6 in a regular white sheet of paper - have the students cut each one and have them insert it through the 1-string guitar.  During this activity, students will describe the # of points touched by the string and make conclusions about whether they are functions or not.  

After they are able to visualize the graph, then they need to see the numerical patterns of tables of functions and non-functions. 

Another good example is the use of mappings.  This will also help them understand the meaning of domain and range.

Examples are important.  So its always good to show examples of 1-1, 2-1 and 1-2 partnerships between domain and range whether they are points on a graph, tables or mappings.

Hey, if you have a strategy on teaching functions, please post.  Thanks.

Functions are basic all throughout algebra.  When I was teaching them quadratics, I went back to their vertical ruler test to show that parabolas opening to the left or right are not functions.  The same goes with absolute value functions and vertical step functions.
Important Topics in Teaching Algebra
  • Functions
  • Linear Functions
  • Quadratic Functions
  • Exponential Functions
  • Absolute Value Functions
  • Step Functions

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Teaching Slopes - Introductory Activity

This activity involves going outside of the room and measuring the steps of a stairwell, a handicap ramp and a skateboard ramp.  They will need a ruler and a worksheet to record the information. 

Data will be converted to ordered pairs, then graphed on the same coordinate plane.  Students will compare the steepness.
Teaching Vocabulary #6 - Making Cartoon Dialogues

You can do this in lieu of making mini-posters.  Basically, you create a template of 3 blank cartoons and students fill in the bubbles with their definition of a math word.  The simpler the characters, the better because students start adding on hair, teeth, glasses, color, etc. 

You can do an image search (not web search) on blank cartoons.  Most are copyrighted so you can make your own.

How to create a cartoon template
1. Using landscape view, create a table of 2 rows and 3 columns
2.  Merge the top row to form 1 column
3.  Insert the 3 blank cartoons at each section of the lower table
4.  Enlarge cartoon as needed.
5.  Type instructions on the top row
      - students would write the definition as a conversation between 2 people
      - they can give examples
      - they can additional items to make the characters interesting
         ex: make eyes cat like or big, add thick lashes, make eyes cross eyed, add stripes to their
               clothing, checkered hair, draw a pet or add windows, etc
      - students will have freedom of expression

Photos of cartoons


Cartoon Links
Teaching Vocabulary #4 - Rap, Poetry, Rhyming

This activity can be used in lieu of Mini Posters (Teaching Vocabulary #3)

Basically, students can create their own rhyming patterns to math vocabulary.

How to Teach Rhyming
1. Create a simple template for rhyming
2.  List words that students can use
3.  Model rhyming

Photos on Rhyming

Files on Rhyming

Video Links to Rhyming
Teaching Vocabulary #5 - Summarizing your vocabulary

Summarizers are great when you are done with the unit.  Depending on your activity,it can be as simple as writing the words or making a booklet of definitions.  Let students choose their summarizer types.  Again have a rubric so that students are not surprised with their grades.

Sample Rubric:
D - work includes writing, typing all the words such as wordle, foldable, webpage, booklet
C - work includes in addition to above - creativity, visual clarity
B - in addition to above - a diagram of interrelatedness or just diagrams/explanation
A - an organized presentation of all the above including examples and an oratory explanation of their work

Examples of end of unit vocabulary summarizer:
1) Wordles - students type in the words and create a design of words. 
2) Webpage, Power Point or Word - students create a webpage of words with links to online resources
3) Foldable or booklet - students write the words with definitions
*** YouTube has a lot of videos on foldables.  Here's a list - pyramidpop up,  booklets,
4) Youtube video - students create their own video of words
5) Form a circle - students act out the words while they are saying it
6) Poem, rap, performance - students will write the words and make it rhyme like a poem, rap, then present in class
Teaching Vocabulary #3 - Mini Posters

The idea of a mini poster is to allow students to focus on understanding a topic of their own choosing.  I sometimes use it as an assessment tool depending on how much they have to explain.  Vocabulary mini posters make a great word wall too....

Benefits of Mini Posters:
* promotes correct spellling, writing and diagramning
* promotes researching on their own
* promoteslogical organization of topic understanding
* simple to do and not overwhelming
* easy to present orally in front of the class since it is only 1 word
* makes a nice break from math computations
* allows creativity

How to make a mini poster:
1) Have a template ready - which includes the instructions, date and a rubric.
2) The mini poster will be drawn on the other side of the paper (so that students will know how you graded it when you return them!)
3) It should include the list of words they learned recently
4) Students choose only 1 word
5) Students can use their book, notes, etc as a resource
6) Have a rubric which should include topic, diagram, example, creativity/color and presentation
  **** remind students what it takes to make an A...
7) Have a box of markers ready and available

Making mini-posters a regular activity
* Every Friday after a quiz
* Appropriate about 10-15 minutes
* As students become used to it, you can extend it to a more comprehensive project

Photos of mini posters

Files on Mini Posters:
Teaching Vocabulary #2 - Flashcards

Printed flashcards is a great tool for students to visualize words, pronounce them, learn its spelling, hear you say it.  You can also use it over and over again without having to mess around with technology.    This is something I use as a warm up review the next day or as a summarizer at the end of the lesson.  So make sure that you make them prior to introducing the new lesson.

How to make it:
1)  Use Word or this online link to making flaschcards.
2)  Large simple fonts such as Times Roman or Arial Narrow size 150 or higher
3)  Landscape view
4)  Cut the edges of the prinout, then tape it to construction paper. 
     **** the words will look like photo on frames.
5)  For dramatic effect, use dark papers such as red, blue, green, black, orange, purple
   **** plain dark papers makes great borders and more importantly, it makes the word stand out
   **** don't use scrapbooking papers with designs as it tends to overpower the words
   **** use the same color construction papers if they are related to a main topic
6) Don't print words on color paper
  **** white paper is easier on the eye
  **** Remember the whole idea is for students to focus on the word, not on the surrounding color!
7) Put answers in the back
  ****print it out, cut, then tape so it looks like a border.

Keep the flashcards in a clear plastic box so students can see them. 

If you make it sturdy enough, you can use them over and over.  You can ask students to help you out too.

Photos of flashcards:

Files of flashcards:
Teaching Vocabulary #1 - Cloze

It is simply another word for "filling in the blanks".   This makes a good introduction to vocabulary and students will have to open the book and find the word, read and write the main points.

How to make a cloze:
If the objective is to introduce the topic of relations, then you may write the cloze as follows:

Relations (pg 201) - is a set of o________ p______, tables, mappings and g_______.

**** you can also make a flashcard, in addition to a cloze.  See my teaching vocabulary #2

Photos of cloze

Cloze Files