Quadrilaterals Study Guide

25 February 2014

We are wrapping up our quadrilaterals unit in Geometry.  My kids have been really struggling with remembering the properties.  It's all memorization, so I've been on their case about making their own flashcards, a study sheet, or something to help them remember all of the properties.  To force strongly encourage them, I offered two bonus points for anyone that took a picture of their study guide and emailed it to me.  My kids all have laptops and phones, so they can all take pictures easily.  I had 6 out of 50 kids email me.  Six.  Out of fifty.  Seriously?

At my school, many kids like using Quizlet to make online flashcards.  Some of them load it to their phones so that they can use them anytime.  I can't complain about that. Here are some of the pictures of their Quizlets.

Student Made Quadrilaterals Study Guide on Quizlet

Student Made Quadrilaterals Study Guide on Quizlet

One student made a study sheet with different colored pens.  I like that he used a different color for each quadrilateral.

Student Made Quadrilaterals Study Guide on Quizlet

Student Made Quadrilaterals Study Guide on Quizlet

Another student even sent me a photo collage of the study materials that she had made.  She made study sheets of each quadrilateral and a Quizlet of always, sometimes, never statements.  Perfect!!

Student Made Quadrilaterals Study Guide on Quizlet

I have given them other ways to remember the different types.  I gave them a list of the properties of the different types of quadrilaterals.  I also gave them a "family tree" of the different quadrilaterals.  Even though I've given them these materials I've been stressing that they need to make their own because the act of making them helps them memorize.  I hope that missing out on an extra credit opportunity motivates some of them to get moving.  Our test is on Thursday!

**I don't know where I got the family tree.  I've had it for a long time and I think it was given to me by my mentor teacher when I first started teaching.  If you know who I can credit for this resource, let me know!

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Trig Scavenger Hunt

18 February 2014

The other day, I realized that I was going to have a little extra time in class.  Crazy, I know!  So at the last minute I decided to use a cool activity that I found online. Basically, the kids did a worksheet, but they colored in their answers.  It was so easy for me to check; I just made sure that their picture matched mine.  I'm really an elementary teacher in disguise.  I love anything that has the kids color, cut, glue, etc.!

Here's my answer key:

Trig Ratio Scavenger Hunt (free download) - activity for geometry students  |  mrseteachesmath.blogspot.com

These are some examples of the kid's work:

Trig Ratio Scavenger Hunt (free download) - activity for geometry students  |  mrseteachesmath.blogspot.com

* I'd like to give credit to whoever made the activity.  However, I couldn't find any information, so I linked to the page instead.  If you know who I can credit, please let me know!

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Investigation Frustration!

09 February 2014
I've been trying to do more investigation/discovery activities with my geometry students.  Right triangles easily lend themselves to these types of activities, so I thought this unit would be a great place to start.  I knew that my kids lack persistence when solving problems, but I had no idea how bad it was.

Activity 1

The first activity I tried was for 45-45-90 triangles.
45-45-90 Special Right Triangles Investigation - trying to teach students persistence  |  mrseteachesmath.blogspot.com

I used it as a long warm up before I taught the lesson.  They were supposed to work with their partner.  I asked them to write all of their answers and explanations in complete sentences.  I read all of the questions aloud before letting them work.  I could tell we were in for a world of hurt when they started freaking out over #3.

"Write the Pythagorean theorem.  Write an equation in terms of x and h by substituting the side lengths in the formula."

After several painstaking minutes of them whining asking questions, I finally wrote it on the board.  Maybe that was a mistake…I don't know.  Then, when they read #4 about half of them put their head down and gave up, while the other half of them whined like 4 year-olds.  I gave them hints.  I made them squirm.  They never got what I wanted them to get out of it.  I ended up moving on to the notes.

I'm having a hard pinpointing exactly what went wrong.  First, I think that my kids weren't willing to slow down and actually read what #3 was asking them to do.  Since it wasn't totally obvious, they gave up.  I reinforced that behavior by leading them along.  However, I didn't know what to do to get them moving.  The only part that I thought could have been a little tricky was #4, but they wouldn't even write anything down.  It's not like it was just a few kids, it was the whole class.  I made them turn in what they had written.  When I read them later I got irritated when I read conclusions like "I hate math" and "This was ridiculously hard".

Activity 2

A colleague made a GeoGebra applet for the next investigation (30-60-90 special right triangles).

30-60-90 Special Right Triangles Investigation - geogebra applet and download - trying to teach students persistence  |  mrseteachesmath.blogspot.com

30-60-90 Special Right Triangles Investigation - geogebra applet and download - trying to teach students persistence  |  mrseteachesmath.blogspot.com

Again, I used it as a long warmup.

The students did a better job with this investigation, but they still didn't do great.  Even when their work was ok, their conclusions were terrible.


I think I need to model how to write good conclusions.  As much as these activities frustrated me, I think I need to do more of them in class.  Having them work in partners helped, but I think next time we should try one as a class.  That way, I can model exactly what to do.  If you know of a way that I can fix this or do a better job, please let me know!!

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Brag About Your Kids!

04 February 2014

I just gave my Geometry students their Right Triangles Mid-Chapter Test.  One of my colleagues sends an email to a student's parents whenever the student makes an A on a test.  I decided to do that this time.  So, I sent the following email to all of the parents of students that made As.

"__________ made an A on our most recent Geometry test!  You should be proud of their hard work!"

My inbox was flooded with emails this morning.  I've never gotten such a response from parents before!  All of the emails were so nice too.  Here are some of the comments:

"You just made my day!!  Thank you for letting us know."

"Wow! That is so exciting that _________ did so well on his test, and you are extremely kind to let us know.  He definitely has been studying hard.   Thank you so much for all you do for __________ and all your students, to help students with different learning styles and strengths succeed in math."

"You made our evening! She never tells us the good news."

"Thanks a bunch.  This is easily the best e-mail that I have received all day."

This is a good reminder for me to share good news with parents.  They were all so grateful and excited.  I think that parents (of high school students at least) are used to only hearing from teachers when there is a problem.  Also, several kids came into class this morning just beaming.  Hopefully, making such a big deal about making an A will inspire them to study hard for the next one.  I'm really, really going to try to do this more often.  It was totally worth the time.  It was such a small thing that made a big impact.

Do you ever send (or call) positive notes home?  What has been your experience?

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Going Off on Tangents

02 February 2014
Going Off on Tangents - quadratic "word problems" | mrseteachesmath.blogspot.com

I don't know why, but that picture cracks me up.

The other day, I had my Algebra 2 Honors students work on a "story" problem as a long warmup.

We had been working on quadratics, but hadn't done any examples of word problems using quadratics yet.  My goal was just to see how they would do on their own (They are usually rock stars.).  I created this multi-question problem to help them baby step along the way.  It's about a girl throwing a rock in the air.
Going Off on Tangents - quadratic "word problems" | mrseteachesmath.blogspot.com

They did quite well.  At the maximum of the parabola, I asked the kids whether the rock was going up or down when the parabola was at it's maximum (worded in terms of the problem).  Most of the kids said "neither, it's changing direction".  I was so excited that I actually did a little happy dance in class.  we have not talked about that at all (yet), and I'm excited that this feels intuitive for them.  We got into a huge discussion that lasted for the rest of class about tangent lines, secant lines, slopes of tangent lines, etc.  We didn't finish anything else that I had prepared for that class period, but I still consider it super successful.  In my honors class, it seems like the best class periods are the ones where we go off on some tangent (haha) talking about other things.

I usually show this video by the National Science Foundation before we start the lesson on quadratics.  I'm kicking myself because I forgot this year.  I still showed it, but it didn't have the same effect.

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