Friday, October 29, 2010

Off Topic: Friday Fun - Halloween Double Episode!!

Micheal Jackson's video for Thriller was ground breaking.  It was the longest music video by far and represented some of the most intense story telling to help sell a song.  I still remember being all of 10 years old and having horrible nightmares at a sleep over where the last thing we did was watch the video on MTV (it used to show music vidoes back then) before turning out the lights.  Two hours later, Mr. Kohler was knocking on my parents' door with me in tow; I needed to sleep in my own bed.

So this week's Friday Fun features this classic creation with a few twists.

Both are under the cut to save on space though so click and see!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Algebra and Geometry: Live Review

This is the official Post for Tonight's Live Review.

To ask a question, click on "Comment" below and leave your question with your first name and hour.  Please don't post your last name.  Then watch the official YouTube channel for updates.  I'll try to post the links as they come up here as well.

Post #1:  Do we have to graph points that are not in a function?  Short answer:   No.

Algebra: Independent vs Dependent

We've spent a lot of time talking about how to tell the difference between the two.  We need to fix that.

While chatting with a student afterschool today, I checked out wikepedia and found this:

  • Independent variables answer the question "What do I change?"

  • Dependent variables answer the question "What do I observe?"

  • Simple.  Concise.  Clear.

    Tuesday, October 26, 2010

    Off Topic: A storm not seen since 1975

    Tonight's gales are being reported as on the level of those that sank the SS Edmund Fitzgerald.  This got the history nerd in me got digging around for information on it.

    To save on the space I'll put it under a cut:

    Geometry: Vocab Pop Quiz Redos

    Please note that this is different than what was announced in 1st hour.

    Okay, so those were not as good as they should have been.  The reality is, folks, that we can't start to move towards success on Proofs if we don't have these rules memorized.  If we're working on a car together and I tell you I need a 3/4 in ratchet and I need it now, it doesn't do either of us any good for you to go online and look up what a ratchet is.  It's just something you need to know.

    Because of how important vocabulary is I'm adding one more requirement for recovering lost points:  Posters.

    Here's the breakdown:

    If your quiz grade was 11-15:
    Do the normal quiz redos.
    If your quiz grade was 6-10:
    Do the redo AND do one Theorem/ Postulate poster.
    If your quiz grade was 5 or lower:
    Do the usual redo AND do Two posters.

    The requirements for the poster are:
    • Use roughly a half sheet of poster board (so about 1.5 by 2.5 feet)
    • Write out one theorem or posulate, including the name, and page number from the text.  The theorem should be in "If _____then ______" form.
    • Include an appropraite diagram.

    All redos for chapter 3 content are due by Friday (test day)

    BA Friday

    All classes:  BA Test on Friday.

    Algebra:  Chapter 4 - Functions.  See your review material from Block 1 for a good overview of what's on the test. 

    Geometry:  Chapter 3 - Parallel and Perpendicular Lines.  You must, must, must have all definitions, posulate and theorems memorized for the test.  Trust me on this.

    Monday, October 25, 2010

    Algebra: Live Review Thursday

    My car is in the shop which is making it hard for me to schedule tutoring time with students in as much as I'm going to try something different.  It may not work.  It might.

    Thursday afternoon I'm going to post the official "Live Review" post.  Students are welcome to post questions in the comments section.  Questions should be specific to our review material, either the study guide, the end of chapter review or an older quiz.  Starting at 7:30pm I will begin answering questions on YouTube and posting them as I answer them.  I will remain doing this until 9:00pm.  If there are no questions posted, though, I may take a few breaks but I will do my best to be available to not only respond, but to explain.

    We'll see how this goes and if this is a useful resource or not.

    Sunday, October 24, 2010

    Geometry: Status Update

    I just thought you guys should know, this is my current Facebook Status:

    Rob Osterman is writing a pop quiz for his Geometry class

    Enjoy your Sunday!

    Friday, October 22, 2010

    Student Responsibilities

    This is a short update on a few expectations for class:

    1) Books are required in class.

    This is for a few reasons. One of those is access to the book as a practice bank. Rather than relying on worksheets and handouts I would like to have students use these resources as well.  In addition I would like to start working with classes to make the book a more useful tool and do some reading activities based in that text.  Simply put, many do not know how to read a text book.

    For those who ask, I will, next week, have CD's with copies of the book on them electronically if they would like to use those rather than the Holt Website.  Students have also been given a login and password for the Holt Website to access their online book through.

    2)  Students are responsible for their own absent work

    I post every assignment in Skyward when it is given.  I attach the worksheet to the assignment.  If your student is absent it is their responsibility to get the work they need from the website.  For the cases where internet access is simply not available, I will, of course, make accomondations.  My primary concern here is for students who miss class for a field trip, and then come in the next day with the common question "Did I miss anything?"

    With this a few friendly reminders:

    A)  There is no pure extra credit, however students can 'earn' breaks with Brownie Points.  These are most easily earned with board work, but also by participating in online discussions, helping organize the hard copies of class notes, and by other activities.

    B)  Students should be checking the website every few days for updates on tests, quizzes and other key events.  I will continue to post heads up for announced quizzes and other items here.

    C)  Notebooks are not optional.  Students should be painfully aware of this on Monday.  I won't say why, only that we did take a lot of notes on Friday and it would be a shame for a student to not be able to show me their copy of those notes on Monday.  Hint Hint....

    D)  Do check the YouTube Channel if you need additional help.  The same problems are there laid out and the lesson can be paused, rewound and reviewed.  In addition I can be easily emailed with something such as "In 3-4 Example 2 I got lost at 3:12.  Can you explain that?"  Then I know to go to the video, and to review what was happening at the 3 minute, 12 second mark.

    And as one final reminder I am promised to be here afterschool every Tuesday if a student needs help.  Mr. Cox has gratiously garunteed Thursdays, and we have NHS drop in tutoring on Wed.  I'm of course available at other times, just let me know a day or so ahead.

    Oh, and the Algebra BA on chapter 4 is not on Monday.

    Off Topic: Friday Fun

    It's friday and it's time to infect you with one of the most annoyingly catchy songs on the internet!





    Thursday, October 21, 2010

    Talk about Algebra: Variable Types and the Mythbusters

    First:  I did remind students not to try anything from this video at home.  I said it, they said it, I said it again.

    Now, on with the discussion.

    Due to the MEAP testing this week,* some classes got a little off from others.  We did our review as planned in 6th hour but with a little extra time and many many student questions on Dependent vs Independent variables I thought it was time to tap my favorite TV Show:  Mythbusters.

    The myth we watched and discussed was one that had to do with how much of a fire ball would be created by pouring water onto a grease fire.  The Mythbusters were experimenting with different materials, different pans, and different ammounts of water with the intent to try to create the largest ball of fire possible.  This worked prefectly with our discussions of Independent and Dependent variables in class.

    For example, in the "mini" experiement (linked below) they varied the size and shape of the pan to see what was the effect on the fireball.  In this case the "Shape of the Pan" is the Independent Variable (the input) and the fireball height was the Dependent Variable (the output).  If we were to draw a graph, we'd plot the shape along the bottom of the graph, and the height of the graph, convienently, would be along the side, literally showing the height.

    Now to be fair, Domain and Range is problematic for students as well.  Domain is the set of values for the Independent Variable, and Range is the set of values for the Dependent.  For this experiment it'd look like this:

    D = {wok, sauce pan, stovepipe}
    R = {20ft, 22 ft}  (or some similar numbers)

    Wednesday, October 20, 2010

    About BA Retakes

    A student asked me this:

    "If I didn't get it on the BA how am I supposed to do the work to earn a retake?"

    It's a fair question and one I want to be sure everyone has an answer to.

    In short the whole purpose of the "Evidence of Improvment" is to force students to do work to get better and to get ready for that retake.  Without that, it is very easy for students to show up for a re-take and say that they think they'll do better but have done little to any preparation.  In fact, my experience has been that students are less prepared for a re-take than the original becuase of the time difference between the two assessments.

    For this reason I encourage students to take the evidence portion of the preparation seriously.  Do real work to get ready.  Work with a tutor or a friend.  Double, triple check answers.  See me or another teacher for help.  Do what needs to be done to be better prepared.  And if the poor first run at the test was simply a matter of bad luck, then use this as a chance to be sure that you are still ready.

    This week in Algebra

    Thanks to my son's illness on Monday (lost day), and MEAP testing on Wednesday, this week is a bit wonky.  My plan is to have us all back on track by Friday.  Here's what I've got planned by class for the week:

    All Three Classes - Focused Review on Algebra
    6th hour - 4.4 - Graphing Functions
    3rd Hour - MEAP.
    5th Hour - More Algebra Review/ Graphing Practice
    3rd Hour - 4.5 - Graphing Functions
    5th Hour - 4.5 - Graphing Functions
    6th Hour - More Algebra Review/ Graphing Practice
    All three classes:  Quiz Chapter 4 - 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4

    Tuesday, October 19, 2010

    In the News: Facebook Privacy. Again.


    As if there aren't enough things to worry about line, Facebook is in the news again.

    Not for the recent movie fictionalizing its creation, and making Mark Zuckerberg look like a world class jerk.

    Not for the documentary revealing how easily someone's online persona can be improved, manipulated and falsified.

    Not for teachers using it inappropriately.

    This one is all about companies getting to know you, and selling that data to others who want to have it for their own use, mostly to sell you more stuff.

    From ABC.Com:
    The Journal found that in 25 instances the third-party app companies were taking in users' Facebook identification numbers. The number then tied into a user's profile and could identify the person by name, no matter how secure his or her privacy settings were.

    The companies tracking you could then build a clear profile of your habits. If they used other Internet tracking technology to keep a record of the websites you visit and then married that to your name, this would be a clear violation of Facebook's policies, which has consumer groups up in arms.
    So why should any of you care?

    Monday, October 18, 2010

    Geometry: Attack of the Vocab

    Section 3-1 is all about terms.  Students need to feel confident with the following words:
    • Parallel
    • Perpendicular
    • Skew
    • Transversal
    • Corresonding Angles
    • Alternate Interior Angles
    • Alternate Exterior Angles
    • Same Side Interior Angles
    Now it's really important to note that the pairs of angles apply to all cases when you've got two lines that are cut by a transversal.  The lines do NOT need to be parallel.

    Friday, October 15, 2010

    Talk about Algebra: Independent and Dependent Variables

    Today's vocabulary includes two terms: Independent Variable and Dependent Variable. When given a situation with data, students are expected to know which set is the Independent (often called Control) and which are the Dependent.

    If you think of a function like a machine, the Independent Variable is the input set, and Dependent is the output. So if this were a factory, The Independent Variable would be the metal going in, and the Dependent Variable would be the cars coming out the other side.

    Another example, more grounded in our lesson, is the comparison of the money we make, with hours worked. The longer you work, the more money you make. Hours is Independent, Pay is Dependent.

    We do this all the time in education research. Some reserachers experiment with class sizes, comparing how many students are in a class with how well they do on standardized tests. In this case the Independent variable is the number of students, the Dependent is test scores.

    In short, anything we control going in is the Independent, and the results of that is the Dependent.

    Tied to this I raised a question towards the end of our lesson:

    When you compare the number of stocks sold, with the value of those stocks, which is the Independent, and which is the Dependent?  In other words, which one Determines the other?  Which one is Dependent on the other?  Do sales drive price, or do prices drive sales?

    Feel free to post your own answer to this in the comments.  As usual participation is worthy of Brownie Points, and please no last names.

    Off Topic: Friday Fun

    One of my favorite episodes of Mythbusters involves the myth that a man's house was destroyed when his water heater overheated and shot out of the basement like a rocket.  Here's a short clip from that episode where they have taken a heater, removed all the safety devices and seen what happened.

    Test Prep

    Disclaimer Applies

    Everyone likes to talk about how to raise student test scores.  It's the big news, and the media is all over how important it is for us to get better scores out of our students.  With the internet there's no lack of articles with advice, notes on what principals can do to help, even books on the subject.  Intrestingly, just doing a Google search on "How to raise test scores" three of top 5 results were not how to raise scores but on how teacher bonuses would not raise them.  As the kids say, "Go fig".

    That all said I'd like to share a bit about how I prepared for an exam.

    Thursday, October 14, 2010

    Talk about Algebra: Functions

    Classically in mathematics we talk about functions using language like f(x) and f o g (x) or "as long as the domain of the fuction remains consistant with the real numbers, then the range will occupy the same solution set as the subdomain."  If you want your head to spin, do a google search for "calculus functions" and go down a few hits.

    But as we showed in class today there are easier ways to think about this.  I'd like to toss out another one here:

    A function is just a way of pairing things from one group to things from another group.  There are two catches:

    Catch one:  Every item in the first group has to be used.
    Catch two:  Every item in the first group can only have one thing in the second group paired with it.

    Here's an anlogy to help frame this as you talk to your student:

    Say you have a cupboard that is full of Tupperware (or something similar).  It's been a long time since you organized it, so it's all piles of bowls, boxes and random lids.  So you set out to clean it.  You put all the bowls and boxes into one pile (our Domain), and you put all the lids in the other pile (our Range).

    Now the important thing is to be sure that every bowl you have has a lid.  That hits rule 1.  So you pick up a bowl, find a matching lid, and set it asside.  The other thing is that even if you find two lids that fit the same bowl, there's no real need to keep both lids.  You have a bowl.  You have a lid.  You're good.  Drive on, private.

    In other words, every bowl gets exactly one lid, every bowl gets used, and you use the rule of "bowl and lid have to fit together" to pair them.  The rule becomes known as a Function.

    BA Test Reminder

    There is nothing fun or interesting here, just a reminder that tomorrow, Friday Oct 15th there is a BA test in both Geometry classes (1st and 4th hours).  The test will take the entire period, but students should bring something to work on quietly incase they finish early.

    Spread the word!
    Photo Credit Here

    Tuesday, October 12, 2010

    New Link: NHS Tutoring

    If you look in the sidebar you'll see a link to the NHS tutoring page with a file that has all of our NHS students organized by subject that they are interesting in tutoring.  These students need to earn community service hours and represent the best and brightest of our upper-classmen.  Many even had me as a teacher.

    I advise students struggling that now might be the time to consider making arrangments to meet with one of them on a weekly basis if their schedules make coming for afterschool help too challenging.

    Photo crecdit:  Click Here

    Crowd Source: Geometry Review

    If you have questions, post them here in the comment section.  Please leave your first name (hour and last initial are optional).  If you have an answer to any question posted, post it as a comment as well, and address it to the question asker.  Comments are open for Anonymous Posting.  Do.  Not.  Abuse.  This.

    Participation in this online activity will earn you between 2 and 4 Brownie Points which will be awarded on Friday.

    Also the BA test has been pushed back to Friday.  If you are looking for the Chapter 2 Review Guide, you should head over to Skyward, and look for it as an attached file to the assignment.  If you need your Skyward Password they are available before school in the media center.

    Sunday, October 10, 2010

    Geometry: Vocab Practice

    The following are terms that you will need to know for the Geometry Vocab Quiz on Monday.  This list is not complete so don't think that because it's not here, you don't need to know it.

    Students may earn 2 Brownie Points by posting a definition in the comments area.  The first correct Definition earns a point, and please only one definition per student.

    • Conjecture
    • Inductive Reasoning
    • Deductive Reasoning
    • Hypothesis (for Geometry)
    • Conclusion
    • Converse
    • Inverse
    • Contrapositive
    • Conjunction
    • Disjunction
    • Law of Detachment
    • Law of Slyogism
    EDIT to add:

    Just give your first name and last initial please.  Steve H in 1st Hour already has Conjecture which is a statement believed to be true based on Inductive Reasoning.

    Friday, October 8, 2010

    Big Bang Theory: Inductive Vs Deductive Debate

    Tonight we finally watched this week's Big Bang Theory (airing on CBS, Thursday at 8:00) and I was amazed at how well a lot of the episode played into what we have been talking about in class.  Because this might not be relevant, I'll put it under a cut.  Click below to read.

    Off Topic: Friday Fun

    I make no secret of my dislike of Twilight.

    But when you pair the melodramatic story with an overly catchy pop tune you get a video that's actually pretty entertaining.

    Test and Quiz Date Updates

    For next week these are the plans:

    Monday:  Review Chap 3
    Block 1:  Finish review/ Chapter 3 BA Test
    Block 2:  Begin Chapter 4
    Friday:  Continue Chap 4

    Monday:  Truth Tables / Vocab Quiz
    Block 1:  Review Chapter 2, Finish Truth Tables
    Block 2:  Chapter 2 BA Test
    Friday:  Begin Chapter 3

    Talk About Math: Which is better?

    Constructive participation in this discussion will earn a student 2 Brownie Points.

    I wanted to ask the question, which is a "better" form of argument, inductive reasoning or deductive reasoning?

    By way of review, inductive reasoning is the reasoning based on experience and experiement, while deductive is based on logical steps forming an arugment.  For example a research scientist tends to use inductive (he tries things) while a theoretical scientist uses deductive (he writes things down on the white board to see what he can calculate and predict).

    I am inviting students to leave a comment saying which one they think is the "Better" of the two and to provide some kind of explanation of why they trust that kind of reasoning more than the other.  Parents are also encouraged to leave a comment (which can earn 1 additional BP for their student).

    Dr. Sheldon Cooper (theoretical scientist) and Penny.
    Photo:  Warner Bros TV


    Wednesday, October 6, 2010

    Comments and the Mystery of Math

    Watching TV tonight I had the thought to do a non-class specific post. First I'd like to invite people to use the comments feature provided. If something I post is not clear, or you wish to comment, contribute or continue a conversation, feel free to click on the Comment link, and post your thoughts. Yes, it requires you to enter an email address and yes it is moderated, both of which would be consistant with our school policies and my own sense of "common internet sense". But that shouldn't be a roadblock to sharing a thought or two.

    It will also help me feel like these updates have some value.

    The primary thing I wanted to focus on, however, was the new TV show airing on ABC: No Ordinary Family. In this show, the son discovers that his super power is the ability to quickly and easily comprehend Mathematics. Watching the show I realized that they are using a similar effect to one used in the movie A Beautiful Mind and in the TV show Numb3rs.  They are making mathematics appear magical. As the problems are being solved, the words on the page just rearrange themselves. Images appear in space, working out a solution right there in real time, with little or no effort.

    This is a small point of concern because little I have seen about mathematics education says that it has to be that way.  I'll explain further under the cut:

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010

    Talk about Geometry: Airline Flights

    To help students ease into the idea of a logical chain of thoughts (and the Law of Syllogism) we did a short activity involving planning a flight from one city to another using a limited set of options.  This might be a way to spur some conversation about the basics of proof. 

    Test Days

    The following will be our next Benchmark Assessments:

    Geometry:  Block 1 next week
    For 1st hour and 4th hour that will be on Tuesday 10/12

    Algebra:  Block 1 Next week
    For 6th hour that will be on Tuesday 10/12
    For 3rd and 5th Hours that will be Wednesday 10/13

    News: Longer School Year?

    As always these opinions are expressed to inform and raise awareness and are not nessecarily those of WL Central HS, or Walled Lake CSD.

    Last week it was said again:  American students need a longer school year.

    Washington -- Barely into the new school year, President Barack Obama issued a tough-love message to students and teachers on Monday: Their year in the classroom should be longer, and poorly performing teachers should get out.

    American students are falling behind their foreign counterparts, especially in math and science, and that's got to change, Obama said. Seeking to revive a sense of urgency that education reform may have lost amid the recession's focus on the economy, Obama declared that the future of the country is at stake.

    U.S. schools through high school offer an average of 180 instruction days per year, according to the Education Commission of the States, compared to an average of 197 days for lower grades and 196 days for upper grades in countries with the best student achievement levels, including Japan, South Korea, Germany and New Zealand.

    "That month makes a difference," the president said.
    This is not a new idea from the President.  He said the same thing last year at this time.  What will be interesting is to see how much traction it gets during an election year, or if we'll see some action on it during the winter months when schools are far from everyone's minds again.

    Monday, October 4, 2010

    WMRO is up and running

    I now have an official YouTube channel for my classes.  At this time I'm planning to run a single channel for both Geometry and Algebra,  but the files will be grouped by subject if you sort them alphabetically.  The model go like this:

    "Alg 3-5 Prac B #4" is for Algebra, section 3-5, Practice B worksheet, #4.

    "Geo 2-Review #10" is for Geometry, Chapter 2, Review problems, #10.

    Hopefully that should keep it easy to find what you need when you need it.

    Talk about Geometry: Death Rays

    Kids... you need to study Geometry before you build multi-million dollar hotels...

    LAS VEGAS (Reuters) – MGM Resorts International is taking the heat for an intense beam of searing desert sunlight, jokingly dubbed the "death ray," that some hotel guests say poses a risk of severe burns to bathers lounging poolside.

    The beam is actually a concentrated reflection of solar rays bouncing off the gleaming glass facade of the concave-shaped, high-rise Vdara hotel and condominium, which opened on the Las Vegas "strip" in December.
    Read more here.

    Sunday, October 3, 2010

    Talk About Math: Valid vs Invalid

    In geometry we're currently discussing Valid Vs Invalid and this is creating some interesting conversations and with it fair confusion. So here's a few ideas for keeping things straight:

    Here is a sample valid agrument (using the Law of Detachment):

    "Not a wizard gone bad wasn't in Slytherin. That one is a wicked evil wizard, so it only makes sense he was one of them Slytherin." (stolen slightly from Harry Potter)

    Let's clean that up and put it into the format we use in class:

    If they are a bad wizard, then they were in Slytherin.
    That is a bad wizard.
    Therefore, they were in Slytherin.

    This follows the Valid arguement we call the Law of Detachment and thus is a valid argument.

    Now this gets a little tricky because we can argue with someone about whether or not the argument is True. For example, let's say that the second statement is not true. Let's say that due to a case of mistaken identity, we get a good wizard confused for an evil one. Does the conclusion that they were in Slytherin still fit? Of course not, making the statement that he was in Slytherin, and the whole argument overall False.

    But it's still a Valid argument.

    The hardest thing we face is seperating True conclusions from Valid conclusions. Students frequently focus on True/False (which we also covered in the first few sections) instead of Valid/Invalid which is the newer topic.

    Saturday, October 2, 2010

    Homework Problem

    As a bit of modeling for my video homework pilot, here is one of the problems from the Algebra Homework for the weekend. Recorded with me holding the cam in one hand, and my pen in the other. I did record it directly to YouTube, but once there I have the option of downloading the file itself. If this were a student project, at this point, I would prefer them to download it, mail it to me, and then I would re-upload it, unless we have parent consent to do direct recording and posting.

    Friday, October 1, 2010

    Friday Fun

    Today's Friday Fun is a video I made of my son far too long ago, made up of pictures from the first 6 months of his life.  He's nearly three now and I really need to make another one of these montages.  Part of why I posted it was to show that you can turn still photos into a video using Windows Movie maker, which ties in with the Video Homework Pilot I mentioned earlier.

    Have a good weekend everyone.

    Policy Postings

    If you check over to left right I have posted two new pages.  One is an explanation of how I handle students re-taking a BA test.  These rules should be reviewed and it is important to note that the process is more involved than a student simply showing up afterschool for a re-do of the test.

    The other page is an explanation of a pilot program for students to show their understanding of the work in a unique way, and sharing that work with others.  I encourage students and parents to review this as well because it will be, I think, a useful alternative.