Sunday, November 28, 2010

Algebra Answers

So those working as they should be over the short holiday, here are the "answers" to the 4 riddles on your worksheet:

Did you hear about...
"The farmer who named his pet rooster Robinson because he crew so?"

Why does a poor man drink coffee?
"He has no proper tea"

Why Did Gyro Go into the Bakery?
"Just for the smell of it"

What happened when two fruit companies merged?
"They made a perfect pear"

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Talk about Math: Thanksgiving Football

Happy Thanksgiving!

While the day is traditionally about giving thanks for the blessings upon our families there is another tradition:


Watching the game with my In-Laws, my Brother-in-Law's wife (which techinically is different than my Sister-in-Law which I don't have), mentioned that she teaches Points, Lines and Planes using football.  After all, the rule is that a touch down occurs when the ball breaks the plane of the goal line.  So you can imagine a plane that extends upwards from the field, perpendicular to it.  If the ball (a point) hits this plane or passes through it and is is possessed by the team, then it is a touch down.

In both Algebra and Geometry we've been talking about these terms:
  • Parallel
  • Perpendicular
  • Plane
  • Point
  • Skew
As I watch the game it's hard not to see these terms illustrated on the field, in the plays, and player's movements.  I won't give them all away now, but there are brownie points available to everyone who posts an example of terms from class (and not just the ones above) in reference to football.  It's one point per definition/ example with a max of 3 points per student.

Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Off Topic: Friday Fun - ASL is back

Okay so here's another fun video to round the day out. I know I posted two fun videos from our school's pep assembly. This video was actually posted as the Friday Fun video a few weeks ago, but sadly Ally had had her YouTube account closed while they debated what to do about her use of the full song in her videos.

So here it is as the "Official" Friday Fun Video.

Have a great long weekend guys and Algebra kids, check back on Sunday for the answers to the riddles on your homework.

The Canned Food Drive Reward

Becuase in the 11th hour our Students stepped up, we had a very special pep assembly today to honor their commitment and to see the benefits of their labors.

Yes, they raised 60,000 lbs of food. Yes they reached out to the commuity as a group.

And for that we have:

The Hender-Sundae!

And the infamous Morg-hawk!

Monday, November 22, 2010

How to use this Blog: Reminders

Happy Monday on a short week!

Here's a quick break down on where and how to find a few things that people seem to be getting confused and confuzled on:

For Homework Assignments:
  • Check your Skyward Account.  Homework is posted as it is given.  Worksheets are usually attached.
For Grades:
  • Check your Skyward Account.  I cannot post grades here.
For discussions and additional examples:
  • Check here at the website
For Brownie Point Opportunities
  • Check here at the website
For Class Announcements which include test days, reminders, suggestions, points of clarity, and general information:
  • Check here at the website
Some students are still coming to the website, not finding their homework and then assuming that we don't have any.  All assignments are posted in Skyward.  Occassionally I'll post one here if I feel it is Very Important and I don't want any students to miss doing it.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Off Topic: Friday Fun

So.... what did you do with your weekend?

Talk about Algebra: Mini Essay

I rarely post assignments to the blog but this was one I wanted to share because I think part of its power will be to create dialogue about one of the most basic tools in a student's box:  The Note Book.

Note Book Mini-Essay
Write a short essay that describes the following things:
·         Two things you do in your notes that make them useful. 
o    Examples might include things like “Good diagrams”, “I write more than what’s on the board”, “other people find them organized”.
o    Provide specific examples, such as “Last Monday (11/8) I used a highlighter to help me find the formula for slope” or “When we were studying Zelda said that my examples were really easy to read”.  You must have one example for each of your two points.
·         One thing that you will do better in your notes.
o    Be specific.  “Take better notes” does not count.
o    Consider:  “Writing down what is said as well as what is written”, “organize my notes by making more outlines”, “I will write my questions in my notes as well as asking them so I don’t ask again”.
This should be considered an Essay and not an outline.  Use complete sentences.  Use proper grammar.  They may be handwritten; typed is easier to read.  There is no minimum length; maximum is one page.

This will be due the first day of class next week (Block A for 6th hour, Block B for 3rd and 5th)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Geo and Alg: Live Review

BA's tomorrow in all but 1st hour.  Feel free to post your questions and check back later to see what answers have appeared.  There are two BP's for answers provided by students that are good enough to mean I don't have to answer myself.  :)

Click on Comment below to enter your question.

Internet Hunt Starts here

This is the internet scavenger hunt we completed in 5th hour.  It's posted here to bring students in to the website first and for those reviewing for the BA tomorrow who want one more collection of ideas to help prepare for the exam.

Linear Functions Review

Hello Algebra 1 students.  In this Internet scavenger hunt you will be reviewing the topics covered in the first half of Chapter 5 on linear functions.  You will receive a handout from your teacher that will help you organize and answer the questions below on linear functions. The questions relate to the websites directly above them. 

Points on a graph
1) Take a look at the graph on this website. Answer the questions next to the graph.

Point Plotter
2) Click on the activity that says “Point Plotter.”  Take 1-2 minutes and plot points on the graph.  On a scale of 1-5 (5 being awesome and 1 being not so great), how did you do at plotting points?
Circle One
1  2   3  4  5    What do you need to study?________________________________________________________________________

3) What is the vertical line test? 
4) What does it show us?
5)Which linear equation is NOT a function?

6) What does it say ALGEBRAICALLY about intercepts?
7) What does it say SPECIFICALLY about intercepts?
8) Give an example of an ordered pair for x-intercepts and y-intercepts.

9) Write down your answers to the questions.
10) On a scale of 1-5 (5 being awesome and 1 being not so great), how did you do at finding intercepts?
Circle One
1  2   3  4  5    What do you need to study?________________________________________________________________________
Slope and y-intercepts
11) What is the equation they give for slope?
12) What are the two points they use for positive slope? What is the slope? Draw a picture of the line that goes through the two points.
13) What are the two points they use for negative slope? What is the slope? Draw a picture of the line that goes through the two points.

14) What is the definition and the equation that they give for slope?
15) Out of this website and the previous website, which definition/formula of slope did you like better?  Why?

16) Take a look at the graph on this website.  Answer the questions next to the graph. 
         What do you need to study?

Real-Line Linear Function
17) What is the real-life example the website gives?
18) What is the equation?
19) What is the slope?
20) What is the y-intercept?
21) Draw a graph of the equation.

Line Plotter
22) Click on the activity that says “Line Plotter.”  Take 1-2 minutes and create lines on the graph.  On a scale of 1-5 (5 being awesome and 1 being not so great), how did you do at plotting points?
Circle One
1  2   3  4  5    What do you need to study?________________________________________________________________________

TutorVista. (2010) Graph of Linear Equations in One Variable. Retrieved from

Failed to PLAN: 1st Hour BA on Monday

Due to the PLAN test this morning removing 2/3rds of my students and robbing them of a critical 90 min review, 1st hour's BA test in on Monday.

4th hour is still on Friday. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Algebra: Class Notes and Quiz Questions

I have to admit a small amount of frustration:

Tomorrow 11/18 we'll get back our quizzes in Alegbra.  These were open note quizzes, as in students could use anything in their notebooks.  We are getting them back so students will have tomorrow night to rework missed problems as part of their prep for Friday's BA test.

The quiz was announced twice before it was given on the website, once on Wednesday the prior week, and again on Friday.

Two quiz items asked students to identify if a set of data was a "Linear Function".  In class we defined this as "a collection of points with a common slope" and reviewed how to get this slope.  We did several examples in class, some of which made it onto the YouTube channel are are top of the playlist for chapter 5, or can be directly found here and here.

I am disappointed at how many students, given 3-4 class examples that should have been in their notes, given the mulitple practice problems that were assigned and reviewed the next day, given the fact that the quiz was open note, only wrote for their answer a "yes" or a "no" or just had a few words of justification.  Very very few actually showed a hint of the work that we modeled, practiced and reviewed.

Students would be well advised to take this warning seriously:  These are on the BA on Friday.  There is no partial credit for not following the equations and set up.

Friday: BA Day!

I'm not sure how it is that Algebra and Geometry seem to be on the Exact Same Schedule, but here it is again:

All classes:  BA test on Friday Novemenber 19th.

Algebra:  Chapter 5A (5-1 through 5-6)
Geometry:  Chapter 4

Students will want to review all the formulas and all the definitions.  In Algebra it boils down to basic equation skills and knowing what formula to use when.  In Geometry it's a matter of knowing the theorems and the definitions inside and out.

You may also want to look at my article from last month on test preparation.  Thursday evening will again be doing a Live Review period.  The live review thread will go up at 7:00 pm Thursday evening and I will be checking, posting, and answering questions until 9:00pm.  Finally I will be staying afterschool on Thursday until around 5:00pm.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Talk about Algebra: Cat-applications

Who says you never use this stuff in real life?

Researchers wanted to know how fast a cat's tongue moved while it was lapping up milk.  And being a funny sort set out to find out.....

The engineers worked out a formula: the lapping frequency should be the weight of the cat species, raised to the power of minus one-sixth and multiplied by 4.6. They then made friends with a curator at Zoo New England, the nonprofit group that operates the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston and the Stone Zoo in Stoneham, Mass., who let them videotape his big cats. Lions, leopards, jaguars and ocelots turned out to lap at the speeds predicted by the engineers.

Read more here and giggle.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Talk about Algebra: The Intercepts

The skill in question goes like this:  Given an equation in standard form, identify the intercepts and provide their meaning.

Let me try this example (which comes from our class notes) to help explain this and provide means to talk about it:

Photo Credit:  Cedar Point Amusement Park

Suppose you have $500 to organize a family reunion at Cedar Point.  Tickets to the park cost $20 for adults and $15 for kids under the age of 12.  (Disclaimer:  I have no idea what the prices are, but work with me.)  So that means that as we consider how many kids and how many adults are going, we have a limited number of tickets we can buy.  If we have a lot of kids, that means less adults.  More adults?  Less kids.  In the end the total we can spend (the sum, the two numbers added up) on tickets is (equals) $500.  So the equation might look like this:

20a + 15k = 500, where a is the number of adults and k is the number of kids.

Now the Intercepts come in as the extreme points in our example.  Literally an intercept is where a graph crosses either the X axis or the Y axis on the co-ordinate plane.  But fundamentally, the intercept is where one of the two variables (quantities) is 0, and we have to figure out the other one.

So the question is this:  How many kids can we sent into the park if all the adults decide to do something else with their day?  That would be a = 0, and after a little algebra we see the answer is 500 / 15 = 33.3, or 33 kids.  We might also ask, how many adults can go if we simply forget the kids and let them hang out at the hotel pool (with proper lifeguarding of course)?  That would be k = 0, and so 500 / 20 = 25 adults.

The actual intercepts would be the points (0, 33.3) and (25, 0), and their 'meaning' would be "If there are no kids, 25 adults can go, and if there are no adults, 33 kids can go, with a few dollars left over".

If you or your student would like to contribute another such example of two things that can be set up in a form of inverse relation (that is one goes up as the other goes down), please share it by clicking on the "Comment" button bellow.  Students attached to an example can pick up 2 Brownie points, but please only leave a First Name and class period, do not leave a last name.

Discliamer:  Inverse variation is actually defined by a slightly different formula and I only use the term here to suggest "a case where as one goes up the other goes down".  In true inverse variation there are no intercepts because the graph is a hyperbola and not a line.

Off Topic: Friday Fun Flash Mob

This week's Friday Fun features the kind of thing you don't always see at your local student union. Check out a fairly atypical day at Ohio State University (~cough Go Blue cough~)

Conference After Action Report: Responsiblity

After, I think, a productive evening at Parent Teacher Conferences I have a few additional thoughts to get out there for all of us, parent, student and teacher, to reflect on.

First of them is the reminder that this website and blog is intended to be a tool that serves a variety of uses.  It is a communication tool to share upcoming test and quiz dates.  It is a supplement to my classroom teaching with additional examples.  It is a means to share ideas with parents and gaurdians to help them communicate with their student not just about grades, but also about the actual "stuff" of our classes.  It is a place where students can earn extra credit by becoming participants, and contributors, and it is a place for them to ask questions and discuss.

It is not a garuntee of success, but it is another arrow in the quiver for each student. 

As such I do have the expectation that students make a habit coming to this site at a minimum of once a week.  I think this is a reasonable expectation given the general accessability our school and community offer.

And this leads to my other primary thought:  Responsibility.

Students have many opportunties to review the material in class, to get additional face time with myself, or with an NHS tutor, and to demonstrate their understanding in their own way.  This includes reworking missed problems on quizzes (which provides good study opportunity) as well as the option to retake a BA Exam after showing that they've mastered the material they had not when they took it the first time.  These are opportunities, however, that students must take the initiative to persue.

I will continue to update this blog with things I find interesting, relevant, funny, timely, and engaging.  I will continue to post problems from class to YouTube, and remind students of the online text book that they can reference for additional help and examples.  I will continue review every homework problem every day with students.  I will continue to review every quiz item with them, and provide them a place and time to ask for additional help and understanding.

And I will continue to believe that this can be a great year for all of us.

Photo Credit:  Government Archive

Monday, November 8, 2010

Out of the Office: 11/9

As we continue through two intense chapters in Algebra and Geometry I regret that I won't be available Tuesday 11/9 afterschool for help or review as I'm flitting off with my little guy to the dentist at 3:30.  Ah, 3 year-olds and dentists....

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Off Topic: State Champs!

How do you not blog about our State Champion Viking Marching Band?!?!?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Talk about Algebra: Make your Own Problems

How often are you told that it's a "Good Thing" to create problems for yourself?

Here's your challenge:  Write a story problem following the model shown below.  Then compute the slope for that set of data and, of course, show your work.  You have to have at least 4 data points (and thus 3 slopes to calculate and compare).

You may even find one of your problems snuck onto Monday's Quiz, which while your classmates may dislike, you at least will know the answer!

Here's a sample with solution:

A local indoor play center can be rented for kid's birthday parties.  With Xander rapidly approaching the ripe ol' age of 3, we decide to investigate one.  Asking some people who've been to Jungle Jim's Jamboree, we find that they've had parties there too and here is the data we got:
10 kids, $70
12 kids, $82
15 kids, $100
20 kids, $130

Does this follow a linear relationship?  What's the slope?

Now on to the solution:

Friday, November 5, 2010

Off Topic: Friday Fun in ASL

I have always been impressed and amazed by American Sign Language.  On my list of things I want to do "someday" is to learn ASL to the point of fluency.  As it was the closest I have is that last year I signed a song along side one of the seniors performing at the spring pops concert.  And this feat was only possible as the result of watching the video of the song signed over and over and over until I had it down.

So following up on Halloween, I bring you a pair of ASL videos I like:

Algebra: Help Post

There is still a quiz on Monday in Algebra as posted here.

This will cover topics from 5-1 (What is a Linear Function?),  5-3 (rise and run) and 5-4 (the Slope Formula).  As you work through your homework if you have questions you can email them to me ( RobertOsterman (at) or you can post them here as a comment.

To post a question, click on the link below that says "Comment".  Then type in your question.  You will need to check back periodically for an answer.  Depending on the complexity of the question I may video tape my response and post the video to YouTube Channel.

Geometry Help Post

There is still a quiz on Monday in Geometry as posted here.

This will cover topics from 4-1 (classification of triangles), 4-2 (angles of triangles) and 4-3 (congruent figures).  As you work through your homework if you have questions you can email them to me ( RobertOsterman (at) or you can post them here as a comment.

To post a question, click on the link below that says "Comment".  Then type in your question.  You will need to check back periodically for an answer.  Depending on the complexity of the question I may video tape my response and post the video to YouTube Channel.

End of the Marking Period

Here are some thoughts as the 1st Marking Period comes to a close.  It has been an exciting time, with interesting classes, fun lessons and some wonderful conversations (most of which are on topic too!)

BA Retakes can be done through the end of the Semester

Students may retake any BA all the way through January.  However they can only retake a given BA once.  One time.  It is absolutely essential that students take that re-test seriously and prepared better for the retest than they did for the original test.

Students must show their study and review notes before I schedule a retest.

I have some concerns that many students are scheduling retests without showing me any review notes and when pressed have dug up old homework to say is their "evidence".  This worries me because I fear that some aren't really putting the time in to take maximum opportunity here and are instead taking what I call the shot gun approach:  aim in the general direction and hope you hit something.

I appreciate students taking the time to stay after school or come during SRT to retake a test they did poorly on.  However, they will be turned away if they cannot show ample evidence that they learned what they needed to learn and demonstrate on the BA.  This is consistant with my posted and oft-repeated rules.

I am a last minute kind of guy

I'm not horribly proud of it.  But the reality is that if I'm told grades are due at 1200 on Monday, then at 1158 I push the post button.  It's a personal quirk I'd like to work on and get better at, but I'm currently putting "get things done more in advance" behind things like "get homework posted when it's assigned", "respond to emails within a day", and "plan lessons a day or two out."  I'm still getting those three things mastered so....

It has been fun!

Honestly.  Despite some tensions in some classes it has been a fun 10 weeks.  I'm blessed with some amazing students, some of whom even have made a habit of checking this website out.  As far as this semester goes, we're half way there... ooo oooo livin' on a prayer...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Weekly Update:

Mon (PLC Day)  Started chapter 4.
Block 1:  Reviewed 4-1 and did 4-2.
Block 2:  4-3 - Definition of Congruent Figures and Triangles

Mon (PLC) - Started chapter 5 - What is a Linear Function?
Block 1 and Block 2:  What is Slope?

All classes there will be a quiz on Monday 11/8 covering this week's content.  It will be open note.  Also the "word of the day" for the quiz will be an animal that shares the same first letter as your first name.  In other words, my "word of the day" could be a Robin, or a Rhino, or a Rat.

The marking period ends on Friday.  Students wanting to retake BA's must do them by Thursday if they want a chance of me grading them before grades are due.  Please reveiw the retake rules.  Many students are still ignoring these.  I find it vexing.