Engaging students: The quadratic formula

In my capstone class for future secondary math teachers, I ask my students to come up with ideas for engaging their students with different topics in the secondary mathematics curriculum. In other words, the point of the assignment was not to devise a full-blown lesson plan on this topic. Instead, I asked my students to think about three different ways of getting their students interested in the topic in the first place.

I plan to share some of the best of these ideas on this blog (after asking my students’ permission, of course).

This student submission again comes from my former student Storm Boykin. Her topic, from Algebra II: the quadratic formula.

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How could you as a teacher create an activity or project that involves your topic?

Learning the Quadratic Formula can be quite a tedious process for students. They have to learn the why and how, but still need to be able to recall the Quadratic Formula fairly quickly. Students cannot use it as a tool to solve quadratic equations if they cannot remember it. The chart below is to be a card sort from a mnemonic device that was passed down by a former teacher. The idea is that the students will have these cards mixed up, and then they will have to match the story with its’ mathematical counterpart. Then, using the mnemonic device, the student can put the story in order, and will have the quadratic formula before their eyes.

 

The negative boy -b
couldn’t decide ±
if he wanted to go to the radical party  √
but the boy was square b^2
and missed out on four awesome chicks -4ac
it was all over by two am /2a

 

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What interesting things can you say about the people who contributed to the discovery and/or the development of this topic?

Quadratics began to come about around 2000 BCE because mathematicians needed a way to make “architectural floor and wall plans.” Quadratics have been worked on by various cultures since then. While working on quadratics, Pythagorus found that the square root of a number did not have to be an integer. However, he didn’t believe that imaginary numbers existed, and had one of his associates killed for even suggesting to the public that “non- integers” existed. They idea of a quadratic formula was touched on by hindu and islamic mathematicians, but did not come into form as our modern day formula until 1637, when Rene Descartes published it in his geometric works.

https://musingsonmath.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/history-quadratic-formula.pdf

 

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How can this topic be used in your students’ future courses in mathematics or science?

All algebra and calculus courses will have quadratic equations in them. Students will have a much easier Physics experience if they have the equation at their disposal. Quadratics are used to calculate velocity and height of objects in the air. Real world examples involving velocity and height are the perfect blend of physics and science! Students will also need the quadratic formula for the SAT and PSAT.

 

 

 

Engaging students: Dividing polynomials

In my capstone class for future secondary math teachers, I ask my students to come up with ideas for engaging their students with different topics in the secondary mathematics curriculum. In other words, the point of the assignment was not to devise a full-blown lesson plan on this topic. Instead, I asked my students to think about three different ways of getting their students interested in the topic in the first place.

I plan to share some of the best of these ideas on this blog (after asking my students’ permission, of course).

This student submission again comes from my former student Sarah Asmar. Her topic, from Algebra/Precalculus: dividing polynomials.

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How could you as a teacher create an activity or project that involves your topic?

Many high school students are introduced to Polynomials in Algebra I. They are taught how to factor and to even graph Polynomials. In Algebra II, students are asked to add, subtract, multiply and divide Polynomials. Dividing Polynomials is challenging for many students because they are not only dividing numbers, but now they have added letters to the mix. There are two ways to divide Polynomials: Long Division and Synthetic Division. Since this is a topic that most students find difficult to grasp, I would split the students into groups of about 3 or 4 and provide each group with Algebra tiles. I would then provide each group with an index card with a specific Polynomial for them to divide. The index card will have a dividend and divisor for the students to use in order for them to create find the answer using the Algebra tiles. First, they will need to create a frame. Then, the dividend should be formed inside the frame while the divisor is formed on the left hand side outside of the frame. The answer will be shown with the tiles on the top line outside the frame. I will do an example with them first and then have them do the problem provided on their index card with their group. This activity will provide the students with a visual representation on how dividing polynomials would look like in order for it to be easier for them on paper.

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How can this topic be used in your students’ future courses in mathematics or science?

Students are introduced to dividing Polynomials in Algebra II. Most would never like to see this topic again, but unfortunately that is not the case. Dividing Polynomials is revisited in a Pre-Calculus class. However, it is taught at a much deeper level. Students are required to divide using long and synthetic division. Synthetic division is taught as a short cut for dividing Polynomials, but it doesn’t always work and students would have to divide using long division. Synthetic substitution is taught as well to find the solution of the Polynomial given. Synthetic substitution is as easy as just plugging in the given number for the variable provided in the Polynomial. Dividing Polynomials is also used in Binomial Expansion in Pre-Calculus. Along with all of these topics in Pre-Calculus, dividing Polynomials appears in all future basic Math courses such as Calculus. A real life example that uses Polynomials is aerospace science. These equations are used for object in motion, projectiles and air resistance.

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How can technology be used to effectively engage students with this topic?

 

 

I was searching the Internet and I came across this video. I thought that this video would be an amazing tool to help the students understand how to divide polynomials without me just lecturing to them. It is sung to the tune of “We Are Young” which is a very popular song in the pop music culture. Using something like this would show a visual representation, but it will also drill the steps in their head. Our brains can easily remember songs even after listening to a song just once. The fact that dividing polynomials is put into a song makes it more likely for a student to remember the steps they need to take in order to perform the indicated operation.

 

References:

 

http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/solsearch/sol/math/A/m_ess_a-2b_1.pdf

 

http://polynomialsinourlives.weebly.com/polynomials-in-the-real-world.html

 

 

Engaging students: Adding, subtracting, and multiplying matrices

In my capstone class for future secondary math teachers, I ask my students to come up with ideas for engaging their students with different topics in the secondary mathematics curriculum. In other words, the point of the assignment was not to devise a full-blown lesson plan on this topic. Instead, I asked my students to think about three different ways of getting their students interested in the topic in the first place.

I plan to share some of the best of these ideas on this blog (after asking my students’ permission, of course).

This student submission again comes from my former student Perla Perez. Her topic, from Algebra: adding, subtracting, and multiplying matrices.

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How could you as a teacher create an activity or project that involves your topic?

 

“Cryptography is the study of encoding and decoding messages. Cryptography was first developed to send secret messages in written form.” Cryptography also uses matrices to code and decode these messages by multiplication and the inverse of them. This, however, can be done by using any operations. By using the worksheet below as a foundation for an activity, teachers can have students act like hackers to engage students in computing different operations with matrices. In this activity, prepare the classroom by dividing it into four sections each with one of the phrases separated on the worksheet. Display the message (numerically) that is to be coded. Display the alphabet with corresponding number somewhere visible for students to have references throughout the activity. The instructions given are:

  1. Students are to get into four groups (more groups can be added for larger classrooms by making the phrase longer).
  2. Students are given an index card with the matrix [2, 7; 13, 5]
  3. Students are to add the matrix on each station to the the matrix on the card.
  4. When completed students must go change the message on the broad with the code.

When the students finish coding the message they can continue developing their skills by having them do this in the beginning of class throughout the lesson plan period. As the lesson progresses the teacher can change the phrase and require different operations to be made to either code or decode or even come up with their own message. With this activity the teacher gets the opportunity to see how the students choose to add the matrices together.

http://powersandmurphy.weebly.com/uploads/5/7/7/4/57747897/using_matrices_in_cryptography_intro.pdf

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How can technology (YouTube, Khan Academy [khanacademy.org], Vi Hart, Geometers Sketchpad, graphing calculators, etc.) be used to effectively engage students with this topic? Note: It’s not enough to say “such-and-such is a great website”; you need to explain in some detail why it’s a great website.

In today’s society we have access to a plethora of technology that can aid us in our everyday lives. There are so many ways one can learn something with different methods and from different people. The best part about the technology that we have access to is we can be manipulative to fit the needs of our students. When students get to the topic of adding, subtracting and soon multiplying matrices, they should be familiar with what a matrix is, the dimensions of one, and how to solve linear system with them. At this point it is a good a time to bring in a game into play like this one:

http://www.intmath.com/matrices-determinants/matrix-addition-multiplication-applet.php.

In this game the player chooses an operation such as adding, subtracting, multiplying by another matrix or scaler, and its dimensions. When a certain operation is chosen such as multiplication, it only allows the player to choose any size matrix but then spits out one with specific number of rows to multiply it with. The teacher can play this game with their students in any way they sit. The purpose is to get students thinking why and how the operations are working. From there the teacher can introduce the new topic.

 

Resources:

 

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How has this topic appeared in high culture (art, classical music, theatre, etc.)?

 

So many times students don’t understand that what they learn in class is used in everyday life, but teachers can give students the resources and knowledge to see applications of their work. In the video below, it shows different ways matrices can be applied. For instances the operations of matrices are used in a wide variety of way in our culture.

The main one can be in computer programming and computer coding, but they are also seen in another places such as dance and architecture. “In contra dancing, the dancers form groups of four (two couples), and these groups of four line up to produce a long, two-person-wide column” and where each square that is created is a formed by two pairs. Like the video had said, matrices can be used to analyze contra dancing. This can be done by having squares and multiplying them creating different types of configurations. By creating different groups and formations, essentially it is using different operations to create different matrices to.

Resources:

 

 

 

 

References:

“Common Topics Covered in Standard Algebra II Textbooks.” Space Math @ NASA. NASA, n.d. Web. 18 Sept. 2015.

Knill, Oliver. “When Was Matrix Multiplication Invented?” When Was Matrix Multiplication Invented?  Harvard, 24 July 2014. Web. 18 Sept. 2015.

Smoller, Laura. “The History of Matrices.” The History of Matrices. University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Apr. 2001. Web. 18 Sept. 2015.

 

 

Engaging students: Adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing complex numbers

In my capstone class for future secondary math teachers, I ask my students to come up with ideas for engaging their students with different topics in the secondary mathematics curriculum. In other words, the point of the assignment was not to devise a full-blown lesson plan on this topic. Instead, I asked my students to think about three different ways of getting their students interested in the topic in the first place.

I plan to share some of the best of these ideas on this blog (after asking my students’ permission, of course).

This student submission again comes from my former student Daniel Adkins. His topic, from Algebra: adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing complex numbers.

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How has this topic appeared in pop culture?

Robot chicken aired a television episode in which students were being taught about the imaginary number. Upon the instructor’s completion of his definition of the imaginary number, one student, who understands the definition, immediately has his head explode. One student turns to him and says, “I don’t get it. No wait now I-“, and then his head also explodes.

This video can be used as a humorous introduction that only takes a few seconds. It conveys that these concepts can be difficult in a more light-hearted sense. At the same time it satirically exaggerates the difficulty, and therefore might challenge the students. All the while the video provides the definition as well.

 

 

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How did people’s conception of this topic change over time?

The first point of contact with imaginary numbers is attributed to Heron of Alexandria around the year 50 A.D. He was attempting to solve the section of a pyramid. The equation he eventually deemed impossible was the sqrt(81-114). Attempts to find a solution for a negative square root wouldn’t reignite till the discovery of negative numbers, and even this would lead to the belief that it was impossible. In the early fifteenth century speculations would rise again as higher degree polynomial equations were being worked out, but for the most part negative square roots would just be avoided. In 1545 Girolamo Cardono writes a book titled Ars Magna. He solves an equation with an imaginary number, but he says, “[imaginary numbers] are as subtle as they would be useless.” About them, and most others agreed with him until 1637. Rene Descartes set a standard form for complex numbers, but he still wasn’t too fond of them. He assumed, “that if they were involved, you couldn’t solve the problem.” And individuals like Isaac Newton agreed with him.

Rafael Bombelli strongly supported the concept of complex numbers, but since he wasn’t able to supply them with a purpose, he went mostly unheard. That is until he came up with the concept of using complex numbers to find real solutions. Over the years, individuals eventually began to hear him out.

One of the major ways that helped aid with people eventually come to terms with imaginary numbers was the concept of placing them on a Cartesian graph as the Y-axis. This concept was first introduced in 1685 by John Wallis, but he was largely ignored. A century later, Caspar Wessel published a paper over the concept, but was also ignored. Euler himself labeled the square root of negative 1 as i, which did help in modernizing the concept. Throughout the 19th century, countless mathematicians aided to the growing concept of complex numbers, until Augustin Louis Cauchy and Niels Henrik Able make a general theory of complex numbers.

This is relevant to students because it shows that mathematicians once found these things impossible, then they found them unbelievable, then they found them trivial, until finally, they found a purpose. It encourages students to work hard even if there doesn’t seem to be a reason behind it just yet, and even if it seems like your head is about to blow.

 

 

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How has this topic appeared in high culture?

The Mandelbrot set is a beautiful fractal set with highly complex math hidden behind it. However it is extremely complicated, and as Otto von Bismarck put it, “laws are like sausages. Better not to see them being made.”

Like most fractals, the Mandelbrot set begins with a seed to start an iteration. In this case we begin with x2 + c, where c is some real number. This creates an eccentric pattern that grows and grows.

For students, this can show how mathematics can create beautiful patterns that would interest their more artistic senses. Not only would this generate interest in complex numbers, but it might convince students to investigate recurring patterns.

Sources:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oENQ2jlHpfo

History of imaginary numbers:

http://rossroessler.tripod.com/

 

Mendelbrot sets:

https://plus.maths.org/content/unveiling-mandelbrot-set

 

 

Engaging students: Defining a function of one variable

In my capstone class for future secondary math teachers, I ask my students to come up with ideas for engaging their students with different topics in the secondary mathematics curriculum. In other words, the point of the assignment was not to devise a full-blown lesson plan on this topic. Instead, I asked my students to think about three different ways of getting their students interested in the topic in the first place.

I plan to share some of the best of these ideas on this blog (after asking my students’ permission, of course).

This student submission again comes from my former student Matthew Garza. His topic, from Algebra: defining a function of one variable.

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How can this topic be used in your students’ future courses in mathematics and science?

Being able to define a function of one variable is necessary for creating a model that describes the most basic phenomenon in math and science. In math, understanding these parent functions is crucial to understanding more complicated functions and, by considering some variables as temporarily fixed, multivariable equations and systems of equations can be easier to understand. In science, we often observe functions of a single variable.  In fact, even if there are multiple variables coming into play, a good lab will likely control all but one variable, so that we can understand the relationship with respect to that single variable – a function.

Consider in science, for example, the ideal gas law: PV = nRT, where P is pressure, V is volume, n is the quantity in moles of a gas, R is the gas constant, and T is temperature.  This law, taught in high school chemistry, is not taught from scratch.  The proportional, single-variable functions that make up the equation are observed individually before the ideal gas law is introduced. Students will probably be taught Boyle’s, Charles’, Gay-Lussac’s, and Avogadro’s laws first. Boyle’s law states pressure and volume are inversely proportional (for a fixed temperature and quantity of gas).  This law can be demonstrated in one lab by clamping a pipette with some water and air inside, thus fixing all but two variables.  Pressure is applied to the pipette and the volume of air is measured using the length of the air column in the pipette.  Students must then evaluate volume V as a function of the single variable pressure P.  It should be noted that the length of the air column is measured, while the diameter of the pipette is fixed, thus volume must be calculated as a function of the single variable length.  Understanding the single variable, proportional and inversely proportional relationships is crucial to understanding the ideal gas law itself.

 

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How can technology (YouTube, Khan Academy [khanacademy.org], Vi Hart, Geometers Sketchpad, graphing calculators, etc.) be used to effectively engage students with this topic? Note: It’s not enough to say “such-and-such is a great website”; you need to explain in some detail why it’s a great website.

Generally speaking, Khan Academy has great videos to help understand math concepts.  Although it’s a little dry, this “Introduction to Functions” video is clear, concise, and touches on several ideas that I was having trouble tying in to every example.  This introductory video begins with the basic concept of a function as a mapping from one value to another single value.  The first examples it uses are a piece-wise function and a less computational function that returns the next highest number beginning with the same letter.  At first I didn’t like that these functions were discontinuous, but this actually gives something else to discuss.  The video links back prior knowledge, explaining that the dependent variable y that students are familiar with is actually a function of x, and represents the two in a table.  The last couple minutes of the video address the fundamental property that a function must produce unique outputs for each x, or it is a relationship.

Source:  https://www.khanacademy.org/math/algebra/algebra-functions/intro-to-functions/v/what-is-a-function

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How could you as a teacher create an activity or project that involves your topic?

One idea might be to examine any function in which time is the independent variable.  Basic concepts of motion in physics can supplement an activity – Have groups evaluate position and speed with respect to time of, say, a marble or hot wheels car rolling down a ramp.  Using a stop watch and marking distance on an inclined plane, students could time how long it took to reach certain points and create a graph over time of displacement.  This method might result in some students graphing time as a function of displacement, which could lead to an interesting discussion on independence and dependence, and why it might be useful to view change as a function of time.

Technology could supplement such a lesson as to avoid confusion over whether distance is a function of time or vice versa.  Using motion sensor devices to collect data, such as the CBR2, students can use less time collecting and plotting data and more time examining it.  Different trials resulting in different graphs can lead to discussion on how to model such motion as a function of time – letting an object sit still would result in a constant graph, something rolling down an incline will give a parabolic graph (until the object gets too close to a terminal velocity).

To add variety, students can examine what a graph looks like if they move toward and away from the CBR2 or try to reproduce given position graphs.  This may result in the same position at different times, but since an object can be in only one position at a given time, the utility of using position as a function of time can be represented. Sporadic motion, including changes in speed and direction (like moving back and forth and standing still) also allow discussion of piecewise functions, and that functions don’t necessarily have to have a “rule” as long as only one output is assigned per value in the domain.

 

 

 

 

Engaging students: Graphs of linear equations

In my capstone class for future secondary math teachers, I ask my students to come up with ideas for engaging their students with different topics in the secondary mathematics curriculum. In other words, the point of the assignment was not to devise a full-blown lesson plan on this topic. Instead, I asked my students to think about three different ways of getting their students interested in the topic in the first place.

I plan to share some of the best of these ideas on this blog (after asking my students’ permission, of course).

This student submission again comes from my former student Anna Park. Her topic, from Algebra: graphs of linear equations.

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How could you as a teacher create an activity or project that involves your topic?

  • Have the students enter the room with all of the desks and chairs to the wall, to create a clear floor. On the floor, put 2 long pieces of duct tape that represent the x and y-axis. Have the students get into groups of 3 or 4 and on the board put up a linear equation. One of the students will stand on the Y-axis and will represent the point of the Y-Intercept. The rest of the students have to represent the slope of the line. The students will be able to see if they are graphing the equation right based on how they form the line. This way the students will be able to participate with each other and get immediate feedback. Have the remaining groups of students, those not participating in the current equation, graph the line on a piece of paper that the other group is representing for them. By the end of the engage, students will have a full paper of linear equation examples. The teacher can make it harder by telling the students to make adjustments like changing the y intercept but keeping the slope the same. Or have two groups race at once to see who can physically graph the equation the fastest. Because there is only one “graph” on the floor, have each group go separately and time each group.
  • Have the students put their desks into rows of even numbers. Each group should have between 4 and 5 students. On the wall or white board the teacher has an empty, laminated graph. The teacher will have one group go at a time. The teacher will give the group a linear equation and the student’s have to finish graphing the equation as fast as possible. Each group is given one marker, once the equation is given the first student runs up to the graph and will graph ONLY ONE point. The first student runs back to the second student and hands the marker off to them. That student runs up to the board and marks another point for that graph. The graph is completed once all points are on the graph, the x and y intercepts being the most important. If there are two laminated graphs on the board two groups can go at one time to compete against the other. Similar to the first engage, students will have multiple empty graphs on a sheet of paper that they need to fill out during the whole engage. This activity also gives the students immediate feedback.

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What interesting things can you say about the people who contributed to the discovery and/or the development of this topic?

Sir William Rowan Hamilton was an Irish mathematician who lived to be 60 years old. Hamilton invented linear equations in 1843. At age 13 he could already speak 13 languages and at the age of 22 he was a professor at the University of Dublin. He also invented quaternions, which are equations that help extend complex numbers. A complex number of the form w + xi + yj + zk, where wxyz are real numbers and ijk are imaginary units that satisfy certain conditions. Hamilton was an Irish physicist, mathematician and astronomer. Hamilton has a paper written over fluctuating functions and solving equations of the 5th degree. He is celebrated in Ireland for being their leading scientist, and through the years he has been celebrated even more because of Ireland’s appreciation of their scientific heritage.

 

 

 

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Culture: How has this topic appeared in pop culture?

 

An online video game called “Rescue the Zogs” is a fun game for anyone to play. In order for the player to rescue the zogs, they have to identify the linear equation that the zogs are on. This video game is found on mathplayground.com.

 

References

https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/graphing-linear-equations-lesson

 

https://www.reference.com/math/invented-linear-equations-ad360b1f0e2b43b8#

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Rowan_Hamilton

 

http://www.mathplayground.com/SaveTheZogs/SaveTheZogs.html

 

 

Merry Christmas!

Hosanna in Excel sheets.

hosanna-in-excel-sheetsAnd Merry Christmas.

 

Engaging students: Equations of two variables

In my capstone class for future secondary math teachers, I ask my students to come up with ideas for engaging their students with different topics in the secondary mathematics curriculum. In other words, the point of the assignment was not to devise a full-blown lesson plan on this topic. Instead, I asked my students to think about three different ways of getting their students interested in the topic in the first place.

I plan to share some of the best of these ideas on this blog (after asking my students’ permission, of course).

This student submission again comes from my former student Madison duPont. Her topic, from Algebra: equations of two variables.

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What interesting (i.e., uncontrived) word problems using this topic can your students do now?

Problem: It’s tax free weekend (clothes are tax free) and you want to spend exactly $15 (so you can get $5 back from a $20 bill) on only shirts and shorts. Shirts are on sale for $4 and shorts are on sale for $3.

  1. Write an equation to model this situation.
  2. Determine how many shorts and shirts you should buy to spend exactly $15.

This problem does a good job of introducing a relatable and realistic situation that can be written as an equation with 2 unknowns. The mathematical portion of solving this is also approachable using conceptual strategies such as drawings, counting in groups, or more calculative tactics like trial and error with multiplication and addition, or even more advanced concepts like knowledge of division algorithm. The use of traditional variables is not even necessary to write an equation as the students can use pictures or words next to the coefficients to represent the unknowns. Because there are multiple levels of approaching the problem both in creating an equation and in finding the unknowns, this is a good exercise to have them explore the topic and gain conceptual understanding.

 

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How could you as a teacher create an activity or project that involves your topic?

Activity: Have students sit in groups (2-4). Have 10 di-cut images of apples and 10 di-cut images of bananas (or oranges, etc.) in the center of the group to serve as manipulatives. On each of the apple di-cuts write $.10 in the center and on each of the banana (or other fruit) write $.20. Tell the students they need to find a way to spend exactly $1.00 (using at least one of each fruit).

This activity allows students to explore the concept of considering two unknowns in the same situation in a tactile and conceptual way before encountering the mysterious algebraic equation. Students sharing answers can demonstrate that there are different possibilities and therefore the number of fruits is truly variable and can be written as an equation.

 

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How can this topic be used in your students’ future courses in mathematics or science?

An equation of two variables will be the stepping stone to linear equations and functions. When the equation is solved for “y” in terms of “x” you will get a linear function. Having a decent conceptual understanding of two-variable equations and being familiar with manipulating the equations will help students begin to understand notions of inputs and outputs and to see that having one variable will allow you to find the other. All of those topics will lead to the graphing of functions and taking algebraic work to a visual type of mathematics. Equations of three variables will also be a future topic related to this one as well as solving systems of equations for both two variable and three variable equations. Knowing how much will be built off of this topic makes equations of two variables much more appealing for teachers to teach the topic well and for students to learn conceptual and mathematical components of this topic well.

 

Engaging students: Multiplying binomials

In my capstone class for future secondary math teachers, I ask my students to come up with ideas for engaging their students with different topics in the secondary mathematics curriculum. In other words, the point of the assignment was not to devise a full-blown lesson plan on this topic. Instead, I asked my students to think about three different ways of getting their students interested in the topic in the first place.

I plan to share some of the best of these ideas on this blog (after asking my students’ permission, of course).

This student submission comes from my former student Lucy Grimmett. Her topic, from Algebra I: multiplying binomials like (a+b)(c+d).

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How could you as a teacher create an activity of project that involves your topic?

There are tons of activities that could be created with this topic. The first thing that came to mind was giving each student a notecard when they walked in the room. Each notecard would have a binomial on it. Students would be asked to find a partner in the classroom and multiply their binomials together. They would be able to assist one another, discuss possible misconceptions, and ask questions that they might not want to ask in front of an entire class. This could be a quick 5-minute warm up at the beginning of class, or could turn into a longer activity depending on how many partners you want each student to have. This wouldn’t involve much work on the teacher’s part; all you would have to do is create 30 differing binomials. If you feel the need to create a cheat sheet with answers to every possible pair you can, but that would involve more work then necessary.

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How does this topic extend from what your students should already have learned in previous courses?

In previous courses and chapters in algebra, students are set up with knowledge of combining like terms. The most common idea of combining like terms is adding or subtracting, for example 2-1=1 or 2+1=3. Students don’t realize that in the elementary school they are combining like terms. This is a key tool used when multiplying binomials. As future math teachers, we know that when we see 2x + 3x we can quickly combine these numbers to get 5x. This simplifies an equation. Students will struggle with this at first because they will not be used to having a variable, such as x, mixed into the equation, literally. This will be a similar issue when discussing multiplying binomials. Students will have to get used to seeing  (4x+1)(3x-8) and turning it into the longer version 12x^2+3x-32x-8 and then finding the like terms to simplify again, creating the shorter version 12x^2-29x-8. This is an extension of like-terms.

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How can technology be used to effectively engage students with this topic?

Algebra tiles are a great tool for students and teachers to use. Even better is an online algebra tile map. This allows a teacher to show students how to use algebra times from a main point, such as a projector, rather then walking around the room and individually showing them. Teachers can have students work individually with their iPad’s (if they have them) or use actual algebra tiles. This would be a great engagement piece for a day when students are recapping distributing or “FOIL” as many teachers like to call it. This can also be a great discovery lesson when students are learning how to multiply binomials. This all depends on if students have used algebra tiles before, and how comfortable the teacher is with implementing a lesson like this in the classroom. Another idea is pairing students and giving them binomials to multiply, which they will present to the class in a short presentation using their online algebra tile tool.

Here’s the link for the online algebra tiles:

http://technology.cpm.org/general/tiles/

 

Engaging students: Parabolas

In my capstone class for future secondary math teachers, I ask my students to come up with ideas for engaging their students with different topics in the secondary mathematics curriculum. In other words, the point of the assignment was not to devise a full-blown lesson plan on this topic. Instead, I asked my students to think about three different ways of getting their students interested in the topic in the first place.

I plan to share some of the best of these ideas on this blog (after asking my students’ permission, of course).

This student submission comes from my former student Lisa Sun. Her topic, from Algebra II: parabolas.

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How has this topic appeared in high culture?

Parabola is a special curve, shaped like an arch. Any point on a parabola is at an equal distance from a fixed point (the focus) and a fixed straight line (the directrix). Today, I will be presenting the parabolas’ unique shape to the class. Parabolas are everywhere in our society today. Students just don’t know it yet because no one has informed them. Parabolic structures can be seen in buildings, mosaic art, bridges, and many more. One that I’m going to share with the class is going to be roller coasters. Similar to this image below:

rollercoaster

This specific roller coaster is The Behemoth. It is a steel coaster located in Canada’s Wonderland in Vaughan, Ontario, Canada. I will first present this photo to the class and ask the following:

  • What do you notice that’s repeating in this roller coaster?
  • Do you think you’ve seen this similar structure anywhere else? Where?

–Present definition of Parabola–

  • Does this roller coaster have any parabolic structure? Where?

With these guiding questions, I want the students to be familiar with how a parabola looks like and that we can see them in our real world other than school.

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How has this topic appeared in the news?

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/07/160713143146.htm

This link above is a recent article from Science News on how an engineer from the University of Warwick discovered how to build bridges and buildings to enhance the safety and long durability without the need for repair or restructuring by the use of inverted parabolas. Using inverted parabolas and a design process called “form finding”, engineers will be able to take away the main points of weakness in structures. I believe this is a remarkable discovery that must be shared with students. Math is truly used in our everyday life and can definitely benefit the society today by how fast our technology is advancing.

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How can technology be used to effectively engage students with this topic?

Prezi favors visual learning and works similar to a graphic organizer or a mind map. It helps students to explore a canvas of small ideas then turning it into a bigger picture or vice versa. Prezi is a great tool to maintain an interactive classroom and creates stunning visual impact on students keeping them engaged in the lecture.

http://www.bbcactive.com/BBCActiveIdeasandResources/UsingPreziInEducation.aspx

Above is a link of a Prezi presentation of parabolas in roller coasters. This is a great example as to what I would create for my students to provide them the information of a parabola.

 

Behemoth

https://www.mathsisfun.com/definitions/parabola.html

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/07/160713143146.htm

https://prezi.com/pwkzfddbu4bu/parabolas-in-roller-coasters/

http://www.bbcactive.com/BBCActiveIdeasandResources/UsingPreziInEducation.aspx