Tuesday, June 20, 2017
A reflective post today.
I am just finishing my third year of using interactive student notebooks in my classes.
How are they working? Do I like using them? Do students like them? Do students find them useful?
Yes, I think the interactive notebooks are a success in my classes. Over the three years I've made some adjustments from what I've found on line to match my style and what I think it useful for students. I use them in my two advanced classes - Algebra One and Pre-Calculus. The students mostly love them. There were some groans from some of my students in PreCalculus at the beginning of this year. But even those "groaners" got into doing them and keeping them up to date. Of the 70 students who used these notebooks this year only one student did not keep up with it (a struggling student in my precalculus class).
Now that I've done three years of ISNs I have a pretty good file of foldables to use for each class. I've worked hard this year to update them, both before and after using them if necessary. That way any changes I want for 2017-2018 were fresh in my mind for my updating.
I like how the ISNs fit into my instruction. I do have a block schedule (82 minutes) with Algebra One meeting every day and PreCalculus meeting every other day.
My general approach is to first go through a concept with students the usual way - either with some discovery, whole group examples or guided individual work. Then I use the ISN to summarize the concept with some practice after the summary (usually on the page opposite).
What I LOVED seeing this year during our exam review days was students actually accessing the information in their notebooks. They were looking topics up in their table of contents and referring to them as they did problems in the exam study guide. Seeing that happening throughout our three days of exam review in Algebra One was wonderful! I actually had to do very little whole group re-teaching and review. Now, of course, I haven't scored the exams yet. But at least I saw students actively and productively using them.
I've tried a few different approaches to the Table of Contents and for me the best approach is the most basic. At the start of the year students label the first 4-6 pages as TABLE OF CONTENTS (TOC for short). And we fill in it as we go. Every day I post on the board "TOC update" with the latest page numbers and topics for them to fill in.
I stopped being fancy with my inside cover too. There I just put a summary syllabus and the kids create a title page.
On the inside back cover, I have the students glue in a 6 by 9 manilla envelope for any foldables that we don't quite finish in class. I'm gong to keep that (for my algebra one students).
I do not use them in my low level Applied Algebra One class. I tried them my first year and it did not work out. That class has quite a bit of absenteeism and that gets very difficult with keeping up in the notebook. However I think I will try again next year but really scale it down. Currently in my Applied Algebra One class I maintain a notebook checklist system with the students (which I will continue as it helps keep the notebooks organized). In that system we would have a page of summary notes at various times in a chapter. What I would do instead now is do that summary in our ISN. The main reason is that I do not see my Applied Algebra students accessing those notes in their notebook when they do problems. So I am going to see how it works to maintain an ISN of the basics in each chapter. I am going to have them keep their ISN in the classroom unless they want to take it home to help with their work. I imagine the conscientious ones will take them home and use them. Those who won't use them will leave them in my room (and then they won't get lost!). Also when a student is absent I'll be able to insert the missing foldables in their notebook as they will have kept the ISN in my classroom. We'll see.... I'll report back on how this goes next year in June 2018.
My goal on this blog is to finish posting some of my precalculus pages this summer. Then in the 2017-2018 school year post my updated pages in my Algebra One notebook as I teach them. I did do some new things this last year and may tweak them even more this coming year.
Friday, June 16, 2017
The next lesson after trigonometric form of complex numbers is working with DeMoivre's Theorem. We calculate powers of complex numbers and then from there look at different roots of complex numbers.
Most of my classes start with a Q & A on the last lesson and then a POD quiz (problem of the day quiz) based on the last lesson. Something quick to assess understanding.
I have found that a good way to start this new lesson is to give them a complex number and ask them to square it. (something like -2 - 2i ). Most students can do this pretty well using the distributive property or the box method of multiplying binomials. But then I ask them to raise the same complex number to the 6th power. Since we didn't get to the binomial theorem this year they have no real idea what they could do except keep multiplying. An overwhelming prospect. This sets up some reasonable rationale for today's DeMoivre's theorem. I go through raising it to the 6th power using this new "formula". So much easier!
I use the following foldable and examples in our composition notebooks (ISNs).
Then we switch gears to the inverse - what's the inverse of raising a number to a power? Taking roots. I begin this discussion by asking, "What is the square root of 64?". Being an honors class they easily remember there are two square roots, BOTH 8 & -8. Then I asked what is the cube root of 8? Another easy one, 2. But then I tell my students that there are TWO MORE cube roots. And that the number of roots is always equal to the index "n". However some roots might be in the set of complex numbers.
We look back at example 2 in our last set of examples. The original complex number was raised to the 12th power and the result was 4096. Another 12th root of 4096 is 2. But we started with a complex root in our previous example. We talk about what the other roots look like (there is one more real 12th root in this problem...).
From there we set up our new formula:
Nth Roots of Complex Numbers
We go through an example very carefully. Notice the foldable tapes on the side of this notebook page and when you lift the flap you see the steps we follow. (a note here on taping in foldables - tape it both on top and then lift it and tape it under to secure it well in the notebook).
Students start to notice a pattern in the angles of these roots. I use this opportunity to look at the roots on a unit circle and students see how they are evenly spaced. Cool stuff!
Since this is our last topic for the year we overflowed a bit onto a few more pages....
All my foldable files are found here and a worksheet of this mini unit can be found here.
Wednesday, June 14, 2017
I love starting off my lesson on Trigonometric Form of Complex Numbers.
I start off by drawing a real number line and I talk about the set of real numbers. I even do a mini-review of the sets of numbers that make up the set of real numbers.
This shouldn't take a lot of time, it's just a quick overview on how cool numbers are and how they relate to each other. I summarize by saying the set of real numbers can be shown graphically with a number line. Very cool, very simple.
And how do imaginary numbers relate to all this? Again, quick reminder of why we have imaginary numbers (ever try to take the square root of -1?). Again this is very quick and culminates in us having the set of complex numbers! Tada!
So from there I get to show them how the imaginary numbers relate to the real number line with the imaginary axis! I stress that it is not a coordinate plane even though it looks like one.
Now this is something they should have learned in their earlier math courses so it is a quick intro to set the stage for Trig Form of Complex numbers.
From there we compare the three different ways we can write a complex number (with a greater focus on the first two): Standard Form, Trigonometric Form, and Polar Form. We look at them graphically with my first foldable.
Inside the foldable we look at converting back & forth between standard form and trig form.
Students then try out some examples on the page opposite.
Now we have an 82 minute block so I still have time to go over multiplying and dividing complex numbers in trig form. Providing some rationale is a bit challenging since it's pretty straightforward multiplying complex numbers. They know it's like multiplying binomials. Dividing is a little trickier. When the numbers are in trig form there is a nice straightforward method. My foldable shows the official definition/formula on the front.
But inside I do give the "quick" way to do it.
I also allow the shortcut way of writing complex numbers in trig form using CIS.
And on the page opposite we have some examples:
This year, I had to be out the day after this lesson. So I gave the students the above examples as a warm up for that class. They had a POD for converting complex numbers and then worked on a practice sheet of the skills we had gone over in this lesson.
Tuesday, June 13, 2017
After we spend a day on reviewing sequences we jump right into series. I'd love to cover it all in one 82 minute block. But we start the class by going over homework problems and then I have a POD (problem of the day homework quiz) so we usually have to finish up infinite series on the next day. (More on my PODs and homework policies on an upcoming blog post).
Of course, we start Series by defining them. I use a Frayer diagram:
I have students trim this one a bit so we can glue it into our composition notebook with the orientation shown. That way I have a little room on the bottom for the graphing calculator method of calculating a series. I only let them use this for checking. They have to use other methods to actually calculate the series (as will soon be shown on this blog).
On the page opposite the definition, we do a page on summation notation.
Before I start the formulas for series, I tell the famous Gauss story about adding up the numbers one through 100. If you don't know the story, check out this link (or any other page on the internet that you might when you search this story). I like the link I gave because it references the introduction page for the coolmath lesson on arithmetic series. I LOVE her page and she does a nice job at this link (if you continue to subsequent pages) of developing the formulas. (BTW here is the link for her approach on the whole topic of sequences and series, definitely worth a read through!)
After we do the "trick" young Gauss used I use that to develop the formula. We fill out a foldable on the Arithmetic Series formula.
Lift the flap up and this is what you will see inside this foldable:
On the page opposite, I include some examples for students to work through. This is pretty quick. We don't have to work through them together. They work on them and I walk around and check answers.
There is no cute little story to help my students remember the Geometric Series formula. But fortunately we do have a formula. I introduce that with my foldable.
Lift the foldable flap and you see see the formula and what it's all about.
And again, we have a page of examples on the page opposite. The bouncing ball example is a tricky one!
Finally I do some intro-stuff on the sum of an infinite series. I write two infinite series on the board (the first 4 or 5 terms of each, one with |r|>1 and the other with |r|<1). We talk about what it would look like if we added the terms in the sequence - as many as we can anyhow. Students pretty quickly see that the one with |r|>1 just gets larger and larger. But the one with |r|<1 they are not so sure on. So we work with the graphing calculator way to add series. And we find the sum of the first 10 terms. Then the first 20 terms, then 50, then 100, then 150, etc. Usually by the 50th term we get the sum it converges to. So we talk about what this means. I take the finite Geometric Series formula and ask them what happens when n = infinity? What happens to the formula? This helps them to see how the infinite formula is derived from the finite formula. It's pretty cool to talk through it rather than just give them one more formula to memorize.
Here is my foldable on the formula:
and on the page opposite we have some examples:
Now this school year (2016-2017) this was all I could do with Discrete Math. So the rest of the "overflow" block that I had to use the first bit for infinite series I gave the students a review sheet to practice problems on sequences and series. Then we had a quiz the next day.
Monday, June 12, 2017
Back to sequences.
I start the lesson at the end of the last unit test. As they finish the test, students take a sequences review sheet that reminds them of the preconcepts they had learned in Algebra One.
We start the actual lesson with a frayer diagram on sequences.
Then we defined each of the types of sequences with this foldable. Inside the foldable you will find the details.
I did include a "neither" category because Fibonacci sequences are very cool and the sequence of perfect squares is pretty common yet is neither arithmetic or geometric.
Next we reviewed the arithmetic and geometric sequence formulas. I do like to spend a little time showing how each formula relates to example. I like them to see how the arithmetic involves the repeated addition of the common difference (thus appears as multiplication in the formula) and the geometric involves repeated multiplication of the common ratio (thus appears as a power in the formula). I use this foldable to summarize the formulas.
Inside there are examples.
I like my precalculus students to apply these formulas in constructing sequences also. These problems involve creating a system of equations using the general formulas. The geometric one is interesting because you solve that system using division, not a typical operation used in solving systems of equations.
Finally if I have time (we do have an 82 minute block) I like to do a quick comparison of explicit versus recursive rules. The focus in this course is the explicit rules but recursive rules are useful, especially in computer programming. These pages show my overview.
I like to use our TI 84 graphing calculators to experience the recursive rules too. We go through an arithmetic sequence - first we type in the first term (let's use 8) and press enter. This will give you the first term and establishes the first term in your calculator. Then we type the rule (let's say d = 5, so they would type +5). That establishes the rule in your calculator. And it will give us the second term. With those two steps the recursive formula has been programmed into your calculator. Now you can use this recursive program to generate additional terms. Each time you press enter you will get successive terms starting with the third term.
For homework, I give my students examples in our textbook to complete.
Here is the folder on box.com that contains the ISN masters for both sequences & series.
Tuesday, March 8, 2016
A word ladder is a sequence of words formed by changing just one letter each time, it’s a fun word puzzle invented by Lewis Carroll, the author of Alice in Wonderland. Doing these puzzles in PreCalculus gives students an example of how something must be changed "one step at a time". In our next unit of “AnalyticTrigonometry” we verify identities, where we change a trig identity one step at a time to create a new identity. (word ladders we change words, one letter at a time.)
For example: changing BACK to FIRE could look like this. One letter was changed at a time, each time a new word was formed.
I personally find these quite challenging! (surprisingly maybe, I am a big reader). I like the ones that have clues to help me out.
But even with clues this one is difficult!
How do I incorporate these into my busy precalculus curriculum? Students get this packet after out unit test (today & tomorrow in my classes) and are asked to do at least two pages for homework. Some students get really hooked and complete the whole thing.