Polar Graphing Sorting Activity

After an introduction and exploration (which I wrote about here and here) to my polar graphing unit, I wanted to steer our attention in a more algebraic direction so we could establish some connections between polar and Cartesian forms. On top of that, I needed an activity that would work well with a sub. The intersection of those wants and needs? A …

What Can You Do, Now?

The other day in Math B (mostly 8th graders) we spent a decent chunk of class time working on something rather boring. But somewhere in that boringness, something awesome happened. I had prepared two related, but non-identical handouts, each with ten problems related to CCSS.8.F.04. Prior to class, I decided I would use the first handout as source material for a few examples and …

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Polar Graphing Exploration

Over the weekend I wrote about an alternative launch to my Precalculus polar graphing unit. After that first lesson, I decided to throw out my usual “Day 2 Notes” and replaced them with a six-part, Desmos-driven exploration. I started by having students fire up Desmos, working in a 2:1 arrangement (two students per screen). While they got that ready to go, I distributed a stack …

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Polar Graphing Introduction

My polar graphing unit in Precalculus has always started in the same lackluster way: With me telling students how to graph polar coordinates. We then launch into some point-by-point graphing, followed by various explorations and challenges involving graphing polar equations, and we’re off to the races. This year I wanted to try something different. Instead of telling students how to plot polar coordinates, …

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New Lesson: Charge!

Last summer I sat next to a power outlet for more than two hours, taking screenshots of my plugged-in-and-charging cell phone once every four minutes for nearly 2.5 hours. The result? A linear modeling task with a nice twist near the end. I’ve presented the lesson in a variety of workshop settings (each time it was well received), but this week marks the first time I used …

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Visual Patterns + Error Analysis

Most of the work my students do with Visual Patterns occurs in small groups, where collaboration not only is encouraged, but often required. Today I steered things in a slightly different direction. I wanted to see what students were capable of on their own. No peer discussion. No Desmos. I was particularly interested to see whether they could write an equation to describe the relationship they see …

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Ignite Talk (Video) • Technology and the Curious Mind

Last December I joined nine other educators in giving an Ignite talk at the CMC North 2014 conference in Asilomar, CA. The event was organized by the wonderful folks at The Math Forum. They’ve begun posting video of the talks on their website. I’ve embedded mine below for your viewing and/or heckling pleasure. Technology and the Curious Mind Postscript I wrote a few words about the experience …

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Match My Line • Create Your Own

Last month I shared Match My Line and Match My Parabola, a pair of Desmos-driven challenges (rather, sets of challenges). They’ve quickly become two of my favorite ways to build or deepen graphical understanding, whether working with middle school students or older kids (who “should know this stuff” but commonly do not). I brought a do-it-yourself extension of the “Match My Line” challenges to Math B a couple …

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Blog Recap • February 2015

February was the biggest month on the blog, almost by a factor of two. Here’s a recap of the lessons, posts, and other math-related things that went down. Lessons Learn Desmos. A great place to start if you want to learn more about this free online graphing calculator. Top Posts Visual Patterns + Desmos = Amazing! Multi-representational approach to linear functions, with a little Desmos on the side. …

Visual Patterns… Now What?!

If the response to my post from Tuesday is any indication, people on the Internet Machine love Fawn Nguyen’s Visual Patterns. Let’s say you’re one of these folks, and your students are now rocking this sweet set of challenges. Now what?! Well, for one thing, don’t stop! These are rich enough problems to keep bringing them before your students. (In fact, the real fun begins when …