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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 …

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10-Second Pause

We’ve been shoring up our differentiation and integration skills in AP Calculus. During the last two class sessions, I’ve intentionally avoided whole-class review. I wanted students to wrestle individually and in small groups. Today, however, I shifted back to a handful of “let’s walk through these together” exercises for the first 15 minutes or so of class. But I added …

Visual Patterns + Desmos = Amazing!

I’ve been a fan of Fawn Nguyen’s visualpatterns.org for several years. I use resources from the website on a regular basis in my own classroom and in teacher training. The conversations are always excellent, and the emphasis on multiple-representations is a huge benefit to students wrestling with ideas in an all-too-often isolated context. (Plus, creating your own patterns is a blast!) …

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Task Delivery: Less is More

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken a solid task and whittled it away to almost nothing. It’s easy to fail with a terrible task. But over the past few years, I’ve also found a number of ways to flame out with lessons that were packed with potential. The Main Culprit? My inability to “let go” during the launch has derailed …

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“Everybody stand up…”

Sometimes the saying “better to be lucky than good” applies to teaching as well. Today I stumbled across a new routine by little more than blind luck. Inspired by the sleepy looks on several faces, I interrupted my middle school class with a shout: “Everybody stand up! Head to the back of the room. Make a circle around those two tables.” At this point, I had no …