Wednesday, August 16, 2017

A full year set of 36 weekly Marbleslide Challenges!

Here is the full set of 36 Marbleslide Challenges I'll be using at my school this year:

Marbleslide Challenge Set


Important tip!

Before doing these challenges with your classes, I'd highly recommend running through at least one of the original Desmos Marbleslides activities with them (Lines, Parabolas, Exponentials, Rationals or Periodics): https://teacher.desmos.com/search?q=marbleslides

Poster templates!(Update) 
Jessica was awesome and made poster templates for each challenge and for the weekly scoreboard. You can make a copy here.

Difficulty

These challenges should work for students of all levels from Algebra 1 onward (and they are even fun and challenging for teachers too!)  Each challenge should be possible to complete using linear equations, but can be solved more elegantly with higher level equations. If students aren't being challenged enough, encourage them to use fewer and more sophisticated equations.  The difficulty increases as the challenges go on, so you might want to leave older challenges open all year and encourage students not to skip too many.

Unlocking Challenges each week
You can use the teacher pacing option on the teacher dashboard to restrict students to the first 3 slides to start, then each week go back into the activity to unlock the next challenge using teacher pacing again.  Not sure how to use teacher pacing? More info here.  You could also just consider giving them the entire challenge set unlocked, and if you do let me know because I'm interested to see how that goes!

Scoring/Prizes
I give these as an optional activity for students to work on if they have some extra time in class or just on their own time.  You might even consider it as a fun optional alternative to certain homework assignments. You could not score them if it's too much work, but they love having their answers highlighted and the competition and you can just score the best few.  At the end of each week I make a quick scoreboard for the top scorers and post it with a screenshot of the some of the more interesting graphs. Here's how I score them:
  • 1 point for each star
  • 1 extra point if they use only 2 equations
  • 2 extra points if they use only 1 equation
  • 1-2 points if they have a particularly creative solution. This could be creative mathematically or artistically. 
  • 1 point if their solution is very consistent (If you watch a student's solution it might not work perfectly because there is some variation depending on your screen size.  If there's doesn't look like it get all the stars but your dashboard says they did, trust the dashboard)

You might want to consider giving out prizes for students who get all the stars each week.  Some teachers are giving out Desmos stickers this year, and I was giving out treats last year while school policy allowed for it.

You can hide students using the gear button in the teacher dashboard if you want to highlight or screenshot awesome answers, but make sure to not forget about those hidden students in following weeks!  If you have large classes, you might want to split them into different class codes to make things more manageable.

The Learning
What I loved about doing Marbleslides Challenges last year was that it gave some of my students the need and motivation to learn and explore all sorts of graphs and equations outside the regular scope of class. Last year I had students figuring out how to use and transform equations that they wouldn't learn about for years in regular school curriculum.  Every once in awhile I'd give them a tiny little piece of info to move them forward "Oh here's an equation that looks cool" or "Hey, it's a little easier to work with that function if it's in this form" and then let them figure out the rest.



If you have need help getting started or have any questions leave a comment here or tweet at me @SweenWSweens . Feel free to tweak things however you think will work best for you, and let me know what works and doesn't in the comments!

Special thanks to Julie who had the awesome idea of putting Marbleslide Challenges together in one activity and then managing the year with Desmos Activity Builder's teacher pacing option.  I loved the idea, and got these challenges together quickly for the start of the school year as a result!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Can't Stop Distributing Music Video

Hey everyone!  It's time for another math music video!  Some of my current and former students, and the faculty and staff at my school have been working hard to put this together for the end of the year. Here is "Can't Stop Distributing", lyrics are below:



Lyrics:

You got this problem inside your class
Let’s take a look, and break it down, don’t go to fast
All though my classroom, all through my school
We’re learning math, no limit, when we learn the rules
We’ve got to just break down this problem
Got to learn this pro-per-ty
You’ve got addition or subtraction, here we go
there’s an ex-pres-sion on the outside
(ya) Got those two pa-ren-the-ses
I know that you can do this problem, now you know

That you multiply, when things are real close
Each thing inside, is where the outside goes
To each term, you will draw an arr-ow
And Multiply in, Multiply in, Multiply in

Draw the lines and multiply, you just dis-tri-bute

Add exponents when you multiply
Dis-tri-bute, come on
Product outside, Sum inside
You just dis-tri-bute, come on
Multiplying what’s inside, you dis-tri-bute (You just dis-tri-bute)

You just dis-tri-bute, (You just dis-tri-bute)
You just dis-tri-bute, come on

Oooh, here’s one more difficult
There’s much more there, two expressions look at it all
Now just don’t panic, don’t lose your cool
You’ll get it down, don’t worry, focus on the rules
We’ve got to just break down this problem
Got to learn this pro-per-ty
Two groups of adding or subtracting, here we go
Now there’s a left side and a right side,
Two sets of pa-ren-the-ses
I know that you can do this problem, now you know
That you multiply, when things are real close
Terms on the left, just distribute all those
From each term, draw a set of arr-ows
And Multiply in, Multiply in, Multiply in

Draw the lines and multiply, you just dis-tri-bute, yea
Add exponents when you multiply
Dis-tri-bute, come on
Check to see if things combine
Once you dis-tri-bute, yea
Multiplying what’s inside, you dis-tri-bute (You just dis-tri-bute)
You just dis-tri-bute (You just dis-tri-bute)
You just dis-tri-bute (You just dis-tri-bute)
You just dis-tri-bute (You just dis-tri-bute)
You dis-tri-bute, come on

Distribute
Distribute
Distribute
Distribute

(You just distribute)
Draw the lines and multiply, you just dis-tri-bute, yea
Add exponents when you multiply
dis-tri-bute
Check to see if things combine
Once you dis-tri-bute, yea
Multiplying what’s inside, you distribute

Everybody sing
Draw the arrows, multiply in (you just distribute)
Draw the arrows, multiply in (you just distribute)
Don’t forget about combining (once you distribute)


Draw the arrows, multiply in

Break it down

Draw the arrows, multiply in (You just distribute)

Don’t forget about combining, come on

Friday, April 21, 2017

New Marbleslide Challenges

I've been periodically adding Marbleslide Challenges to the master list, and I just added a few more. If you didn't read my original post where I explained how I implement these in my classes, check it out here. Enjoy!


Challenge #12 - https://teacher.desmos.com/activitybuilder/custom/58fa0259e0d8b633f260dd64/









Friday, February 17, 2017

Desmos Marbleslide Challenges

This year I've implemented Desmos marbleslide challenges throughout my classes that have been really exciting, fun and educational for my students.  If you aren't familiar with Marbleslides you are totally missing out!  The basic idea is that marbles will fall down from a certain point on a graph, and students need to graph equations to help them collect all of the stars on the screen.  The full, official marbleslides activites are here https://teacher.desmos.com/search?q=marbleslides and they always leave kids wanting more.  

The original activities went so well last year, that I decided to regularly give more marbleslides challenges throughout the year.  I wanted to give activities that anyone familiar with graphing lines could complete with some effort, but that could also provide further challenge for students who know more about graphing.  I started creating single page challenges and posting an advertisement for them on my door and in my classroom along with a high score board from the previous week.






I award scores(not for a grade, just for fun) based on number of stars obtained, creativity, consistency and on using fewer functions. All of the challenges can be completed with multiple linear equations, but I challenge students who know more to use fewer, more complex functions. 

I knew that this would be a fun activity for my students, and could help provide some extra challenge, but it has far exceed my expectations for what it could be.  These  challenges have gotten some of my students really excited about math, graphing and learning about equations.  It has created a need for them to learn more, completely on their own, about different types of graphs and how to manipulate them.  I have had students in my class who have only formally learned about straight lines pulling out answers like this:


Every once in awhile I'll drop a little clue for a new type of equation that might help, and they run with it or search things out on their own.  Here are a few more mind blowing examples from students who've gone way above and beyond my expectations:




(The bearded face is part of the challenge.  The student answered by making a hat!)


The challenges have also helped me to further differentiate and more easily manage my classroom.  Whenever students finish an assignment or assessment early, I point them to a challenge and off they go.  I'm really happy that I started these challenges, and if you try them at your school I hope that work out as well for you as they have for me!

If you'd like take a shot at one of the marbleslides challenges yourself, give this one a try.

If you want to try to implement these are your school, here at the first 8 challenges I used this year, and I will continue adding to this list.








Monday, January 4, 2016

Uptown factors (Factoring song parody of Uptown Funk)

Hello and Happy New Year!  I posted this on YouTube months ago, but in case you missed it here's our factoring based parody of Uptown Funk!   Also, keep an out on my blog. I make no promises, but I may make a few blog posts this year!




Lyrics:
Gon’ factor, gon’ factor, factor
Gon’ factor, gon’ factor, factor
Gon’ factor, gon’ factor

Let’s start this lesson
Learn to factor expressions
This one for those students
The blueprints for mastery
Sittin', Gettin’ a factoring education. 
Take a sum or a difference
and make it a multiplication

When you see (x squared)
Without a number in front of it
plus bx (b x)
Standard form for a quad-rat-ic
then plus c (constant) 
that’s x squared plus b x plus c 
Standard form (aw yeah) 
factor that tri-no-mial 
break it down.

x squared plus bx plus c
x squared plus bx plus c 
x squared plus bx plus c 
Now I’m gon’ factor this expression
Now I’m gon’ factor this expression
Now I’m gon’ factor this expression
Parentheses, x’s and fill in the spots
Multiply and Add up (come on)
Multiply and Add up uh

Multiply and Add up
Multiply and Add up 
Multiply and Add up
Multiply and Add up
Hey, hey, hey, oh

Stop, wait a minute
See those spots? Put those numbers in em
Write the signs, then you check
Ms McCool, Bring it back

Write parentheses, x’s
find the pair of factors
multiply to c, and add to b
That’s a skill that you can all master 

When you see (x squared)
Without a number in front of it
plus bx (b x)
Standard form for a quad-rat-ic
then plus c (constant)
that’s x squared plus b x plus c
Standard form (aw yeah). Other video?
factor that tri-no-mial
break it down

x squared plus bx plus c
x squared plus bx plus c
x squared plus bx plus c 
Now I’m gon’ factor this expression 
Now I’m gon’ factor this expression
Now I’m gon’ factor this expression
Parentheses, x’s and fill in the spots
Multiply and Add up (come on) 
Multiply and Add up uh
Multiply and Add up uh
Multiply and Add up uh
Multiply and Add up
Multiply and Add up
Hey, hey, hey, oh

Before we leave
What if there’s a number with x squared?
Slide, Divide, Bottoms up
Slide, Divide, Bottoms up
Slide, Divide, Bottoms up
Slide, Divide, Bottoms up uh
I said Slide, Divide, Bottoms up
Slide, Divide, Bottoms up
Slide, Divide, Bottoms up
Slide, Divide, Bottoms up

Take ‘a’ then slide it
to 'c’ and then multiply em
Find the factors then divide em
by a, reduce on both sides and
Bring the bottoms up beside x
When you factor let this guide ya:

Parentheses, xs and fill in the spots 
Multiply and Add up come on!
Multiply and Add up uh
Multiply and Add up uh
Multiply and Add up uh
Multiply and Add up
Multiply and Add up
Hey, hey, hey, oh
Slide, Divide, Bottoms up
Slide, Divide, Bottoms up (say what?) 
Slide, Divide, Bottoms up
Slide, Divide, Bottoms up
Slide, Divide, Bottoms up
Slide, Divide, Bottoms up (say what?)
Slide, Divide, Bottoms up
Slide, Divide, Bottoms up
Slide, Divide, Bottoms up
Slide, Divide, Bottoms up (say what?)
Slide, Divide, Bottoms up
Slide, Divide, Bottoms up
Slide, Divide, Bottoms up
Slide, Divide, Bottoms up (say what?)
Slide, Divide, Bottoms up

Monday, May 20, 2013

Graph Shop - A Thrift Shop Parody

Hey everybody!  I made a music video with some of my current and former students about graphing lines using slope and y-intercept.  So here it is!  Lyrics are below.



Schooltube version coming soon.
You can download the audio here.

I'm gonna graph some lines
Gotta get em in slope intercept form
Hit that y axis
Put the intercept on
Then use rise over run

Walk up to the class like, "What up, class is in session" 
I'm so pumped about today's sick math lesson
Graph on the board, skills so absurd
That people like, "Man! That is one dope math nerd."
Rollin' in, hecka deep, in my class you'll never sleep,
Getting that slope and y-intercept on the screen
Draped in my corduroy, students sit in front of me
Probably should get on with this, makin' it rain practice sheets 

Let's make... Graphing lines make sense!
You'll be solvin' it, graphin' it, and now its time to start Mathin it' 
Dashin' up on this problem when you finish you'll be trashin' it
Solve for y where's it hidin'
Add and subtract to both sides and
Multiply and divide
Move things away from the y, kids

I'ma get that y alone, I'ma get that y alone,
No for real - slope intercept - that's 
Y equals m x plus b
Claw it, combine it, get y alone too
Reverse PEMDAS tells you what to move
Now what's that next to X? The slope is next to X! 
And what's that number left? Must be the intercept! 
the b, the b, the y-intercept is b
Start on the y axis, graphs begin with the b
Now go and take the m now, the slope is next you see
Use the rise then run for every point you need

I'm gonna graph some lines
Gotta get em in slope intercept form
Hit that y axis
Put the intercept on
Then use rise over run

Let's get that y alone, 
That's slope intercept form, 
Let's get that y alone 
For that slope intercept form

Let's get that y alone, 
That's slope intercept form, 
Let's get that y alone 
For that slope intercept form

I'm gonna graph some lines
Gotta get em in slope intercept form
Hit that y axis
Put the intercept on
Then use rise over run

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Best Professional Experience of my Life

For anyone that didn't attend, "Twitter Math Camp" (TMC) probably sounds like the most nerdy combination1 of words that could be put together. While my experience may not at first seem relevant to outsiders, I would highly recommend reading through to the end.  For those that aren't aware, Twitter Math Camp was about 40 math teachers who have connected through blogs and Twitter, that came together to put on their own conference.  There are plenty of recaps of what exactly happened at TMC12, so I'm not going to bother trying to do better, especially since Rachel summed2 up my experience pretty perfectly. Instead, I'm going to go all English teacher-y and tell you how TMC made me feel. To summarize in a single sentence: I've never been more excited to teach in my life.
Oh that awkward moment when someone wants to take a "fun" picture and no one knows what to do.
That's not hyperbole3 either. After the most stressful year of my career, TMC was exactly what I needed to get back on my mathemagical steed, and ride back towards the sunset doing everything I can to make math more fun, accessible and relevant for students.  The online math community has been an integral4 part of my development as a teacher. It allowed me to incorporate amazing ideas from teachers across the world into my classroom as well as develop and share my own ideas.  It allowed me to ask questions to experts in my field and get immediate and thoughtful feedback.  Most importantly, it allowed me to connect with people who share my passion for teaching math and has kept my fire burning strong. Over the past year, as you may have noticed from my complete inactivity on my blog and twitter, I've had much less time to participate and have felt stagnant and unmotivated as a result.

TMC completely revitalized me in connecting and sharing with other teachers as well as in being the best teacher I can be.  The power of spending time in real life with so many people who share the common goal of creating the best possible math experience for their students is unmeasurable5. The presentations were by far the best of any I've seen at any conference.  They were practical, exciting and directly relevant to what I teach. 

I honestly think that our online math community and meet ups like TMC are the future of education.  Typically professional development is way too general, even in math conferences like NCTM. At other conferences, it has always felt like I was panning through tons of dirt and rocks hoping to find one small nugget of gold to bring back with me.  TMC was like looking at a pile of gold and picking out the biggest ones.  What was the difference6 exactly?  TMC was far more specific.  There is so much in common between everyone that went, which is what exactly what brought us together online in the first place. We have similar7 courses, grade levels, personality traits and even senses of humor. These commonalities allowed us to share so much more meaningfully than when the only thing one has in common with fellow attendees is being in the education field.

The icing on the cake is that we already knew and liked each other.  Many people felt a little weird at first meeting people they didn't "know". The truth is though, we already did know each other.  If anything people are more comfortable being themselves online than they are in real life.  So not only were we able to share meaningfully and professionally, we could go out afterwards and have an incredible amount of fun.  All of this together culminated in the best professional experience of my life.  Now, I'm full of excitement to make this one of my best years teaching and I have time to prepare!

If you teach anything, my advice is to get online and get involved.  Not only will it make you a better teacher,  it will make you a happier one as well. Other subject areas take notes:  Math is killing it right now.

1,2,3,4,5,6,7 All puns intended

Monday, May 9, 2011

f(u) Calculus Song!

In case you haven't seen it, I made a song parody about some of the basic derivatives rules in Calculus to the tune of Ceelo's "Forget you."   Enjoy!



updated with lyrics:

Chorus:
I see you derivin' in class during calc-u-lus
And you've got f(u)
Which you want to find the derivative of,
it's just f '(u) and a du too,
it's just the chain rule,
a great cal-cu-lus tool
and you use it when...(you use it when)
When there's an inside and an outside that you can write as,
f(u)
(ooo ooo ooo)

Another derivative tool,
is the product rule.
And I know you can get it done
The slope of the product
of functions 1 and 2
is 1d2 plus 2d1.
I pity the foo-ooo-oool
who forgets the product rule
(oh, that's how you get it done)
(it's just 1d2 plus 2d1)
OoooOooOoOh
There's just one more rule
Wait... what was the chain rule again?

-Chorus-

For quotient, quotient, quotient you don't have to, have to pull out your hair,
(your hair, your hair, your hair)
Cause it's just low di high minus hi di low all over low squared
(Low squared, low squared, low squared)
To find dy dx dy dx dy dx baaa-aaa-aaaby,
But what about, that dang chain rule?

-Chorus-

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

How I see exponent rules (and log rules)

Exponent rules can be difficult to remember, and memory has never been one of my strong suits. When I was in high school myself learning exponent rules, I would get mixed up just trying to remember them individually, and had to come up with a different way of thinking to condense it into one idea.  What I came up with deals with the levels of complexity of operations:
So, you've got your simple functions on the bottom, multiplication and division are a little more complex, and then exponents and roots are more complex. The actual chart above I created after the fact when trying to explain the idea to students later in life.  So, basically when it came to exponent rules all I had to remember was to "go down a level" of complexity.
So multiplication becomes addition, division becomes subtraction, an exponent to an exponent becomes multiplication and a root with an exponent becomes division. The chart also helps for remembering when to distribute. Operations distribute on to the tier below them. (exponents distribute over multiplication and division for example)  

My results with trying to get students to see the same thing I do has been mixed.  I usually end up doing an exploratory learning exercise with exponents , then going through the rules individually and only quickly going through this chart idea on the side.  While it doesn't really connect with every student, when a particular student gets the rules mixed up it can really help because it at least gives them a plan rather than just relying on straight memorization.

Later on, when I learned about logs it turned out that log rules (surprising to me at the time, not so much anymore) followed along the same lines, with exponents becoming multiplication, multiplication become addition, etc. 

Anyone else ever think of it this way?  Have some other strategy for helping students get exponent rules straight?  Let me know!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Top 5 math blogs survey

On and off I've been working on a "Welcome to the Math Teacher Online Community" website to help quickly orient people to all the great stuff we have going on between blogs and twitter. One thing I'd like to include is a not too overwhelming list of quality math teaching blogs to add to an RSS reader for someone new to blogs.  You can help by filling out this form and writing in your favorite 5 math teaching blogs.  Thanks!