Where to Start with Distance Learning

Many teachers are in the same boat. You might be thinking…I do a few things online with my students, but not much. If the extent of your online teaching/learning has been Kahoot or Quizlet, then good job! That’s a start. Don’t be ashamed. If you have dabbled in Google Classroom, then Yay! The key is not to be afraid to try new things. There’s always a learning curve, no doubt about it. The more you become familiar with something, then the easier it will be. The key is to start!

So how will you reach your students? Your district is probably scrambling to come up with a plan. I know my district has been having internet issues… as in a virus attacked our whole system. Google Classroom was being used by most of our teachers, but when our website and internet wasn’t working, we couldn’t access Google Classroom. Luckily I was using Blogger. If you’d like to read more about how I use Blogger, then go here: Using Blogger for Online Teaching. I love Blogger because I do not have to rely on my district for anything which is a blessing!

I think it is important to find something you feel comfortable with and something that is free! If you already use Remind with your students, this would be another way to guide them to where you want them to go. If you’ve never used Remind, then check it out here: REMIND. It is not a website, but it is a way to communicate with your students, so let’s say you wanted your students to go to a video, or go do an online activity, you could tell them through Remind!

Once you know how to stay in contact with your students, it’s time to figure out what activities to give them. The reason I love Blogger is because I can use a picture of my resources and place them on my blogspot. Here’s an example of what I recently gave my Geometry students: My Geometry Lesson on Blogger. How do I check to see if they did it? I’m planning on checking their journal at some point. Right now with COVID-19, I don’t know if we will go back to school anytime soon, so the next thing I gave them was a Quizziz.com activity to see if they understand this material. I love this platform because I can look at the report to see if they did it, how many times they attempted it and how well they did. I stick with these free online tools to check for understanding as well as to teach:

  • Google Slides – like PowerPoint (use with your google account…if you have gmail, you have google slides)
  • Google Forms – Good for assessment (if you have gmail, you have google forms)
  • Quizziz – Self-checking
  • Boom Learning – Self-checking
  • YouTube – Video Learning Tool
  • Khan Academy – Video and Tutoring Tool
  • Flip Grid – Video Tool (students explain a concept on a short video)
  • Desmos – Graphing Calculator Tool with Free Lessons – There are two places you will want to use: Free Calculator and Teacher Resources
  • Screencast-O-Matic – Video your computer screen while you are explaining.

My suggestion is not to overwhelm yourself or your students. Pick a couple of resources that you feel are best for you and stick with them for a while. Ask other teachers in your school what they are using. Get with teachers in your department and share the workload. Some other tools that I will be checking out in the future is Google Hangouts and Zoom. These are video conferencing tools where you can actually see your students live.

If you are a secondary math teacher, then I have several distance learning activities in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store that you might be interested in. I also have a Boom Learning Store called Time Flies. You can go to either store and find all kinds of things that would be helpful. Here’s the link to my distance learning resources in my Time Flies TpT store.

I wish you the best in your online teaching journey. You can do this! If you have any questions, please feel free to comment below. Good Luck!

Using Blogger For Online Teaching

I’ve thought many times about writing about how I use Blogger for my classroom. With the coronavirus outbreak, it seems like a perfect time to do this. Like many of you, my district has called off classes for two weeks and who knows if it will go longer. I will still be able to give my students the things they need through Blogger. I’m really grateful that I started using this free platform.

I’ve been on spring break for a week. The week before spring break, we lost our school internet and the school website and all of the systems that we use. I’m in a huge district, so how could this happen? I still was able to use many of my tools because my campus has a second internet since we are connected to a college campus. I was still able to use my Blogspot! I started using Google Classroom at the beginning of the year to see what all of the fuss was about and I found it too restricting. I have too many things in my personal Google Drive and it was a pain to go back and forth between my personal Google Drive and the school Google Drive. I still love Google Forms and Google Slides etc., but I use them through Blogger which is a free blog publishing service by Google. If you have a gmail, then you have access to Blogger!

Here’s how to get to Blogger… Open a tab in Google Chrome. (You need to be signed in to your gmail.) In the top left part of the page you opened, you will see the waffle I highlighted. Click that waffle and you will see lots of stuff you can use. You may need to use the slide bar to find Blogger. Blogger has a funny looking B with an orange background. Click it! Follow the directions to set up the blog. The best thing to do if you are unsure of how to do the set up is to go watch a YouTube video. When I set mine up, I just fumbled my way through it. Don’t worry about a custom domain. You have to pay for domain names, so stick with the name that blogger has you create.

Go check out my Blogspot if you’d like an example. I’m giving you a chance to check it out so that you can use my ideas or any resources that I post. You are free to use them in your classroom, but please don’t use any resources for commercial use. All of my material is copyrighted and is only for teacher use. Here’s the link: https://mrshamitersclass.blogspot.com/.

Now that you have this platform, you just need to give your students the link. I teach 3 different subjects. I could have a Blogspot for each subject, but I thought it would be easiest to have just one. I usually like to give assignments in the sidebar using “pages” and make announcements to all classes on the main section of the blog which is called the “posts”. I’m not always consistent on that, but students know to look in both places. I also have started using a Google Calendar which is another way to attach lessons and/or quizzes and tests.

My purpose for giving my fellow math teachers access to my Blogspot is because I want to help. Even if you do not want to create your own Blogspot, then feel free to rummage through mine and find things you need. Also, I will be posting lessons for my students starting tomorrow.

While I’m at it, I have a free item to give you. A perfect tool during this time of distance learning is Boom Learning. Click here to get my free Domain and Range Practice Boom Cards. If you’ve never used Boom Cards, you can add a new platform to your list of online tools! You will not regret it. They are easy to use and self-checking.

We will all get through this crazy time. Teachers are the toughest people I know. Be strong for your students. They look to us, so we must remain in control and be good examples for our students. I wish you well and please let me know if I can help you any further.

Trigonometry for the Geometry Classroom

It’s finally trig time! Yay! I love trig. Students tend to enjoy it too because it is so different from everything they have been taught so far. Over the years, I’ve tried different approaches to teaching trig. I know what kids struggle on and I finally feel like I’ve got a good way of teaching it. I see my trig unit broken into these parts:

  • Intro to Trig
  • Practice Finding Opposite, Hypotenuse and Adjacent
  • Setting Up Problems and Solving Them
  • Practice
  • Review
  • Assessment
  • More Assessment

Trig can be simple but to some students it can be complicated. They actually love it once they get the hang of it and how fun is it to use the calculator this much?! (When I first learned trig, we used charts to find the answers. We did not have calculators that would do the calculations. Yes, I’m old!)

When I created this unit, I knew what the two main issues were with teaching trig: 1) Teaching them which trig function to use 2) Teaching them how to solve the different types of problems

I decided to work backwards a little. In my introduction, I just tell them (As Bill and Ted would say) we are about to embark on an excellent adventure called Trig. I introduce a right triangle and tell them to visualize that they are in a right triangular room. They are sitting in one of the corners (not the right angle). I go on to talk about where opposite is and how when you are sitting in the corner, you can touch the hypotenuse and adjacent sides at the same time, but you can’t reach the opposite side. There are some notes we take and then we play a dice game.

For the dice game, I usually get my first class to cut out and put together the dice. Now I have the dice for the rest of the day. I put students into groups of 3 or 4 and they are competing against the rest of the class. There are three dice. One with triangles, one with dots and one with the words, hypotenuse, opposite and adjacent. Click the link below to watch the dice game which practices knowing the different sides with respect to a certain angle. Dice Game Short Video.

Before going any further, I teach kids SOH CAH TOA and we do some practice on finding those ratios. That part is normal progression, but here is the part that might seem a little backwards: I teach them how to solve trig equations next! The students do not know how to set them up yet, but I have figured out that if I go ahead and teach them how to solve the equations, then once they start setting them up, solving is a breeze. I teach them how to solve these three types of problems:

  • Looking for an angle
  • Looking for a side and the x is in the numerator
  • Looking for a side and the x is in the denominator

By the way, when teaching them how to solve these problem, get them to completely solve for x before typing anything into the calculator. Don’t let them find the sin of an angle, then multiply by the side. Let them type the whole thing in: 12 sin(36). I like this method because then the students aren’t rounding answers until the end of the problem. You can see that I did that in the examples above in problems 5 & 6.

Next is the PowerPoint. In the picture to the right, you can see one of the slides in the PowerPoint. Only the triangle with the sun, and the two arrows appear and students have to name which trig function is being referenced. I don’t use degrees for a while, I’ll just use symbols. I don’t want the variables and numbers to get in the way. Toward the end of the PowerPoint, the students are asked to set up the problems and then at the end, they go back to solve them.

Now it’s time to practice. I have 3 worksheets that help students find missing sides and angles. The first one places only an x on one side, a number on a side and gives one angle. This makes it easy to determine the trig function and it is like the PowerPoint. The next worksheet gives the students two sides and asks them to find the missing angle. The last worksheet is the toughest because now the students have to find x, y and z… two sides and an angle. This is much more difficult because it will not be obvious from the start which trig function to use. Students need to see that they actually have a choice sometimes and they need to decide where to start and ignore the extra info. I also throw in some special right triangles and an right triangle altitude problem to see if they remember those rules. The PowerPoint from earlier brings up that there might be more than one way to solve a problem, so hopefully when they get to the worksheet, they will use a quick special right triangle rule instead of trig, but if they can find the answer either way, I’m happy.

I have another resource that is not in this trig unit that I do at this point. It’s the Trig Maze. The students really get into it and work at it. It’s cool to work a problem and then see your answer on the paper (they are thinking, “YAY, I did it right!”) and it’s even cooler that it leads you to the next problem you are supposed to work. The maze comes with an answer document, so you can see all of their work!

Finally, I like to do some task cards with some real-life situations. Some of the task cards contain a ladder against a building, finding a flagpole height, finding the diagonal in a rectangle etc. There are 12 of these problems.

I end the unit with what I call the “Poodle Problem”. It is a group of 5 triangles that have been put together to look like a poodle. Go back and look at the very first picture at the top of this blog. That’s the Poodle Problem! The students find all the answers, then total them for one final answer. How fast is this to grade? Super fast! It’s a great quiz and a great end to the unit.

I’m not finished yet! Now I like to test all of the right triangle content. I have a test that I call the Right Triangle Test that has 10 questions with the following problems:

  • One Pythagorean Theorem Problem where they have to find the perimeter of the triangle.
  • One Right Triangle Altitude Problem where they have to find the perimeter of the triangle.
  • One 30-60-90 Problem where they have to find the area of the triangle.
  • One 45-45-90 Problem – easy, they just find the hypotenuse
  • Six Trig Problems – Just find a missing side, except for one problem is like the task cards, but a little tougher.

I had problems with cheating one year, so I went crazy and made 5 versions of the same test. You even have a choice of an answer bank or no answer bank. One of the 5 tests is a shortened version that I’ve used as a retest or a modified test. (It gives the students a little help on setting up some of the problems too.) I don’t like to give long tests. Students get enough testing. I like tests that are short and to the point. As long as I can tell they “get it”, why does it have to be super long?

I’m very happy with this unit. The only thing that it doesn’t contain right now is angle of elevation and depression problems. I’ll try to add this to the unit this summer. These problems were a big deal at one time, but it seems like we’ve gotten away from them in Geometry. I still think it’s good for students to see them.

Trig is fun and different and essential to future math classes. Below is all of my right triangle lessons including the Trig resource I’ve been talking about. What’s next on my agenda after right triangle trig? Law of Sines and Cosines of course! Law of Sines and Cosines is sold separately in my store, but it is also a part of Unit 7 below.

4th Grading Period in Algebra – Closer to Testing Season!

I cannot believe that the 4th grading period has come and gone already. Where does the time go? I’ve concentrated on solving systems, exponent rules and geometric sequences. We have just started the beginning of growth and decay for exponential functions. I feel like I’ve done a lot, but I was talking to a teacher today from another district that said that they are almost finished with the curriculum and they will have about 5 or six weeks to review for the STAAR test. I’ve still got to wrap up exponentials, foil, factor and get through quadratics in the 5th six weeks before I’m ready to start reviewing.

Here are some specifics about what I’ve done this grading period! Let’s start with systems. One thing about solving systems is that if you are behind in your curriculum, this is where you can catch up. You can hold off teaching your students the substitution method and the elimination method until after the test and just make sure they know how to set up systems and that they know how to solve systems on a graph or using linSolve on the nSpire calculator. I did not show them linSolve yet. I showed them how to find the intersection on the graph, but it gets complicated if students need to solve for y or if the graph’s window needs to be altered. LinSolve is a life saver and I’ll show my students how to use it before the test. I have a quick google slides activity that I like to use after I teach students how to graph systems. It also helps me to know which students are still struggling with solving for y. I have three free videos too on solving systems using various methods. These are perfect for a flipped classroom or just extra practice. The video on graphing would be great to show before doing the google slides activity! By the way, be sure to check out the new TEA calculator rules as of 2/13/2020.

I love exponent activities and I have created quite a few for my students to use. I’ve also experimented with different ways to get the students to understand the rules. The STAAR test usually has several exponent problems. I’ve seen some complicated multi-step problems. I try to get my students to understand how to find equivalent answers. I want them to know there is more than one way to write 5x^-2. I do a lot of practice with negative exponents and I work hard on the exponent of zero. I talk about how exponents are kind of like 9th graders, they don’t follow the rule of the problem. They are rebels and follow their own rules. I’ve tried PowerMan too. PowerMan is a fun way to get the students to write down the rules. See below:

The PowerMan Explanation is at the end of my Properties of Exponents Activity in my store. I tend not to use it as the introductory method of learning exponents. Instead, I wait until I’ve taught the rules and then I’ll say, “Now, here’s how you can remember all these rules.” I get bored with worksheets, so I’ve also got a few digital exponent products. One is a google slides activity and another is just for the product property only and it is a Boom Card activity. I have a Time Flies Boom Learning Store too. If you have never heard of Boom Learning, it is worth your time to check it out!

Before I really get into exponential functions, I like to introduce geometric sequences. This leads perfectly into exponentials. Students like patterns and even though the formulas are not exactly student-friendly, they usually figure out what the explicit and recursive formulas are all about. I like to do some hands-on activities too. This is my lesson that I use. It take the students through all the terminology. This is all they really need to know to be successful on the STAAR. (Which by the way, really isn’t what I’m all about, but it is part of my job to make sure they pass the test!)

My students took a benchmark created by our district this grading period. I noticed that the person that created the benchmark, took the 2019 May test and basically wrote a similar version. The first problem was a slope question and the second problem was a range question for a quadratic just like the 2019 test. I’m kind of glad they did this because I’m going to go over the benchmark and then I can use the 2019 test questions to see if the students understand their mistakes from the benchmark. If your district does not have your students take a benchmark, then I would suggest using the 2018 test as a benchmark. Divide the test up into several days and let the students take it. You can get the students to help you grade it. The TEA website has all the tests and answer keys here.

Out of 28 students, I had 20 pass the test with a 21 or better raw score. There were no surprises there. I had one person, only get 14 correct which is disturbing. She has struggled all year, but I didn’t think she was one of my lower students. I gave the students their benchmarks back this past Friday. I’m having them make corrections on the problems that have been taught in class that they missed. At the point of when they took the test, we had not learned about exponents and quadratics, so all of those questions are not important right now. The way we are correcting the test is I’m having them make three columns on a piece of paper. The first column is the problem number. The second column is their original answer. The last column is for their new answer with an explanation or work shown. I plan on looking at these very closely and working one-on-one with students that are not sure of how to work through some of the problems. I told them it was ok to say, “IDK”. I usually hate them writing this as an answer, but I really do want to know if they are clueless. I have not shown them one single calculator trick so far (nsolve). I hate showing them how to work problems without really knowing what they are doing, but there will come a point when I’ll bite the bullet and explain some of those tricks.

I’ve started a tutoring time during my advisory (homeroom) on Tuesdays. I started this before the benchmark but now I need to reevaluate the students that I have in there. Most will not change, but I have one I can take out and put a different student in his place. They are working in a program provided by our district. I’m not entirely sold on the program. I feel like I’m useless because I’m just making sure they are working in the program. These kids need more than this, I think. They have gaps and I doubt they are getting what they need from the program, but I’m going to continue to use it and give it a chance.

So there you have it. The fourth six weeks is done! My new plan is to focus on finishing the curriculum and focusing on the students with the most issues. I have my own review material that I will be starting. One thing that will be happening soon is I will have my students make some flashcards. I will have them start working through the flashcards and then we will begin taking quizzes over them. I make the students take the quizzes until they make at least an 80 or better. Originally the flash cards were meant to be task cards. You can find the cards and the quizzes in the resource below. I’ve also attached my STAAR Review Bundle. Good luck and hang in there! Our students will succeed!

8th Grade Math STAAR Review

Teachers have enough to do without having to create their own review material. I decided to help 8th grade math teachers by creating a math STAAR review. Below I will explain a little about what you will find in each resource. At the end of each lesson, there is a review problem that I named, Smath’s Problem. It is a combination problem that reviews all of the content in the objective. A strategy could be that if you feel like your students understand a certain objective, then give them Smath’s Problem to see where they stand. A second idea is to go over all the TEKS in the objective lesson, then give Smath’s problem as a quiz.

If you are from Texas, then you know that the objective 1 standards are the process standards. These explain how the students will engage in the content. The tested objectives actually start with objective 2. Below is a quick explanation of the content covered with a piece of one of the reviews that I made. Every TEK is covered in the reviews and is written at the top of the worksheet.

TEKS Objective 2: Sets and subsets of numbers, approximating irrational numbers, scientific notation and ordering real numbers.

TEKS Objective 3: Setting up proportions, comparing a shape and its dilation, using algebraic representation to show a dilation.

TEKS Objective 4: Using similar right triangles to develop an understanding of slope, interpreting unit rate as slope in proportional relationships, determining rate of change, slope or y-intercept for a table or graph.

TEKS Objective 5: Multiple-reps, proportional and non-proportional linear relationships, scatter plots and predictions, direct variation, content literacy, functions and non-functions.

TEKS Objective 6: Plugging into the volume of a cylinder without solving, comparing the volume of a cylinder and a cone, using models to demonstrate Pythagorean Theorem.

TEKS Objective 7: Volume of cylinders, cones and spheres, lateral and total surface area of rectangular prisms, triangular prisms and cylinders, Pythagorean Theorem and its converse, finding distance using Pythagorean Theorem.

TEKS Objective 8: Setting up and solving equations/inequalities with variables on both sides, writing a real-life scenario from a given equation, establishing facts about these geometry concepts: parallel lines cut by a transversal, angle sum and exterior angle theorems of triangles and AA similarity problems.

TEKS Objective 9: Lead up to Systems.

TEKS Objective 10: Understanding of transformations, study of which transformations preserve congruence, writing algebraic representations for transformations, effect on linear and area measurements when shapes are dilated.

TEKS Objective 11: Determining if a scatterplot has an association, mean absolute deviation, random sampling questions.

TEKS Objective 12: Simple interest and compound interest, analyzing the effects of interest rate and loan length, analyzing how money grows over time, making financially responsible decisions, advantages and disadvantages of different payment methods, estimating the cost of college.

Each objective lesson is sold separately or you can purchase the bundle. Good luck!

Biology EOC STAAR Review

It’s testing season. My husband and I teach tested subjects in Texas and we have both created reviews. The following blogpost is from my husband who is a Biology teacher:

How do you get ready for your state exams? This is not an easy task and do you really want to create all your own material? I asked myself this same question a few years ago. The thing is, I was the only Biology teacher on my campus, so I did not have much of a choice. I knew that I didn’t want to create a massive resource that I couldn’t use, so I decide to break it into the 5 Reporting Categories that the state of Texas uses to organize the material. This seemed much more manageable than thinking about every TEK individually. I looked at the released tests and noticed many questions that kept reappearing and what the readiness standards were. Even when the TEKS slightly changed a few years ago, there were no major changes needed in my review. I’m proud to say, that I’ve used my reviews going on 5 years now and other than a few minor tweaks here and there, it is still a great review and relevant now more than ever. Please take the time to look at each category and see if any of this is something that you can use. All 5 categories are sold in a bundle, but each individual category is sold on it’s own as well. If you are struggling to know what to use to help you students, I think you will find this material very helpful. My advice is that you reflect on your data and decide where you need to spend most of your time. Do you need to do whole class reviews, individual reviews through tutorials? Are you planning a camp? Get a picture of where you should put your efforts, then it’s time to decide the resources you will want to use.

Category 1: This is a Biology review for Category 1: Cell Structure and Function. It is aligned with standards for the Texas EOC, but can be used for any science class as a review for cells and cell processes. The critical thinking worksheet supports critical thinking with 2 versions- one with a word bank, one without. This is a good collaborative piece, partner work or individual assessment. Students enjoy coloring so, why not learn about organelles while doing it? While using manipulatives, students can demonstrate knowledge of similarities/differences of the two cell types (pro- and eukaryotes) by categorizing cell characteristics using cards.

Category 2: Students typically struggle with genetic inheritance and anything DNA. This package focuses on essential vocabulary and working Punnett squares. Get your students proficient with the language of genetics and protein synthesis! Below is is one of the pages of task cards that is available in this review.

Category 3: This item will help students become familiar with the hierarchy of classification. Students critically think about how to color the Kingdom chart based on characteristics. Next, they classify themselves and for this activity, I have them choose one additional organism for each taxon that is shared with humans.  Dear King Phillip Came Over For Good Soup!

Category 4: This set allows students to describe the interactions among systems focusing on regulation, nutrient absorption, reproduction and defense from injury/illness. Maintenance of homeostasis is featured as well as intensive investigation of the relationship between products and reactants of cellular respiration and photosynthesis.

Category 5: Ecology and energy flow review focuses on species interactions with each other and the ecosystem. The War Card Set will take on a life of its own. Most students know how to play war with cards but I noticed some groups would play an adaptation to Uno or they would make up their own game. Definitely make at least 4 sets and watch the creativity bloom!

I’ve added a new resource this year that I am excited to use. This idea came to me from playing a game at my daughter’s house. This activity breaks the monotony of worksheets and is competitive. Again, I broke it down by categories and I sell it as a bundle as well as individual categories. Your students will play a guessing game called “What am I?” Each student will get a chance to read the card where other students are guessing what the mystery word is. There are a total of 64 cards in the bundle. Copy, cut and go! Below, you will see a sample card:

Good luck this year and every year with testing season. It is exhausting, but you will get through it! Please let us hear from you if you have any questions about any of the resources.

STEM Activities in the Secondary Classroom

Teachers know the importance of incorporating science, technology, engineering and math. In today’s world, students need a set of skills for future jobs that we can’t even imagine, so we must give them a variety of experiences. My husband and I have several activities that we believe qualify as STEM activities. Our thought process is that any time you can get students to do math in a real-life situation, you are headed in the right direction. Throw in some collaboration and problem solving and you’ve got yourself an even better experience. Remember, technology does not always have to be digital. Any use of a tool could be technology, such as using tape measures or any measuring device. Technology can be as simple as collecting data. The activities that we have below are excellent and will provide your students with some valuable thinking and exploration.

Vitruvian Man

Vitruvius asserted that every structure must be strong, useful and beautiful. This assertion was one of many in his writings. He also made claims about the proportions of the human body. Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous Vitruvian Man was an attempt to take what Vitruvius claimed and capture it in a geometric drawing. This measurement lab gives the students a chance to learn some history, collect data, through measurement, set up some mathematical problems, collaborate and analyze. The students go through 6 stations to find the measurements they need, then it’s time to test the ratios to see if they prove or disprove Vitruvius. You’ll love the accountable talk and the thinking that takes place in this very interactive lab.

The Quadratic STEM Activity

This is a self-paced project where students learn how to take information and plug it into an excel sheet then produce a graph of the data. I like to use it as a project grade that will replace the lowest test grade during my quadratic unit, but this does not have to be used in math classes only. This activity has a health aspect and can be used in science, health classes or even a medical class. Students create data tables for male and female blood pressures and then they are asked to take their own blood pressure to see if the data seems accurate. The school nurse will usually take blood pressure if you ask him/her or they can get it done at the machine at their local drug store. The final part of the activity is to write a short report on the findings. Below you will see part of a page that is explaining how to get started in the excel sheet:

My advice to the teacher before assigning this project is to go through the excel sheet yourself first, so that you can answer any questions from the students. As a math teacher, I love showing students how to use excel to create a table. This can come in handy any time they want to take a data table and create a graph. This skill could come in handy when writing future reports in any class such as science or social studies.

Nutrition Label Project

Dr. H developed this project because in the past the Texas Biology EOC would contain an analysis question using a nutrition label. This project is based on information found in nutrition labels but it has the students using many scientific processing skills. They must interpret and compare quantitative data using nutrition labels from cereals that they have chosen to analyze and investigate. Some parts of the assignment requires drawing inferences from the data and constructing comparative graphs to visually communicate information they have gathered.  The final step of the project allows them to analyze and interpret the data into a written article explaining and defending their conclusions. As the students move through the assignments, you will notice the project becomes something they take ownership of and will have discussions with other students about their results. (HELLO CRITICAL THINKING!) They develop an understanding of that label on their food which they had never thought about before. Students will begin bringing you food labels and discussing ingredients or questioning if this food is good for them. The project is broken up into 4 parts that get increasingly complex and it builds confidence for many of your students. Dr. H says, “I assign this in the spring and, every year, I will get surprising work from a few students that kind of underachieved all year.”

Exponential Functions in Google Slides

This is a fun activity where students get to choose an exponential function situation and then work through the process of building a data table, graphing the situation, creating an equation and finally answering a question or two. The cool part is that your whole class is working in a google sheet all at the same time. I created this activity out of necessity one year when I was out of town. The students did the activity while I watched and helped them from my daughters house 2000 miles away. This activity is best for your Algebra 2 students. They need to have an understanding of exponential functions in order to be successful. An extension to this activity would be to allow your students to create their own exponential function activity. You would be amazed at what they can come up with!

I hope you are excited about these STEM activities. They are so much more fun and useful than the standard worksheet. It’s our job as teachers to answer the dreaded question, “When are we ever gonna use this in the real world?” I believe STEM activities are so important and will make you and your students feel satisfied about the work taking place in class.