Pi Day Activity

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This coloring activity is a fun way to practice area and circumference problems. There are 16 problems in all. The students are asked to leave some answers in terms of pi. There are some problems that area is given and the student has to find circumference and vice-versa. The back of the activity has adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing with pi. The variety of problems makes this resource fun but challenging!

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Exponential Functions Activity

original-2266582-1Exponential Functions Activity

This was my very first resource that I put on TpT. I love this activity. It gives the students choices and it’s hands-on. Students love making a poster and using multiple representations. Here’s a sample poster:

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Creating this activity inspired me to create Exponential Functions: 6 Stations. More examples of Exponentials! Fun and interactive!

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Here are three more awesome Exponential Function Resources that are in my store.

Exponential Functions AssessmentExponential Functions UnitExponential Functions Bundle

Are Your Students College Ready?

Challenge 1:

Learn more about the SAT/PSAT and ACT. Go to the CollegeBoard website and the ACT website and browse. See what those tests are like. Do you know what topics are covered on those tests? Learn the importance of the PSAT…it’s more than just practice! Do  you know the purpose of the ACCUPLACER (or if you are from Texas it’s called the TSI)? The more you know about these tests, the better you will understand how you can help prepare your students.

Challenge 2:

If you teach 5th grade math, does it matter if you know what is on the math portion of the SAT? I challenge ALL math teachers (elementary, middle school and high school) to take the math portion of the SAT or ACT. If you do not teach math, I challenge you to pick any of the portions of the SAT or ACT and take them…especially if it’s been awhile since you graduated from college! If you are a science teacher, check out the ACT science test. WOW! It’s crazy all the reading involved on that test! Open your eyes to what is on these tests and how they ask questions.
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Challenge 3

Implement one thing (a topic, a strategy, a visual) that will help your students be successful on college entrance exams. Here are some examples:

1)Pick a topic to focus on and spiral into your lessons every so often.

2)We all have important vocabulary that we cover, but Google SAT vocabulary list and create a word wall with some of these words.

3)Pick a testing strategy like timing your tests.

4)If you teach math, have calculator and non-calculator portions of your tests.

5) Use actual SAT or ACT or ACCUPLACER questions as bell-ringers. If you teach younger grades, simplify them slightly if needed.

6) Show your students how to get on Khan Academy. This site is awesome and has great college entrance practice.

Challenge 4

Talk about these tests in class. Start talking about them while the students are young so they know what’s coming and know what to expect. The great thing about this topic is you are starting the conversation about going to college. Some students do not get to have that conversation at home, so the only place they might hear it is from you.

Challenge 5

If you teach 9 – 11th graders, encourage your students to go ahead and take the ACCUPLACER or the equivalent in your state. It doesn’t cost much and they can take it as many times as they like. Have them bring the paperwork back to you and you can help them figure out their strengths and weaknesses. In Texas, the students must make a certain grade on the three parts so they do not have to take remedial college math and English classes. My next door neighbor took her 8th grade daughter up to the nearest community college last year and had her take the test. Guess what? She passed all three portions and she hasn’t even taken high school Algebra yet. My school encourages students to take the test when they are ninth graders. Many of them pass the first time, but most do not. This is when I step in and start reviewing them for the next time they take it.

I’ll have to admit, that I did not see the importance of learning as much as I could about these tests until last year. I was given a class full of seniors that had not passed the TSI yet and my job was to help them pass it before the end of the semester. I found very little help online when it came to work that I could give them. I had no choice but to create my own reviews. I had to research the topics and I came up with 7 packets. I offer these in my TpT store. I also bundled all 7 reviews. My son is a senior, so I decided to put his picture on the front of the packet. I have to brag on him, he passed the TSI with flying colors. He is a fast test taker. It only took him an hour and five minutes to take all three portions. It’s an interesting test. If you do not pass the first 2o questions or so, it gives you 4o more to do, so that’s why it takes some students forever to take it.

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College Ready Bundle

After most of the students in my class had passed the TSI, I couldn’t let them come to class everyday and do nothing, so I started reviewing for the SAT and ACT. Again, I created my own material. I’m glad I did because now I know so much more about those tests. I plan on making more SAT reviews when I get a chance. I have bundles and individual products. The bundles are seen here:

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SAT Bundle
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ACT Bundle

I basically had to write my own curriculum for a semester. That’s not easy when you are also teaching Algebra II and Pre-Cal. If you are in the same boat and need curriculum for a senior math class, then I’ve bundled all three entrance exam reviews into a MEGA bundle as seen below:

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MEGA Bundle

Please take this advice and start familiarizing yourself with these very important tests. See if you can add anything to your routine that might help your students. Be creative in your implementation and don’t reinvent the wheel. I hope I have motivated you to start your “College Ready Research.” Encourage your colleagues to do the same. Send me some of your ideas if you get a chance. Good Luck!

 

Why Are Literal Equation So Hard?

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Parks and Rec has to be one of my favorite shows and Rob Lowe is very cute, STILL! If you’ve never seen the show, put this on your to-do list! You’ll think it’s weird at first but the characters are hilarious. Rob Lowe joins the show during the second season. He literally says literally 20 times a show…maybe I’m exaggerating, but he does say literally a lot! Watch it…you’ll love it. It’s a nice way to relax and get your mind off school.

So why am I thinking about literal equations? The physics teacher is telling me that the kids can’t solve literal equations! I could have told him that :), but why can’t they? I know my students can solve 4x = 8, but they can’t solve d = rt for r. What’s the issue? I think it’s several things:

  1. They are solving 4x = 8 in their head. They know that 4 times 2 is 8, so x has to be 2. They aren’t thinking about inverse operations. I’m realizing some students still do not know that 4x means 4 times x.
  2. When students see a problem with only letters in it, they automatically think that it’s hard. They are not making the connection that really all that is happening is that r is multiplied by t. If they knew the operation taking place in the problem, then they should ask what is the inverse operation.
  3. Students are not really understanding that all they are really doing is “UNDOING” the operations to solve for one of the variables…which leads me to wonder if anyone has ever explained that when you solve equations, you are actually doing PEMDAS backwards.

I’ve created a lesson that addresses all three of the issues above. At first, I think the student should analyze the problem by writing the equation in words so I can see if they understand what operations are taking place. I then ask them to circle the variable they are solving for so they can have a visual of what needs to be by itself. The notes below are what I give the students to get them started on this process.literal-equation-explained

I take them through a problem similar to the one above and then I let them practice 4 problems that are similar to this. Below is a sample:literal-eq-with-wordsIf you like collaboration, these problems would be good for a sage and scribe activity. The sage tells the scribe what to write. The scribe has to stay quiet for a while and let the sage describe the steps and what needs to be written. I eventually let the scribe have some input because sometimes they are dying to help the sage. We switch roles for each problem.

Next, I give them a worksheet that has a regular equation with a literal equation that looks just like it. They do the regular one first and then the literal equation (they are solving for c). I keep telling them to remember what they did on the regular equation and follow those same steps. Here’s an example:comparison-of-equations

The final activity in this lesson is to help the students in their science class. I give them some science equations mixed in with a few math equations. I’m hoping by now, these problems will be easy.

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There is one more reason students do not understand literal equations and it’s our fault as teachers.

4. Teachers work on literal equations for one day maybe two and that’s it. How can they really get it?

Let’s not make that same mistake again. I plan on recycling literal equations back into my lessons. I plan on using them in bell-ringers and I plan on putting them on assignments and tests in the future. How many people can understand something, especially in math, after one or two days? Remember that when a student first sees a literal equation, it looks foreign to them. They are not going to make the connection that they are just equations (at first).

We can help make the student more successful in math and science if they learn to solve literal equations. Don’t take this topic lightly. Ask your science teachers what else students have a hard time with when it comes to math in their class. Bring something to write with, because you’ll get a list of items. Other things that my physics teacher has mentioned is conversions, graphing linear equations (knowing slope, independent and dependent) as well as being able to graph bar graphs.

Good luck and if you would like to purchase my literal equations activity, click below:

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Literal Equations for Math and Science