Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The power of a graphing calculator


Given that I have a set of 20 Chromebooks in my classroom that I use as often as possible, I will be the first to sing praises for having technology in the classroom.  If you read most of my posts from this school year, you will know that I have used those laptops PLENTY!  However, my students MUST be well skilled at using a graphing calculator for the AP Test, so I know it is important that I teach them all the tricks with that tool, and let them practice with it.

Today, we familiarized ourselves with how to get a complete analysis of a data set by looking at the scatterplot, resid plot, r, r squared and sum of resids (squared) on the calculator.  One thing that I have NEVER heard former students tell me when they come back to visit is that knowing how to use the calculator was a waste of time.  On the contrary, they tell me how others struggle in their classes because they don't know how to use a graphing calculator.  So I figure, time well spent!!  But be prepared, teaching students this soft skill takes quite a bit of time.  It is through necessary repetition that they can finally remember the sequence of buttons that must be pushed in order to look at all the necessary components through which they can judge a linear/non-linear model for their data.

That took most of the period today and, no doubt, will again tomorrow.


Bring on the related rates!! 

I tried a new strategy today and loved it!!  Will continue to use it!  I read off the answers to a worksheet the students had done for homework.  Given that it was the first time I have used that worksheet and that there is no answer key provided (I have to work the problems out just like the students), it meant there was great potential for me to have mistakes (it happens to everyone!!!  Even though the students think I am ALWAYS right, I try to tell them, I'm not....today was a perfect way to convince them!).  Instead of my "old way" of asking "what problems would you like to see worked out?", I decided to tell them "if you have a question on one, put that problem up on the big whiteboard and we will see if we can find your mistake.  AAAHHHMAZING!!!  I had to solve literally NONE!!  As students worked them, either they found their own mistake or their group pointed it out to them.  And in seeing their work I was able to correct my key.  But even better, I was able to show my work on the projector screen and have them tell me where I made the mistake on my paper.  That was almost the best part! Having them look at other's work and find the mistakes is just as useful as them working the problem from the beginning!  HMMMMM....this needs to be on the next test/quiz.  Show where the mistake is and fix it!  I like it!

Here are a couple students putting their work up for the class to see.  After we went over HW problems, we started related rates problems.  Mastermathmentor.com has some nice introductory problems to get students thinking.  The students really had no problem catching on!  It was exciting as I know how challenging these problems can be.

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