Monthly Archives: March 2015

Game Day! (or, how to ruin friendships)

Due to mock AP exams and day-before-spring-break-ness, I decided to let my Precal students have two game days. With only five kids in each class on Thursday, I normally would just let them chill, but since I had all these fun games that Mr Craig is getting tired of playing all the time, I thought I would rope in my students into playing with me.

In case you’re looking for some good games, here are the ones we played:


Gameplay: Try to get as many of your pieces on the board while blocking others from playing theirs.

Pros: I think this was the favorite game.  People were “calling it” as soon as they walked in the second day.  Easy to explain, easy to play. Could get 3-4 rounds in each class, which meant more people could switch in and out.

Cons: Only four players, already lost a piece (made replacement out of a post-it)

Side note: This was also the game where the students helped each other the most.  I refrained from telling them that the point of a game is to WIN.

Other side note: Seriously, you need this game in your house. Now.


Gameplay: Try to move the maze to allow access to treasures, but the maze changes on every turn!

Pros: Lots of deep thinking, fun strategy, “this is the game that can ruin friendships,” also players went from worst to first and back again throughout the game (instead of one person running away with the win).

Cons: Long game play (took almost the whole period with 4 players), only four players, sometimes you get stuck for a long time in a frustrating location


Gameplay: The lovechild of Scrabble and Set.  Play your cards crossword style, but each characteristic must either all match or all differ in a line.

Pros: LOTS of reasoning and strategy!

Cons: The rules are a little bit dense to start with.  Students had to keep referring back to “what makes a line?” but when I came back towards the end of the game, they seemed to have gotten the hang of it and enjoyed it.  Takes a tabletop surface to play (I put a big group whiteboard over four desks to play on)


Gameplay: Lay out 16 cards and try to match hoops and dots by rotating or reflecting.

Pros: This was the second-most popular game (students wanted to borrow it later in the day). Easy to learn and very quick game play.

Cons: Becomes a bit hectic with everyone calling out swish at the same time, it is hard for the dealer to have an even chance with the rest of the players (or at least I’m going to use that as my excuse)

So I would say Game Day was a hit and at least slightly more mathy than watching Pixar Short Films collection.

Do you play games in your classroom?  What are some of your favorites?

Category: Uncategorized | Tags: ,

Take it to the Limit!

Yes, it’s limits time in Precal.  Again, stuff is so hard to find so I thought I’d share mine, even though most of it is cobbled together from other stuff I’ve found (and have no reference for…sorry.  If it’s yours let me know and I’ll give you credit!).

We spent a couple days with rationals and then jumped into one-sided limits. I used to start with regular and then do one-sided (I think that is what my first precal textbook did, but it seems to flow so much better doing one-sided first).

Here’s my introductory powerpoint WITH MOVING ANTS!!

Limits 2

After this, we stopped and talked about how 99% of the time in the real world, the ants coming from the left and right are just going to be the function value. I asked where they think there could be problems.  Then we worked on the corresponding NoteTakerMaker (with homework! and typos corrected!):

Limits 1

Tomorrow another introductory powerpoint to real limits with graphs and tables and piecewise functions (Oh my!) (and with more ants!):

Limits 3And its corresponding NTMs and practice worksheet.

PC L_3 Part IPC L_3 Part II

Limits 5

(I actually think I may redo the practice to include more exciting functions than just linear and quadratic. We’ll see how tomorrow shakes out.)

And that’s my limit on what I have to report on limits!

Category: Precal | Tags:

More Logs!

Logs: the chapter that will never end.

See blog post 1 and blog post 2.

As I said at the end of blog post 2, I tried a new way of teaching log equations, using the question, “Hey, what power of ___ gives you ____?”

I decided to jump in with both feet and use the same question for logs on both sides.  Normally, I would just cancel them:

log 1

But then we’d end up thinking that works for this problem, too:

log 2Ugh.

So I went back to the question:

log 3

(Pssst…drawing the box around the right side does help!  Also lead in with a reminder of the “easy” ones from the first day of logs. And spend a bit of time talking about why they’re inverses and what inverses do.)  Yes, it does seem like we’re taking the long way around but wait until you get to here:

log 6

On the quiz, I’d say less than 5% tried to cancel all the logs at once.  Some students asked me that since we were doing the same thing to both sides, we know the arguments had to be equal so could they do it that way. I told them that was very neat that they noticed that but warned them against just randomly crossing out logs.

I also did the same with exponentials.

Old way:

log 4

New way:

log 5

Then everyone that doesn’t have math print on their TI got sad (psst..log with a modifiable base is towards the end of the Math menu), but with a few parentheses we were good to go using the change of base formula.

I must admit I’m not 100% sold on the new exponential way. I’m still having to reinforce that the log helps us answer an exponent question. I still have a few people just make log x = 60 into log 60 =x because aren’t we just randomly moving numbers around anyway? But don’t I have that every year?  And, as Conic Card Cindy famously said, they weren’t learning it the old way I  taught it, so what’s the worst that could happen?

And just because I like you, here are some more files for you.

Common Logs!  .doc file

Alg II T 7_5 15

Natural Logs! .doc file Yeah, I kind of glossed over the discovery of e. Don’t tell the math police.  Although they’re probably on their way after that cross-multiplication I did in #9 above. But the common log lesson is not the time to take away the one thing they remember how to do from middle school.  ANYWAY….

Alg II T 7_6 15

Bonus review powerpoint of log laws and common logs!  Great for whiteboard practice!  Each problem is worked out step by step.

log 7
I still have some applications to discuss and post (and graphing logs…now there’s something I don’t love to graph AT ALL.) but hope this keeps you busy for now. Thanks for reading!

Category: Alg II | Tags:

Blogging Log Laws Blog

Posted on by 0 comment

Ah, Arrested Development, how I miss thee.

But onto some Log Laws….  When we last left our intrepid reporter, I had just introduced logs and was trying to figure out a way to start log laws. So I did what any self-respecting teacher would do and stole Kate’s idea.  But I was worried about my kids being able to make the leap to filling in the blanks, so I turned it into a match game:

log match game

File here (with the typos fixed.  This is why you don’t watch Gilmores while making a worksheet.  I can’t focus when there are 1,000 yellow daisies involved.)

The first row was a nice refresher after our snow day and then I gave them 2 – 3 minutes to work on each box, then we discussed the results and the rule.

Because it was a shortened day after a snow day, I had 3 central office people do a pop-in observation.  Of course they left right before we started discussing the addition/multiplication rule box when a student said, “Ms Craig, I think I found a shortcut…can’t we just multiply the arguments?” (ok, to be honest, he said “big numbers” instead of “arguments” but who can blame him?).

Also it’s fun to watch them all choose option A in the last box. Then tell them to go back and actually find the values and listen to the sound of erasing and/or “I TOLD YOU SO!”s.

In 30 minutes (minus bellringer/homework time), we got through #4 or 5 on the bottom practice.  Based on the one class in which we did finish,I think I need to go back to Kate’s and make 6-9 more scaffolded before jumping into pure craziness.

The next day was a full day and we used our laws to simplify/expand and solve equations:

log laws 2

File here.

See how I left that middle box blank?  I decided on a whim to try teaching logs on both sides the same way I taught log equations–logs ask “what power of ___ gives you ___?”  We did some preliminary work about inverses and b^(log x) [with the same base] = x then jumped into the problems. It took a little bit for them to get used to it, but I think it may just end up working.  And maybe stop them from just randomly crossing out any log they see anywhere in time.

Stay tuned for more log blogging with common logs, natural logs, and the debate over perhaps abandoning one of my favorite lessons ever.

Category: Alg II, Precal | Tags: ,