Search Results for: "make it stick"

Make It Stick: The Student Brochure

[Updated at 4:45 to include student goal worksheet]

Motivated by Julie (see LOTS of good conversation on this document) and by Pam, I made my own Make It Stick handout for students. I plan to assign this as homework the first night and spend the second day discussing it in class. (The first day I want to do’s first day of inspirational math week.)

Here are the pics (we have an electric brochure folder so I’ll be using that. Or else fold them while watching the required annual hey-don’t-touch-blood! video)

Make It Stick Student BrochureMake It Stick Student Brochure pg 2

Here is the doc file (I used Chowderhead and Century Gothic font) and here is a pdf file with a generic “In this class,…” instead of “In Mrs Craig’s class.”

I also want them to make a goal and find some accountability buddies:

math class goalDoc file   PDF file

Make it Stick Posters (and Poster FAQs)

[Updated at 4:00 to add “Delight” poster!]
[Updated 8/5 to add larger poster files and labels]

One of my (numerous) goals this school year is to introduce my students to the learning skills from Make It Stick by Brown, Roediger, and McDaniel. (I think @druinok should really get a royalty from all the people that have started reading this after seeing the #eduread discussions! Which reminds me, join us at 8E/7C/6M/5P this Thursday where we start discussing What’s Math Got to Do With it?)

Another one of my (numerous) goals was to encourage “strengthening a dendrite” from Chris Shore’s My Favorites–giving students a sticker of a dendrite whenever they do something growth-mindset-y or that shows mathematical thinking.

And one of the things I like to do is make posters and play with fonts.

Put them together and what have you got?


Strengthen a Dendrite

Fonts used (in order): Captain Howdy; Chowderhead; Traveling Typewriter; Grand Hotel; Budmo Jiggler; Antique No 14; Janda Elegant Handwriting; Ever After; Sofia; Waltograph; KG Let Her Go; KG Happy; Modern No. 20; Mountains of Christmas; Bodoni MT Black; KG Eyes Wide Open; Captain Howdy

(pdf file here) (doc file here-needs fonts listed in the caption or change to your favorites)


math brain is under construction(Pdf file here) (18×24 file here)


Dendrite stickers(doc file here for using these labels) Amy Fine made a file for 60 labels to a page in case those you have those instead! Thanks, Amy!

I also made an alternate brain poster using the same font as the first poster’s title in case you’re into that kind of thing:

Math Brain Under Construction(pdf file here).  I also couldn’t decide between having the “is” or not. Opinions?

If any of you went on the #TMC15 cupcake run to My Delight Cupcakery (or enjoyed the cupcakes from said run), you may remember a pretty awesomely accurate sticker that they used. I made a poster of it but wanted to make sure it was OK with them first and Melinda replied, “That’s awesome, Meg!  Sure, you can make a print for your classroom; the quote is meant to be shared with everyone!  So glad you got more out of your visit than you expected, and thank you for sharing our Delight with your coworkers.”  🙂  I am more in love with this bakery than I even thought possible now. (And I was in pretty deep after trying their ice cream filled ones. ICE CREAM FILLED CUPCAKES, PEOPLE.) Anyway, here it is!

True delight color(Color PDF) (BW PDF) (18×24 Color PDF)

Now for some poster FAQs:

Did you make these? Yes.

Where did you get the pictures? Try Wikimedia Commons, Graphics Fairy, and ClipArtETC (h/t to @mathequalslove for that last one. Check out their graphs, too!) Of course, you can always do a Google Image search and only use those images/photos that are labeled for reuse (as I’m sure we all do already, right?).

How did you make these? The first one (and most of my posters) are made using Word, then I use doPDF to print to a PDF. Try using textboxes and clipart to jazz it up. And of course some fonts! Pro tip: Expand your text to make it seem snazzier:expand font exHere’s how:

expand fontPlay around with the values in number #4 until you get something that you think looks nice.

The brain poster I made using Silhouette Design software that came with my Silhouette machine but is free for anyone to use – download it at the bottom of this page. I like it because you can have your text trace any path. In this case, I made a circle, then had the two different lines of text trace it. There’s lots of tutorials on how to do this if you’re interested!  (WARNING: The actual machine is WAY addicting. You’ll want to cover EVERYTHING in vinyl decals.)

You may also want to try Canva or PicMonkey online. Some people also use Powerpoint instead of Word. Just give it a shot!

How do you print them? Around this time of year, I keep my eye out for Staples poster deals. Usually they offer a color 18x24ish for about $5.  I made these black and white so you can also take advantage of their $2 engineering prints. These are printed black and white on lesser quality paper. [Updated: they also print color for $3. Read more here.]They are not recommended for photographs, but if you look on Pinterest some people have gotten beautiful, fun, huge photos made for super cheap! We are fortunate to have our own laminator at school and once laminated the engineering prints hold up pretty well, but I did have an issue with the corner puckering where I used hot glue on it. It was normal temp glue (I usually use low-temp but had run out), so I don’t know if that was the issue. Just wanted to warn you about that!

Now go forth and strengthen those dendrites!

Make It Stick: Even Stickier with #eduread

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For the past few weeks, I’ve been joining the lovely gals of #eduread to discuss Make It Stick by Brown, Roediger, and McDaniel.

As for the book, the first 100 pages were really good, then it dragged quite a bit for the next 100. There were quite a few stories that were supposed to help elaborate their points, but really just seemed tangential. However, stick with it (ha!), because things get really good in the last 50 pages which has tips for students, teachers, and trainers as well as stories/examples that really let you see the tips in action.  I wish I could get a copy of this chapter into the hands of every student!

Here are some of the big ideas and how I want to implement them this year:

Calibrating-(we decided we liked this term better than “a-whole-lotta-quizzing”) Implement a lot of small, low-stakes quizzes so students can “calibrate” their learning-where they are and what they need to work on. Rereading does not actually help master material, but quizzing and flashcards (with correction) does. Although I don’t think I can handle daily quizzes, I’d like to try for maybe 3 times a week.

Spaced and Interleaved Practice- Although it doesn’t feel like it, trying to remember something a few hours/days/weeks strengthens your learning. Also, massed practice of one topic can lead to “illusion of mastery.” I’m guessing I’m not the first teacher who has had this issue–each day the kids are doing great on the topic, then you get to study guide day and all heck breaks loose because the kids are not used to the problems being all together. I’m going to try to do lagging homework (the homework for the night has topics from a couple of days previous) that also has a lot of spiral review in it.

Generation and Reflection- Generation is trying to find a solution before being shown and I’m assuming you know what reflection is. 🙂  I’d like to use these at the beginning/end of units: start each unit with some sample problems from the chapter and some leading questions: “what do you think the main idea of this unit is?” “what might we need to work these problems?” “how do you think these are different/same from previous chapters?” Then at the end of the unit (or maybe midway and again at the end), have them reflect on their original ideas and what they now know about the unit.

Mnemonics I also liked that they are a fan of mnemonics as a way to organize your learning, not in place of learning. There is one topic that I teach that some teachers use a mnemonic for that I wasn’t really fond of. Now I see that we can discuss the how and why of each part, then have the students use the mnemonic to remember all the parts–in essence, a to-do list of tasks, not the tasks themselves.

The really big takeaway from the book is that you must embrace the fact that “learning is deeper and more durable when it is effortful.” Many of these practices will seem hard to students (and me) and they will feel like they are not gaining anything, but the authors are pretty persuasive (with research to back it up, not just anecdotal accounts) that these setbacks are a sign of effort, not failure, and will make learning more meaningful and long-lasting.

Special thanks to @numerzgal, @algebrasfriend, @pamjwilson, @lmhenry, @fourkatie, @rachelrosales, @mary_dooms, and especially @druinok for such lovely conversation, debate, and motivation. What are we #edureading next?!?!?


Next Year #MTBoSBlaugust

Just a quick update on what I’ll be teaching next year! (and I wanted to keep my Blaugust record going but kind of tired after moving furniture and boxes all morning)

I have one class 1st semester of my problem solving course! Really small class (<10) so I’m super excited to do a lot of fun stuff with them!! Also thinking of giving them an assignment of coming up with some puzzles or problems solving we can do! Like assign each person 3 days to fill with fun math stuff? Plus lots of make it stick and crossing the river with dogs!

I’m going to have 3 ACT prep classes 1st semester and 4 2nd semester. They’re thinking about getting a computer course that supposed to be really good but I think it comes with teacher training too so it wouldn’t be all computer-based. I have some other ideas as well if this doesn’t pan out. Also plan to have Make It Stick Mondays in here, too!

I’m going to have 2 periods where I’m supervising or monitoring students taking virtual learning couses. Most students will be taking a virtual class because their schedule didn’t work to take the real one, so they’ll be in my classroom when they have the free period to work on their coursework. A few students are home-school students who, under our new Tim Tebow law, can take one virtual course offered by a school to be “enrolled” at that school and therefore play football. I don’t really understand it, but then again, the only way I can talk intelligently about football is quoting FNL (“Do they run the spread or an “I” defense?”), so maybe I’m not supposed to understand it. Anyway, I’ll just monitor that they’re getting their work completed and proctor tests.

My new room is a computer lab. It’s pretty big, but most of the space is taken up by rows of computers, with no real way to do groups (side note: it made me really sad to see the groups in my old room replaced by rows). Also there’s no window (totally buying a window decal like Melynee Naegele tweeted last week!). And there’s no cell phone service. And the room the teacher that was in there was supposed to move to isn’t ready yet so she hasn’t moved her stuff out so I can’t unpack yet. But, um, at least it’s close to the library?

So that’s what my year is going to look like. I also volunteered today to help with prom so that will give me something to occupy my mind and hopefully be creative. Any suggestions about virtual learning, ACT prep, or problem solving are greatly appreciated!

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First Two Days Reflection

I actually started on the 13th, but am just getting around to blogging about it because I spent all last weekend making lagging, spiraling homework as well as activities that were not worth the effort I put into them (but that’s a topic for another post).  I’m teaching Algebra II w/ Trig and PreAP Precal, but I did the same thing in both classes for the first two days. I’m also adding a rating system from 1 (that sucked) to 10 (that was awesome)


    • High-fived all students and checked off names/got nicknames as they walked in. Rating: 9 due to difficulty in multitasking, also weird looks from students
    • Had them fill out google survey. Besides name, nickname, class period, these questions are also on there: Google Student Info Survey Rating: 8 I thought these kids could text fast, but it always takes sooooo long.
    • Told them a bit about myself. Rating: 10 because I’m awesome.
    • Hit the high points of the syllabus, showed them how to get to my google doc that will have links to everything we do in class SO DON’T ASK ME WHAT YOU MISSED. Rating: 5 I mean, it’s a syllabus.
    • Played the first day video from youcubed’s week of inspirational math. Rating: 7 Couldn’t get much discussion out of them after it, but it was first day.
    • Continued with youcubed’s day one activity of writing group norms. Now I just need to make them into a poster. Rating: 8 Got everyone involved and talking. Got some good descriptors: “Open-mindedness” “Listening” “Optimistic”
    • Spent the rest of the day with the Four Fours activity, also from youcubed’s suggested first day. Basic idea: use four fours and any math operation(s)/symbol(s) to make all the numbers from 1-20. Rating: 10 Almost 100% participation the whole time. This would also be a great starting activity for order of operations. Two classes had enough time to get all 20!
    • Homework was reading the Make It Stick handout and also having parent fill out google survey, here’s the good part of it:Google Parent SurveyRating: 7 Only about 75% of parents have filled it out as of yesterday. On the other hand, one parent actually wrote in the additional comments section, “Thank you for a great and innovative syllabus experience.” The “I’m proud of my child because” question is great to refer to in parent meetings.


  • High-fived everyone again. Rating: 10 Pro tip: If you’re setting stuff up between classes as kids are coming in, just go around the room quickly and high-five them before you stand outside the door.
  • Bellringer was 3 things you learned from the reading, 2 questions you still have, and one interesting fact.  After they finished writing, I gave them 1 minute to share interesting fact with group. Then I gave them 2 minutes to try to answer each other’s questions, then asked each group to share questions they still had and I answered them. I gave them another 2 minutes to decide their favorite key idea as a group, had each group share, then I elaborated with more information from the book. Rating: 9 Good discussions in each class!  Especially when I brought up the fact about re-reading not being helpful and “illusions of mastery.” My favorite moment: I was discussing lagging homework and asked, “so have you ever been in a class where the teacher says, ‘uh-oh, I have two minutes to finish this problem that you need to know in order to do the homework?’ Well, now we can hold off until the next day since your homework won’t apply to today’s lesson!” Then one girl replied, “Or we could try it as homework as generation for the next day!”  I think I may have cheered when she said that.
  • I had them fill out their math goal and find accountability buddies. Rating: 3 Almost every single student just wrote “make an A.” I also haven’t had time for them to check in with their accountability buddies. Would not do again, or maybe wait until a few weeks into class.
  • Up next was paper folding from  Rating: 2  I would not do this activity again. After the quick success of the first two (fold a square into a square that is 1/4 of the original; fold a square into a triangle that is 1/4 of the original), the next ones amp up the difficulty by quite a bit (fold a triangle that is 1/4 of original square but not congruent to first triangle; fold 2 different squares that are 1/2 of the original). Also, when students thought they got it, instead of convincing their partner, they would call me over and ask me if it was right. Quite a few students embraced the challenge and kept on folding, but for many of them, the frustration (and maybe pointless-ness?) was just too great and they quit. I’d be interested to hear if those teaching younger students have more success. And I still don’t know how to do the second square oriented differently from the first that has 1/2 the area of the original. I thought quite a few of them had it but upon trying to convince me, they didn’t.

I hope to back soon with a recap of the first real week of teaching, but after working on math for the last two weeks straight I need an afternoon of not thinking. At all.

My thing: It has been a while since I share a favorite thing, so today I’m going to absolutely amaze you with CamelCamelCamel.  This is a price tracker for Amazon and works in three different ways: 1) Connect it to your Amazon wishlist. It will automatically alert you via email when the price of something you want has gone down. You can also add individual items on the website (great for tracking stuff from other people’s wishlists for gifts) 2) Use the browser plug-in or copy the amazon URL into its webpage to see the price history. Great to know if that $40 price is just a high mark, or if it’s been $40 for the last three months, or if it wavers between $30 and $50. 3) Browse their list of popular products for “good deals” and “best prices.” Two things it doesn’t do: it does not alert you to lightening deals (but I usually get an alert if its a an-day daily deal) and it also cannot track kindle book prices. But I still think it’s a great tool!  And you could probably do something really mathy with the historic price charts, too.

Managing Calibration Quizzes

One of my goals for this year is to use the idea from Make It Stick of giving many short quizzes (I don’t think I can handle daily, but maybe 2-3 times per week), but I don’t want it to turn into a paper/recording nightmare. So here’s my idea:

1) Make them easy to grade–just for wrong/right answers–and have students grade them.

2) Call them “calibrations” because we want students to use them to calibrate their knowledge–are they headed in the right direction, or do they need to refocus on a certain topic?

3) I want them to be able to drop their lowest scores, but I also want to put grades in for them every three weeks or so. So this is what I’m thinking:

calibration record(file here) I’m thinking making each calibration worth 4 points. 4 quick probs at 1 point each or 2 probs at 2 points each, depending on the topic. Students would grade their own and record their grade. Every three weeks, take the top 6 grades and record them and the sum. I collect them, record them, and return them (or go around the room and record while they are working on something else). Then after the next round, they take the top six of any unused grades and use those as their score.  Repeat again. At the final tally, they can also use any unused score to replace a previous lower one.  Also NO MAKE UPS. Because I HATE MAKE UPS WITH THE FORCE OF A THOUSAND SUNS.

Sure, they could probably figure out a way to cheat, but really, “they’re just cheating themselves.” Maybe make them do all of the quizzes on the same sheet of paper and have them turn it in with their calibration?

Hmmm, I’d also like to know how they did on these, though. Ooh, maybe I can bring in Plickers and have them hold up an “answer” corresponding to their points they made on the calibration?

4) I listened to the mathedout podcast featuring Jo Boaler and one thing that stood out was that you don’t have to give feedback to every student every time. So I’m thinking at least once a week one of the quizzes will be one longer problem. I collect 1 paper from a group member and write feedback. I return it to the group member and the rest of the group uses that feedback to discuss how they did on it. Or should I make that a group quiz if I’m going to do that?

So much to ponder!  Please leave a comment or tweet out any suggestions or pitfalls you can see in my plan.

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#1TMCThing + I Can’t Count

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I decided that my #1TMCThing is going to be collaborating with Sheri Walker to make and USE some awesome Desmos stuff in Precal (and also Algebra II). But I have trouble counting, so it turns out I have more than one #1TMCThing. But hopefully some of them won’t be too difficult to implement!

  • Write daily learning targets that also include the Standard Math Practices (see Chris Shore’s examples on his 180 blog, starting at about day 160). Our school wants us to start using targets anyway, so this would be a good way for me to get excited about writing them. I’m meeting with our math coach Monday to help me get started. If you develop any (or want to discuss), we’re using #SMPTargets to connect.
  • Grow dendrites in class like Chris’s My Favorite.  Need to find brain poster and make dendrite stickers.
  • High-five at the door a la Glenn. I’m not that great at connecting with students early on in the school year, so I’m hoping this will jump start that. I really am a nice person, kids!
  • Use the hand signals from Chris Harris’s number talks (at the bottom of this PDF). And enforce not calling out. Although I am totally bad at that myself. I need to apologize to everyone in the blogging initiative seminar because I totally just blurted out stuff while others had a hand raised. Sorry, guys.
  • So simple…use Matt Vaudrey’s “End your discussions in 5…4…3…2…1” instead of “Ok, time’s up, guys!”
  • Using Brian’s quadrant plan for mixing up groups. I got lazier as the year went on and sometimes the kids got stuck in the same groups for a few weeks. Hopefully this would be easy to implement and keep up with-I could make a new quadrant plan every 9 nine weeks, and they could rotate through.
  • From Make It Stick #eduread, “Calibration Quizzes” 2x a week and spiral homework.
  • Finish posting all of my files, and continue to post new ones through the year! Thanks to all of you that let me know that you’ve been using some of my stuff or that my stuff helped make your stuff better.
  • Be proactive in welcoming newbies to MTBoS. Tweet out blog posts that I like so people know that someone is reading.  Keep an eye out for #nahf so I can send good vibes when needed.
  • Stay positive! Let others (students, teachers, and admin) see the nice and kind side of me that y’all saw at TMC.

I fear I may have too much on my plate, but I can’t decide what not to do. At least I’m super excited to go back to school!

Category: Reflections, TMC | Tags: ,

Important Things You Need To Know

[Updated to add #SMPTargets and t-shirt link]
[Updated to correct TMC16 date]
[Updated to include latest #eduread information]

There’s been a lot of talk about keeping the TMC spirit through the year, and to that effect there were a lot of links and hashtags thrown around. Here are some of them:

Hashtags to keep an eye out for:

#1TMCThing Choose one thing from TMC to focus on. Find other #1TMCThings that excite you. Check back in with those on October 26. This is not an exclusive thing…even if you weren’t able to be at TMC, you can still choose one thing you want to work on through the year. Some people are choosing big conceptual items, some are choosing smaller goals. Do what’s right for you. Mine is working with Sheri Walker to create and use some Desmos awesomeness.

#TMChange A lot of TMCers are starting at a new school next year. New things are hard. Hard things are less hard when you have supportive friends. Thus, #TMChange is for those that are changing and for those who have recently changed and want to give support to others. @sophgermain is also starting a slack (like a private twitter) to give y’all a safe space to talk. DM her your email if you want to join.

#nahf  A conversation on twitter last night led to a lot of openness about how there are so many people struggling behind the scenes. Mattie came up with “need a high five” (#nahf) as a “bat signal” to send out. Sometimes you just need some extra love with no explanation as to why you need it. (Even if you think it’s something about which #nobodycares)

#eduread ok, ok, so I’m doing a little non-TMC promotion. If you’d like to keep having wonderful, thoughtful, applicable discussions about math, please join us for #eduread. We are going to start reading What’s Math Got To Do With It and we should be starting next week. will be starting the first chapter discussion next Thursday, August 6th at 8E/7C. (We just finished Make It Stick which I would highly recommend, even if you just have time to read the last chapter!)

#SMPTargets If you attended Chris Shore’s presentation about using the Standard Math Practices daily, you will remember that he wrote learning targets that included the SMP focus for the day (for example, “I will persevere while solving right triangle trig problems.”) I am making writing those my 2nd #1TMCpage and Chris came up with this hashtag for others that would like to collaborate and/or support each other.

Important links!

TMC15 Wiki Check for presentation materials and info here! the MTBoS search engine. Tweet @Jstevens009 if you’re blog isn’t listed UNLESS your blog is already listed on the TMC15 list. If so, it will be added in the near future.  If your blog is not on the TMC15 list, then go ahead and tweet him to add. A searchable database of activities sorted by grade level and topic. Share your activity by submitting it at A searchable database of Desmos activities. If you wrote or will write about your TMC15 experience, add it to the archive (note: the actual archive will be up this Fridayish)

Blogger Initiation BrainstormingIf you want to help build the #MTBoS, add your thoughts to the document. A mentor idea was discussed, as well as helping people restart their blogs. The actual initiative is planned for late October/early November to feed off of presentations at NCTM Regionals.

Bonus t-shirts: At approximately 6:45, a few of us mentioned how we wanted “Find what you love. Do more of that.” on a t-shirt. At approximately 6:50, Mark (@hfxmark) had created it on spreadshirt. Here is the link!

I’m sure I missed some other important links, so please let me know and I will add them!

Oh, also, one other thing that may be important to know: TMC16 will be at Augsberg University in Minneapolis, MN, July 16-19 2016. See you there!

Category: TMC | Tags: , , ,

2 Quick Ways to Help Kids Ask Questions

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If you haven’t been following #eduread on Make It Stick (by Brown, Roediger, & McDaniel) this summer, you are missing out on some good, thought-provoking conversation. (The next chat is Tuesday at 8 eastern/7 central on Chapter 6).  Last night we talked about avoiding “illusions of knowledge,” i.e:

This led into how do you get kids to get help/ask questions? I was somewhat successful with two methods this year and thought I’d share:

1) Question Pop Quiz

On the start of a practice or study guide day (or maybe just after you’ve learned something really meaty), alert the students that they will be having a open-note pop quiz. (This part is optional, but sometimes isn’t it fun to mess with their minds a bit?)  Hand out 1/4 sheets of blank paper (I always have a ton of one-sided scrap paper).   Then tell them for the next __ minutes (usually 2, but not more than 5), they need to write every question they may have about the section/unit/chapter. It can be general (how do you know when to do…) or specific (I need help on #4 from 5.3).  (Do I use too many parentheses?)  (Never!)  (Like I tell my kids, parentheses are protection, and they don’t work if you don’t use them.)

When time is up, I set the timer for 5-10 minutes to see if they can get the answers from their group members. If so, they can scratch them out, or if they have more, add them. Then I collect the “quizzes” and answer any unanswered questions as a class.

2) Personal Mr/Ms _______ Time

There is certainly something true about the magic of sitting down at eye-level with students. So during some study guide days, I bring my chair over to a group, set the timer for 5 minutes, and they get to ask any questions they have. If they don’t have any, I quickly scan their work to see if perhaps they do have questions but don’t know they do, but if not, then I let them “bank” their time for me to come back later, but I try to spend a whole 5 minutes with them at some point during the period. I tote around a mini-whiteboard in case I want to write something down that the whole group asks about, or I can help individuals one-on-one. If it’s a question like “AH WE HAVE NO IDEA WHAT WE’RE DOING” I may do a vocal poll of the rest of the groups and if a majority are in the same boat, go over it as a class so I’m not repeating myself 7 times (plus it doesn’t count against their time).  Pam even suggested getting a mechanic’s roller chair (aka “creeper chair”)…yes, they even have them with cupholders!

This was a good way for me to be more equitable about my time in class, but I still struggle with that when it’s a short group work time, or a day of whiteboard practice. I always end up inadvertently skipping a group, spending all the time with just a few vocal students, or hearing “I had my hand up before her!”. Anyone have suggestions on that situation? Maybe I can get some sort of ticket system like the deli has:

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Algebra II Files: Functions & Radicals

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News flash: I secretly love making math powerpoints. I need to find a job that is just making them (and NoteTakerMakers) all day. Or maybe half a day because, ok, it would probably get old after a while. But for now, enjoy the bounty of my obsession.

Our textbook starts the radicals chapter by doing composition and inverse of functions, so that’s where I start as well:

Function Files from

(file here).  I have to spotlight my two favorite slides:

Function Files from

Yes, “pig squared” gets a laugh every time.

Function Files from megcraig.orgFunny story: On one of my student’s review of a Vi Hart video, the student said that Vi talked about doing some operation with dolphins. The student said that didn’t bother her because “my teacher does math with corgis and unicorns.” Awesome!

And yes, there is an NTM to go with it:

Function Files from here) For the past [redacted] years, I’ve always worked from the inside out on functions, then I had an epiphany last year…try working from the outside in!  For example, on that first problem, it’s j(h(1/2)).  Let’s start with j, which is 6x, but we know we’re going to replace x, so we’ll write 6(              ). What are we filling that with? Oh, h! So now we have 6(2(     )+5) and what do we want to put in there? oh, 1/2! 6(2(1/2)+5)!  I found it really helpful for when there’s more than one x that you have to plug in for, like #4.  Anyway, just thought I’d mention it since it’d hard to tell what order I’m doing things on the key. We need magical time-telling paper. Get on that, people.

Here’s the homework (I found that finding function values from a chart or graph is something that Precal students struggled with, so I tried to add some practice)

function files from here)

Ok, now inverses!

Function Files from here) To find out the 5 things to know about inverses, you’ll have to view the powerpoint (clickbait!):

Function Files from here)  Let’s zoom in on my favorite question from the homework that was posted above:

Function Files from I guess I should make it a 1:1 function?) Discussing this problem the next day is a great way to reinforce the idea of inverses!

Then it’s time to graph some radicals:

Radical files from here) and review for a quiz:

Radical files from here)

Then it’s time for the phrase that strikes fear in teachers, students, puppies and unicorns: EXPONENT RULES.

Radical Files from here) To clarify some stuff, the PMA/RDS at the top is from someone in the MTBoS. Exponent rules follow the pattern of doing operation “below” it: power means you multiply, multiply means you add, and you can’t do anything with addition since there is not a function lower than it.  Then the same thing is true for roots/division/subtraction. I really wish I could find the original post because that person explained it a lot better than I can right now.

If you’re not aware of the Dead Puppy Theorem, go visit Bowman immediately!  I made my own corollary which is “Every time you say a negative exponent makes the number negative, a unicorn dies.”  “But Ms Craig, there’s not any unicorns left!”  “EXACTLY.  That’s how many students have made this mistake.  There are actually 4 of them left in a secluded meadow in Ireland; it is up to you to make sure they do not go extinct.”

Homework that we do in class:

Radical Files from here) I obviously typed this right after reading a tweet about allowing students to make choices in problems to do.  It actually worked out better than I had planned because they would say stuff like, “oh, wait, this has a zero exponent, that one’s going to be easy!” As in, they were actually looking at all the problems and evaluating how they would be solving them. (Although some of them just did the first 10).  I did the same thing throughout the chapter, but I just gave the instructions verbally.

Next up, let’s work with radicals!

Radical Files from

Radical Files from here)  I also changed this up this year.  Instead of spending one day where all the radicals were perfect, then another day when they weren’t, I started with perfect radicals but then gave them a tricky problem at the end of their practice row (#17-24).  Then we discussed how we would go about simplifying them. I think it worked out pretty well. This took us most of two days to finish front and back, then we did some practice:

Radical Files from

(file here) which pulled questions from this homework:  (I think I called it homework because a lot of students were absent for some reason? Then they felt like they should do it rather than, “Oh we just practiced in class, nothing I need to make up.”)

Radical Files from here) Now it’s time for some binomials, again, I mixed everything together (and this was before I read Make it Stick about varied practice!):

Radical Files from here) And homework:

Radical Files from here)  And a review:

Radical Files from here)

Ok, we’re almost there, guys!  We need to talk about rational exponents:

Radical files from

(file here) and homework:

Radical files from here)  And then solving!

Radical files from Radical files from megcraig.orgDay 2:

Radical files from Radical files from megcraig.orgFinally it’s time for the last quiz of the chapter!  Review:

Radical files from

(Due to weird scheduling issues this year, we started the next chapter before we quizzed.)

(File here)

Of course there’s a powerpoint!  It’s more of an overview (i.e. not the same probs as study guide).

Radical files from here)

So, holy cow, I have a lot of stuff for radicals. Kudos for you to reading til the very end!