Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Algebra 2 Exhibition

We just completed a project in Algebra 2. Each student designed a picture made up only of lines and shaded regions. They had to then determine the equations of the boundary lines and the systems of inequalities that described each region. The drawings and equations/inequalities were all displayed today; to finish the assignment, each student had to pick someone else's project, copy down their inequalities, graph it, and see if they got the same picture.

Graphing systems of inequalities is always a challenging topic for my students; this project underscored just how difficult the topic is, as most students needed repeated explanations and examples, just to figure out what they were supposed to do. Though it took longer than expected (and time budgeted), it seems to have been worth the time. Ideally, this should be followed up by a linear programming unit, but we don't have the time this year. Here are some pictures:

And, a bonus picture from a few weeks back... each year we have a spirit week in April, and part of it is class competitions. Here is our media center all decked out for the event.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A winning review activity

My students always complain that we don't play enough games in class. I know they love games, but most of the games I've seen are quite ineffective. "Showdown" is one of my favorite review activities for my older (more mature, more motivated) students in Algebra 2, but it doesn't work so well for my freshmen in numeracy.

To many of my students, tic tac toe is a riveting activity to be played surreptitiously during a dull lesson, or after a test. I thought I would capitalize on that, and so I present to you:

The students are broken into pairs that collaborate against other pairs. Each group of 4 is given a game board with several tic tac toe grids on it. One pair picks X and the other gets O. Turns alternate with each problem. When the problem is shown, both teams should work on it. If it is X's turn, if they are right, they get their square. If they are wrong, and the O's are right, the O's get to steal a square. (Students took a while to get this - at first they all thought it was unfair). When a game is won, the winning team gets a point. At the end of the activity, whichever teams won more games get a prize.

The benefits:

- All students are engaged on every problem. Even if it's not their turn, they can steal if the other team is wrong.
- Students have a partner to collaborate with, so weaker students are not put on the spot and can learn during the activity.
- Pairs monitor each other for cheating - they can only get the square if they've shown their work.
- Tic tac toe is the funnest game on the planet. Apparently.
- Generic mechanical pencils in fun colors come 30 to a pack for $5. Great prizes! Mini candy bars work too.

Enjoy! Let me know if you play it and it works (or doesn't work!) for you.