Saturday, July 29, 2006

My final Geometry post

Summer Geometry is finally over - and not a moment too soon. I don't think either I or the kids could have stood another week of it. But we all got through it and we're still on good terms (as far as I know!) I brought them bagels and juice to eat during the final review session right before the test, and then they got to take the test and leave when they finished - just like in college! It's also much less stressful than making the students who finish early sit there in silence until the end of the period.

The test was half multiple choice, and half other (vocabulary, angle webs, constructions, and proofs). I wasn't quite sure how they would do, but overall, it went well. The average score on the final was an 82% (which is much higher than my normal algebra averages), and only 3 students failed the test (with scores in the 60s).

I know that these students will have some weaknesses in their Geometry skills due to the rapid nature of the class (and the fact that we simply couldn't get to everything), but I think that we built a strong enough foundation for them to be able to move forward in pre-calculus.

An amusing story: I am a vegan, and the students love to pepper me with questions about why, what I can eat, etc. They think it's hilarious to invite me to a BBQ or to tease me about their big mac that they had for lunch - "Mmmm... Mr. Greene, we just had the best MEAT! Don't you want some MEAT for lunch?", etc. So, on the vocabulary section, I put a word bank of terms for them to use. I had one slot left to fill with a distractor, so I thought I would just toss in "vegan" as a joke. I was pretty surprised when two students selected this as the correct answer for vocabulary questions about angles. I've taught at DCP long enough that this shouldn't surprise me at all, but it did.

Another student actually asked me about using Sketchpad at home - I downloaded an evaluation copy for her. She told me that, now that school is over, she'll get bored, and maybe she'd like to "draw some triangles or whatever". I love these kids!

Anyway, I'll be teaching primarily (or maybe even exclusively!) algebra 2 this fall, so most of my upcoming posts will probably focus on algebra 2 concepts - but I'm sure I will post on Numeracy issues as they come up.


Anonymous said...

I'm teaching primarily Algebra 2 too...I would love to hear about any projects or hands on lessons that you do with the kids. I taught it last year and am hoping to keep improving what I'm doing. I would be happy to share some of the things that I have done too. :)


Dan Wekselgreene said...

Sounds good. Send me an email at dgreene AT I've only taught algebra 2 once, so I don't have a lot of stuff, but I can show you some of the better units. I plan on revising a lot this year - and I would like to incorporate Sketchpad now that we have it.

Shireen Dadmehr said...

I haven't taught algebra 2 in a couple of years, but I do remember one project that was doable in a 50 minute class that the students seemed to like (and I believe they learned something, too).

Materials: graph paper (I used the BIG chart kind / poster size, but maybe it's doable with smaller paper), water based paint, a marble (or something smaller if you're using a smaller grid).

After the set up and discussion of what/why they would be doing this, I called up pre-made groups of 4. They picked one person to practice and actually create the "graph". The graph paper is near the floor and slightly tilted and the person dips the marble in watered-down paint and tosses it at an angle on/near the paper and the paint/path traces out a parabola.

After the toss, the groups go back and create axes on the paper and pick 3 points on the curve and use some means (regression? paper and pencil?) to find the equation of the parabola. Then using the equation, they find 3 more points on the parabola and then match it against the graph to see how accurate their equation is.

There's a bit more, but that's the essence. It works pretty well. I had to practice a bit first to make sure the angle was good and to find ways to stop the rolling marble (no carpets ... or plastic on the floor).

Ms. Cookie

Euclid said...

I'll be teaching two sections of third year Int. Math that is basically algebra 2. I started building a collection of multiple intelligence activities last year to quell the differentiated instruction bigots. Actually they went pretty well and while I'm not sold with it as a panacea (just like standards-based integrated programs are not a perfect fix) there are a lot of good things I saw the students gain as they completed them.

Dan Wekselgreene said...

Ms. Cookie - sounds messy, but worth a try!

Euclid - would you mind either describing some of the activities that you found most useful, or putting a link to them?

Darren said...

I'm looking forward to teaching Algebra II again this year.