Tag Archives: Conics

Ring in the New Year with Fun Classroom Lessons!

Now is a good time to reflect upon the past year, and think about all of the professional growth I have made through the people whose ideas I have shared and experienced through the twitter-sphere and blog-o-sphere (are these actual words?), and to send thanks from all of the new math friends I have made.  I took a look back at all of my posts from the previous year, and here are 5 great activities you can use tomorrow is your classroom.  Share them, adapt them, expand upon them…it’s all good.  Just pay it forward and share your best works, or leave a comment /contact me and let me know if you use them!  Enjoy.

Conic Sections Drawing Project – this was the most popular post of the year.  For algebra 2 or pre-calc, this project just got better with the Desmos online calculator, which is my favorite new tool of the past year.

Tapping Into the Addition of Bubble Wrap – bubble wrap, iPads, and slope meet for a fun exploration.   Look at rate of change through student-produced data.

Tall Tales for Probability – Featuring the poker chip drawing game, and examples from the Amazing Race and craps.  Probability should be fun.  Make it so!

Let’s Play Plinko! – I have used Plinko as an introduction for binomial distributions for years, but in this presentation from last summer’s Siemens STEM Academy, tech tools like PollEverywhere and Google Drive are used to increase interaction.

Composite Functions and ESP – Use this activity with middle-schools and see if they can develop the pattern.  For high school, have students write and justify their own ESP puzzles.  Also features Doceri, another favorite new tool of mine, for iPad.

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Channeling Creativity in Algebra 2

UPDATE – I recently posted more info about this project, with a rubric and more examples, at this post.

One of my favorite math projects takes place during our unit on conic sections in Algebra II.  In the project, students are challenged to manipulate equations of conics and graph them using software to make pictures.  I started with this project 12 years ago when a colleague, who has since retired, introduced me to his ideas.  Back then, we used a DOS program which could only graph in black, cyan and magenta.  We were happy if we saw a tree made from a hyperbola and a parabola leaf line.

The project grew new wings with a program called Math Toolkit, which allowed for finer graphing and the ability to save work.  Later, we started using Print Screen to grab the graphs and move them into MS Paint.  The projects grew more intricate, and many kids took off with their creativity.

This year, the Desmos online calculator brought the project to a new level.  Students this year could work on their equations at home, save work, and work with their teacher during time allotted in class.  Thanks to Kevin for working with his class to share their creations.

First up is Kristin.  Her project moves from Desmos to Paint.  Then un-needed pieces are removed, and the final product emerges.

Conic 1

Conic 2

Conic 3

Next up is Matt.  Here are his graphs after the axes and grid were removed….

Conic 4

Any ideas what the finished product will be?

Did you guess yet?

OK, so you just want to see it…ok….

Conic 5

What I love most about this project is when students discover how the conics behave, and experiment with them without fear.  In the next example, Connor wanted to tilt his ellipses and researched on his own how to make that work using trig functions (did I mention that these kids haven’t had trig yet?).

Connor1

Connor 2

Connor 3

In some years, I have had students peer-assess their work by creating an art gallery of their work.  Giving each student 5 star stickers, I had students select their favorites.  Contact me if you would like any of the instructions or rubrics I have used for this project in the past.  Thanks again to Kevin and his Algebra II class!