Monthly Archives: February 2013

Be Irrational – Celebrate Pi Day with your Students

pi day image

Here are some of the documents that I shared during my half of the Pi Day presentation at globalmath (2/26/2013).

Here is a copy of my powerpoint that I used.  I’m not one that likes to put everything I am going to say on a slide and then just read it – so either watch the recording of globalmath or read my notes that are available for each slide (or I guess read what I wrote below since I seemed to explain everything there as well – sorry).  Hopefully it will make more sense.

With so much going on during the actual day I need students (and parents) help.  To make sure everyone has a job and feels involved I use a sign up sheet.  Each hour has their own sign up sheet and everyone must sign up for something, but they can certainly sign up for more than one thing.  Generally after students have put their name down, I will email parents a little information and remind them to ask their child what they signed up for!  I could just see my son signing up to bring a  pi and not telling me until March 13th!!!

I want to remind everyone a lot of these ideas did not come from me, but unfortunately I can not remember who the presenter was at a NCTM conference that I got all this great information from.  If that person ever reads this – please let me know so I can give credit where credit is due.  The best thing, in my opinion I got from that presentation was the 10,000 digits of pi activity.  Here is the nicely set up document that allows you to put 10,000 digits of pi in your school.  I used adding machine tape for kids to write on.  Don’t kid yourself.  This will take some prep time – 1) cut strips of adding machine tape – I used 10 tiles worth in my classroom for each strip.  2) Students will need to write their numbers – which is where this lovely document comes in handy. 3) You will need to tape all of the strips together – in the right order (well actually no one will probably notice) and hang them up.  This is where you will need a system and a few extra hands.  But to me it was worth it walking down the hallway listening to everyone comment about it.

Another thing I enjoy doing is a Pi Day scavenger hunt.  Students don’t need to go around looking for things for this scavenger hunt – they need to search in the digits of pi for certain things.  Here is the scavenger hunt questions I use.  Obviously you will need to change a few things since I’m guessing your students won’t care where my husband’s birthday falls first in pi!  The best thing I use the scavenger hunt for is determining who gets pie first.  Not everyone runs to the table to get the pie and it’s not up to me who gets what kind!  (Although if anyone brings a french silk pie – I definitely get first choice!!!)

Final favorite thing that I have done, which I am sure a lot of teachers do something to this effect, is assign each digit of pi a color and then make a paper chain (or a bracelet, etc).  I like the paper chain activity because we then use the chain as a count down to the end of school.  I teach 5 different sections and there will be 40 days left for us after pi day, so our chain will be 200 links long.  Then every hour of every day a student takes a link off.  It is very fun to watch the chain get shorter and shorter as the year winds down.

I would love to hear any of your suggestions/ideas for what you do to make pi day so fun and irrational!


Posted by on February 26, 2013 in Uncategorized



How to get pre-calc kids to want to practice identities?

We have started the identities chapter in pre-calc class. In my opinion kids just need practice, and lots of it. So that is what we did today. I give a bunch of problems, they would pick they ones we wanted to go over and we would. Until halfway through I thought they (and me) we dragging. So I decided we should play trashketball. That got their interest. Decided it was them against me. They needed to come up with a team answer (as a class). If they were right they got to shoot for points (further back they stand when they shoot the more points they get if they make it). Every time they answered a problem I also got to shoot. Fun things that happened:

1) they would argue discuss with each other if people had conflicting answers. I even had kids get up out of their seat to go over and show how to do the problem correctly, because I wouldn’t take a team (class) answer until they all truly agreed.

2)students would always try to shoot from way back. I always shot for 3 points (about 6 feet away – yes, I have trashketball markings on my floor!) I was on FIRE with my short shot.

3)with 2 minutes left of class I told them we were done (I was leading 7 to 6). They BEGGED me to do another trig identity problem so they could win! Gee kids I guess we can squeeze one more in! Haha. Funny part was they still missed the shot. I win! 🙂 But as they walked out after the bell rang a kid grabbed the ball and asked if he made it from the door if we could call it a tie, I said sure. Wouldn’t you know – he made it. Good day in Pre-calc.

P.S. there are different ways to play trashketball. Google it and you’ll find lots of ideas.

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Posted by on February 22, 2013 in Uncategorized


C U G formative assessment

I just attended a session at Global Math Department. The topic was formative assessments. Last year I attended a training where I picked up a good idea for having kids self-assess on tests/quizzes. In front of each question put a C U and G. Instruct students to circle one of those letters after they answer each question.

Circle C for “I was confident in my answer”
Circle U for “I was uncertain of my answer”
Circle G for “I guessed”

This really works well for some of my multiple choice standardized test prep activities.

While grading the tests be thinking about things like “17 kids were uncertain out of 20, we need to spend more time on this”. Or “billy guessed on over half of the test, we need to work together reviewing”. Or better yet “10 students were confident in their answer but got it wrong, what mistake are they all making” (or in my case sometimes “is my answer key wrong” haha)

It is also good for the kids to analyze their questions right/wrong with how they circled C U G. They really want to find their mistake is they had chosen C. Hard part I have is sometimes getting them to care on the questions where they circled G and got it right guessing.

I haven’t done this in awhile but I’ve gone to short quizzes in my college calc class that I think this will work great in. Glad Global Math made me think of this tonight.

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Posted by on February 20, 2013 in Uncategorized


It’s been awhile

Wow, it has been awhile.  Life happens.  

Things have been going great around here – other than being really busy.  Standards Based Grading is still great.  So many changes that I want to do still over the summer to improve more, but definitely not going back to the traditional way.  

Discovering blogging/bloggers has really changed the way that I teach and hence my students learn.  I have learned so much over the course of this year it is amazing.  So many great ideas out there that teachers are wiling to share.  So thanks to everyone who I have stole an idea from ever!  (and there are a lot of you!)

So now it’s my turn to give back.  Here are a couple things that I am doing. 1) I am actually presenting at Global Math Department.  These people are my math idols (and yes, I stalk them on twitter!) and I actually feel like I have something that I can present.  Pi day.  Last year I went ALL OUT for Pi day and I am going to share some of the things that I did.   2) I have put in a proposal to present at our state conference.  I am going to present on ways to make a review worksheet a little more engaging than just a worksheet – like my kids’ favorite – TRASHKETBALL and others.  Now I just need to submit my proposal to the district and ask to go!  ha ha 

I will share both of the above things on here when time comes and I have things ready.  As well as other things I’ve done this year that I have been meaning to blog about but haven’t yet.  Oh well.  There are worse things that I could not be doing – like not doing SBG!

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Posted by on February 13, 2013 in Uncategorized