Monday, April 28, 2014

Planning our Conics Unit ... Day 1

We are testing tomorrow on our Rational Functions unit. It will be interesting to see the results. My formative data indicates we could use more time on this unit. But our calendar says we must move on. I offered tutoring review several mornings last week, and again this morning, tomorrow morning.  Several students have taken advantage of the opportunity for extra instruction.  But those few ... you know who they are ... haven't visited ... yet!

In the meanwhile, I am pulling together our next unit.  I could just do one worksheet after another as that is what is in our school's files.  But I'm trying to mix in technology that will enhance student learning, hands-on activities that will promote critical thinking, and problem solving - applications that make sense.

Here is my plan so far ...

On test day, the homework will be an invitation to read background information on conics, to tweet something they learned, to try to find 3 interesting facts about conic sections and to begin exploring the equations in Desmos. Already some of my sophmores are whining ... "What?!? We are going to tweet math stuff?  I'll have to create a math Twitter account!"  Oh my!

Then on Day 1 of the unit ... students will have some background IF they do they homework.  As students come in, I'll have their tweets on the screen ... and invite them to work in teams to create "top ten" lists of interesting facts they learned about conics in their homework.

Next, I'm using Cindy Johnson's conic cards.  Students will sort cards ... carefully looking for patterns, key attributes to sort the cards.  In this first round of sorting, students will work with partners, and will try to sort one whole deck into four piles - and explain why.  The extension would be to organize those four piles into sets of 3 cards representing specific conic sections.

To follow up with the sorting, I'll use Discovery Education 10 minute video from the series, Math Factor: Physical Properties of Conic Sections.  The video will provide students with a clear picture of how the conic sections are sliced from a double-napped cone.  I thought about having students slice the sections from play dough but decided against it.

We'll use the work students did with sorting cards and the video to start filling out a graphic organizer about the four sections.  The graphic organizer doesn't have to have all the details on this day - we will revisit it daily to add notes.

Last we will spend a few minutes in direct instruction reteaching completing the square.  Since we have spent time on this skill, I'm hoping that a short review will be enough for students to work with conic equations.

For homework, students will practice using completing the square, and I'm asking them to find an example of a conic section in their home, capture a pic, and tweet it!

On Day 2, we explore circles.




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