Monday, March 20, 2017

Positive comment from a student....

This story happened awhile ago, but I am just remembering to write about it now....

It is not often that I have a student admit to me that they like my interactive notebooks.   Or rather a male student admit to me that they like it.  :)   A lot of the girls like the organization of my notebooks and several have come back to me to buy a graphing notebook for geometry or precalculus because they want to do it in their next class. They even ask for copies of my table of contents and other papers we use to set up our interactive notebooks.   I know I can't convert everyone but it warms my heart when a student says they like the way my notebook keeps them organized and show me how they are still using it!

This year I had a senior student tell me how much he hated keeping the notebook last year in Algebra 2.  However, he went on to say that he really appreciated it though this year, when he was studying for his SAT's and was able to easily find some topics he had to review in his Algebra 2 notebook thanks to the Table of Contents I have them keep.  I may have done a little dance in front of the class!

This year I have that same student in my Business Math class.  Instead of a graphing notebook though, I have this class just use a composition book.   But because he learned to love my Algebra 2 notebook, he chose to use a graphing notebook instead.  :)  Again....brought a smile to my face.  It's the little things they say and do that make you realize you make a difference.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

3 Dimensional Graph Projects = awesome!

So I was a mean teacher!  I gave my Algebra 2 students a project over Christmas break.  I assigned them the task of creating a 3-dimensional graphing system, using a box and the materials of their choice.  I blogged about assigning it before Christmas and now I am posting some pics of some of the final projects as promised!

I have never assigned this before but my students this year were having ALOT of trouble seeing three dimensions.  I fully understand how hard it is to see 3-D on a 2-D piece of paper.  This was my greatest struggle in Calc 3 in college!  Took me all semester to be able to draw washers and cylindrical shells.  My goal was that if they drew the system and graphed a line in 3-dimensions, then they would be able to understand it a little more.   

<<<<  A few students took some shortcuts and only did one octant. Although I did not feel this satisfied, the "system" requirement, I will adapt my rubric next year to ensure there are no more misunderstandings.  
Here are some more examples of my students work.  I think they turned out fantastic!  Especially as they had no model or even internet examples to look at for help. 

 I'm sure I'm not supposed to have a favorite, but if I can....this one would be it.  Maybe because he was the first one to send me a picture over Christmas break.  Or maybe because the line actually looks like a plane, with the axis going through the plane, instead of just a triangle.  >>>

<<<< This one wins best design!  Myself and several of the teachers in my department thought that this one had the nicest look to it.  Especially since he took into account the Christmas break theme!  It would be considered perfect if the axis were perpendicular versus on an angle. 

<<<I love that this student offset the axis to make it easier to build.  Showed some smart thinking!

This one is cool because the student has the x/y plane there to help with understanding. >>>>

If you are interested in completing the project you can find it HERE.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

My favorite thing is....whiteboards!

So I'm going to try and jump on the Explore the MTBoS 2017 Blogging Initiative! bandwagon.    

I'm not very good at remembering to blog every week, but it is a new year and my goal is to try some new things.  So here we go....

Although I don't blog much, I usually only blog about my favorite things.  In the past, I have I blogged about my favorite website game, Kahoot.  If you haven't tried it yet, you really need to!  It's so much fun for the students!  You can read more about it HERE.

I have also blogged about my favorite in class game, the Grudge Game.  This was a lot of fun to play in class but does take some prep work.  Not something that can be easily played on a whim, but definitely worth the time to set it up!  The kids LOVE IT!  It gets exciting and the students are very engaged.


But for today, I think I will pick my favorite classroom activity...which is using my whiteboards.  A few years ago, I purchased a set of whiteboards for my classroom and they have become my favorite form of formative assessment.  I love to use them in place of worksheets or homework.  And they also make great review activities as well.

When I use them, I make a set of problems, anywhere from 12 - 16, and hang them around the room.  Sometimes I will have the answer on another card, forcing the students to answer the problems in an order I created, but usually I just put the answer on the back of the card so the students can flip it up to check themselves.  There are lots of ways to use these but I have found the latter way the easiest for me.  It allows those who understand to keep moving and time for me to work with those who struggle.  A third way is to keep the answers to yourself and the students have to show you their work and answers.  This helps you see who is understanding which problems and what problems they are struggling on.  The only downside to this way is that your attention is on everyone and so it is hard to help the students who need a little one-on-one.   


One catchfall to this activity is that my students are terrible at putting the caps back on the markers tightly when they are done.  I go through a lot of expo markers and they are not cheap!   At NCTM this year, I splurged and bought my self a new set of markers from the Markerboard People.  They are supposed to be longer lasting and not dry out as easily as the expo markers do.  So far we are doing great with them, but I am also trying to be more diligent about checking the caps too!  My next splurge is to get myself a new set of dry erase boards from them.  I love their boards!! Check them out at   

#MTBoS #MtbosBlogsplosion

Thursday, December 22, 2016

3 Dimensional Graphing

I teach Algebra 2 and one of the topics I find hard to teach is 3 dimensional graphs.  Partly because I am not artistic and so I can't really draw them myself.  And partly because I haven't found a way to help students "see" the third dimension on a two dimension surface.  

My classes have no problems with the Algebra...solving the equations with substitution and elimination is a piece of cake for them.  But ask them to plot the point (2, 3, -4) and they can't do it.  I've tried putting pencils together to show the octants, I've tried putting pencils through paper for dimension.  Not go.  Some students can see it right away, but others never see it.  I found a great website: that does 3-dimensional graphing (see image).  Fortunately, we are a 1-1 school with airMacs and the students also have access to a program called Grapher.  This has helped a few of them get a much better visualization of the equations.

So this year I am trying something new.  I am having my classes create a diorama of a 3-dimensional coordinate system.  I've never done this before and I wasn't able to find anything like it on the internet.  Which makes me even more excited to see what my students create as they will be the first I see ever!

I was mean though....I gave the project over Christmas break.  I figured they would have some down time to put it together.  And maybe some extra boxes and paper left over from the holiday.  :)  I can't wait to see that they do!  I'll post pictures in the new year!

Here is the link to TPT if you are interested in trying it out yourself:  3-dimensional diorama project. 

Merry Christmas.

Monday, October 31, 2016

NCTM - Philadelphia 2016

I cannot believe it is finally here!  It seemed to take forever to get here!  So what am I so excited about....I am speaking at NCTM in Philadelphia on Wednesday!  My coworkers and I are lucky enough to be here and Nora Oswald and I were even more lucky to be picked to speak.  We are beyond excited, can you tell? 

Tomorrow will be all about me learning new things and supporting Nora.  She presents tomorrow on Gaming in an Algebra 1 classroom.  Check her out at 3:15 tomorrow if you are at NCTM!

I go on Wednesday.  Check out the write up from the program book.  I feel so professional now!   The room I am in is set up with tables for 120 people....and I only made 75 packets.     Hopefully I will need that many!   

Here are my packets for tomorrow....just in case you want to look them over!  :) 

Don't forget to wish me luck!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Business Math - Comfort Card INB Page

Not only do I teach Algebra 2, I also teach Business math.  In my business math class, one of my class philosophies is that I allow my students to use comfort cards on their tests.  Other teachers would call them cheat sheets but I call them comfort cards, because the students make them for their comfort during a test.  They are allowed to put anything they want on the card:  definitions, examples, formulas, etc.  The only restriction is that the card is 3.5 x 5in.  So it's not a large amount of space but you would be surprised at how tiny some of my students can write!  :)  My reasoning is that in the business world, we have the time and access to look up formulas and other needed information if we forget something.  Some students love them, but other students chose not to use them.   I also prefer them to open notebook tests as the creating of the card itself forces the students to study by looking over the material for the important items.  (And they just think I'm being nice!)
And in the spirit of INB pages...I had students create a pocket page for the back of our notebook for students to keep their comfort cards in.  This way they always have them to use on every test, especially the midterm and final exam.  I am going to have them write the most commonly used formulas on the pockets themselves for extra space and decorative purposes. 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Algebra 1 Word Problems Graphic Organizer

Do they every get word problems??  Today I was teaching word problems to my Honors Algebra 2 class.  They always hate word problems, even if they are only Algebra 1 word problems.  ;)

For most students the worst part about word problems is breaking them down.  They don't know where to start.  I've tried several different organizers and methods for helping with and have yet to find a way that I really like....until today!   Today, I went to my go to teaching aid - the Frayer Model.  I use it a lot in my classes.  From defining words to organizing examples, I use it a lot.  (I sometimes think my student's interactive notebooks will only be filled with them someday. )

In the past, I had used an extensive organizer for word problems, but frankly, it was just too many steps.  So I looked at it and narrowed it down to 5 parts, which would then fit on my Frayer model design.   Here is the end result:

If you like, feel free to use it.  Here is a PDF file for you to have:
Suzanne's Foldables