Friday, May 15, 2015

Colorful Dodecahedrons

A couple of weeks ago, I was looking for interesting ways to gather feedback from my students.  I wanted to get a feel of how my two Geometry Honors classes felt the second half of the year went.  At the semester break, their former teacher left for a family illness and my schedule was revamped to take these two classes.  I fell in love with these students immediately.  They were hard-working, curious individuals that, I have found recently, love a challenge.

So my choice of search for all things awesome sent me to Pinterest!  It was there that I found the colorful dodecahedrons created by 12 inscribed pentagons and numerous staples! So as the pin was on my screen, I opened Geometer's Sketchpad and created this template.   (I later created a larger version for next year.)

I was only planning to have my Geometry Honors classes participate, but I woke up with the beginnings of a migraine and decided my Algebra 2 classes could do the same thing.  I went into school before the kids arrived and made copies on colored paper.  While I was setting my room up for my sub, she walked in.  I briefly explained that each student needed to fill out 2 pentagons, cut the circles out and fold on the dotted lines (pentagon).  For each shape, they were to write about a lesson they learned this year and/or an activity that they enjoyed.

When I came back in the next day, my awesome sub had found my Ziploc baggies, filled each one with a class of pentagons and labelled them!!  For the next two periods, while my students worked on their surface area/volume project, I walked around with a few pentagons and a stapler in my hand, putting together a total of 14 dodecahedrons.  (It took over a day to staple them all.)  As I was walking around, my kids asked questions about the shape that I was creating.  So, I showed them a finished one and asked them to guess how many pentagons made the solid.  They were really into guessing and many got it right the first time.  I then asked what it was called.  After a couple seconds they were able to tell me dodecahedron (some said dodecagon first and I just waited).

The next day during my planning period, which fortunately is attached to my lunchtime (!!!), I hung them from the ceiling with fishing line.  I thought 14 would be too many, but once I got them all up, I wished I had more.  That's why I created a larger version of the inscribed pentagons so it would fill up more space, plus the students would be expected to write more details.

I have passed this project idea along to a couple of colleagues and look forward to sharing with other teachers during post-planning this year, or pre-planning next year.  While this is not my original idea, it is an original template.

I need to pull one of them down and count the number of staples.  That will be a question I ask my students.  I love to listen to them explain their thinking!

I loved reading this "fact" she learned!!

I wrote about the Four Fours activity here.

Some were just sweet comments...

Piling 'em up!

See how small they are once they were hung up?  Definitely gonna make larger ones next year.

Panoramic picture of my classroom from my exterior door.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015


As the year draws to a close and EOC tests are done, my Algebra 2 classes will be conquering matrices and its role in cryptography.  Matrices were not tested on their EOC, so it was saved till now.

In anticipation for starting matrices tomorrow, I began last year revamping my old lessons.  I pulled out examination textbooks I have collected over the years to find multiple step word problems and hit the internet for areas that use matrices.  The first document was 4-part notes.  After each part, a discussion would be held and a formative assessment sheet would be given.  Here is the lesson plan I shared with a friend that also teaches Algebra 2 at my school:

Lesson Plan for Matrices Unit
Matrices Inquiry worksheet are the “notes”.
Day 1: Part 1 Matrices Inquiry, CW/HW Data in Matrices Sheet
Day 2: Part 2 Matrices Inquiry, CW/HW Matrix Add, Subtract & Scalar Mult. Sheet
            HW: watch video (
Day 3: Part 3 Matrices Inquiry, CW/HW Matrix Multiplication (pgs. 1-2)
Day 4: CW Matrix Multiplication Sheet (pgs. 3-4)

The 12-page zip file can be found at my TPT store.
Matrices Inquiry Notes - 4 pages
Data in Matrices - 2 pages
Add/Subtract/Scalar Multiplication - 2 pages
Matrix Multiplication - 4 pages

Below is a preview of Part 2 of the Matrices Inquiry Notes:

I will be continuing to add to this lesson to include determinants and inverses of a 2x2 matrix, to get to the fun cryptography part.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Four Fours Worksheet

My Geometry Honors students took their EOC this past Monday and Tuesday.  So the rest of this week, I have been giving them miscellaneous mini challenges, nothing too deep.  One day they had to find a buried treasure using geometric constructions.  Today, I gave them the Four Fours Worksheet.  All students were engaged with this worksheet, even those that mentally drift off.  They were getting frustrated ("I'm gonna break this calculator!", "This is harder than the EOC!"), but they would not let it beat them.  The office called to tell me one of my girls was checking out.  She is typically chatty and not-so-engaged.  She told me, "I only have 2 more to find and I'm not leaving till I get them!".  She checked out 5 minutes later, AFTER she found the last two!  Needless to say, it was a good day!  Here's the link to my version of the Four Fours Wkst.