Gene Davis Inspired Math/Art Project

One of my favorite projects we do is at the end of the first quarter. After we have gone through perpendicular, intersecting, and parallel lines I have an art project that students do. Students have to split up their piece of card stock into 4 equal shapes with a ruler on the front and on the back split the two on the front right down the middle.

I never tell students what the lines are for on the back, but they are for postcards for their upcoming parent teacher conferences. I hang up one set in the classroom and send the others home over time.

When I have them split up the front of the card stock I have them put different types of lines in each rectangle. One for perpendicular lines, intersecting, and parallel lines.

The last rectangle is for Gene Davis.

We talk about Gene Davis the artist and what he did and his accomplishments. I show them different artworks and ask them about what he did and why it is so amazing.

Some of the students think that what he does isn't art and then we look at his artwork on scale about how big each painting is and how time consuming it is for each line.

So after the artist study we finished drawing and filling in each rectangle.

Some of the different artworks are down below:


At the end this is what our Gene Davis Inspired Wall looked like. Students got to take home another one of their creations to put on the fridge and remind them that parent-teacher conferences were coming up and I was looking forward to meeting them.

Being Engaging Isn't Everything

A couple of months ago my wife and I went with her family to go see "The Piano Man" himself in concert on Wrigley Field. As a baseball fan myself and less of a Billy Joel fan I went to see Wrigley Field. As we were standing listening to him play hit after hit the person in front of me sat down and got out his phone. (Hard to see in the picture)

This sparked something inside of myself, if Billy Joel can't get 100% engagement why am I trying so hard to get 100% engagement in my students?

I know you are asking yourself Billy Joel is playing for tens of thousands of people and he is trying to engage 25 at a time. (Different circumstances)  It's true, but Billy is an entertainer, he makes his living playing music and entertaining people.

One thing I will always have over Billy Joel is that he can't form relationships with everyone in that crowd. With 25 students for 49 minutes a day it can be difficult, but not impossible to form relationships with everyone. Some are easier, some are more difficult, but that is how I get 100% engagement. Get students to buy-in to me.

I didn't buy into Billy, but I bought in to the experience that I now share with my wife. I definitely bought in to Wrigley Field.  Just like the guy in the picture maybe didn't buy in today.

I might not have buy-in each day from every student, but I play everyday, not just once and leave.

My take-away from this experience is that being engaging isn't everything, forming relationships is.

Finding Mr. President (Revised)

A while back I did this activity:

Students had to find President Obama and his missing hot air balloon. Students had to write and graph inequalities. I did this for Algebra last year and thought it would be a great activity for Algebra 2 at the beginning of the year.

I use to cut out three 3 clues, but this year I changed it up a bit. I still gave students the direction sheet. I did change the other 3 clues to make them look more official.

I blacked out some of the information on the original document and added some of the text of the original clue to the bottom. Plus the top secret on the top looks very cool.

Next was an official letter.

Last was suppose to be a order fill out form from the FBI, I altered the text in the middle to make it a phone transcript.

Trivia Crack X: Quick Questions

Quick One Question Quizzes Using Trivia Crack X

One of my favorite games to play in my spare time is playing Trivia Crack. Now you can create your own Trivia Crack questions with Trivia Crack X with your own pictures and videos. The downfall is that you can only create one question at a time and not a whole game.

Here are the steps to create your own:

1. Find a question that you would normally put in a quiz. Take a screenshot.

2. Add the picture into Trivia Crack X.

3. Insert your answers and non-answers into a quiz.


4. Preview your final video.

You could use your video to play during a lesson, pause the video before it gives you the answer and have the students write down the answer.

Children's Books for Algebra 2

Children's books are are a great way of introducing concepts and to help build a classroom community.  Students love sitting together on the floor and listen to a teacher read aloud a picture book. Letting a picture book and prior knowledge give them a hook into the curriculum.

Here are three great books to help teach some Algebra 2 concepts.

Follow the Line
by Laura Ljungkvist

This picture book goes from the city to farms. Each scene contains questions designed to get children counting, thinking, and observing.  Children would count 5-6 times on each page.

In Algebra 2 class I am going to read aloud the book, but instead of going over the questions in the book I am going to ask different questions.

What types of lines do you see?
Which ones of these are functions?
Which of these are not functions?
What type of slope do some of these lines have?

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers
by Mordicai Gerstein

This picture book is about Philippe Petit who tightrope walked across from one World Trade Center tower to the other. He performed tricks, walking, and dancing for an hour. The book has great and different types of numbers you could number talk during the read aloud.

The way that I am going to use the book in Algebra 2 is to get students use to the idea that mathematical models illustrate the behavior of real world situations.

During the talk I am going to ask the students at specific times to model different situations in the book and ask them about the math being used.

Lifetime: Amazing Numbers in Animal Lives
by Lola M. Schaefer

This book talks about the different animals what can happen in their entire lifetime.

An example, in one lifetime an alligator will build 22 nests and lay 550 eggs.

In Algebra 2 we are going to use this book to introduce students to exponential expressions and how they can be written in different ways.  We are going to talk about If one alligator lays 550 eggs, and then one of those alligators lays 550 eggs. How many alligators in twenty generations?

Parabola Gallery Walk

I am currently take a grad class called Sparking Student Curiosity at Doane College. This week we had to make a gallery walk that sparked student curiosity. I created a gallery walk that introduced students to parabolas.

Here are the images:


Students will be put into groups of three (or you could come up with more images and have smaller groups) and as a group they will take notes from all of the students.  Each student will have a paper, but all students input will be put into each one. They can only record what others in their groups say. On the handout each student will have three columns to fill out:
  • Descriptions of what students see in each image.
  • What math do you see?
  • What is commonalities between the photos?
Students will have 2-3 minutes at teach station (or photo).

Then when all the students have cycled through their groups they will have a short reflection of what they think we are going to study next. Then as a group we will talk about parabolas and introduce them.

Lines of Ballerina Dancers

At the Joslyn Art Museums Thursdays for Teachers we got the chance to sketch 4 ballerinas from the Nebraska Ballet Company. Our workshop first focused on the lines of a ballerina dancer in different poses. It got me thinking about the different lines of a ballerina and in Algebra 2 we are currently going over linear equations. What linear equations do a ballerina make? So I put the pictures in Desmos and this is what I found.

Here are three lines I found.

After I graphed these I thought what a great activity this would be for students. Students could do their own poses and graph them, they could be shooting a basketball, yoga poses, or football poses. 

Then I thought what if we did this every unit and students could reflect on line families and how they relate.  It is one of my big goals I want to student to learn this year: Function families share similar graphs, behaviors, and properties.

Then I tried the same graph with parabolas, which is our next unit. Almost seemed to work better.