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.

Domino's Pizza Linear Math Activity

Mathalicious has lots of great activities, but this one might be my favorite.

Here is the link:

All I do as the teacher is give them this prompt:

Domino's pizza is delicious. The company is tech savvy, you can order online and even track your pizza delivery.  The website is great, but not transparent.  Domino's does not tell you how much the component pieces cost; they only tell you an item's final price after you build it. Your job is to find the base price of a pizza and find the cost per additional topping. You need to have enough information to do a 2 minute presentation to the class.

I don't grade the presentations, but look for slope, y-intercept, a graph, an equation, and an explanation of the graph.  It is a fun 30 minute project that fits at the end of the unit.

Algebra Racecars

There are lots of ways to do this activity, if you want your students to construct the same type of car (which is fine) you can follow these links, then come on back.


One way is I have some of the materials that students may need and some others. These are the items that I bring to school:

  • balloons
  • bottle caps
  • smaller dowel rods (from our shop teacher)
  • cardboard
  • tape
  • rubberbands
I give them 15 minutes to create a car. I normally have them as a group create the straw and balloon together so they have the same propulsion system. They have 15 minutes to create and test their car before we record them with our iPad. I normally have them record 2-3 times just to make sure, during this time other students are collecting how far the balloon goes and the time. 

Our next step is to collect our data. 

I ask students to find the speed their car went and ask them to put a graph on Desmos. We then collect our data together as a class and talk about what each line means who's went furthest who had the top speed.

YouTube Playlists for All Teachers

As almost all schools go Google, one thing you might take for granted is the use of YouTube and your own YouTube Channel.  YouTube is a great place to collect resources from all over to introduce topics or review content.

First thing you need to do to create a playlist is find a video.

This is one of my favorite videos (you can watch it here) to play before we begin our section on unit rates. I won't give students the question, but just let them watch the video. We will watch the video again with this in mind, "How many claps does he get in per second?" or "How many could he do in 5 minutes?"

It could be a bell-ringer for an Algebra 2 class or an extension activity for middle school. It is a great math video.

So, you found a video.

Now you need to click the "Add to" button below the video.

Next there is an option to add to playlist.

You can create a playlist or once you have created one add to the playlist you want to add to.

Here is the link for my math video collection:

The videos I add range from The Opposite of Infinity by Numberphile which offers higher level math videos to Practicing Free Throws to Beat a Pro by BuzzFeed.

I encourage all teachers to use their free YouTube channel with their school Google account. It is a great place to collect resources to use in your classroom.

Project Based Learning

I have been looking at implementing Project-based learning the past year.  I wanted to do a full chapter or section that implemented project based learning, but felt that Algebra 2 is difficult for students, but I think I found the solution.

The project that I have had the past few years is students create their own dice (2 years ago) and 3D print their own dice and find the theoretical and experimental probability (Last year).  I thought this was a good end of the chapter project.  

Now I want to make this my project based learning chapter.

Key Knowledge, Understanding, and Success Skills
I want students to work in groups of 4 and use collaboration skills for them to work on the project together.  The standards that they will cover (using the Nebraska Math Standards):

MA 11.4.1 Representations: Students create displays that represent data.
MA 11.4.2 Analysis and Applications: Students will analyze data to address the situation.
MA 11.4.3 Probability: Students will interpret and apply concepts of probability.

Challenging Problem or Question
The students challenging problem is to create a new dice for a nearby casino and find a dice where the "house" wins over 50% of the time, but not more than 60%. Students are to create a presentation with their dice and their data to a selection of students and teachers. Students will share with other students their presentation and questions.  Students will have a chance to critique and revise before doing their final presentation.

The problem I am having is making their learning public.  How can students take their learning global?

Rational or Irrational? That is the Question.

One of my favorite beginning of the year activities is a card sort that we do that reviews if different numbers are irrational or rational. Students are placed into groups of 4 and have to reason with one another about the placement of each number.

Here are a few groups placing their numbers:

Here are some example numbers we had:

Here are some finished products:

This was a great activity to get students use to classroom procedures and routines.  You can find the activity here:

The activity was in groups and went through each one large group.  I had students explain why they put them in certain categories and had a classroom discussion if they agreed or not.  Some could be put into more than one category depending on the explanation.  It was a fun experience.

Beginning of the Year

As we come down to the final week before school starts, I'm getting back in the swing of waking up (semi) early, but still going to bed late. Since I am teaching three new preps my focus will be less on Algebra 2, but it is still my favorite class.

Sequence of Topics
We use Pearson Algebra 2 books, I try to follow the sequencing, but sometimes it doesn't make sense.

Chapter 1- Expressions, Equations, and Inequalities
Chapter 2- Functions, Equations, Graphs
Chapter 3- Linear Systems
Chapter 4- Quadratic Functions
Chapter 5- Polynomials
Chapter 6- Radicals
Chapter 7- Probability and Statisitics
Chapter 8- Trigonometry
Chapter 9- Sequences
Chapter 10- Logarithms
Chapter 11- Rational Functions
Chapter 12- Conic Sections

First Week Activities
To start out with on the first day, not all of our students have iPads yet, so we do a Math About Me to get an easy A and start the year on a positive foot. Students need ten numbers that describe themselves and their picture in the middle or on a presentation, could be digital or paper copies. If students hand in a paper copy it goes on the wall to be my first student work of the year.

Second day I am going to start with a BreakOutEDU game, to show them that this year math will look and feel a little different, I like to focus on activities and projects!

Find better ways to use the iPad, for activities instead of presenting or worksheets.
Use time more effectively, get students use to bell to bell.
Remember that math isn't serious.

Mentioned above, but I do try to learn all my students names the first two days even though the shy ones might squeak through to the following week.

Class Set Up
I am playing around with different organization, but I think I've settled on groups of 4.