We’re wrapping up our brief overview of trig identities, and wanted to make sure to get our students talking and collaborating. I’ve seen a number of variations on wrong answers (I would love to source them here, but I don’t remember where I saw them–will update as soon as I find out).

We decided to try it out with angle sum/difference and double angle/half angle identities. After the class moved their desks into groups, each student got a half sheet with the same four problems on it, and a number at the top. Each group had one problem. Solving all 4 problems took for-ev-er, since some of the students don’t like to make mistakes and so are more inclined to stare at a difficult problem than just try something. Once they wrapped that up, they were told they needed to show their solution on a whiteboard but make at least one minor mistake.

Going in, we were a little worried about if they would like it or not. We split the class in half and I took my three groups out in the hall. After the group presented, I gave the audience groups 30 seconds to discuss what questions they could ask. They really were into it. They tried to figure out good questions that weren’t just giving it away, and ended up asking me a bunch of questions about what they should say or not say.

It was awesome. “So, what would you have said? Because when I asked L what his function was, he still didn’t see it. Then what?”

Giving them some insight into how I formulate questions (and give enough guidance without it being too much) was really neat, and most of the class really tried to ask strong questions.

We can’t wait to do it again!


The Values on the Unit Circle…

I can’t take credit for this one, but it’s a great idea if you’re still working on the Unit Circle. Our students have been struggling with the idea of the values going back around, so he had a brilliant idea.

In keeping with my Slope Dance tradition, my resident made up this song, to the tune of “The Wheels on the Bus”


The Unit Circle Values go round and round,

round and round, round and round.

The Unit Circle Values go round and round, every 360.


And Sine and Cosine repeat and repeat,

repeat and repeat, repeat and repeat.

And Sine and Cosine repeat and repeat, every 2p.


And then we made up dance moves. The first verse is just circling your hand around in front of you. The second verse you go up and down like a sine curve. It’s good times.

Do you make up songs and dances? Do your students like them? Do they make fun of them and then do them to prepare for tests and at school functions like the Dance Marathon? (The girls who won totally slope danced!)

Now That Its Over…

The AP Test was on Friday.

My school also let 8 people go.

One of them was administering the AP Exam.

Cumulatively, this did not go well. Friday afternoon, I was really upset. I had followed up so many times, trying to ensure that my 9 students taking two exams in one day would get fed, that the timing was taken care of, that we were taking steps to minimize disruptions. I was getting, honestly, pretty annoying.

And yet everything I was worried about, happened. They tested in the gym so announcement after announcement echoed over them. Over 100 kids waited for athletics to start after school in the hall outside the gym. And when I asked the person administering the test who was responsible, she shrugged and said “I don’t know.” I was crushed. My students worked SO HARD for this…and I felt like they just didn’t care.

I didn’t wait around the 20 more minutes for them to finish; I was way too upset. A quick group text on the way home and that was it. And then their replies. “It was easy…I’m scared ^-^” from one of my strongest students. “I feel pretty confident about my free responses. I think I can actually pass this test” from one of my weakest (who passed very few of my tests). But overall…they felt good. And so I felt a lot better too.

The questions were posted online today, so I did them and we went over them in class. A couple kids were concerned, but mostly smiles. “YES.” “That’s what I thought it was.” “Yep, I totally did that.” It was really nice to see.

And then we played cards. My students are unfamiliar with a deck of cards. I’ll have to fix that.

But now…


Things My Children Text Me

Three preps, with one of them taking an AP exam THIS FRIDAY (OMG AH ARE WE READY I THINK SO) have been taking their toll. I don’t have anything inspired for my AP review. I’ve been so frustrated in my Honors classes at their complete inability to learn special right triangles (coupled with the part where I’m pretty sure someone besides me should have taught it to them….Geometry anyone?) and therefore do the unit circle that I want to scream.

So just…meh.

In other news, I got engaged two weeks ago. The Sunday before the ACT, which means I didn’t wear the ring on Monday because I teach all juniors and I had stuff to do. So I told them all on Thursday, and gave them five minutes in each period to ask me questions, and had 17 offers to be my Flower Girl, six of which were from 16 year old boys. Only one person wants to be my ring bearer, and thats a 15 year old girl. Oh, and Lindsey said she’d marry us.

So life has been busy, and I didn’t feel like I had much to share (“How not to teach special right triangles”).

Then I got two texts from students today, and realized there are other great ones I haven’t shared either.

First one student texted me a photo link and asked me if it was where I got engaged. Adorable. (It was, basically.) (I got engaged at my church, which is on Michigan Avenue in Chicago across from the Hancock Center, so it isn’t that odd she would be there.)

Then I got this:


The text is just the middle of a random page. I suspect she’s studying for AP US History. I sort of feel like “the 80’s” is like “the olden days” but I’ll let it go.

Those brought to mind several amusing texts from another student:


I laughed out loud at this one. And then we looked up the actual probabilities online the next day. Apparently there was a big deal in England when this happened to someone, and they published the odds of it happening as (lazy math teacher makes things up here) one in a jillion, but that isn’t true because of course each egg isn’t independent–young hens are more likely to have double yolks and eggs in the same carton come from the same batch and maybe even the same hen.

And another from the same student, sent during Saturday ACT Prep. This question is awesomely bad. It still makes me laugh/roll my eyes.


Really? Poking a badger? With a spoon? Who comes up with this stuff?!?

I hope your life is more interesting than mine right now!