I invented a new game for factoring quadratic trinomials over the summer break. After waiting to get to quadratics, I'm excited that this week I was finally able to play it with my Algebra 2 classes. As I was planning, I was thinking about how to motivate teaching factoring. In particular, I was inspired by Dan Meyer's thoughts, where he mentioned that locating zeroes is the key problem that factoring helps solve. I decided to find a way to make finding those zeroes the focus of how I introduced this topic. This game, which I'm calling "ZERO!" is about evaluating expressions and finding zeroes. Students are in groups of four, and each group receives a set of 36 cards with a range of expressions on them. Most are quadratic trinomials, but there are some linear expressions, quadratic binomials and a handful of factored quadratics. As a warm-up, I had students...

I'm teaching again! There's so much that I can share about the start of my new job, but for now I just really want to blog about lesson ideas. So let's do that. In Geometry we're going through our introductory review unit. I wanted to see what my students' algebraic skills are, especially with solving equations. I decided to expand on an idea I used last year. The original idea was that students could get a better understanding of the way equations work by constructing equations themselves. If students are going to be expected to "backtrack", it makes sense that they should see how the equations go forwards in the first place. So students choose a value to assign to a variable, then perform operations on that variable and value, step by step. They then exchange equations with each other, which they solve by finding the steps that created the...

Next up in the back-to-school posterpalooza, it's the order of operations. I've heard different people have different opinions between GEMA and GEMDAS. I like the idea of arranging the letters like this as a compromise between the two. It emphasizes that multiplication/division and addition/subtraction occur in pairs, at the same time, but students will hopefully not forget about the division and subtraction. Sarah designed the Grouping Symbols poster. I thought it'd be nice to have my order of operations posters match her style. Downloads: GEMDAS.pdf GEMDAS.pub...

Okay, before I go any further, I feel I should clarify: I have not just been working on posters for the last week, despite them completely taking over my blog. I have been working on lesson ideas, too. I just want actually try them out in class, so I can reflect on how they went, before they make it to the blog. Anyway, for today, another poster set: Inequality Symbols! I guess equals is there too. But I thought "Inequality Symbols (and equals is there too)" wasn't a very succinct title, so there you go. I was very tempted to redo these bigger, with a single symbol to a page. If you think that would look better, you have my blessing to change it. :) The prime numbers next to it are courtesy of my wife. In this case, I didn't even need to print and laminate them myself. Sarah came...

I'm a Geometry teacher who doesn't know how to measure anything. Okay, I can measure stuff. But, like most of the world except the nation I now live in, I learned* to measure everything in metric. Mostly. I grew up on a farm, so I'm very used to measuring area in acres and rainfall in points and inches. But aside from that, I just know metric. So this poster set is for me, more than the kids, if I'm perfectly honest. Or it is for them, when Mr. Carter is silly enough to give them all their measurements in millimeters. Downloads: converting units.pdf converting units.pub Fonts are ChunkFive and Patrick Hand. * I also had to fix this word after typing "learnt" just now. It's going to take a while to break some of these habits....

This tweet basically summarizes what the last week has been like in our house: Rest assured, all. Laminating continues because we found an unopened box of 100 pouches. @reilly1041 @theshauncarter @druinok @misscalcul8— Sarah Carter (@mathequalslove) July 31, 2016 The latest contribution for my walls are my classroom rules: These basically are a slightly revised version of my rules from last year. You can download the posters here: classroom rules.pdf classroom rules.pub The fonts are Archistico and Coming Soon....

New posters today for Algebra 2: Parent Functions! I actually put these up a couple of weeks ago, but unfortunately didn't have any photos of them. Then the floors of the school hallways got waxed and we weren't allowed in. Until today! Here's them next to my Geometry Symbols Posters. Downloads: parent functions.pdf parent functions.pub Font is Wellfleet, which is quickly becoming one of my favorites....

New standards means new plans. Except I've only just moved to Oklahoma, so I'm teaching Algebra 2 for the first time anyway. Good timing, I guess? Anyway, I'll be using SBG this year. Here you'll find my complete list of units, containing the relevant OK math standards and 'Critical Gaps', along with my SBG skills lists. Downloads: alg2units.pdf alg2units.docx Your browser does not support iframes. I've already shared my Geometry units and SBG skills list for this year....

I'll be teaching Geometry for the first time this year. Actually, everything is for the first time this year, as I've never taught discrete high school math subjects before*. It feels like I'm starting from scratch with my planning. I've already posted my list of Geometry units and skills, mapped to the new math standards that Oklahoma is introducing. (I've done my Algebra 2 units too. I really need to get around to posting those.) Recently, I've been working on filling out a bit more of the details of what I'll be teaching. I don't plan on making too much use of the textbook, but I still want a list of the definitions, postulates and theorems written out. So, that meant making the list myself. Downloads: geomnotesv1.docx geomnotesv1.pdf To be clear, this is not a document I'm giving to my students. This is for me, to make sure...

You may have seen Sarah's recent post about making posters of perfect square and cube numbers. She was talking to me about how she would go making the cubes. I thought about it for a bit, and thought there must be some way to do it in Geogebra. Turns out, there is! Drag that slider, and you can change the number of cubes from 1³ to 20³. This took a little bit of messing around to get right, mostly because I've never used the spreadsheet view in Geogebra before. Once I worked out that spreadsheet cells can contain graphical elements that get displayed, it was just a matter of plugging in the right formulas to generate all the lines. Anyway, if you'd find this useful, you can download the file here: cubes.ggb cubes.zip (Contains PNG image files for 1³ to 10³)...

Firstly, my recent exciting news that I don't think I've blogged about yet: I have a job at the same school as my wife! :D I have my own classroom! This was in doubt for a while, as it seemed I might need to be a roaming teacher (which didn't bother me that much, because we all had to roam when I was in Australia.) But people got shifted around, and it turned out there was a room free. My teaching certification for Oklahoma finally came through last week! The result of all that is that I'm teaching Geometry and Algebra 2 next year, and I have an empty classroom with no posters. Well, had an empty classroom. I'm working on that. :) Here's my set of Geometry Symbols posters. Sorry about the glare. I've never taught "Geometry" as a single subject before. In Australia, maths is still integrated through high...

Another coding project to share today: an online interactive for demonstrating the areas under a curve for a Riemann sum. I started work on this a couple of months ago, then forgot about it. I'm probably not teaching Calculus in the near future, so I lost some of my enthusiasm for completing all the ideas for this project. But given the work I'd already put into it, I thought it would be worth sharing what I've got anyway. You can find it here: http://www.primefactorisation.com/areaapprox/ I might come back to this at some point. Let me know if you've got any suggestions, or any functions you'd really like me to add to it. I've also done this concept as an activity involving cutting and pasting....

Designing your own planner? Pay attention to the end for some files that may save you a lot of work. Both Sarah and I have been working on our planners for the next school year. We're both using the Staples Arc system to completely customize them. Sarah's already blogged about starting to design hers. Here's what I've been working on. At my last school, all teachers were provided with a planner. While we were given the choice from a catalogue of the exact planner we wanted, I could never make it work in a way that suited me. Most planners have spaces for each class in a single day on the same page, but I don't like having all my subjects mixed up together. I want to have a separate section for each subject, with all my notes, lessons, grades and everything else for each subject self contained away from...

Following on from planning units for Geometry, I've created SGB score sheets for students that also act as dividers between units for their notebooks. If this idea seems familiar, that's because I've totally stolen it from my wife. I feel like that's justified, though, because she's already asked me to send her the template so she can use it herself this year. I've seen some of Sarah's students' notebooks that use these, and can attest that they work really well. That's Euclid, in case you were wondering. They work by folding the sheet of paper along the middle of the narrow rectangle, then gluing the sheet around one page of a notebook so that the unit name sticks out the side of the book. You can find my files here, including a blank template: dividers.pub dividers.pdf dividers template.pub You'll need Microsoft Publisher to edit the original files....

First, the good news. I have a teaching job lined up for this August! While I can't go into details about it quite yet (partly because I'm not sure of some of the details myself), I'm pretty certain I'll be teaching Geometry some of the time. Having to start planning everything from scratch is a little daunting, though with new standards being introduced in Oklahoma this year, I'm pretty much in the same boat as everyone else here. I've started planning what my units will look like. I've never taught Geometry as a single year long subject like this before. In Australia, all students take "maths" through Year 10, with the three content strands (Number and Algebra, Measurement and Geometry, and Probability and Statistics) taught each year. Even in Year 11 and 12, the subjects available are more split by difficulty rather than by mathematical area. This means I've taught...

In this period where I'm not in the classroom, I'm trying to keep myself busy with a few little projects. One of those things is working on updating my coding skills by creating interactive activities using Javascript. The first of these is a simple puzzle where the aim is to switch the positions of the two sets of counters by jumping them over each other. If it seems familiar, that may be because I posted about using this puzzle in class in 2014. (Or it may just be that this is a fairly well known puzzle). That post has more information about how I related the puzzle to a nice quadratic relationship, and used it to explore distributing and factoring*. The puzzle is embedded below, but the full version of the puzzle will be more useful for using in class. It explains the rules of the puzzle more clearly, and...

Four. Months. That's how long it's been since my last blog post here. Although, I think I've had a bit of an excuse. Things have been rather crazy for me lately. I'm as guilty as anyone of saying "things have been crazy" when I really mean "things have been the normal amount of excessively busy which comes with being a teacher". But these are pretty exceptional circumstances I've been in lately. So ever since Sarah and I announced our engagement, there's been a little of this going around: Well, the answer is... pause for effect I am moving to the US (Drumright, OK specifically) in a few short weeks. Sarah and I are getting married shortly after that. Moving to the other side of the world was never on the list of things I planned to do with my life, but it's funny how quickly plans can change when you...

Problem I gave to Year 9 a few weeks back: Imagine taking an A4 sheet of paper, and cutting the corners out so it folds into a box. What is the maximum volume possible? Or how I actually presented the problem: I'm sure that any non-metric types could easily adapt this to letter size paper. ;) This is the type of question I'd typically use with my Year 12 class, and expect them to use calculus to solve. But Year 9 had to use other strategies. (One student did manage to find a website that told him he would have to use differentiation, and wanted me to teach him what it is, there on the spot...) So, trial-and-error was the game instead. Some students realised this immediately, while others needed a little bit more of a push. I remember being a student and hating trial-and-error as a strategy, because it always...

I've been left in an interesting situation with my Year 10 class. This is their last semester before moving into VCE or VCAL, where they get to choose their own subjects. This means that they'll be studying a variety of maths subjects, at different levels of difficulty. Not to mention that under the Australian Curriculum, maths already has an extra level of content beyond Year 10 ("10A"). Further complicating things is the fact that I only took over this class halfway through the year. I want each student to have the best preparation possible for their plans for Year 11. How a student is planning to continue with their study has a lot of bearing on the content they need to be working on now. For instance, the students who want to study Mathematical Methods (the second hardest maths in VCE behind Specialist Maths), or are considering it, would be...

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Shaun used to be maths, IT and ocassional physics teacher at a small P-12 school (primary and secondary) in rural Victoria, Australia. He is currently in the process of starting his career again in the United States.

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My journey from Australia to the United States:

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Sarah is also a math teacher, and she's much better at this blogging thing than I am:

Math Equals Love