Monday, March 26, 2018

Teach 180: These Lights (Day 127)

At the beginning of the year, I had two seniors in my PreCalculus class who did not think they could do math.  Today, one of them told a math joke and the other explored a feature in Desmos.  They were engaged and they were learning.

For part of today's lesson, we were learning to use calculators to find values like sin(43o) and cot(π/12).  About 1/3 of the class had graphing calculators and 2/3 of the class had their phones set to landscape mode.  Although I had only planned to show how to use the graphing calculator, I found myself giving instructions on using the calculator in the phone.  It took me back to the days of using my scientific calculator in 1986.  "Hit 43 first and then sin".  Or "do π divided by 12 and hit equals. Then, hit tan and then 1/x."  Very clunky.

I had one student using Desmos for his calculations and he ran into a slight problem.  He was not getting the same answers.  Perhaps he was in Degree mode.  Yes, that was it!  Is it easy to switch to Radian mode?  What this short video and you decide.   

My other student told a math joke.  He said to me, "Mrs. Nataro, I think there is something wrong with these lights."  I looked up at the ceiling and then asked what he was talking about.  He pointed to something he had written on his arm.  He had written sin/cos.  "The lights are making my arm tan," he said and then grinned.

While some of my seniors have developed a serious case of "senioritis", these students are still willing to participate in class and they may not realize it, but they are actually learning something, too.

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