Limits in Plain English [[RELOADED]]

Back in October, I posted a video from the ongoing “Calculus in Plain English” series that my students have created about Limits. It was great and recieved a lot of positive feedback from students and colleagues. So, when I was asked by my principal to submit a technology project for our district’s digital media fair, it was a “no-brainer”…we had to enter “Limits in Plain English! My students were wa-a-a-a-y more tech savvy in December than they were when they orginally made the video, so we took a few days to update the original video with screencasts and sound effects. We also had to create a 2-minute intro/trailer for the project, which you see above. I am very happy with the result and think my students should be very proud! They used Google Docs to collaborate on the script. Here is a quick screencast I made to show how my students use Google docs for projects like this: is a website where you can create FREE, no-download required screencasts through any Java-enabled browser.  It took all of five minutes for my students to figure out how use this awesome tool to update the instructional segments of their video.

Check out the new, IMPROVED Limits in Plain English!!!

Calculus in Plain English–Volume 2

I have a lot of stuff to blog about, but so little time! Here is a tidbit: “Calculus in Plain English” is back!!!  I am teaching AP Calc AB this semester, and I only have 5 students in the class.  They will be making videos for each unit we cover.  Here is their first– “Limits in Plain English”.

BlanchetBlog regulars will notice that this is my first non-TeacherTube video. I am currently making the transition to Vimeo. It has its drawbacks (slow upload), but TeacherTube has become so bloated with ads and everything else but videos, that I have finally decided to try other sites. I would like to give SchoolTube a try, too. Since YouTube is blocked by our school system, I will always be searching for a good alternative for video sharing. Vimeo seems to be getting the job done for now.
I am very proud of my students and their first video. I know their next, “Derivatives in Plain English”, will be even better. Stay tuned!!!

Back in the classroom with blanchetBlog

School has been back in session for only a month, and I already feel like I have a million things going on in my classroom!  I am only teaching two classes in the fall semester- GEE Prep Math, a remediation course for students who struggle with math and need to pass the state test to graduate, and AP Calculus.  I have been doing lots of hands-on activities with my GEE class using some great manipulatives I bought from EAI while at NCTM in San Diego last year. We started the year with every math student’s kryptonite–fractions. My motto is “fractions are our friends”, but I have yet to get many students to agree. Nevertheless, we used fraction pattern tiles to explore the meaning of fractions, and I think having the concrete examples really helped.  In the photo above, you see students working with algebra tiles to express polynomial expressions. Although I sprung for the “quietshape” foam tiles from EAI, you can print your own and have the students cut them out. Check this link out for your own algebra tiles, and here is a place where you can get some activity ideas.

In my calculus class,we began with a review of Advanced Math and a project I have done before in Calculus—Function Family Trees. This year, since I have the model technology classroom, I had the students make a Glog (online poster) for their function families. Here is an example of their work:

Go to Glogster EDU to set up your own classes with this awesome tool!  I can already see that this is going to be a super-busy year for me and my students.  I love having the opportunity to teach AP Calculus again.  It was great experience when I taught it the year before last.   I now get the chance to revisit my tried and true strategies and refresh things with some new activities and projects.  My GEE Prep class is a chance for me to really learn how to use data to move students forward.  I have been crunching a lot of numbers trying to figure out what my kids’ strengths and weaknesses are.  I have also been asked to do some additional small group tutoring with these students.  I plan on using my data to provide targeted assistance in each student’s weakest areas.  I will also track practice test scores to see if my efforts are working.  My goal is to have a 100% passing rate for my students after they take my test prep course.  Wish me luck!  I wish you luck in the coming months, as well. Stay tuned for more!

it’s almost over…

This has been an amazing year! I am so happy that I chose this school year to start my blog, because I now have a record of all the amazing things that we did in math class this year. I have not done a lot of typing on this blog, since the goal is not for me to have a personal platform, but for the work of my students to have a home where their peers, parents and anyone else can see what we do. Mission accomplished!

I promised more Pi Day pics over a month ago, and they have been sitting on my computer all this time, so enjoy pics of my kids singing Pi Day carols, the praline apple pies I made for the occasion, and the projects that they finally completed and turned in on Pi Day. By far, this was one of the best projects I have ever had the pleasure to oversee.


What is AP Stats really about?

How’s this for an explanation?
Please visit! I was told about this months ago, (Thanks Mrs. Kahn) but I did not think about using it until I saw one on CNN tonight after the President’s speech. This is an online tool where you can take a “bunch of “text” and turn it into a word cloud, an aesthetically pleasing arrangement of the most-used words in your document. The bigger the word, the more times it was included in the original text. I used it on the text of the AP course description, which I simply copied and pasted onto the applet to generate the awesomeness you see above. I could see this used as a tool to summarize just about anything. You, too, can enjoy the benefits…
(of course, I did one for Calc too.)