Friday, October 24, 2014

Hashtag Closure

This was really fun.  My students loved it.  And it was different.  It brought out relevance and personality to the class.  It also gave a voice to some of my students.  Give it a try.  Thanks to my colleague Mary Martin (Via Steve Stack)  who gave me this idea.  

Ask your students to make a hashtag summary for the topic of the day (or week, or unit, or ?)  I used it as I closed the day out. Then ask them to share them out with the rest of the class.  You can share out results on the board.  Then have students vote on them.  Students loved it.  For those of you who do not know what a hashtag is…A hashtag is a word or an unspaced phrase prefixed with the hash character, # , to form a label.  Hashtags are used in social media as a type of tag to group information.  #postseason #edchat

I did this with my precalculus student's and they put a few things that were terrific and some things that were just plain funny.  We were studying rational functions and vertical asymptotes.
#ZeroDenom  #FindTheZerosInTheDenominator Some funny ones were #AskMrSladkey #Desmos.  I was talking about something the next day in class and said "remember the hashtag closure" from yesterday.  It was a great brain trigger.

Mary taught me to use to share out results.  It is so easy.  I had never used it before last week.
  •          Log into  and then teacher sign in. Go to Sign up.  Then go to profiles and change your room name to your last name.
  •         Go to quick question.  Then click Short Answer question.  Type in your question.  Require students names.  Click Start
  •         Have your students go to and go to the student sign in.  ( I had my students use their phones)  Have them use your room name.  They don’t need to sign up.
  •         When they answer the question it will show up on your screen for all to see.  After all have entered their answer, then vote on the result.

I hope you can give it a try today.


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Shifting to the use of Desmos and Geogebra Online Graphing Calculators


Wow.  This is fun.  I can't believe how easy it is to put math into our student's hands.  It is fast too. With a simple url link I have given my students many activities in seconds that takes them DIRECTLY to the concept.  This year I have really shifted my thinking away from the hand-held graphing calculator to the online calculators Desmos and Geogebra.  I use both for different purposes.  This post is a little about my journey this year.

For my day to day work, I have my students take out their smart-phones, or their iPads, or their school administered tablets and use Desmos free online graphing calculator.  For class activities, I often use Geogebratube.  This is easy way to challenge students with a math "scenario" online.

This week we were reviewing quadratics and I gave this "challenge" to my classes.  They had to navigate a MAZE with lines and parabolas.  Here is the actual activity that I gave them.    Notice it is an easy to use to type in link.  (This is called a url alias and I use the free website called to set this up)   I  also made a short video for help clues too.  Not everyone needed it. 
Here are a couple of comments my students have made about Desmos.  One was how he liked Desmos because the he could see both the graph and the equation at the same time.  He didn't have to go back and forth from the equation to the image.  Another student said they like the fact that they could find the graph so easily.  You can just use your fingers to pinch the screen and you can locate the graph.  Whereas while using a handheld graphing calculator you have to go back and forth from window to graph, to finally get the right graph screen.
This is how one student solved it.  There is so much math here.  The students really talk the talk too.

One video that really inspired my use of Desmos was by @bobloch on twitter he shared this demonstration on inequalities.  Check this out.  

I have always had a hard time explaining increasing and decreasing.  This turtle Geogebra activity really helped my students visualize what increasing and decreasing is and how it is represented.

You can see that there is a ton of material that can be used with Desmos and Geogebra.  Go and explore.  Let me know how it goes.  My twitter name is @dsladkey.  I'd love to hear from you.