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Day 59: Gettin’ Triggy with Hedbanz

I needed a fun but meaningful way to practice writing equations for sinusoidal functions. I found this idea last year for practicing quadraticspracticing linears and practicing rationals.  I figured I could adapt it for trig functions but I just didn’t have the energy to put it together.  This year I was determined to get it done!


So what is this fabulous activity, you say?  Have you heard of the game, Hedbanz: The Quick Question Game of What Am I? The basic premise for kids try to guess the object that is in their headband based on clues from other players. When I announced that we were going to play Hedbanz, my students were utterly goofy in their excitement.

Initially, I thought I could use Infinite Algebra 2 by Kuta Software to quickly generate graphs.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t control the attributes nor the way graphs were drawn (all horizontal scales were in π forms and max/mins were not easy to determine).  They just didn’t fit what I was looking for; that is, they just weren’t “friendly” enough for this high-paced activity.  I then perused various precalculus books looking for good graphs that students could somewhat readily determine the critical attributes.  I found 32 different graphs, some in radians, some in integer form with clearly determinable extrema.

hedbanz3.vs. hedbanz2

To put together the game, I made the graphs approximately the same size, printed them, cut them out and glued them to different colored 3 x 5 index cards, in groups of 4, although I didn’t end up using the cards as a group activity.  I numbered the cards 1 – 32 on the back of the graphs.  I also found sets of 8 neon colored girls elastic headbands for $1 at our local dollar store, so I bought 5 sets for a total of 40.  I also made a set of answers that I posted at the front of the room for students to self-check.


The kids just loved the activity and the face-to-face discussion was awesome.  I heard things like: “what’s my amplitude/” “what the period?” “what’s the phase shift if I want to write a cosine function? “Hey, the amplitude is NOT the maximum value…you made me get this wrong!”

Sam Shah has the most detailed approach to using this type of activity with your students.


Day 55: Gamifying Probability Review

Ok, maybe not “gamify” in the sense that I created a new game, but we did do a competition with multiple choice questions.  It seems students get mixed up a lot when reading probability multiple choice questions, so some practice before next week’s test is in order.  Besides, it’s just before the 4-day Thanksgiving break, so I wanted to be sure my kiddos were actively engaged in good mathematical discussions.

I had 8 sets of 5 MC questions, duplicated twice on different colored paper and put into page protectors.


Then each group got one set with whiteboard markers and they got to work determining answers.


When they thought they had the correct answers, they came up to me and I checked them.  If they were correct, they got 2 points.  If not, then the first time through I only told them how many were incorrect.  If they returned and they had corrected their mistake(s) then they got one point.  If they still had things wrong, I would tell them the number and then they had to fix it, but would not earn any points.  Once the group had correctly answered the 5 questions, they then picked up another set and repeated.


Day 52: Unit Circle Game

Getting students to know the special Unit circle values can be such a tricky thing.  It is some rote memorization, but hopefully rooted in sound conceptual foundation.  But how to have students practice in a somewhat meaningful way.  Well, the Unit Circle Game is one way.

20151120_113326 20151120_113322

Last year, I thought the game didn’t have much impact.  But a student shared via information I ask for when I write letters of recommendation, that she found the game particularly helpful for her to visualize the values on the Unit circle.  So I decided to do it again…but with some modifications in the play to make the game run more smoothly.  And it did!  Great Friday activity.


Day 30: Whiteboard Fun

Haven’t used my new whiteboards as much as I’d like but I sure love the kinesthetic aspects of them…and my kiddos love them as well.  Today, my precalculus students worked on determining the end behavior asymptote for rational functions.  In the past, we’ve practiced pencil and paper style, but the retention seemed poor.  So I had a blinding brainstorm just before class to use the whiteboards to practice – novel, tactical, and very visual for me and the students.  And I think it will do the trick!  100% engagement in otherwise dreary practice.


Day 82: Solve-Crumple-Toss with Trig Equations

I wanted to do something that was engaging for a drill and kill kind of thing.  I wanted my precalculus kiddos to practice solving trigonometric equations in a formal way, showing all of their work in the proper way and determining the type of answer needed: general solutions or particular solutions based on a condition for the solutions (interval, first 3 after zero, etc.)  This can be deadly and boring practice, but a necessary skill to develop.  What better way to liven it up than to use the Solve-Crumple-Toss game shared by Kate Nowak on her blog, f(t)?!

20150112_151048In theory it seemed like a great idea, but the equations were more complex than the algebra 1 or algebra 2 equations originally referenced, so we got bogged down in the minutia.  In addition, hardly any of the kids made the basket (even my basketball boys!) so overall it was a bust for this situation…darn!  I am really excited to use it again but for a quicker and less involved skill.  What have you tried with your class that didn’t work out but you see potential in a different setting?


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