Saturday, December 20, 2014

Review of optimization

I'm planning to use the following sort-in-order activity with a group that will review calculus and especially struggled with optimization.
For each group - 2 to 3 students - I will make horizontal cuts across the paper, so that each step, why, and example will be on one piece of paper, and then shuffle them.  The kids are then instructed to put the pieces in order of how they would solve an optimization problem that will be different for each group of students. They are also asked to provide an explanation for why each step is done and the example solution problem they are assigned.

I wonder if this task would also work as an introductory activity to optimization, as in: make sense of this, given whatever conceptual understanding you have of derivatives.

Any feedback on this?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Apparently, this is how to teach my kids vector equations of lines

Vector equations of lines usually hit my students like a nasty shock, after weeks of soft and cushy work with vector operations. This year, I tried a constructive approach, using this silly and in my opinion boring and too structured investigation:

The plan was that students should use this geogebra activity together with the written instructions. That immediately failed, since school computers did not have updated geogebra. So they used mini-whiteboards instead, and it worked well. And when I say it worked well, I mean it worked amazing. I have no idea why, because seriously that investigation isn't exactly a masterpiece of pedagogy, but this group of students caught on to both the activity and the conclusions. Above all, even the weakest students in class could arrive at, explain and use vector equations of lines.