Friday, October 31, 2014

In An Instant

Finger Foods! via Instagram

Painting The Sky

What color is the sky? It's not always blue! This week kindergarten used the fill bucket and paint brushes in KidPix Deluxe 4 as we explored the color of the sky.

As part of my TechnoKids curriculum, K5 is in a unit on colors. We started out going to the hallway window to see what color the sky was today. I think it's great that after all the kids agree the sky is blue, we actually check if they are right. Today was dark and stormy, definitely a different blue than yesterday!

We also looked through several sky photos, finding different colors in the clouds. The kids had fun drawing atypical skies, including a night sky with stars. I really appreciate the opportunity to combine God's creation with art and digital tools. Hopefully these kiddos will continue to be digital creators and not just consumers.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Simple Discriminant Radicals?

Find the value of the discriminant.
Find the exact solutions of imaginary numbers using the Quadratic Formula. Sounds simple enough, but everyone in our house was stumped. The kid's notes included step by step instructions.

Our problem was that in the notes from class none of us could figure out how to get from √ 56  to 2√ 14  . He had several examples of this sort of simplification but none of us could figure out what was going on. Eventually, I found a web site with enough explanation for me to make sense of it and explain it to him.

Now this may seem elementary to some, but clearly it contained steps we all had forgotten or never really understood in the first place. What made sense was the use of factor trees. 56 = 4*14 = 22*14 All three are the same way of writing the same value. By removing a perfect square (4) from the root and reducing it, we can multiply it back against the remainder, 2√ 14  .

Now I'm not sure how that helps anyone, other than the opportunity to cancel out or move the doubling of the radical within a larger equation. (Is it doubled?) Clearly there is some sort of relationship between perfect squares, quadrants and curved lines represented by these complex formulas. And I understand that the concepts build on each other, but I wish textbooks did a better job of explaining those relationships with less emphasis on memorizing the steps. Even most web sites simply gave the step by step process instead of illustrating the rationale.

One final note, #33 in the picture has more problems than just determining Darnell's chances of catching the game. I really don't think the best use of math is to help friends circumvent their punishment. I don't appreciate textbooks circumventing my parental authority.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Annie Tops Popular Posts

Not surprisingly, several of this week's popular posts focused on the musical Annie. Even though I have been enjoying a week off for Fall Break, I spent the evenings helping run lights for the fall production at my kids' high school. My daughter also plays percussion in the orchestra.

During the opening night performance, a mom with her toddler arrived just as I was closing the doors and the show was beginning. The little boy was scared and didn't want to go into a dark, crowded room. Instead, they crept up the back steps and sat at the top of the stairs to the weight room, where we run lights.

Later I mentioned to them that these are one of the best seats in the house, second only to sitting right behind the curtain. Both mom and toddler appeared to have thoroughly enjoyed the show from their unique perspective, but I think the mom was thankful that the unique seating held her son's interest.

Popular posts from the past week:
  • It's A Hard Knock Life - Production week is full of ups and downs, especially when hanging lights! This post invited readers to the performances.
  • Bringing Ideas To Life - One of the joys of planning is seeing ideas take on life. This post compares Annie set design concept drawings to actual performance sets with lighting.
  • AWANA Grand Prix Time! - Instagram photo announcing sales of these pinewood derby cars.
  • Drumroll Please - Instagram photo of my daughter playing percussion for Annie.
  • Jamaica Bulletin Board - One of my most popular posts. In 2011 the yearbook class put together a bulletin board to encourage the senior class on their senior mission trip to Jamaica.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

AWANA Grand Prix Time!

Purchase a car kit at club on Wednesday nights. Race day is Jan 31, 2015.

Bringing Ideas To Life

Annie set design mock-up
One of the joys of planning is seeing ideas take on life. The first image is a conceptual drawing for a high school production of the musical Annie. The second picture is from the actual stage production.

Annie set design orphanage scene
The design called for a New York skyline painted on the back wall of the stage. The stairway is a permanent piece built along perspective lines to give it a greater sense of depth.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

It's A Hard Knock Life

Shantytown scene from the musical Annie
Production week is full of ups and downs, especially when hanging lights! While other teachers enjoy a vacation destination over their fall break, I'm helping with set and lighting for a high school production of Annie.

Pictured is a scene in Shantytown, one of my favorites so far. The single set design works well for both the orphanage and Warbuck's mansion with enough flexibility to capture other locations. Of course pictures do not give the same feel as actually seeing the actors work in the space or feeling the connection between music and lighting.

Bethesda Christian School will be performing Annie this Friday and Saturday. Tickets are on sale at the office or at the door.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Painting the Town

Annie musical poster
Spent the first two days of fall break with some talented high school artists as we paint the set for Annie. It's always fun to watch students take an idea and make it their own.

Pictured is the production poster I worked up. The girl featured is playing the title role. After her mother finished sewing the dress, we had a photo shoot. I then carved out the background in Gimp and layered all the elements in Google Drawing.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Oral History Project Ideas

Collecting oral histories would be a great project for social studies or language arts classes, especially when focused on a particular facite of life. If you need advice on type of equipment or additional resources, check out Wesley Fryer's post. I would also add that Audacity is a great free audio editing tool.

Several years ago I participated in a community theater production of Foxfire. The Foxfire story began when a group of students thought it was important to record an older generation's way of life. I also own a couple of the Foxfire books and enjoy reading how people used to live.

Article Link

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Meaning of And

Damon scored 13 points more than Wes and 9 points less than Ross. Ross scored 97. Write and solve equations to find the scores of Damon and Wes.

Word problems become harder when the definitions change. In this case it was a simple conjunction. My daughter was stumped on her 8th grade pre-Algebra homework when the formulas did not work the way she thought they should for the problem pictured.

She was trying her best to convert the text into a single complex algebraic expression such as D=(13+W)+(9-R). She was adamant that the word "and" represented addition while I argued it meant equals. My formulas were D=13+W and D=9-R, or 13+W=9-R but these did not seem complex enough for her. It is of course Algebra, and that requires complex expressions - right?

I would argue that the use of "and" in this case is grammatical and not a mathematical usage. Does this mean the problem is poorly worded? In fact, the entire word problem is rife with couplets: more than Wes AND less than Ross, write AND solve, scores for Damon AND Wes.

I'm not even sure how my mind interprets the context to reach my own conclusion and this may be too philosophical of a debate. But I believe it is important to realize where a student struggles in their understanding.

Once she understood there is more than one definition to the word "and" she was able to move on with the problem. But that leads to a more intriguing thought, how do we understand the contextual definitions of words in math problems? Is there a cross correlation between grammar and math? Imagine, we could be teaching math in English class and grammar in math class!

Extra thought: Who remembers comparative measurements but not hard figures? My bill is more than yours and less than his, but for the life of me I cannot remember how much my bill is. Come on people, this isn't even a realistic problem! Comparisons are drawn from concrete values. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Build and Share a Book Fair Wishlist

The Book Fair has rolled into our school library this week prompting a download of the Scholastic Book Fair App. By scanning selected books, users have access to trailers, audio snippets and a selection of similar books.

A wireless connection is required. I also appreciated that users could scan both covers and UPC bar codes. This makes it easier for students to scan books on the shelf without a lot of shuffling to find boring labels.

The best feature though is the wishlist. Students can record all the books they want then email or print the list. This would function a lot like a gift registry, allowing parents to review and discuss options before they make a purchase.

Using Calendar Numbers for Station Identification

Calendar numbers are a quick and easy way to identify computer work stations. Each month I change them out for a new image. It's a quick and easy way to keep the lab decorated in a current theme.

The calendar cards are standard printed cards available at any teacher supply store. I use plasti-tak to adhere them to the towers.