Short & Sweet: I love IMP & Desmos & Ducks & Fireworks.

In my Top 10 posts of 2016 Blog Post last week I made a personal blogging goal to do SHORTER blog posts in 2017. Here is my 1st attempt at writing shorter posts. (short & sweet)

In the early 90’s I taught a curriculum (IMP) that chafireworks-tasknged me & defined my core values as a teacher for the rest of my career. (I am working on a ‘Love letter to IMP’ post sometime).  At the start of IMP year 3 (11th grade), the first unit problem was one I am using as an introductory task with my Advanced Algebra students tomorrow (20+ years later).  Here is the task, titled ‘Fireworks’: fireworks-task-sheet

My Goal with this task is to review what students should remember from their 9th grade Quadratics Unit (vertex, intercepts, max/min….) within a contextual problem.  In the 90’s I did not have Desmos to help make this task more visual.  That changed last year & this is why I LOVE Desmos.

THIS is the Desmos graph we used with our class after students struggled with the task. When you open the graph it is pretty basic (only labels on the axes).


To tell the ‘Fireworks’ story we (my colleagues & I) click open the equations in the graph one at a time, saying something like the following….


Resulting in this Desmos graph:


Then we click more equations in Desmos and say…


The animation looks like this (but animated!):


Then we click some more Desmos equations and add mathematics vocabulary connected with quadratic functions (note:  for this we turned off the background images first).


The graph then looked like this:


Thank you Desmos for helping me and my students visualize the ‘Fireworks’ task. Love you!

duck-graphNote:  Before the ‘Firework’s’ task we taught a 3-day arc of lessons on Fawn Nguyen’s Duck Pattern that I highlighted in my Number Talks Post.  Following the 3-days we used THIS DESMOS GRAPH, to determine if the 5 quadratic rules students wrote were equivalent.  (later we will prove equivalence algebraically).  We also added quadratics vocabulary to this graph as well. (again, click through the equations-scroll down-& see what happens)

Well, I did it.  This post is only 416 words. (way less than my normal posts which are always 1000-3000 words).  To be fair, I cheated and incuded words within the images I used.  I am working on someday doing posts that are 100-200 words with only 1-2 images/links.  (this may take me a while though – I have a lot to say and feel like I need to include it all in every post). LOL.


Sara VanDerWerf

I am Sara Van Der Werf, a 24-year mathematics teacher in Minneapolis Public Schools. I have taught math in grades 7-12 as well as spent several years leading mathematics at the district office. I currently teach Advanced Algebra at South High School and I'm also the current President of the Minnesota Council of Teachers of Mathematics (MCTM). I am passionate about encouraging and connecting with mathematics teachers. I'd love to connect via twitter.  Join the community.  Tweet me @saravdwerf.

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