Alcohol and Asymptotes: A Real-World Context for Rational Functions

This post is in response to the following tweet:

When I was a fellow with Math for America DC, my amazing mentor, Rosalie Dance, observed a lesson I did on transformations of y=1/and said I should bring in some real-world examples to explain asymptotes. To which I responded, “What?? There are no real-world examples of asymptotes!”

It turns out there are. And not only that, Rosalie had coauthored an incredible lesson on them.

Maybe I’ll give a more detailed breakdown of how I teach this lesson at some point in the future, but my single biggest piece of advice is this:

Do all of the problems ahead of time, at least two or three timesSeriously. The strength of this lesson is that it has students interpret the meaning of asymptotes in context. This is subtle and nuanced, and you need to be completely familiar with what quality answers look like.

Let me know if you have any questions about how to implement this!

Here’s the file: Asymptotes and Alcohol

A Tool for Organized Planning

There are only two types of people who truly understand the volume of papers that teachers must manage: teachers and the family members of teachers. As the son of a teacher, I swore to myself that I would not have the piles upon piles of paper invade my home the way my dad’s papers used to invade ours growing up.

I wish I were writing a post with a silver bullet to keep papers and grading perfectly organized. I’m not. (But please do leave any suggestions in the comments!)

While I still struggle with paper organization, I have created a nice tool to keep my lesson planning organized: a custom-made googledoc spreadsheet that I use as a calendar.

This is my master planning tool. It’s color-coded by month, and I’ve pre-populated it with important holidays and dates in the DCPS calendar. It’s an easy-to-edit, big-picture view of my year that I can share with colleagues and co-teachers.

When I’m teaching a course for a second time, I often keep the old course map open to look at how I approached different topics. I also make notes to myself in the spaces to the right of the calendar with lessons learned along the way, such as the following note from the polynomials unit of my pre-calc class last year:

Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 3.12.45 PM.png

Each year I start with a new blank slate and use the calendar to map out my units.

Please feel free to copy this calendar into a new googledoc to use for your own organizing.

What other things do you do to stay organized?

Update 8/21/16: Some people have been unable to copy the calendar from the view-only setting I created for the public link. Let me know if that’s the case, and I can give you temporary editing privileges.