The final 6 weeks of 2014-15…

UpdatesAs we near the end of the 2nd week of this grading period, I’m seeing a lot more missed assignments than usual. This is particularly disappointing given the amount of time I’ve provided in class to complete the work. I hope this is not a sign of spring fever, but just an oversight.

I’ll be encouraging students to fill in the blanks, as it were, during class today. Please check Gradespeed if you haven’t lately, and get those missed assignments in! It’s always more helpful to get the work done before.

Back to the Future!

ProjectsSome mysterious but benevolent time travelers have come to visit our class. They have a mission for us! The first due date will be next Tuesday. Sign-up sheets to claim your historical figure will be posted outside Mr. Dunn’s room at 8:25 am.

Dear Students

A group of benevolent time travelers attempting to right some wrongs in the timeline have found themselves trapped here, in our time, with only enough resources left to make one final round-trip into the past.

Their original mission was to solve all the major problems on earth in their time. Among those problems are several that began to appear in recent earth history, including declining bee populations, lack of renewable energy sources, lack of clean water supply, and lack of unbreakable cryptography systems to protect commerce and banking.

Unfortunately, a mis-calibration of their device caused them to run dangerously low on resources, stranding them here in Dallas in 2015. Due to the mishap, they lost many of their notes from their mission. They also lack sufficient resources to travel far enough forward to return to their time to resupply. Thus, they need your help!

Your mission is to review the list of mathematicians, scientists, and engineers from the past that the travelers know how to locate. You will identify the contributions these mathematicians, scientists, and engineers made. Then, you will determine which of the four modern problems your targeted individual would be best suited to solve given their skill set and prior accomplishments. You will need to consider the shock the individual may encounter when being transported several hundred or even thousand years into the future. While you may be able to argue for alternative problems to solve, the list of scientists, mathematicians, and engineers is limited by the information the travelers were able to save following their mishap. They cannot make the calculations to retrieve any other historical figures than those found on the list.

Your task won’t be easy. You’ll need to develop a clear understanding of what your targeted individual accomplished and/or was studying. From this, you’ll need to decide which modern problem the individual is best suited to work on. You’ll need to argue that the person you have researched is the best one to complete the task. Your classmates will have the opportunity to vote to determine who the travelers go back in time to retrieve.

Please help the travelers complete at least a portion of their mission. They are counting on you!

Here’s a PDF with all the information:

Back to the Future Guide and Due Dates

Due dates will be:

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Playing with Wolfram Alpha

Explore MathDon’t forget that you now have a great calculator available to help with your homework. Start developing familiarity with  it now, and you’ll be much happier in a few years when you’re studying trigonometry and calculus and really need help visualizing those crazy functions!

You can find some examples and tips on the Wolfram Alpha site in the resources section of this site or by clicking here.

Here comes the STAAR…

UpdatesThe math STAAR test comes on Monday. Y’all are prepared! I see great confidence in the work you do, and expect to see some fantastic results!

Several of you asked for a breakdown of questions. I found the Grade 8 Mathematics Blueprint which more or less lists that. It does say there will only be four griddable questions. Sorry I can’t offer anything more specific. Get plenty of rest this weekend and try not to worry!

5th 6 Weeks Exam Is Here!

Tomorrow is the day! Are you ready?

Review your other tests from this 6 weeks. Also, be sure that you’re comfortable with computing simple and compound interest, as well as comparing the costs of loans.

Simple Interest

I=P\cdot r\cdot t

Compound Interest


You may review the review materials via PDF or on Socrative, room ID is rudunn.

Get a good night’s sleep and be ready to succeed!

Intro to Rebus Puzzles!

Over the years, I have collected some really tough and amazing rebus puzzles. So, to get you on the right track, I offered a set of fairly easy ones today. Still puzzling over a few? Not ready to give up just yet??? Keep trying! Have your parents try, too!

Remember to use the hints at the bottom to see if your right answer is right. I’ll post the answers late on Sunday.

Just a few, nice friendly rebus puzzles I found... Try your luck!
Just a few, nice friendly rebus puzzles I found… Try your luck!

The Weather Project is Nearly Complete!

ProjectsThe final presentations for this project will be Thursday and Friday. Remember that whether or not you are chosen to present on Thursday, you must submit your paper and poster on Thursday.

You picked your forecast. You logged your data. You created a scoring system. With any luck, you scored your data, didn’t like the result, and re-wrote your scoring system! Then you wrote a paper, handed it in, got some feedback, and maybe made some changes.

You’ve all done a lot of fantastic work! Pat yourselves on the back. It’s time to create some artistic posters to hang on my walls and share your new knowledge with your peers.

Double check your final posters and essays against the rubrics below. I’ve included links to all three including the original project kick-off document in case you have any lingering questions.

Here’s hoping it doesn’t rain on your parade!

Predicting The Weather Forecast

Data Analysis Guide and Rubric

Final presentation rubric

Determining the Interest rate based on payments

HomeworkDuring class today as we were working the problem of the day, several people proposed possible interest rates to go with the interest paid by Henrí in paying off his loan.

Using a calculator similar to the one we used on Friday, it is possible to determine the interest rate.

Interest rate calculation from The formula for this calculation isn't exactly simple.
Interest rate calculation from The formula for this calculation isn’t exactly simple.

I like this calculator, but I’m sure there are plenty more to choose from. Plugging in our example of $274/month for 36 months returns an interest rate of 6.05% for a total interest cost of $864.00. Several suggested that you could simply divide \frac{864}{9000}=9.6%?

Why does an interest rate of 6.05% per year end up with a total cost of 9.6%? Why would it not be .0605\cdot 3=18%?

Ponder those questions for next time.

Remember to take a look at the rest of the exploration for 16.3 (page 453, green book) and get started on the homework, but the homework won’t be due until Thursday. I do expect you to complete the exploration before class on Wednesday.

Feeling adventurous? Remember the equation I mentioned in the last post about this topic?

R=\frac{P\cdot i}{1-{{(1+i)}^{-n}}}

You can use a function on the Nspire handheld to solve that equation for i to find the interest rate. On the handheld, you’d input something like this:

Using nSolve on the Nspire handheld, you can solve the equation to find the interest rate. How could you modify the input to solve for the number of months as in problem 13 from the 16.1 homework?
Using nSolve on the Nspire handheld, you can solve the equation to find the interest rate. How could you modify the input to solve for the number of months as in problem 13 from the 16.1 homework?

Note that the variable you solve for is the interest per month. To get the equivalent annual rate, you must multiply by 12.


The student-centered classroom

Teaching PhilosophyI realized how important this was when I directed students to this website. The first  question I heard was,  “Is it mobile friendly?” I was briefly taken aback, but quicky realized how important this question was. The personal computer is no longer the preferred computing device for middle-schoolers. The emails I receive from students claim to be sent from iPads, iPhones, and Galaxy phones and tablets. If the goal is to impact student engagement and learning, the product must be accessible and familiar on their device of choice, and that device is probably not a traditional computer any more.

It is important to me that my classroom focuses on the students’ needs, not my own. As a step toward student-centeredness, I’ll start by making sure the resources I offer to students, whenever possible, work on phones or tablets as well as they do on computers

21st Century Classrooms—Collaborative Environment

Teaching PhilosophyEdutopia shared an article listing 10 Signs of a 21st Century Classroom. I’d like to discuss how I’m striving to incorporate these ideas in my classroom over the next 10 weeks. Like the article author, I’ll be addressing these ideas in no particular order, but in a different order than they’re listed in the article.

Collaboration is an important skill to master. Whether they realize it or not, students are constantly collaborating with their peers, particularly if they are already using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, texting, or e-mail. Putting a formal, educational spin on collaboration will help to ensure that these students can benefit from the deep levels of collaboration that exist in modern society.

While some students may prefer to work alone, there are levels of understanding and creativity that simply do not appear in solo work. Additionally, there are many instances where the moments of inspiration and revelation that occur during collaborative work can open the minds of an entire classroom to fully embrace a new concept in ways that the teacher could simply not imagine.

As I get to know my students better and continue to develop an understanding of their prior knowledge, I will continue to add opportunities for collaboration in the classroom. From thirty second discussions with “shoulder partners” to clarify reasoning in answering questions to long-term cooperation on research projects and explorations, I expect my students to work together and benefit from the opportunities they are given.