Tag Archives: Quick Poll

Hinge Questions: Dilations

Students noticed and noted.

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I wanted to be sure that they could answer a dilations question based on their observations. I had two questions premade in my set of Quick Polls. Which question would you ask?

In the past, I would have asked both questions without thinking.

I am learning, though, to think more about which questions I ask. If we only have time to ask a few questions, which questions are worth asking?

From slide 34 in Dylan Wiliam’s presentation at the SSAT 18th National Conference (2010) “Innovation that works: research-based strategies that raise achievement”.

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I decided to send the second poll. I decided that if they get that one right, they can both dilate a point about the origin and pay attention to whether they are given the image or pre-image. If I had sent the second poll, I wouldn’t know whether they could both do and undo a dilation.

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Next we looked at this question.

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Students worked on paper first.

Then some explored with technology.

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What do you want your students to know about the relationships in the diagram?

What question would you ask to see whether they did?

I asked this question to see what my students were thinking.

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And so the journey to write and ask and share and revise hinge questions continues …


Posted by on December 20, 2016 in Coordinate Geometry, Dilations, Geometry


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Notice & Note: Dilations

How do you give your students the opportunity to practice MP8: I can look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning?

SMP8 #LL2LU Gough-Wilson

We started our dilations unit practicing MP8, noticing and noting.


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What would you want students to notice and note?

How do students learn what is important to notice and note?

An important consideration when learning with self-explanation is to look at the quality of the explanation itself. What are the students saying or writing? Are they just regurgitating bits of text or making connections to underlying principles? Do the explanations contain predictions about what is going to happen, try to go beyond the given instruction or do they just superficially gloss over what is already there? Students who make principle-based, anticipative, or inference-containing explanations benefit the most from self-explaining. If students seem to be failing to make good explanations, one can try to give prompts with more assistance. In practice, this will likely take iteration by the instructor to figure out what combination of content, activity and prompt provides the most benefit to students. (Chiu & Chi, 2014, p. 99)

We had a brief discussion about what might be important to notice and note. We’ve also been working on predictions, thinking about what you expect to happen before trying it with technology:

What happens when the center of dilation is on the figure, outside the figure, and inside the figure?

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What happens when the scale factor is greater than 1? Equal to 1? Between 0 and 1? Less than 0?

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I observed, walking around the room and using Class Capture, selecting conversations for our whole class discussion.

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Here’s what NA noticed and noted.


We looked at Hannah’s Rectangle, from NCSM’s Congruence and Similarity PD Module. Students had a straightedge and piece of tracing paper.

Which rectangles are similar to rectangle a? Explain the method you used to decide.Hannahs Rectangle.png

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What would you do next? Would you show the correct responses? Or not?

Would you start with an incorrect answer? or a correct answer?

Would you regroup students based on their responses?

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I started with a student who didn’t select G and then one who did. Then I asked a student who selected C to share why he chose C and didn’t choose F. We ended by watching Randy’s explanation on the module video.

And so the journey continues, always wondering what comes next (and sometimes wondering what should have come first) …

Chiu, J.L, & Chi, M.T.H. (2014). Supporting self-explanation in the classroom. In V. A. Benassi, C. E. Overson, & C. M. Hakala (Eds.). Applying science of learning in education: Infusing psychological science into the curriculum. Retrieved from the Society for the Teaching of Psychology web site:


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Posted by on December 19, 2016 in Dilations, Geometry


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The Magic Octagon – Dan’s, Andrew’s, and mine

I had saved Andrew’s post in my folder for a recent lesson, which was about Dan’s video.

We paused halfway in, and students decided where it would be. They answered a Quick Poll to let me know, and by the time they had all answered, some had changed their minds.


We quickly looked at the responses, and they decided using time would be easier to decipher than some of the other descriptions.

I sent a second poll. I waited for everyone to answer, even the ones who wanted to take their time thinking about it.


And then we continued to watch.

We paused for the last question, they discussed with their team, and then we finished watching.

Good conversation. But we didn’t get to the sequel proposed by one of Andrew’s students: If the front side arrow is pointed at 5:00, would the other arrow point at 5:00, too? Why or why not?

So I emailed that question to my students.

  • Yes, the two points move like opposite hands on a clock moving closer to each other and overlapping at 5:00. At about 11:00 they would overlap again. Otherwise, there is no overlap.
  • They would be at 5:00. This is because when he flips the magic octagon, the back arrow also flips, causing the new time to be 3:00 instead of 9:00. This means that if you were to find a line of reflection, you could flip the octagon on that line and the arrow would always land right where the previous one did. If this was on transparent paper, you can see that if one arrow points to 5:00, then the other one would be pointing at 7:00. But if you were to flip the octagon on the reflection line which intersects 12:00 and 6:00, then you would continuously get 5:00 because of the reflection.

As I got the responses from students, I realized that I wished I had asked a different question. While I did include why or why not, and it was obvious from the responses that students didn’t just answer yes or no, I wish I had asked “At what time(s), if any, are the front side and back side arrows at the same time?”

I am reminded of something I can no longer find that I read in a book. A group of teachers observed a “master” teacher for a lesson and then went back to their own classrooms to teach the lesson. The teachers asked the same questions that the master teacher asked; however, the lessons didn’t go as hoped. The teachers were not asking questions based on what was happening in their own classrooms; they were asking questions based on what had happened in the other classroom.

I love reading blog posts and learning from so many mathematics educators. They give me ideas that I wouldn’t have on my own. In fact, as my classroom moved toward more asking and less telling, I used to say that my most important work happened before the lesson, collaborating with other teachers and deciding what questions to ask. I’ve decided otherwise, though. My most important work happens in the moment, not just asking, but also listening. And then, if needed, adjusting what I planned to ask next based on the responses of the students in my care. And so the journey will always continue …


Posted by on November 15, 2016 in Geometry, Rigid Motions


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Introduction to Curve Sketching, Part 1

Learning Intentions:

Level 4:

I can use the graph of the derivative to sketch a graph of the original function.

Level 3:

I can use the graph of the original function to deduce information about the first and second derivatives.

I can use the graph of the derivative to deduce information about the second derivative and the original function.

I can use the graph of the second derivative to deduce information about the first derivative and the original function.

Level 2:

I can determine when a function is concave up or concave down and where it has points of inflection.

Level 1:

I can determine when a function is increasing or decreasing and where it has maxima and minima.

We were on the first day of a new unit. I included two questions on the opener to ensure students know what we mean by increasing/decreasing and concave up/concave down intervals. As expected students were familiar with increasing/decreasing and not so familiar with concave up/concave down.

Based on the results, we discussed what it means to be concave up and concave down. Someone asked how we would be able to tell for sure where the graph changes concavity, which we get to learn during the unit.

We started the lesson with a few Quick Polls for students to determine which graph was the derivative, given the graphs of a function and its derivative. The polls were based on Graphical Derivatives from Calculus Nspired. I sent the poll, asked students to answer individually, stopped the poll, asked students to explain their thinking to a partner. If needed, I sent the poll again to see whether they wanted to change their response after talking with their partner. I had 6 polls prepared. I sent 3.

I listened while students shared their thinking. I selected three conversations for the whole class.

  1. A student who knew which was which based on the power rule, which she learned during the last unit.
  2. A student who knew that the slope of the tangent line at the minimum of the parabola should be zero, which is the value of the line at z=0.
  3. A student who noticed that the line (derivative) was negative (below the x-axis) when the parabola was decreasing and positive (above the x-axis) when the parabola was increasing.

Again, as I listened to the pairs talking, I selected a few students to share their thinking with the whole class.

  1. The first student who shared used the maximum and minima to determine which had to be the derivative, since the derivative is zero at those x-values.
  2. The second student thought about what the slope of the tangent line would be at certain x-values and whether the y-values of the other function complied.
  3. A third student volunteered a fourth student to discuss her thinking: she noted that the graph of the function (b) changed concavity at the max/min of the derivative (b).

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After students talked, I sent the poll again to see if anyone was convinced otherwise.

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Two students briefly discussed how they used increasing/decreasing and concavity to determine the derivative.

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Next we began to solidify what increasing/decreasing and concave up/concave down intervals look like using Derivative Analysis from Calculus Nspired.

I asked students to notice and note.

Where is the function increasing? Where is it decreasing?
What is the relationship between the slope of the tangent line and where the function is increasing and decreasing?

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Where is the function concave up? Where is it concave down?

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What does the tangent line have to do with where the function is concave up and concave down?

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Can you look at a graph and estimate intervals of concavity?

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I was able to see what students were noting on paper and hear what they were noting in our conversation, but I didn’t send any polls during this part of the lesson.

Next we looked at Derivative Grapher from Calculus Nspired.

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We changed the graph to f(x)=cos(x). We already know the derivative is f’(x)=sin(x). What if we were only given the graph of the derivative? How could we use that graph to determine information about the original function?

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I had more for us to discuss as a whole class, but I wanted to know what they had learned before the class ended. I used a Desmos Activity called Sketchy Derivatives to see what students had learned – given a function, sketch its derivative; and given a derivative, sketch an antiderivative. The original activity was from Michael Fenton. I modified it to go back and forth between sketching the derivative and antiderivative instead of doing all derivatives first and all antiderivatives second, and I added a few questions so that students could begin to clarify their thinking using words.

We spent the last minutes of class looking at an overlay of some of their sketches.

Could you figure out exactly where to sketch the horizontal line?

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Most students have the vertex of the parabola near the right x-coordinate. Should the antiderivative be concave up or concave down?

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Most students have the derivative crossing the x-axis near the correct location.

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The bell rang. Another #lessonclose failure. But thankfully, there are do-overs as the journey continues …


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Posted by on October 17, 2016 in Applications of Differentiation, Calculus


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MP6 – Mapping a Figure Onto Itself

How do you provide your students the opportunity to practice I can attend to precision?

Jill and I have worked on a leveled learning progression for MP6:

Level 4:

I can distinguish between necessary and sufficient language for definitions, conjectures, and conclusions.

Level 3:
I can attend to precision.

Level 2:
I can communicate my reasoning using proper mathematical vocabulary and symbols, and I can express my solution with units.

Level 1:
I can write in complete mathematical sentences using equality and inequality signs appropriately and consistently.


Given a rectangle, parallelogram, trapezoid, or regular polygon, describe the rotations and reflections that carry it onto itself.

Our learning intention for the day was I can map a figure onto itself using transformations.

Performing a [sequence of] transformation[s] that will map rectangle ABCD onto itself is not the same thing as describing a [sequence of] transformation[s].

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We practiced both, but we focused on describing.


I asked the student who listed several steps to share his work.

  1. rotate rectangle 180˚ about point A
  2. translate rectangle A’B’C’D’ right so that points A’ and B line up as points B’ and A. [What vector are you using?]
  3. Reflect rectangle A”B”C”D” onto rectangle ABCD to get it to reflect onto itself. [About what line are you reflecting?]

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What if we want to carry rectangle ABCD onto rectangle CDAB? How is this task different from just carrying rectangle ABCD onto itself?


What about mapping a regular pentagon onto itself?

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Many students suggested using a single rotation, but they didn’t note the center of rotation. How could you find the center of rotation for a single rotation to map the pentagon onto itself?

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This student used the intersection of the perpendicular bisectors to find the center of rotation, but didn’t know what angle to use for the rotation. How would you find an angle of rotation that would work?

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What can you do other than a single rotation?

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This student reflected the pentagon about the perpendicular bisectors of one of the side of the pentagon.

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The descriptions students gave made it obvious that we needed more work on describing. The next day, we took some of the descriptions and critiqued them. Which students have attended to precision?



It’s good work to distinguish precision from knowing what someone means as we learn to attend to precision. And so the journey continues …

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Posted by on September 21, 2016 in Geometry, Rigid Motions


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MP5: The Traveling Point

How do you give students the opportunity to practice “I can use appropriate tools strategically”?

When we have a new type of problem to think about, I am learning to have students give their best guess of the solution first. I’ve written about The Traveling Point before.

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Students sketched the path of point A. How far does A travel?

Students used paper and polydrons, their hands and string.

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I sent a poll to find out what they were thinking about the distance traveled.

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Students then interacted with dynamic geometry software. Does seeing the figure dynamically move help you better see the path?

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Does seeing the path help you calculate how far A travels?

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And so the journey to make the Math Practices our habitual practice in learning mathematics continues …

And the journey for my own learning continues. Thanks to Howard for correcting me. The second two moves do not travel a distance of 6, but the length of the circumference of the quarter circle.

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One student figured that out by the time the bell rang.

I look forward to redeeming this lesson this year, as the journey continues …


Posted by on August 23, 2016 in Geometric Measure & Dimension, Geometry


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MP8: The Centroid of a Triangle

We had been working on a unit on Coordinate Geometry.

How do you give students the opportunity to practice “I can look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning”?

SMP8 #LL2LU Gough-Wilson

When we have a new type of problem to think about, I am learning to have students estimate the answer first.

I asked them to “drop a point” at the centroid of the triangle. We looked at the responses on the graph first and then as a list of ordered pairs.

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What is significant about the coordinates of the centroid?

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Students then interacted with dynamic geometry software.


What changes? What stays the same?

Do you see a pattern?
What conjecture can you make about the relationship between the coordinates of the vertices of a triangle and the coordinates of its centroid?

Some students needed to interact on a different grid setup to see a relationship.


After a few minutes, I sent another poll to find out what they figured out.

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And then we confirmed student conjectures as a whole class.

And so the journey to make the Math Practices our habitual practice in learning mathematics continues …


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