Category Archives: Introduction to College Algebra

COVID-19 Closure Updates (Week 3): All ICSD Schools Closed Through 4/15

Update (4/1): From the most recent communication from Superintendent Dr. Brown:

Lastly, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recent Executive Order requires all school districts to continue distance learning and meals through the previously scheduled spring break. During that period of time (April 6 -10) we will continue with the system already in place. No additional duties will be necessary as we maintain the current instructional delivery.

In effect, this means that spring break is canceled. I will be posting another assignment next week similar to the assignments you have seen these last two weeks.


A message from ICSD Superintendent Dr. Brown:

Greetings, ICSD Community,

As our world grapples with the challenges due to COVID-19, I am reminded of the strength and culture of love present in our community. I am humbled and honored to craft our new path forward together. Thanks to all who have shared their time, perspectives, and expertise as our school district moves forward without students being physically present in our buildings.

Today, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that schools in New York State will be closed through April 15, 2020. Many in our community are watching the news and the national conversation about what may be next as our state and country respond to the pandemic.

Please know that the Ithaca City School District (ICSD) educators are actively planning for the possibility of school closures that extend beyond April 15th. ICSD teachers, aides and teaching assistants, and administrators collaboratively designed our current plan, and we are now forming working groups to specifically design the what and how of the next phase of distance learning. This next phase, or ICSD Distance Learning 2.0, would include much more student/teacher interactions, along with more direct instruction provided by our educators. For our younger learners (grades 2-5), this enhanced teaching and learning approach would include the distribution of mobile devices and internet access. We will keep our entire community apprised of developments in this area, and we continue to partner with school district and union leadership, as well as community partners.

 While continuously improving our instructional delivery, we are at the same time providing food services to many young people in our community. We are currently delivering approximately 2700 meals each weekday. Thanks to all who are responsible for making this extraordinary feat possible. Our new order form allows us to offer different menu options and attend to allergy needs and preferences. Folks can also order by dialing 2-1-1. Please order before noon on Sundays to receive meals beginning on Monday of that particular week.

Additionally, if students or families are experiencing issues with technology (how to log on, device not working, missing charger, etc.), please call the Family and Student Technology Support Line any time at (607) 882-9850. Please leave a voicemail and someone will call you back as soon as possible.

We are thinking of those in our community who have been coping with sickness; we wish folks health as quickly as possible and thank those who are caring for them. As I’ve noted in other communications, we must partner in unprecedented ways to navigate the current unprecedented challenges.

Regards,

Luvelle Brown Ed.D.
Superintendent


Important links:

InCA Assignments for Week of 3/23

Update (3/17): Here are my answers to the Unit 5 Review posted below. A video of my solution to question 12, about the spread of COVID-19 in Tompkins County, can be found here. I suggest you all take a look at this video, then look at the Desmos graph I made here.

Especially, take a look at the “all dates” models. In the video, I talk about the difference between an exponential and a “logistic” model, and how we can use the logistic model to predict where the number of cases in Tompkins County will “level off” at.


Our first week of review will be about the current unit (exponential functions) and our first task is a revisit to the process of calculating taxes. Since I have a bit of unexpected flexibility to my time, I finished my taxes last week, but I’d like you to check my work! Complete this Google Form to let me know whether I did it right!  Refer to your notes and/or the things I posted when we did this together. Note that all numbers entered in the form should be purely numerical (no extra characters like a comma or $ or % sign!).

Your second task is to work on this review of Unit 5 so far. If you have access to a printer, please print and complete these sheets. Otherwise, write out your answers/sketches on a separate piece of paper. Take some pictures of you work and send them to me (bkirk@icsd.k12.ny.us) by 2:00 pm on Friday, March 27. I want to see your results, but of course this won’t be for a grade.

If you have questions about these tasks or anything else, post them here or send me an email. On Wednesday, 3/25 at 2:00 pm, I will host a virtual office hour using Google Meet. I’ll post the link here and send it out by email when that goes live. Come by and say hello, ask some questions, or just chat. I look forward to seeing you!


From my previous update post

Since our course does not end in a standardized exam, we have a lot more flexibility in how we adjust to this closure. Per the district’s recommendations, I will not be  attempting any new instruction until at least Spring Break. Our plan will be to review some of the content from throughout the year, including the exponential functions from the current unit, as well as rational expressions, rational exponents, and complex numbers from previous units; things I know many of you had some difficulty with.

I recommend you log in to IXL (see this page for log-in instructions), and work on any of the starred modules, but especially the following (click these links after logging in, or search for the three-character code in the search bar at the top):

COVID-19 Closure Updates (Week 2)

Hi all!

I have quite a bit of new information to share with you, and felt it appropriate to put it all in a new post. You can read my original post here; there’s still some useful stuff to be found.

Unfortunately, New York State has become the hardest hit state for COVID-19 cases. Almost half of all confirmed cases in the US are in New York, and about half of those are in/around New York City. Governor Cuomo has signed an order mandating that all non-essential businesses statewide shut down completely, as well as banning all non-essential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason. I recommend you read the above link for the full details of the order (and check out this list of what counts as “essential” businesses). Unfortunately, we do not know for how long this closure will last.

ICSD schools are closed until April 12 at the earliest, and the current official recommendation regarding distance learning is that all distance learning content is optional and nongraded. They further recommended that any content should be a review at least until spring break, and that teachers will provide one such activity per course per week.


To all students and families:

  • Please complete the district’s Student Device and Wifi Access Survey. This has a lot of the same questions as my own Google Poll from earlier in the week, but the district needs to hear from everybody.
  • Continue to check the ICSD Coronavirus page (and the Tompkins County Health DepartmentCDC, and NYS Department of Health pages) for information and updates about the virus.
  • If you need meals: Free meals are available for all children during the school closure. Starting Tuesday, March 24, all ICSD meals will be delivery-only. Complete this form to request a delivery. A menu and more information can be found online here
  • The leading local broadband internet provider, Spectrum, is offering free broadband and Wi-Fi access for 60 days to households with children in grades K-12 or in college for those who do not already have a subscription. Families can call (844) 488-8395 to enroll. Installation fees will be waived for new student households, the company said. Spectrum said regular pricing will take effect at the end of the 60-day period if a customer doesn’t cancel or change the service. (from Syracuse.com)
  • If you’re looking for non-Internet based educational tools, our local PBS affiliate WSKG is preempting their regular air schedule to launch a Learn at Home schedule. All day, WSKG will be broadcasting valuable, enriching programming that you can use to supplement what I and your students other teachers offer during this time.
  • See this Google Document for a list of currently-open local restaurants and their delivery/take-out status. Many dine-in restaurants are offering curbside pickup. Be aware that some of these locations’ hours/availability may change.
  • The New York State Board of Education has suspended all Elementary and Intermediate-Level state assessments (Grades 3-8). No decision has been made about High School Regents exams. Keep an eye on the NYSED Coronavirus page for updates, and take a look at their Continuity of Learning page for additional suggestions.

To my AP Statistics students:

I know you are anxious about what will happen with grades, classes, finals, college acceptances, transcripts, and so on. Do not feel bad about the stress you might be experiencing or any sadness you may have for the school events you’re now missing out on because of this outbreak. This disease is affecting everybody in different ways, and while perspective is important, that doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to be upset about how it is impacting you personally.

The Collegeboard has released some new information about how AP exams will be impacted. From that update:

  • Traditional face-to-face exam administrations will not take place. Students will take a 45-minute online free-response exam at home.
  • Some students may want to take the exam sooner rather than later, while the content is still fresh. Other students may want more time to practice. For each AP subject, there will be 2 different testing dates.

Furthermore, all exams will cover a reduced version of the course curriculum, as detailed on the page above. For AP Statistics, this means Units 1-7 from the Collegeboard curriculum, which correspond to Units 1-6 of our textbook. (Update: Also, Collegeboard’s VP of Advanced Placement Trevor Packer has stated that these take-home tests will not include any multiple-choice questions)

At least until Spring Break, I will not be attempting any new instruction from Unit 6. I encourage you to search for videos online, or to check out the instructional videos that the AP Program is putting together (there is a daily schedule posted here). If you have your textbook, read through Chapters 22, 23, and 24 and work on some of the odd-numbered problems. While I won’t be formally teaching any of that content, I’ll be more than happy to answer any questions you might have.

The Unit 5 MCQ Part B Personal Progress Check is still active in AP Classroom. I am working with Ms. Seifert to decide what review we will do, but I expect we will be focusing on content from Chapter 17 (Sampling Distributions of Means and Proportions) and Chapter 20 (Type I/II errors and Power), as well as Unit 4 (Probability), as these are all areas that students historically have had a little more difficulty with. I will post again on Monday with our first lessons.


To my Intro to College Algebra students:

Since our course does not end in a standardized exam, we have a lot more flexibility in how we adjust to this closure. Per the district’s recommendations, I will not be attempting any new instruction until at least Spring Break.

Our plan will be to review some of the content from throughout the year, including the exponential functions from the current unit, as well as rational expressions, rational exponents, and complex numbers from previous units; things I know many of you had some difficulty with. Your first lesson will be posted on Monday, but in the meantime I recommend you log in to IXL (see this page for log-in instructions), and work on any of the starred modules, but especially the following (click these links after logging in, or search for the three-character code in the search bar at the top):


Stay Safe. Stay Sane. Stay Inside.

As cliche as it sounds, we are all in this together. I miss you all, and I hope we can see each other soon.

COVID-19 Closure Updates (Week 1, Last updated 3/18, 8:30 am)

Update (3/18, 8:30 am): In anticipation of any distance-learning measures the district suggests (and also to check in about how you are doing, my dear students!), I’ve made a Google Poll that I’m asking all students to complete. I’ve also added a pair of videos to the Students/Families section below for some explanations for how a virus like COVID-19 spreads (InCA students will recognize one of them!)

Update (3/17, 2:30 pm): The ICSD has updated their Coronavirus page with a section of Frequently Asked Questions about the school closure. Of note:

  • Discussions about developing instruction are ongoing. There is a mandate from Governor Cuomo’s office that schools “need to devise a plan for alternative instructional options.” The district is attempting “to create a plan to provide students with supplemental learning opportunities through the lens of equity and access.”
  • The report card/progress report sequence is suspended. Your progress report grades are available in Schooltool, but paper mailings will not be going out anytime soon.
  • No student will be allowed access to any items they left at school until Monday the 23rd at the earliest.

I’ve also added a link to the AP Statistics section below for finding up-to-date information about Collegeboard decisions.

Update (3/17, 12:00 am): I’ve updated the list of links for students/families at the bottom of the post to include a Google document with a list of local restaurants and their current status.

Update (3/16, 7:30 pm): IHS will be going into “plant shutdown” mode at 2:00 pm on Tuesday, 3/17. This means that ALL school operations will be shut down, and teachers and students will not have access to the building until Monday the 23rd at the earliest.


Hello students!

Well here we are, living together in a moment of human history. In all likelihood, this will be one of those generation-defining moments, something that you will talk about for decades to come with those of a similar age, like 9/11 was for me, or the Kennedy assassination or Pearl Harbor was for prior generations.

Currently, all Ithaca City School District schools are closed until April 12, with buildings in “plant shutdown” mode (no entry for students and non-essential staff) from 3/17 to 3/23. I’ll be using this website to communicate updates as I find out about them so that you can stay informed. I realize that keeping up with your schoolwork may not be your foremost concern right now, especially if you have family in areas more significantly impacted with the virus, or have relatives who fall into high-risk categories. But I also hope you understand that we are not on vacation right now. Depending on what the district administration decides, you may be expected to put aside some time to work, study, and keep up with the school routine. Here are some initial thoughts and suggestions:


AP Statistics students:

Collegeboard has created a page for schools impacted by the Coronavirus. At this time, they are not cancelling any of their exams, but are exploring possibilities of at-home testing (update, 3/16). The page lists several windows for late testing that school districts may wish to take advantage of, and there’s a possibility we may have our test during a later week of May, or even June. I recommend you also follow Trevor Packet on Twitter. He is Collegeboard’s VP for Advanced Placement, and will be publicizing updates as they are available. For now, there is no change to our planned AP Statistics testing date of May 15.

I will most likely be making regular use of the tools in our online AP Classroom through this closure. Right now, I have opened Unit 5 Personal Progress Check: MCQ Part B for both sections. Per recommendations from Ms. Gray, the due date for this assignment will not be until after we return to school from this shutdown, but I will be expecting everyone to complete this PPC eventually for a homework credit. No rush.

As usual, please be sure to go back to the PPC after you’ve submitted to check your answers.


Introduction to College Algebra students:

We just completed a lengthy project on how a virus spreads through a population, and you saw especially how quickly it can start to spread once the graph passes the flatter part of the curve. I hope you and your families are taking the necessary precautions to do your part and help slow the spread of this disease.

Should instruction resume for us, I will be using a variety of online tools to interact with you and monitor your progress. One such tool we have used already is IXL, and I would like everybody to spend some time in this next week to work on the module Exponential Growth and Decay (TYQ), to a score of 80 or more. Remember that you’ll need to log in to your IXL account via Clever.com to allow me to view your results. See this page for instructions on how to log in.

Per recommendations from Ms. Gray, the due date for this assignment will not be until after we return to school from this shutdown, but I will be expecting everyone to complete this practice module eventually for a homework credit. No rush, though.


All students and families:

We live in interesting times. As Michael Levitt, biophysicist and 2013 Nobel prize winner for Chemistry has said:

“EVERYTHING WE DO BEFORE A PANDEMIC WILL SEEM ALARMIST. EVERYTHING WE DO AFTER WILL SEEM INADEQUATE”

I invite you to read this message from concerned physicians for a calm, but very frank and urgent take on what the current precautions the ICSD and others are taking are meant to do. The Washington Post has some interesting simulations showing the impact of what social distancing can accomplish in the pursuit of “flattening the curve”

  • Please check the ICSD Coronavirus page (and the Tompkins County Health DepartmentCDC, and NYS Department of Health pages) for information and updates about the virus. The Ithaca Voice also has a comprehensive page of local closings and information.
  • Added 3/18: The online news site Vox has produced a useful short video about Why fighting the coronavirus depends on you. I also highly recommend this 3Blue1Brown video about the models mathematicians use to track the spread of a virus like COVID-19.
  •  If you need meals: Meals are available for any student Monday-Friday from 8:00-9:00 a.m. and 10:45 a.m.- 12:15 p.m. in the parking lots and bus loops at six locations: Beverly J. Martin Elementary School, Caroline Elementary School, DeWitt Middle School, Enfield Elementary School, Lehman Alternative Community School, and South Hill Elementary School (more information online here)
  • The leading local broadband internet provider, Spectrum, is offering free broadband and Wi-Fi access for 60 days to households with children in grades K-12 or in college for those who do not already have a subscription. Families can call (844) 488-8395 to enroll. Installation fees will be waived for new student households, the company said. Spectrum said regular pricing will take effect at the end of the 60-day period if a customer doesn’t cancel or change the service. (from Syracuse.com)
    • AT&T as also vowed “Not terminate the service of any wireless, home phone or broadband residential or small business customer because of their inability to pay their bill due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic” and “Waive any late payment fees that any wireless, home phone or broadband residential or small business customer may incur because of economic hardship related to the coronavirus pandemic.” (from AT&T)
  • See this Google Document for a list of currently-open local restaurants and their delivery/take-out status. Many dine-in restaurants are offering curbside pickup.

As I find out more information that might be useful to you, I’ll post it here.

Please be safe.

 

InCA Assignment for 3/13

Continuing with the unit on exponential functions, today we spent some time working on creating functions that model other real world scenarios.

Today’s links

Cumulative IXL Modules

Don’t forget, the log-in procedure for IXL has changed. See this post for updated instructions.

InCA Assignment for 3/12

We finished our lesson on understanding marginal tax rates, and your homework is to work through a few more examples. You can use the online tax calculator found here to check your work (look at the “Your Income Taxes Breakdown” section for the Federal-only section)

Remember: Your Zombie Outbreak! Debrief quiz is due on Friday, March 20. You’ll have a few minutes to talk to your group again, then it will be collected.

Today’s links

InCA Assignment for 3/11

We are in the middle of a lesson on calculating taxes (see this video for a recap of the basic method of calculation, and/or check out the notes here). We’ll finish it up tomorrow with some more examples, but first we need some sample salaries!

Research the average starting salary for a job you are interested in:

  • On one side of the index card you were given in class, write the name of the job.
  • On the other side of the index card, write a short description of the job and a typical starting salary.

Interested in more than one job? Complete more than one card!

Remember: Your Zombie Outbreak! Debrief quiz is due on Friday, March 20. You’ll have a few minutes to talk to your group again, then it will be collected.

InCA Assignment for 3/6

Our time tracking the zombie virus has ended. Fortunately, this was all an active drill! There was no asteroid and no danger of zombie infection. What a relief!

Tomorrow, you will have the chance to debrief with others who shared the same role as you in your LIVE groups and complete one final assessment drill of this process, which will be recorded as a quiz grade.

Part of your grade will also be your evaluation from other members of your group. Complete the Peer Evaluation rubric for the two group members you were assigned and turn them in tomorrow. The middle column shows the qualities each member should have demonstrated during this activity, and the right and left columns are where you can make any notes about areas of improvement or excellence you feel are worth mentioning. These evaluations will go straight to me, so feel free to be honest!

InCA Assignment for 3/4

LIVE_logoThe asteroid impact is imminent, and you’ve been assigned your roles. Tonight, make sure you read your assignments carefully so that you know exactly what you are responsible for in your work tomorrow. The list of documents are below.

In the calm before this storm, you’ve been given an additional assignment (HW 5.Z). This will be checked tomorrow. Solutions can be found here and a homework video can be found here.

Role Responsibility Documents

InCA Assignment for 3/3

LIVE_logoThe asteroid collision with the Earth is imminent, and the current projections show it will enter our atmosphere on Thursday.

We made more progress with the LIVE Trial Run document in class. Your homework is to finish it.

 

Your Mission

  • Complete the work building the new models for the second mutation in Question 9 of the LIVE Trial Run Document (remember that you will be referring to the models of the first mutation to calculate the numbers of zombies and healthy humans!)
  • Draw these new graphs on your Heuristic Outlook for Population Eradication (HOPE) Display (as before, refer to the Desmos version of the HOPE display here).
  • Complete questions 10, 11, 12 from the Trial Run Document. These will check for your understanding of the work we’ve done these last few days.

InCA Assignment for 3/2

LIVE_logoOur work to understand how to track the progression of the zombie virus continues. By now, you should have drawn a graph of the initial Zombie and Human models on your Heuristic Outlook for Population Eradication (HOPE) Display (refer to the Desmos version of the HOPE display here).

We observed in class today that viruses do not stay unchanged forever. They evolve and change, and these changes require us to revise our models. We started work on creating these new models today (Question 5 of the  LIVE Trial Run document), and students should finish that work (Questions 6 and 7) tonight.

InCA Assignment for 2/28

LIVE_logo
Students, you have been appointed as members of LIVE – the League of International Viral Experts. You will be responsible for leading the fight against the zombie virus as it wreaks its havoc.

We have started a trial run of the work you’ll be doing in your groups next week. You have been granted access to the LIVE Trial Run document as well as the Heuristic Outlook for Population Eradication (HOPE) Display. One of your primary objectives in your own work will be to complete this display for the virus’s initial spread through the yet-to-be-identified target country and to update it as the virus mutates. You will find this Desmos calculator graph helpful in beginning this task!

Your homework: Use the table of the Desmos graph (click the dropdown for the “Starting Models” folder) and recreate the graph on your copy of the HOPE display. Use a scale of 0-500 days (5 days per block) on the horizontal axis and 0-320 Million (6.6 million per block) on the vertical axis.

InCA Assignment for 2/27

Breaking News Image

We’ve received breaking news! An asteroid carrying a deadly zombie virus is headed towards Earth! We don’t know where it will land, but we know that the virus it carries will have devastating effects on the population of whatever country whose borders it lands in. Government agencies are already working on securing national borders worldwide, but our first step must be to research the demographics of the nations of the world that astronomical simulations have suggested may be the landing site of the asteroid.

Analysts, your job is to use online resources to complete this research. Use the United Nations’ Demographic Risk Assessment Form to record your findings. You may find the following websites useful:

All Students: Please also watch this Khan Academy video for a review of the percent change method we will be using to model the spread of this virus.

InCA Assignment for 2/26

We debriefed our M&Ms activity, then formalized our notation and vocabulary a bit about exponential functions.

Today’s links

 

 

Cumulative IXL Modules

Don’t forget, the log-in procedure for IXL has changed. See this post for updated instructions.