Thursday, December 20, 2012

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Did you get my email?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Algebra II (4) Assessment Reflection #5

December 9, 2012

The latest Quadratics Quiz on material through Completing the Square had a average of 85% and a median of 90%.  We will have one more quiz before the vacation.

Let's look at some student work.

Below,  I've seen this from time to time.  Students ignore the parenthesis and do the wrong operation.
 Below, lots of students wrote their names with exclamation marks!
Below, we cannot forget about the middle terms when expaning (a+b)(a+b).
 Below, I want you to be able to draw rough sketches of equations. Make sure you know how to find x and y intercepts.
Below, this is a beautiful graph with all important information labelled clearly.

Below, nice job expanding, but 2/2 is not 2.

Below, plus or minus when solving by taking square roots is so important to remember.

Below, this student seems to do the problem in her head, but still knows to divide by the  coefficient of the linear term.  Nice work :).

 Below,  when asked to find the roots, zeros, or x intercepts it all means the same thing.
This person needs to go one more step.

Below,  if you are just simplifying a radical, then you do not add the plus or minus.  That was the crux of the entire lesson.  

Below,  let's get in the habit of simplifying expressions.  

Below, and last but not least, this student make smile stressing the importance of the little "plus or minus" when SOLVING by taking square roots.

Please find my Assessment Data for the quiz below.  We'll review in class.

Raw Scores do not account for partial credit. The MCAS and SAT do not use partial credit.

My Best,

Mr. Morrissey

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Extra Help Schedule

December 9, 2012

Dear Student and Parents,

As we approach winter break and then midterms I want to reiterate my extra help schedule.

I can see students before school 7:30-7:50 a.m., X2 (2:00-2:30 p.m.), X5 1:30-2:30 p.m. and after school most Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays.

As I know there are some who are disappointed or upset with the most recent assessment, I suggest you come to see me and we review your work one-on-one.  

Hope to see you soon.

Mr. Morrissey

2nd Quarter Progress Report

Progress Report Grades are posted and for my 4 Algebra II classes reposted to reflect Friday's Assessment.  Remember, NTI means Not Turned in, ABS means you were absent.  These are both calculated as a zero.  EX means excused and does not help or hurt your grade.

Mr. Morrissey

Quadratics Essential Questions....

This post uses key concepts such as common denominators, the idea of "plus or minus" when taking square roots, factoring, and difference of squares.

Algebra II (5) Assessment Reflection #5 (Quadratics Test)

December 9, 2012

Our Quadratics unit ended Friday with our Quadratics Test.  Along the way we had two quizzes, students made 50 videos in teams, and they completed a challenging 20-question Quadratics Problem Set.

 The median was 93 and the average was 89%.  Range was 70-100% with one perfect score.

Let's look at some student work...

Below is excellent example of Completing the Square, in pen no less.

Below is a graphing problem. Do you see the sign error?  Is this graph pointing up or down?
 Below,  Although correct, it is easier to divide 34 by 4 and then use the remainder to find the answer.

Here is the Assessment Data.  These problems will return in future assessments, including the midterm.  

My Best,

Mr. Morrissey

Sunday, December 2, 2012


Last year two of my students attended and they got in off waiting list.  If interested sign out now.

Mr. Morrissey

NPR: Face Blindness

Listened to almost this entire piece this weekend while in the car.

 Mr. Morrissey

 Check out Entire Show

Friday, November 30, 2012

Final Video of Quadratics Unit

Hey Algebra II (5), Our last video in this unit is upon us.


My Best, Mr. Morrissey

Thursday, November 29, 2012

SAT Word of the Day Mistake

Thanks to Mr. Turner for Tweeting out this story about a mistake on the College Board SAT Problem of the Day! Can you do this in your head?  What did you get?  Tell me in class or Tweet @pmm888.

Mr. Morrissey

Quadratics Unit Algebra II Levels 4 and 5

Quadratics in Level 4 is going strong and coming to a close in Level 5. Students are working on making videos using Educreations and the rigor that the students are exposed to is quite high.

If you were to look at your daughter's Moodle page on the iPad you'd see our notes, our Problem Sets and our Checks for Understanding, among other things.   Check it out!

Mr. Morrissey

Math Team Caliber Problem

Let's tackle this one part by part....

Mr. Morrissey

Deep Breaths

November 29, 2012

 Today we tried something new. For the first 2-3 minutes of class we listened to soothing music of waves crashing while we quietly took deep cleansing relaxation breaths. Many students, especially those earlier in the day with 2-3 assessments ahead of them expressed their approval for the exercise. We went into the Check for Understanding and class began calmly and peaceful. Be Well,

 Mr. Morrissey

Monday, November 26, 2012


November 26, 2012

In my fourth year of teaching quadratics, I've found that the discriminant has been one of the toughest concepts to master for students in all levels of Algebra II. 

The graph below has two imaginary [complex] roots that are distinct.  The discriminant would be negative.  Distinct root means the roots are different.  

The graph below has one distinct root at x=1.   This root is a real root and also a complex root.  1 is a complex number because it can be written as 1+0i.  The discriminant would be zero.

Finally, the scenario that is most familiar to students from past work is this quadratic with two real solutions of 4 and -2.  To be sure, these roots are also complex numbers since they are -2+0i and 4+0i.  The discriminant would be positive.

To be sure, the discriminant is b^2-4ac.  The part under the radical in the quadratic formula.

My Best,

Mr. Morrissey

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Algebra II (4) Assessment Reflection #4

November 24, 2012

Students and Parents,

On our Quadratics Quiz on graphing using standard, vertex, and intercept form we had an average of 85% and a median of 91% for our two classes. These results are based on 38 students.  

Below is my Google Doc with the questions and results.  The "raw" scores represent whether or not a student got the question completely right as in the MCAS and SAT that don't award partial credit.  The "Partial Credit" column is the class average when partial credit for correct work is taken into account.

Let's look at some common errors as we all make mistakes and strive to learn from them.

Below, the student made an error with the "-1" at the tail end of the equation.

The y-intercept of this quadratic is (0,-2)

Below, the "3" was distributed to the (x-2) term and to the (x+5) term.  The 3 should only be distributed to either the (x-2) OR the (x+5) term.

Below, It looks like the student was finding the y-intercept by making x equal to zero.  In the last step the multiplication becomes addition by removing the parenthesis.  Also, notice that (2,0) is NOT the y-intercept.  A y-intercept is in the form (0, y-intercept).

Quadratics Quiz Data

My Best,

Mr. Morrissey

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Algebra II (5) Assessment Reflection #4 (Quadratics)

November 21, 2012

Here is the data from the Quadratics Quiz through Completing the Square.  In class we will review the mistakes made on #10 which most people lost 1 point on.  #13 was meant to be tough and 43% correct would bear this out.  Both the Quadratic Formula and Completing the Square work to solve for A<0.  Guess and check is not a valid method.  

I was a bit surprised about the results of #15.  Many did not simplify the quadratic formula completely   Square root of 88 can be simplified. 

85% average, 87% median.  

My Best,

Patrick Morrissey

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Twitter Question about Plus/Minus

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

PARCC Math Problem

Here is a math problem from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.

Do you notice the structure of the equation?

Mr. Morrissey

p.s. first student in each class with answer get a prize!!!

Graphing Quadratics Reflection

Algebra II (5) Assessment Data #3 (Quadratics)

November 14, 2012

I shared this data on our quadratics quiz with students in class. Here are the results.  

The biggest mistake was on # 12 and #16.  Remember in factored form you must set each term equal to zero and solve.  

The roots of y=(x-3)(x+2) are 3 and -2.

The roots of y=(2x-1)(x+2) are 1/2 and -2.

In both cases each factor is set equal to zero as in (2x-1)=0 and x+2=0.

Average was an 89% and median was a 91%.

My Best,

Mr. Morrissey

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Algebra II (4) Assessment Reflection #3

November 7, 2012

We ended the quarter, on the whole, very strong.  On the Linear Systems Test the average in my two classes was a 91% with a 94% median.  There were 12 perfect scores.  The test was aligned to the new Common Core State Standards for math,   See the data table below and my comments in the last column.    

The major conceptual take away that I don't think has sunk in for every student is that with linear systems the point of intersection can be shown graphically and the same point can be found algebraically using substitution or elimination.  When some students graphed correctly, but didn't find the same intersecting poing using, say, elimination  I was left thinking they didn't see the connection.  

The FSK in the Assessment Data below means "Fundamental Skills Check" and it represents questions that we keep re-testing after reviewing and reteaching with kids.  

Our Next Unit is Quadratics.  Standby for an post/email of the unit outline.  

Finally, here are two great exemplars of students work.  First we have #5 which 57% of students got completely correct (raw score) and 83% correct when partial credit is added.   

Below is a great example of the student making a visual to remind her to distribue the invisible negative 1 TWICE.  Do you see what I am talking about?  

Don't forget about our friend "invisible -1"
My Best,

Patrick Morrissey

Subsitute Plans Mr. Morrissey (11/7)

Wednesday, November 7

Dear Students,

As many of you saw yesterday, my voice was deteriorating during the day.  I am home sick today.

There is no homework tonight as it is Bedford Unplugged night.

Pre-Calculus (4) A Block
The substitute will give you a graphing matching exercise to work on in class. State the domain, range and zeros of each graph.  You may also share the textbooks in the back of the room to finish OTL #4 and/or begin OTL #5.

Algebra II (5) AB Block
Do Problem Set "Complex Numbers I" and "Complex Numbers II."  The two (2) corrections to the answer Key of "Complex Numbers I" are written in blue on the front board.

Algebra II (4)  C Block and E Block
On Moodle there is a section called "Mr. Morrissey is Absent."   Do the Problem Set called "Linear Equations MML."

See you next time.

My Best,

Mr. Morrissey

Monday, November 5, 2012

When I chaperone prom...

It'd be great to see some these moves!  

-Mr. Morrissey

p.s. Came across this posted in the Math/Science Office.  

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Algebra II (4) Parent Email

November 4, 2012

Dear Algebra II (4) Parents,

Tomorrow will be our last assessment of quarter one.  A test on linear systems.  If I could summarize in a sentence it's problems that include graphing and solving a set of two lines that are either intersecting in 1 point, intersecting in no points (i.e. parallel) or the same line that intersects in an infinite number of points.  Below is taken from our class notes to illustrate.

I have reviewed with students (and emailed to you) the data from our last assessment, and students know that there will be what we've begun to call a "fundamental skills check" to make sure topics that were underperforming, and then revisited, have been mastered.

Our last assessment data email can be found by clicking here 

I was so appreciative of one parent who wrote back saying she reviewed the last assessment with her son, and he was still unclear about how to graph piecewise functions.  I started the next class reviewing a few problems due to this feedback.

I am hopeful we'll end the quarter strong.

My Best,

Patrick Morrissey

What is a Function?

A student from Algebra II (4) has asked me this question using the Feedback.

Notes on Functions from our Moodle page is a place to start.

In terms of the test tomorrow, graphing piece-wise functions is the reference to "functions."

Take a look at the notes linked above.  It will be important to know that f(x)=x-1 is the same as y=x-1.

Ask me in class for more information...

Mr. Morrissey

Email to Algebra II (5) Parents

November 4, 2012


Tomorrow your son/daughter has a quiz on Quadratics. It will be our last assessment of term 1.  

The topics will include graphing quadratics, factoring, and square roots.  They should also be comfortable with the lowest performing skills on past assessments as I share the data with them and you on EVERY assessment.  

We began our group work on Quadratics this past week and students will be making videos using a program called Educreations using problems from an excellent math database called Art of Problem Solving.   I am hopeful this work will be an exemplar for the entire school!

I think this quiz will end the quarter on a positive note.  On the whole, the students have worked so hard, especially with the iPads.  

My Best,

Patrick Morrissey

p.s. Below is a sample problem from Art of Problem Solving

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Post Sandy Planning

October 30, 2012

Students and Parents,

See Pacing Guide... for updates...

Wednesday is Day 2, Thursday Day 6, Friday Day 5, Monday Day 1.

Here is a summary of next two classes.

A Block Pre-Calculus:  
Wed: Class.
Thurs: 4.1-4.3 Quiz.

AB Block Algebra II (5)
Thursday: Class
Monday: Quiz on Quadratics

B Block Algebra II (5)
Wed: Class
Friday: Class
Monday Quiz on Quadratics

C Block and E Block Algebra II (4)
Thursday:  Final review for Systems Test.  Bring questions on your last test and try to finish the review sheet from Math Basketball.  We'll review as a class next time.

Monday: Test on Linear Systems.

Looking forward to seeing you all next time. Halloween costumes encouraged.  

My Best,

Mr. Morrissey

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

Wishing you all a safe day tomorrow as Sandy arrives in Massachusetts. See you all next time. 

Mr. Morrissey

Check out this photo from NASA.  Amazing.  

Quadratics Student Video Creations

Dear Students and Parents, Students in Algebra II (5) will begin making their own Screen Casts in class for our unit's collaborative group assignment. Students in Level 4 will also be doing this shortly. Here is a link to the video I created to demonstrate how to make an exemplary video. My Best, Mr. Morrissey

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Algebra II (4) Assessment Reflection #2

October 20, 2012
Linear Equations Test

The average for my two classes was 86% with a median of 91%.  There were 5 perfect scores.  I have to share with you the picture below of how a student used highlighters to organize a graphing problem.  Highlighting can be really helpful in math, and I know many students are using Notability and its array of colors and highlighters effectively.

This work is absolutely marvelous.  If I could put a sticker on this blog post I would! :)

Some comments on the test....

  1. When graphing a line, some students are still not connecting the dots.  
  2. When asked to graph, you can always plot points if you don't know what the graph should look like.  Remember I suggest starting with -1, 0 and 1.  
  3. Finding the vertex of absolute value graphs still seems tough for some.  
  4. What is the y intercept of the equation y=2x?  This was number one of the test. 
  5. What is zero times any number?  
  6. I think even graphing y=-x is challenging still for some students.  What is the slope? What is the y-intercept?
Now take a look at the Assessment Data and compare your test with how our two classes did. 

In red below we have the Line of Best fit (#1), the piecewise function graph (#9), and the 3 skills checks that were meant to be a reteaching from the last quiz.  All of these will likely come again. We'll review in class, but you may need some additional practice with me, say in X block, to make sure you understand these fundamental skills.  

My Best, 

Mr. Morrissey

Algebra II (4) Equations of Lines Assessment Data and Reflection

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Faculty Meeting iPad Sharing

October 24, 2012

Objective: Share my use of the iPad paired with Socrative to do regular classroom Checks for Understanding on core math concepts and skills.


Will someone click on full screen?
 A link to the file is also: Link to this video...

My Best,


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Quadratics Unit Plan (Level 5)

Dear Parents,

From Quadratics and onward, I will post unit plans that outline what we plan to cover in each unit.

All the best,

Mr. Morrissey