My Algebra 2 students always do much better when they are given lots of visual supports. I can relate; I love visuals too. The more words that get cut out directions the happier I get. Unless we're talking about IKEA directions. Those make me weirdly uncomfortable.
A few years ago I decided to combine our graphing calculator unit with our quadratics unit into one huge learning curve. I joke that by the end of it my hair is more grey, but I absolutely love how my students always rise to the occasion.
Since my students need a lot of visual supports, there has been a lot of trial and error and try again each year during our quadratics unit. I started our projectile motion unit handing out this sheet and making it into a poster for our classroom. It covers the keywords that come up in projectile motion problems and has worked great. It links the keywords in projectile motion word problems to the parts of the parabola, but it wasn't enough.
The poster above helps my students remember where to place their graphing calculator cursors to find zeros, but some of my students needed a little more. The pink zero to the left of the y-axis was throwing off my students since we never need to find that zero when solving word problems.
The poster above, along with the one at the very top of this post, are the ones we mainly use during our projectile motion unit. Since we don't need to find the non-positive zeros in projectile motion problems, this visual gets right to the point of what my students need. There are calculator function references on the side and star reminders for where cursors should go. I made them both into posters following these directions, and they hang on our class word wall and front board.
The dreaded Window
My students gain so much confidence from consistent practice. When we move onto rocket problems where initial velocity is in the hundreds of feet per second, the graphing calculator window soon becomes a problem when finding maximums and the positive zero.
First, try ZOOM 6. If that doesn't work...
Try 10, then 100, then 1000, then 10000, then 15000, then 20000 until you see the top.
Try 10, then 20, then 50, then 100, then 200 until you see the right zero.
This usually gets the entire parabola on the screen for the problems we have been working on.We find it to funny that with all the advanced problem solving we're doing, it's the window dimensions that get in the way! To practice, I give the above projectile motion template as a warm-up (I give them the function). These warm ups can sometimes take up to 15 minutes for students to complete and offer super rich practice.
I'm not a huge fan of tests, so I give the above quadratic task cards activity to asses student understanding. By the day we assess, my students have grown so much since the first time they turned on a graphing calculator for the first time. Our quadratics unit is definitely my favorite.
You may be interested in some of the quadratics activities
included in this bundle.