Welcome to Mr. Musolf’s Classroom Blog. The resources on these pages have been selected specifically for the classes I teach and my students; however, others are welcome to use them. Weekly assignments are posted on the class pages and resources on the following pages. I hope you find this site useful.  All photos on this site are originals.

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Things are rolling

Things are rolling along this year. The Precalc class spent the first week reviewing Algebra 2 materials to determine where we need to begin. We are beginning chapter 1 now and will be progressing through that at a quick pace. Plan on your student having regular assignments.

The Algebra 2 classes have completed a quick review to establish our starting point and are working on factoring techniques. We will be completing the factoring review quickly and move into rational polynomials, where a solid understanding of factoring is extremely helpful.

The stats class is working on sampling techniques and will soon be taking their first quiz. I will have a date soon. Plan on before next Friday, though. We are working on the ebook issue and will hopefully be able to use the iPads on a regular basis in class.

As always, I am available for help regularly before school, during B lunch (by appointment) and after school (by appointment). If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me by email at jmusolf@bdschools.us.

Welcome Back

Welcome back for the 2014-2015 school year. I am looking forward to having a great year with you. I will notify you of any changes and additions to this site. It is my hope that you will find this site useful as we progress through the year.

Awesome video

I just found this video posted on William Enemy’s blog, Great Maths Teaching Ideas.  It’s a TED-ED video about how mathematics is used by the artists at Pixar studios.  It’s about eight minutes long, but doesn’t feel that long.  I hope you enjoy it.


I Never Use Algebra

I keep seeing posts on Facebook with the declaration, “Another day and I didn’t use algebra.”  I would really like to see this negative view of math, and algebra specifically, changed.  Granted, we don’t always have a need to use math beyond basic applications, but yesterday, my wife and I used some fairly complex algebra (by most people’s standards) to determine what time to start our dinner.

We decided to have a nice, family meal before our kids had to go to work.  On the menu, a standing rib roast, baked potatoes, fresh green beans, corn, and a salad.  So where’s the math?  Ideally, having all of the meal completed at one time is desirable and this is where the math comes into play.

The directions for cooking the meat to the desired temperature, rare to medium rare, were as follows:  Set the oven temperature at 450 degree and cook for 30 minutes.  Turn the oven temperature down to 325 degrees and continue cooking for 13 to 15 minutes per pound.  Typical cooking directions, right?  Right.  We wanted to eat at 3 pm so that the kids didn’t have to rush out the door, so what time did we have to put the roast in the oven?  The cooking directions give us a compound linear inequality (linear will keep it simpler to understand).  The inequality would look something like this:

30 + 13p < t< 30 + 15p, where p represents the weight of the roast in pounds, and t is the time in minutes required to cook the roast.

Before we go too much further, we have to consider a reasonable domain for the weight of the roast.  I have selected a domain of 4 to 15 pounds.  In my mind, as warped as it may be, this domain provides reasonable weights of roasts to be prepared (wish mine was on the upper end by the way).  A graphical representation would look like this:

01-12-2014 Image002

The dark region between the two dashed lines represents the range of cooking times for roasts within the domain 4 < p < 15.

01-12-2014 Image00401-12-2014 Image003







The ordered pairs at the lower right of each image represent the minimum and maximum suggested cooking times (in minutes) as suggested by the directions. So, what time did the roast go into the oven?  30 + 148 = 178 minutes (2 hrs 58 mins) and 30 + 166 = 196 minutes (3 hrs 16 mins).  To simplify matters, we inserted a digital thermometer to monitor the temperature (130 degrees = medium rare) and settled upon the time of noon to be an appropriate amount of time to allow the roast to cook to be “done” by 3 pm.

Other factors we had to consider were the consistency of temperature of the oven, changing the oven temperature when inserting the potatoes for baking, and the core temperature of the roast prior to roasting it.  It is suggested that the meat be close to room temperature prior to cooking.  Ours wasn’t; it was 40 degrees, therefore a longer cooking time was necessary.

Some other math we had to do to get dinner on the table was to estimate the time needed to bake potatoes at 325 rather than 350 degrees.  Potatoes (medium sized) usually take 60 to 75 minutes to bake at 350 so we estimated an extra 15 minutes to bake at 325.  Finally, we had to predict the time needed the time needed to steam the green beans.  We planned for a 20 minute time.

Not every person would think about this process in this manner, but before thinking “I’ll never use this outside of the classroom” you may be surprised.  Algebra can have delicious results.


New video website

In looking for an explanation of the natural base “e” in video form, I ran across the website, “Virtual Nerd“.  This site has a directory of math and science related videos.  The videos are simple, short, and straight-forward.  If you’re stuck for an explanation, check it out.  You may find them useful.  Below is the link to the video which explains what and how the natural base “e” is used in math and science.

What is e?

Day 4 and counting…

So we’ve extended our Christmas vacation (yes, I’m going to be politically incorrect and call it what it is) and we need to begin to review for exams.

Geometry students should work on the handout received prior to break.  Precalc students should be reviewing the chapter tests at the end of the chapters we can completed.  I am planning to finish the unit on conic sections prior to the exam.  We have very little to do to complete it.  Algebra 2 students need to review the unit tests at the end of chapters 6 and 7.  I will provide more info for our work with arithmetic and geometric sequences.  Statistics students need to review content notes.  The exam will cover the semester up through probability distributions.  Algebra 2F will need to begin reviewing with Ch 3, 4, and 5 end of unit tests.  We will do more review in class.


I hope you and your families have been able to keep warm and have sufficient cleared the snow from your driveways.  Maybe the county road plows will come by open a path to the main roads and we can have school tomorrow.

Rerun: Free Tech 4 Teachers



I have been subcribed to the blog Free Tech 4 Teachers for a couple of years now. The owner/author Richard Byrne regularly posts links to newer and free apps that can be used in the classroom. He is much like the “Great and Powerful Oz” of the educational technology blogging world.  I exaggerate, but he has offered insight to an innumerable amount of ed tech ideas that, if I had the access in my classroom, I would use regularly.  I am going to give Socratic a try once I poll my students regarding their accessibility to either a wifi connected laptop, ipad, android pad or smartphone.  With the ACT/MME coming up, this could be a quick way to begin the hour with a couple of math questions daily.

I suggest that students, as well as any teachers who visit my blog, look into the archives of Mr. Byrne’s site for some really cool tools to try out for their next projects.

New geometry video posted to YouTube

I have posted a new video on my YouTube channel (type mrmusolf in the search bar).  It addresses constructing the median of a triangle.  I will be posting another one soon for the construction of the centroid of a triangle.  I didn’t realize that I hadn’t address these topics yet.  I hope you find it useful.

PS:  It will be coming to my Geometry Video page on this site soon.