Mr. S. Morisani,  Jr.

Phone: 251-928-8309

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

BS Mathematics (CS Minor)-University of South Alabama (1997) MS Secondary Math Education-Hofstra University (1999)

Mr. S. Morisani, Jr.

I have been a teacher since 1999, where I began my career in New York (Floral Park Memorial HS). I have taught in Alabama since 2001 and have been at Fairhope since 2006. 

I have taught Prealgebra, Algebra 1, Freshman Math Seminar, Geometry, Algebra 2, Algebra 2/Trigonometry, Algebra 3, Algebra 3/Statistics, AP Computer Science Principles, AP Computer Science A, and Algebraic Connections. I have taught at all different levels--AP, Pre-AP, Inclusion, and Standard Pace.  I am an Alabama DOE ACCESS Online Instructor as well. 

In other years, I have been a JH Baseball Coach, a Varsity XC Coach, a JV Girls Soccer Coach, and a Varsity Girls Soccer Coach. I have also been a Key Club supervisor and a Ping Pong Club moderator. 

In my spare time I like to run distance (up to and including half marathons...I'm only half crazy!), read, coach in a youth soccer academy for a local soccer club (Gulf Coast Rangers), referee USSF youth soccer matches, cook Italian style food, and study the Italian language. 

My wife is also a mathematics instructor who holds a Master's Degree in Mathematics. She teaches part-time at Coastal Community College in Fairhope. 

I am originally from Rhode Island.

My wife and I have seven children aged 2 - 13. Yes, a large family makes for a very interesting day, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. 

Morisani's Musings (A Blog About What it Takes and Other Things)

  • Graphing: A valuable tool, a good technique

    Posted by Stephen Morisani on 2/19/2019 8:00:00 AM

    I've been away for a while and wanted to kick off the new year with a series of posts about using graphing to solve some of your possible mathematical woes. 

    Graphing is a way to get a picture of the solution set to an equation. In other words, it's a picture of the set of points where an equation is true. 

    Graphing is a technique that can be used to solve equations. Today, I'll blog about the technique I use when teaching about graphing. 

    Let's say I want to graph an equation of the form y = a/x where a is a real number (here, we'll limit it to the set of nonzero integers). The set of valid inputs (the domain) is all real numbers except 0, for obvious reasons, and the range is the same, although the reason may not be at first obvious. The function y = a/x has no way of returning 0 as an output because you're normally dividing a nonzero number a by a nonzero number x.  

    With that out of the way, let's look at obtaining a set of points that we could use. 

    I prefer to use a "5 Point Table": 

    x

    y

    -3

    -1/3

    -2

    -1/2

    -1

    -1

    -1/2

    -2

    -1/4

    -4

    This gives the inputs and outputs for a function of the general form y = 1/x, which is the template for functions of this class. In point of fact, we refer to this case as the parent function and parent table, since all graphs of this family can use the table given to obtain their graphs. 

    However, that's only a partial table for a function of this type. Functions of this type have graphs that come in pieces, meaning they consist of "branches" that do not share any points (they don't touch in this case). These functions are considered discontinuous.  An interesting question may be 'why?'. What is so special about this graph that it gets to be called discontinuous?  If you're not familiar with the term, check this out. Email me if you want to discuss this concept further. It's very interesting and quite an important one in future courses. 

    At any rate, the other branch of the table will look like this: 

    x

    y

    1/3

    3

    1/2

    2

    1

    1

    2

    1/2

    3

    1/3

     

    Here, we see that the function values, like the ones in the first table, also decrease. However, unlike the others that simply got smaller without bound as they head in the negative direction, these values are getting smaller as they approach 0. 

    Given an equation y = 2/(x-3), what is the graph of the function, and can we approximate values for specific inputs? 

    Let's unpack this function a bit. We're subtracting 3 from the input variable and then doubling all the values that result. Remember, treat the fraction bar as a grouping symbol with respect to the order of operations. Therefore, you'd first have to sort out the changes to the x column (the function's input values). To do this, set x-3 equal to each input value in both tables. Then, because the function then doubles the result of each of those additions (remember, solving requires opposite operations), you'd multiply each y-value by 2. The end result? The tables below; the left branch is the first table: 

    x

    y

    0

    -2/3

    1

    -1

    2

    -2

    5/2

    -4

    11/4

    -8

     and 

    x

    y

    10/3

    6

    7/2

    4

    4

    2

    5

    1

    6

    2/3

     

    The net effect of these two changes? The graph moves right and is stretched vertically; the movement right is due to the adding of 3 to each input value when you solve for x; the stretching comes from the fact that you're now outputting values at twice the normal values. 

    Often, though, I see students only plot a few points and end up getting an incorrect graph (I'm looking at you, f(x) = x3 + 5xwhen my students use this method with polynomial functions. We'll address this concern in the next post. Then, we'll look at how we can use graphing to help if we're in a pinch when taking the SAT or ACT. 

    What do you think of my method? Let me know in the comments below and let's get the discussion started. 

    Comments (0)
  • To Vacation, or Not To Vacation...That 'Tis the Question.

    Posted by Stephen Morisani on 11/19/2018 7:30:00 AM

    The holidays are fast approaching. How can the serious student negotiate the impending interruptions to the daily routine? There are going to be days where there is no school in session. Depending on where you are in the country, there could be a week or two where there is no school in session. If you're trying to keep your skills and mind sharp to the content you're immersed in, days off can make things difficult. What follows are some suggestions to help make it through these days off. 

    1. DO take some time off...give it a rest, at least for a day or two! Your mind, like your body, needs rest. Taking a day or two to focus on pursuits unrelated to your academics doesn't have to be a bad thing, and your brain may thank you for it! Read a book for fun instead of because it's a requirement for your English/Lit course. Go outdoors and enjoy the weather (such as you can, of course...). Cook--it's a fun way to add some practical mathematics to your day. Find some things to do that stimulate your mind in a "nonacademic" (that is, in a way unrelated to school) way. Maybe go catch a movie...the holiday season usually has at least one or two "blockbuster" releases that may pique your interest. 

    2. Have a plan for how you will keep your academics keen during your break. Make sure you insert some time into your vacation for study...ESPECIALLY if school starts again at the end of your break! My students have a test a week from the Monday they return to school. To that end, I gave them a simple vacation assignment, one designed to aid in skills maintenance. They have 7 days to get it done, and I hope they all take the time to do it (as it will be graded upon their return...)! Completing the assignment will most certainly help them when they show up for class next Monday, as my courses are jumping right back into the content we left off with when school was released Friday. 

    3. Keep to a set schedule for your review(s). If you set aside an hour a day every day of vacation, then stick to it and don't do any more or less. Think if it like this: I enjoy distance running and I set aside an hour 4 times a week to run. I don't run less and I don't run more; I just run on the 4 days I set for the time allotted. The end result? I'm always in decent race shape should I want to run a 5K, 10K, or half marathon (my assessments?). I'm in a routine that helps me maintain my fitness (both mental AND phsical), and interruptions to my routine are a lot less likely to cause major disruption to my overal running plan (academic term?) than not. 

    What do you think? What do YOU do to make sure you are not completely overwhelmed when you return to school from a long breaK? Let me know in the comments below, and let's get the discussion started.  

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  • November Post!

    Posted by Stephen Morisani on 11/14/2018 7:00:00 AM

    Sorry for the long delay! It's been a while since I've blogged about anything, and I decided to get something up for you read and muse over. 

    I want to talk today about WolframAlpha. WolframAlpha is a tool that will enable you to compute expert-level answers using Wolfram's breakthrough algorithms, knowledgebase and AI technology."  In other words, it's a mathematics search and help engine. 

    I love it. I use it all the time, especially if I need to see the steps worked out. For example, in my AP CSP courses, we do some work early on with number base conversions. If I find my skills are a little rusty when converting from base 2 to, say, base 16, I like to work through some problems to get myself back where I want to be. I can check my answers by typing the problem in. If I need further remediation, I can use WolframAlpha to show me the steps in addition to the solution! I find that very helpful, especially when I'm learning a topic I've not studied before or haven't studied in a long time (Calculus, I'm looking at you, my old adversary!). 

    In addition, WA can also be a source of information. Go there now and enter the search term "major league baseball", sans the quotes. Start to explore. Look at all the data. Need information for that AP Statistics Project? Look no further! Have a math journal assignment that requires you to talk about data and how we can use it to make inferences? You've found your spot!

    The website can be reached here. Check it out. You can purchase a student subscription for a very reasonable price, and I think that you'll find the step-by-step solutions a boon as you study. 

    It goes without saying that WA is not a substitute for learning, nor should it be used to do your homework for you. Like all tools, it was designed to aid you...but you must be responsible in your use of it, like any other tool. 

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  • Success Tip 5: List Your Resources, Please

    Posted by Stephen Morisani on 10/1/2018 7:00:00 AM

    In the current educational landscape that I am immersed in, textbooks are sometimes scarce. Our own school district, just a few years ago, switched to a "1 to 1" learning environment, and we've never looked back. The laptop (or Chromebook, currently) became the book in a very real way and has been ever since. Granted, I am lucky enough to have a solid textbook (Larson's Algebra 2), but sometimes it's just not enough. 

    To that end, good resources are a must. How can you build a list of resources that you can trust to help guide you through your work? Here are some suggestions: 

     

    1. Be sure to be specific in your search. Check your lesson notes for keywords and search using them. 

    2. Save the websites that you feel best describe the material. There are hundreds of websites from which to choose, regardless of the topic. Mathisfun.com is one of my favorites, and I heartily recommend it. 

    3. Find websites that are either interactive or contain video content. The one I recommended above is. However, some of you will learn best by watching others work and then following their lead. To that end, let's look at a few Youtube Channels  I think are very good. 

    1. Bullcleo1's Youtube Channel This is James Sousa's youtube channel. He's a mathematics instructor in Arizona and his videos are, by far, among the best I've seen. His website, mathispower4u, is an amazing repository of all of his videos...he covers it all from elementary school topics through collegiate mathematics. I use his channel myself, most recently when I studied for the PRAXIS 5161 this past summer. 
    2. Khan Academy's Youtube Channel: The standard everyone uses. They use it because Sal Khan, the founder, created a channel with content that is easy to access and simple to follow. 
    3. NancyPi's Youtube Channel: Want to learn math from an MIT grad? This gal has it all in her collection of tutorials, and, like the two above, does a wonderful job of showing step-by-step solutions with solid explanations.
    4. Woo's Wonderful World of Maths: This is the channel of the one and only Mr. Woo, a mathematics teacher in Australia. He, like NancyPi, has a knack for explaining the "why" and uses a lot of differentiated learning tools (eduspeak for alternative ways to approach his topics). In addition, his videos are fun and engaging, just like him. 

    Honorable mentions: MySecretMathTutor , MathHelp.com channel

    You can subscribe to these channels by visiting the links.

    What about you? Do you have any to add to the list? Comment below and share your link. 

    Comments (0)
  • Success Tip 4: Safety in Numbers

    Posted by Stephen Morisani on 9/24/2018 8:00:00 AM

    Our next study skill involves the idea that there is merit in working together. 

     The 4th Success Tip: Find a study partner. Subscribe to a Youtube channel that has good mathematics explanations. In this first of a two-part post we'll look at what makes a good study partner. 

    This Success Tip seems pretty self-explanatory, right? Sometimes it's good to have help when working on something, and mathematics is certainly no exception. What are some things to think about if you want to work together on homework? Here's a few to get you started:

    • Remember that time is short, so make sure you work with someone who isn't going to procrastinate.
    • Can you and/or your partner get transport to wherever you are meeting to do the work? 
    • Does your partner seem interested in pulling his weight, or does he prefer to "watch you work"? If so, this may be a problem for you. It's one thing to demonstrate steps and then attempt to replicate them; it's another thing entirely to do the work and have someone else copy it. 
    • Do you and your partner work diligently, or do you get distracted/sidetracked easily? Is there background noise, and is it detrimental to the homework process? 

    Ideally, the load should be split evenly and everyone will work on the problems. Too often I see study groups break up because one person has the job of keeping everything and everyone together while the rest sit back and let the one do all the work. Remember my earlier posts on the merits of homework...the study group isn't helping if people aren't working and learning.  

    What do you think? What else is important to creating and maintaining a good study group? Next week we'll look at curating a playlist of helpful Youtube videos and channels. 

    Comments (0)
  • Success Tip 3: Practice Makes Perfect (and Permanent)

    Posted by Stephen Morisani on 9/17/2018 8:30:00 AM

    You've all heard the old adage that "practice makes perfect" and that saying certainly applies to your studies in mathematics! Homework is the practice that you have to perform in order to perfect your skills and make the knowledge more permanent. 

    You will have homework almost every day. You must accept the responsibility of getting that work done in a timely fashion, keeping in mind due dates, AND being sure to pay attention to what you are doing so that the skills and concepts covered "sink in". 

    It is my hope that my mathematics classes are not just classes on computation and finding solutions (h/t Stephen Wolfram!). I create a class where the "why" is at least as important as the "how", and I stress the importance of interpreting the answer correctly as critical to the learning process. 

    I am a fan of "drill and kill" for certain procedural topics (factoring, I'm looking at you!) but for topics such as domains and ranges of functions require a look under the hood so to speak in order to really grasp what's going on. Why, when looking at two seemingly similar functions such as y = x^(1/2) and y = x^(1/3) are the domains and ranges different? You're looking at the root (a repeated factor) in both cases, so why does one function's domain and/or range discriminate and the other does not? Homework can help answer these questions by causing you to work through similar problems and test what you have been exposed to in class. You may have to look back at the lesson's notes or (gasp!) even read your user's manual (textbook).

    You can assess yourself as to how well you understood the day's lesson simply by working on your homework (although some will argue that is a very simplistic take, and I agree...I have had many students who can factor extremely complicated expressions yet when asked to explain the fundamentals using factor tiles they are at a complete loss as to how to connect the two). Therefore your assessment of what you have learned has to include questions that address the why as well.

    In summary, you have to work at something in order to learn how to do it. You have to wrestle and grapple with concepts in order to understand them. Homework is the primary means I use to help you do all of this when you are outside of class. 

    So here's a little exercise: of the two functions I mentioned above, which function has a domain restriction? Which one has a range restriction? Can you explain why? Leave your thoughts and let's discuss!

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  • Success Tip 2: Participate in class discussions. Ask questions.

    Posted by Stephen Morisani on 9/10/2018 8:00:00 AM

    This one is an interesting one, especially coming from a mathematics instructor. 

    In my math classes, we often talk about the math behind the problem or we will discuss how such math gets applied to real-world problems. Participating in these discussions is important because it (1) allows me to assess your knowledge of the material and (2) you students are very, very, creative and often think of "angles" to the problems that I do not. Small group discussions are a great way to share knowledge. For example, in my AP Computer Science Course, group discussions about how individual students overcame challenges in coding a program or how a student graded a practice AP prompt response often help students who are struggling to think of the material in a new light. 

    In addition, small group discussions are one way I like to help English Language Learners sharpen their command of English. 

    Asking questions...this is an extremely important aspect of my Study Skills. How will you ever know if you don't ask? I don't mind questions...I have seven kids at home, and am used to fielding questions from them, so why not from you? Even if you have a fear of speaking out in front of your peers, get past that so that you can achieve. I cannot read your mind, and if you don't ask, I don't know what you don't know. Maybe you've thought up a unique solution to a problem? Please share that! You may be helping your classmates more than you know.


    So what do you think? Are there courses you are currently struggling with that could be better managed with some questions that you may have? Let me know what you thought of my post, and let's get a discussion going. You may find out they're not as bad as you think. 

    Comments (0)
  • Success Tip 1: Come to class prepared

    Posted by Stephen Morisani on 9/3/2018 8:00:00 AM

    The first success tip we'll introduce is pretty straightforward. Coming to class prepared is  key to the learning process. What does this entail?

     

    To me, coming to class prepared means:

    • Bringing all of the necessary supplies to class every day-notebook, Chromebook, textbook, pencils, erasers, and a graphing calculator (although if you don't have one, Desmos and Wolfram Alpha are great to use). 
    • Understanding that there is a job to be done on the day, and to come into class expecting a "free day" (whatever that means...) or announcing that you're "just not feeling it today" is not going to help you do well as your teacher is going to be very motivated to lead or guide the day's learning. 
    • Having questions about what we're learning and/or why we're learning it. The lack of questions could mean many things, but the presence of them leads to an issue that needs to be resolved, whether it pertains to the content we're studying or something else related to the course.

    Well, what do you think? Is there more to it? Share with me via blogpost or email at

    smorisani - at - ibaldwin.org or tweet to me: @CoachMorisani if you have any thoughts. I look forward to hearing from you! 

    Comments (0)
  • Tips for success in mathematics

    Posted by Stephen Morisani on 8/27/2018 8:00:00 AM

    I thought I'd start off this year's blog with a series of posts about ways you can improve your chances for success in mathematics courses. This month, we'll begin by revisiting the set of tips I often share with my students at the beginning of the year. Check them out, think about them, and see if any of them could help you achieve more. While we wait for the posts to start, here's a question: what are the things you do to make sure you succeed in learning the material of the courses you take? Post your responses and let's discuss. 

    Comments (0)
  • Welcome Back!

    Posted by Stephen Morisani on 8/20/2018 8:30:00 AM

    Welcome back to another school year! It is my hope that this one is a successful one for you as you get one step closer to graduating from high school. 

    For me, it's the start of my 20th year of teaching. I cannot believe it's been that long!

    So, let's begin this year's blog with a simple question: What will it take for you to be successful? I am going to offer you my thoughts. Feel free to let me know what you think. 

    1. Do your homework! Mathematics is a subject that requires practice. In many ways it's a lot like a sport...you have to practice to make perfect. You have to practice to make permanent. Homework is how you get your practice. 

    2. Be a good student in class...and I don't mean just behavior! What are the characteristics of good students? Here's a short list:

    • They take notes on the important concepts introduced in class
    • They recognize the important concepts introduced and recognizes WHEN they're introduced so that they can record them. 
    • They don't let distractions keep them from focusing on the task at hand. We will be doing several STEM "lab activities" this year and they require attention to both what the task requires as well as attention to the details: correct formula choice, correct rounding, and correct interpretation of what the results of the experiments have yielded. You will also have to pay attention to how the probes are to be used. 
    • They are willing to ask questions when they have them. I cannot stress the importance of questions enough. Humanity has only arrived at the point we are currently at because of the questions of people like Archimedes, Aristotle, Carver, Cerf, Columbus, Curie, da Vinci, Edison, Euler, Hawking, Galileo, Gauss, MK Keller, Lavoisier, Marconi, Oberg, Pasteur, Vesalius and every other person who wanted to know the what or the why to the world we live in. If these had to ask questions, then it's more than okay that we ask questions without fear of negative repercussion. 

    3. Finally, be on time and be prepared. Have your notebook, pencil, Chromebook, textbook with you every day. Your textbook is your "user's manual" for the course. Don't leave home without it! Learning is a difficult process but a fun process! It's an empowering process! Maximize your potential by always being ready to learn.

     

    Do you have anything to add to the list? Feel free to post and let me know. I am excited to be working with you!

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