The focus of this unit is identifying, graphing, writing equations for, and translating conic sections.  The four basic conic sections that are included in this unit are the parabola, the circle, the ellipse, and the hyperbola.  These curves are be investigated and explored in a variety of ways and from a variety of perspectives.  Hands on activities, computer investigation, mathematical proofs and derivations, real world applications, and creative thinking skills are all incorporated.  Additionally, cooperative learning is very important to this unit meaning that students have opportunities to work in groups and improve communicative and social skills.  Several types of assessment are also used including a traditional assessment, an alternative assessment, and several formative assessments.  This gives all students an opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned regardless of their learning style. 

The unit begins with a technology activity where student play with a computer simulation of slicing a double cone.  This introduces them to the four different curves and how each curve can be created.  After this brief introduction each conic section is revisited in more depth one at a time.  This process begins with parabolas, which students construct using a hands-on activity and then derive the equation of based on the definition.  This also gives them the relationship between the coefficient of the equation and the location of the focus and directrix.  From there we take on circles and ellipses.  Using the formal definition, students explore various ways to construct a circle as a class and then in small groups do the same for an ellipse.  This requires them to think critically about the definition and break down what it really means along with using creativity to come up with a solution.  The final shape is the hyperbola and students use data that they have collected to investigate the various components of a hyperbola.  Pulling this together students learn how to translate these curves based on their equations.  From there we move onto the review and the summative assessments of the unit.