Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Number Hunters

Here's a website I'd like you to check out:  The Number Hunters

This is a web-based educational TV show geared toward pre-teens and they are trying to get their idea off the ground.  Check out the website, as they can explain it better than I can, and see if it's something you would like to support.

I'm seriously considering the Exponential Level to be an extra on their pilot episode!!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Systems of Linear Equations - Help with Applications

I have this idea in my head.  I want my students to compare two products and tell us which one to buy and why.  I would like to model the end product that I'm looking for and I'll use soda stream as my example.  The big question will be "Should I buy the soda stream or continue to drink name brand soda products?"  I will consider things like cost, convenience, the environment, quality, etc.  The big math part of this will be writing two linear equations (one for each product), making a table, and graphing the equations, to determine which is the better price at varying levels.

But that's where I'm stuck.  I want to create a list of products for my students to choose from, but I'm not coming up with a lot of ideas.  Help!!

My thoughts so far:

K-cups vs. regular brewing.  (I'm thinking the lines for this would not intersect in the 1st quadrant.)
Dishwasher vs. hand-washing?????
e-reader vs. traditional book.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Super Mario Bros. Results

I finally got the reaction from a 3-act math task that I've been waiting for.  One of my students (who hardly says boo in class) threw his pencil down when he saw the third act.  If that isn't passion, I don't know what is.  They were in to it, they wanted to know why, they asked where those numbers came from, they made guesses, they tried to figure out why, they took pictures of the board before leaving class.  One student even said that he was going to post about this on some gaming forum.

The whole reason I created this 3-act task was to have students realize that not everything is linear.  The students watched the first act and I encouraged them to make guesses, just a number from their gut. Many students used linear reasoning for their guess.  I heard this over and over again today: "Since he's a little lower than half the height of the pole, he must have a little less than half of the points."

Then I gave them a sheet with the photos on it and asked them to try to come up with an another answer (maybe it was the same) but to put some reasoning behind it.  I recorded their answers on the board.

You can see that many of their answer came down quite a bit in this class and here's the reasoning.  When I handed out the paper with the three photos on it, one student noticed that in the third picture the score had to be a three-digit number because of the location of the part of the zero that I neglected to crop out of the photo.  

For my other classes that didn't notice it being a three digit number, many of the numbers seemed to stay the same, or close to the same, as their initial guess.  Some got out their rulers and did some measurements to find about 1500.  Again, a linear assumption.  

Next I showed them my work.  We found the equation of the line that passes through the two points (1.2, 100) and (8.8, 4000).  Where x is the height from the top of the castle like thingy to Mario's nose in cm., and y is the points scored.  Our linear equation:  y = 513.16x-515.792

Now what?  One student suggests measuring the height of the third photo and plugging that number in for x to find the score.  We get a height of 4cm, and plug in to find y = 1536.85.  We know that we would never get a score like that in the same, so we round it to 1500.  The students still stand their ground with a three-digit number.

We watch the third act (the answer).  Once we are getting close to the third jump, the students are hooked, their eyes are glued to the screen, and one students rubs his palms together and says, "Here we go!".  When they see that the answer is 400, one student stands up, throws his pencil down, and complains that he was so close.  

In the other two classes the reaction was similar.  They all assumed that I was right, because I'm the teacher.  We watch the video and when they saw that the answer was truly 400 and not 1500 there was a short hesitation followed by a few "WHAT?!?!?!" going around the room.  What happened?  We must have measured wrong.  The slope is undefined.  We should have measured from his nose.  The time affects the score too.  We addressed all of these concerns and realized that nothing was wrong with our math or our measuring and the score on the flagpole is not effected by the time in the game.  So what happened?

Eventually we get around to finding out that assuming it was linear was a mistake.  Not everything is linear.  This helped to lead us to my next question:  What are some things that are linear and some things that are non-linear.  I gave a few examples of each type, then asked the students to create their own and post them on the board.

At the end of the day one of my students from first period enters my classroom.  He looks like he's on a mission.  I see him go to his folder and get of the paper we did our work on for this problem.  It's the same student who took pictures of the board.  So here's the thing.  It a well known fact that this kid thinks he sucks at math.  But he thought about math during 1st period because he had to, then it interested him enough to remember to come back to my room to get this paper, THEN he's going to go home tonight and post on a forum about what we did in MATH class.  How awesome is that?!?!?!?

Here are all the goods:

Act 1:

Act 2:

Act 3:

Download here:

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Mom Vs. Teacher: The Conflict Within

I take a lot of pride in being a teacher.  When I meet someone new and they ask what I do for a living, I typically know how it's going to play out:  "What do you do for a living?"  I'm a teacher. "Oh, nice.  What grade?"  I teach High School.  "Oh wow!  What subject do you teach?"  I'm a math teacher.  "Oh!  I was never good at math, you must be smart."

I'm not going to get into the the whole topic about people's perception about math, but I have a secret to admit; I FEEL smart when they say things like that to me.  I can do something a lot of other people are scared too even talk about: teach math.  I love being a math teacher and most of the respect (fear?) that comes with it.  People think I'm smart without even really knowing me.

A lot of my identity is formed through being a teacher.  That's how hundreds of people know me.  But I have other identities too.  I'm a daughter, a wife, and a mother.  I'm a friend, a sister, and a neighbor.  I sit here with this inner conflict this morning because my son is sick.  Yesterday there was no contest.  He was sick I stayed home from work.  But now this is the second day in a row where he's rather ill and I am torn inside.  Should I take another day and stay home with my son, or is missing two day of work in a row too much?

I needed some perspective.  I tried to look down the road a few years and predict how this will impact ALL of my children.  My students:  I would be extremely surprised if any of the students remembered that I wasn't present for two days.  My son:  He may not remember that I took off of work, but he'll remember the trip to the ER we took together, he'll remember me fighting with him to drink something or to try to take a nap, he may even remember that we watched the movie Ghost Busters more times than I'm willing to admit on this blog.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm a mother first, and although I'm not required to work during the summer, it doesn't seem like enough.  Smart or not smart, sometimes one roll has to take a backseat to another roll.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Super Mario - The answer

I created this sheet for my students to do any work they feel they need to do.

And here is the answer:

Want some more information?  I found it here.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Super Mario Bros. 101 Questions

I'm starting our outcome on Applications of Linear Equations next week and I wanted something to really catch their attention.  I thought about video games.  I love video games, my students love video games.

Here's my submission to  Go to the website and write what question comes to mind.  Update - I believe you have to be signed in to 101qs in order for you question to be recorded.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Home Away From Home - Made 4 Math

This is my Made 4 Math contribution...on a Tuesday.

I've been having this problem.  In the afternoon it is impossible to use my projector because of wall of windows behind it creates this terrible glare.  There are blinds in the window, but they just don't do the job.  I remember complaining to my students about this (or were they complaining to me?) and we all agreed that curtains would do the trick.  Yeah right!  Who is going to install and pay for curtains?  Me that's who, and I'm going broke with the budget cuts to our general supplies.  The students agreed to donate money.  I decided to go as cheap as possible and I would buy tension rods and twin flat sheets and sew the curtains myself.  I priced the materials at Walmart for $7.50 per window, with 10 windows that's a lot of money.  

I put a donation jar out and placed the first dollar in it, and there it sat for weeks, with only a dollar.  *Sigh*

The students said they would buy food if I put some out:

So I did along with some nice mechanical pencils.  That's when the money started rolling in and drum roll please....

Our window treatments:

Not only do they eliminate the glare, but they make the room look so homey and warm.  Other teachers stop and compliment the environment of the room.  And all it took was a few bedsheets.