Thursday, September 24, 2015

Hidden Squares Activity Goes Digital

Remember my hidden squares activity that I wrote about last year.

Click here to read about that.  You won't be sorry, it's a great activity.

We just finished this activity with 3 of my classes, roughly 65 students.  As much as I enjoy this activity, I do not enjoy the little scraps of paper all over the floor, the students who still cut paper as skillfully as a Kindergartener, and the  s l o w n e s s  of the students' pace with just creating the posters.  Not to mention the grading.  I don't mind the grading, it's just that I'm not willing to drag them all home to grade, I try to get them done at school.  Oh and I almost forgot to complain about buying the supplies.

Then I received an email from our tech coach about making virtual posters with Google Drawing.  If only she had sent this one week sooner.  Better yet:  why didn't I think of this?

4(x + 2) + 3x + 5 = 34
4x + 8 + 3x + 5 = 34
7x + 13 = 34
7x = 21
x = 3

Here is a link for you.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Never Give Up, Never Never Give Up, Never Never Never Give Up

Never Give Up,
Never Never Give Up,
Never Never Never Give Up

-Winston Churchill

These words were and are displayed in the high school where I graduated.  I was on the basketball team and before each home game we ran through that hallway to the gym and would jump up to touch those words.  Never Give Up!

I was a young 17 years old when I graduated from high school, what does a teenager know about hanging in there and not giving up?  My 17-year-old self didn't know too much about that.  I know quite a bit more about the long haul (I still have a lot to learn), but that's not the focus of this post.  I would rather focus on my students.

Many of my students are quick to throw in the towel.  I see this often in math class and I can't help but wonder if they give up so easily in other aspects of their lives.  How many people easily give up on their spouse?  How many give up on their friends?  How many....give up on their dreams?  Here's something unexpected:  How many give up on getting gas for their car?  What?  Just watch this clip.

I've been showing this short video to my classes and while they watch it I listen to and note their comments:

"She should just drive away."
"Wow!  I can't believe someone is that stupid."
"Why didn't she ask for help?"
"Is she going to drive around again?"
"Finally!  She figured it out."

After we watch this, I like to make the connection to the classroom.
"Do you ever feel like you're driving around in circles?"
"Do YOU ever feel like you look like a fool and others are laughing at you?"
"Did this woman give up even though she may have looked foolish and stupid?"
"At what point do you ask for help?"

And then my favorite analogy is if she were to give up and drive away without getting any gas:
"What would happen if she drove away without getting fuel?"
Then we talk about how she would run out of gas, or she would need to come back to the gas station at a later point.  This is like quitting on a challenging class assignment, but then having to come back and try it later.  This takes a lot of time.  It could even have a bigger meaning, like dropping out of school and having to go back when you're older.

And what if she was too embarrassed to come back?  The students say she would have to walk or get a ride with someone else.  Walking is one way, but it sure isn't as convenient or efficient as driving (aside from pollution and exercise).  And other people are going to get tired of driving you around all the time, you have to be more independent.

Now, when I see a student give up on an assignment I say, "Ah, little Bobby just drove away from the station without gas."

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Guess My Number - Python

In the beginning of August I wanted to learn a little bit about coding.  I mean I took a semester of computer programming in college and struggled, but it was interesting.  Insert MOOCs and I'm all set.  I signed up for the Coursea course An Introduction to Interactive Programming in Python (Part 1).  I am in love.  I am only in the 3rd week of class, but I can't get enough.  I finish the assignments during the 2-day weekends, then wish for more the rest of the week.

For me, the assignments are just challenging enough that I have productive struggle and a real feel of accomplishment when finished.  I'm also learning a lot about being a student again.

Here is a screen recording for this week's mini project.  Nothing earth shattering here, but still cool.  It's called Guess the Number.

Would you like to play?  Click here to try it out.

To start, click on the play button in the upper left of the screen.  
Then click on either 0 to 100 or 10 to 1000.
Type your guesses in the box and press enter.  

What I Learned from my High School Social Studies Teacher

Back in high school there was this Social Studies teacher (Let's call him Mr. A) that made teaching look easy....almost too easy;  like ...