Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Today, students had about 90 minutes to work on creating their Des-man. Des-man was the brainchild of Fawn. Desmos then teamed up with Dan Meyer and Christopher Danielson to create a suite of classroom activities, one of them being Des-man. I've done Des-man before, but not with the Desmos classroom. Let me just say, it's awesome!

As the teacher, I could see every students' work in real-time and display it up on the projector for all to see if need be. That's a really slick feature on top of the already amazing Desmos. It's like math euphoria! It was a blast to see students work 90 minutes straight, being as creative as possible with their Des-man (or Des-woman). After three weeks, Desmos became a very familiar tool for students because they used it with tasks like Barbie Bungee, Datelines, Hit the Hoop, Vroom Vroom, Stacking Cups, and more. I'd like to showcase a few creations for you. Enjoy!

Thanks Fawn, Desmos, Dan, and Christopher for a wonderful and creative math experience. Lastly, I want to thank my students. Today, you guys helped each other out, persevered, asked for advice, freely explored, had fun, and wanted to know more about functions, domain, range, circles, sliders, and more!

Desmos is great about asking for feedback. I have some observations and am curious. Maybe I'm missing something, but I noticed some features from the regular desmos calculator missing in the classroom. Maybe these are upcoming features:
Students couldn't duplicate functions. How come?
Students couldn't create (use) tables. How come?
Students couldn't create folders or text boxes. How come?
Students can't share their Des-man (email, link, etc.). How come?
As the teacher, I can't keep the Des-man (functions included) for each student. How come?
As the teacher, I'd love to have access to each student Des-man, especially if I want to send it to that student or share at a later time.
Thanks for listening, Desmos!


Monday, July 21, 2014

Tools: Helpful & Unhelpful

Not sure I made the best teaching move today, but I had to try it. We explored Dan Meyer's "Will it hit the hoop?" task(s).

Act 1: Roll "Take 1"
  • Agree on the question, "Will he make the basketball shot?"
  • Ask students to make a series of guesses for a total of six takes.
Act 2: Ask for information
I typically ask students to think of information they would find useful in answering the question. Today, I went somewhere else with Mathematical Practice 5. I asked students to make two lists:
  • List 1: Math tools that would be UNhelpful.
  • List 2: Math tools that would be helpful.
This is the fourth and final week of the summer academy. My students have been exploring many math tools. I'll list the activity/task with the prevailing tool(s):
As you can see, many of our tasks were dominated by slope-intercept and Desmos. I didn't find their lists surprising.

I love how some students thought Desmos would be helpful, while others thought it'd be unhelpful. Those that found it unhelpful, wished you could insert images into Desmos so they could use sliders to find the path of Dan's shots. Boy, were they happy when they discovered you could import images. My first class was split down the middle: half thought slope-intercept might be useful and half didn't. It took a few convincing students to explain why Vroom Vroom was an example where a linear function was unhelpful.

Overall, I'm pleased with this approach, but I wouldn't do it with every task. It might confuse students that there's only one way to solve a task and detract from the importance of MP 5. I thought this was a fitting opportunity for students to mainly see the difference between a linear function and quadratic function. Specifically, I wanted them to see the advantages of using sliders in Desmos with a quadratic function instead of a linear function. I think students need to shuffle through their tool belt often and pick the right tools for the right task. I think today it was necessary. Dan has written about this or breaking students' tools. Moving forward, it's a matter of using this strategy at relevant times and not overusing it. However, I might be wrong altogether. That's where it's your turn to chime in...

Tomorrow: Des-Man!


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Estimation 180 Gear

They're here! Estimation 180 t-shirts and stickers! Yes, I'm excited.

Estimation 180 was born out of my love for number sense and visual mathematics. In addition, it was important I help my students develop better number sense and see the world of mathematics in a different way. Little did I know, the site would make its way into classrooms across the United States, Canada, and other parts of the world. Thank you all for tweeting or emailing your experiences as I find it so cool that students are exploring number sense in your classroom and having mathematical conversations, sometimes even constructive arguments.

It makes my math heart full of joy to see other teachers do amazing things with Estimation 180 and beyond. Please make some time to check out blogs like Joe Schwartz, Jonathan Claydon, Mary Bourassa, and Megan Schmidt who are just a FEW of the teachers taking the idea and running with it. Teachers like MichaelHedge, DanRobert, John, Matt, and others spread the Estimation 180 love when doing teacher trainings or presentations. I couldn't be more appreciative and grateful. Thank you! Chris Harris even shared some bacon estimations to a roomful of parents one weekend.  I love how the site has become an instrument to help teachers create a classroom of curiosity with students, building number sense along the way. In addition to daily estimation challenges, the site has many of the lessons I've developed over the past few years.

These shirts are just another extension of my passion for number sense. As I present at conferences and give teacher trainings, I'm excited to give away some t-shirts to attendees nailing estimation challenges built into my workshops. Likewise, stickers are available for you to stick some number sense in your favorite place. This is how I roll!

I'm not in this to make money. This is more of a hobby to go along with the site. I would be eternally grateful if you decide to buy shirts and stickers and spread the Estimation 180 love. Head over to the Estimation 180 store and check out the shirts, their sizes, and how easy it is to order.

Nuts and Bolts:
If you're interested, I think it'd be good to be transparent on the nuts and bolts behind the t-shirts and stickers. If you're not interested in the nuts and bolts behind the t-shirts, skip the rest of this post and check out the t-shirts and stickers.

No outside party is financially backing Estimation 180. AND I don't plan on charging for using the site, ever! Therefore, I have done everything I can think of to make these shirts as affordable as possible, because I'm not in this to make money. Any money made from shirts and stickers would go back toward web costs associated with Estimation 180 and the free t-shirts and stickers I would pass out at conferences. As you can imagine, it's been one huge math task keeping track of expenses in order to set reasonable price points for the t-shirts and stickers so that teachers can afford them.

$20 for a shirt gets you a lot! You get a high-quality shirt for one. This price also includes tax and shipping. It also looks like I can throw in a sticker with each t-shirt order. Sweet! This $20 also goes toward the cost of the blank shirt, printing, mailing envelopes, and labels (mailing and return).

$2.50 gets you a high-quality sticker. This covers the cost of getting the sticker made, the envelope, labels, and postage. Of course, if you order two or three stickers, it's a better deal.

*Important note: my buddy Johnny from Speysyde was in charge of printing the t-shirts and he did a fantastic job! Please cruise by his site. It's all about the sustainable lifestyle:
Our mission is simple. To spread awareness and advocate an eco & social sustainable lifestyle through the creative collaboration of culture, music, sport, art, adventure & travel.
I declined using some of the premium web store features my host offers, such as shipping calculators, tax calculators, and other premium web store features. This drastically keeps the cost of the shirts at $20. For each purchase and transaction, Stripe takes a small percentage from my side. There is no additional cost to you. Their service, similar to PayPal, makes each transaction secure, safe, and easy.

I think you'll truly enjoy your shirt. I am!