Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Estimation 180 has Lessons!

Head over to Estimation 180 and you'll see this lovely new option in the menu bar.


That's right! 


I've added a "Lessons" page with many lessons I've created, sorting them by their CCSS. I'd like to thank Dan Meyer and Robert Kaplinsky for their friendly suggestions (nudging) to tag my lessons in an attempt to make it easier for other teachers to find and use. Plus, I'm tired of my lessons collecting digital dust and hope that teachers can find and use them.

I was honored to give a workshop for teachers in my district today. The workshop became the motivating factor for making this Lessons page. Right now, most of the lessons are 3 Act lessons that can be found at Dan's 101qs.com A few other lessons are ones I've blogged about. However, I have added two test pages at Estimation 180 where the entire lesson is available for teachers to use. Right now. At Estimation 180.

Pay close attention to my File Cabinet and Stacking Cups lesson PAGES!.

These two full-on lessons are ready for you and your students. You'll see all three acts, teacher notes, student work, student handout (if you like/need), and downloadable videos. Let me know if you have any thoughts, advice, or questions.

I hope this "Lessons" page is useful and/or better than that silly unorganized spreadsheet I've got lingering. You'll notice a few links are under construction, but many links deliver the goods. Check in often for updates.


P.S. Thanks to Fawn, Nathan, Robert, and Eric for your feedback.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Your Eyes Are Amazing

This Centrum television commercial caught my ear for a few reasons. I tracked it down on the Internet tonight and edited it for Act 1. You can find the entire lesson here at 101qs.com. It's a quick little lesson for Math 6 (6.RP.3d).

Act 1:

Question: How many football fields is 10 miles?

Act 2:
I'm not giving much information for Act 2 as I'm leaving this part of the mathematical modeling process up to the teachers and the students (mainly students). I think there's an essential part to the classroom discussion and I hint at it with the following questions (if necessary) left in the teacher notes:

  • Ask students, "What information would be helpful here?"
  • Ask students, "How are football fields measured and with what unit of measurement?"
  • Allow your students to decide the length of a football field.

I'd like you to do the math right now. Go ahead. I'll wait. It won't take you long.

10 miles. How many football fields is that?

Act 3:

Is this commercial's math wrong???

Should it be 176 football fields or 146 football fields?

What did you use as your football field length? Did you use 100 yards? Did you account for the end-zones being 10 yards each, making the total length of the football field 120 yards?

On a related note, I'm a little surprised the Centrum didn't use 100 yards so they could claim 176 football fields for a more dramatical pitch in their commercial. I also think it's fun to talk about what it would take for human eyes to actually see that candle 10 miles away. Darkety-dark-dark probably. No light pollution. No obstructions. Maybe a desert? No bright moon (which the commercial includes for some weird reason).

I'll be using this with my sixth graders this year when we get to conversions. It's a fun little task. Let me know if you have anything to add.

Candle Eyes,

Monday, January 13, 2014

Fun With A Dot and A Line

Who would have thought a dot and a line would be so much fun?

[Update] Fun With A... series
Fun With A Sticky
Fun With A Name Tent

I gave my 6th grade students a pre-assessment a week ago Monday. They bombed on questions like this:

Here's today's launch (Round 1):
Me: We're going to have a little competition. Who can draw the best reflection of this point across this line in the middle of your paper?
I handed each student a paper with this at the top.

My kids we're doing some cool things as they attempted to reflect the given point across the middle vertical line. I'll recreate some of them for you.

Julio used a long pencil to line up the point and measured the distance from the point to the vertical line so he could put a point equidistant on the other side.

Jason measured in from the edges of the paper.

Silvana folded her paper down the vertical line and did something on the back.

I asked each group (of four) to pick what they considered the best "reflection" from their group and bring it up to the document camera. We first eliminated some contestants by eye-balling their point and narrowed it down to 5 reflections. I said,
"These all look pretty good, but I feel there's gotta be a more accurate way to determine who has the best reflection here. I need your help guys. How do you think we can determine the winner?"

They thought...

Student: "We can fold the paper over and see whose dot lines up with the first dot."

I try that, but they quickly see I have trouble making a good (accurate) fold.

Student: "Can we measure how far the point is?"

I ask: "What do you mean? Can you please explain?"

Student: "Like how far is each point from the line?"

Me: "Which line?"

Student: "The one in the middle that goes like this. [holds up arm in a vertical manner]

Me: "Let's do it!"

I grab my trusty blue stencil and line up the original. Students watch me measure the original point. 7 centimeters.

Me: Okay, looks like our winner has to be the closest to 7 centimeters. Let's find out.

We get down to two contestants. Anthony has 6.4 centimeters and Stephanie has 6.5 centimeters. Stephanie edged him out by 0.1 centimeters. However, I noticed his point was better aligned with the original... so I threw that out to the class. They settled for a tie.

Round 2
Okay, who can now draw the best reflection of the original point across the horizontal line?
Same rules: pick the best reflection from your group, but it can't be the same person as in Round 1. Our target: 3.2 centimeters.

For a long time, we had a tie between Miguel and Luis. Miguel's point was 3.0 centimeters from the line and Luis' point was 3.4 centimeters from the line. Then, here it came, the last contestant. Jason hands me his paper and I measure it to be 3.1 centimeters. OUR WINNER! Jason is our winner!

Queue the direct instruction and mathematical vocabulary. It became really annoying to keep saying this line and this line. We have already talked about the x-axis and y-axis, so it was easy to convince my students to use those terms. We went into some practice questions that looked like the first picture in this post:
I do, we do, you do!

And now we end class with our final competition: a double reflection. I'd like you to reflect it first across the y-axis and then across the x-axis. Who can draw the best double-reflection?

Fun with a dot and a line. That's an understatement. I think we all had A LOT of fun. Who would've thought?

I'm finding more and more success with these types of lessons. I've been trying to design lessons that have a simple visual, ask a simple question, are geared toward some type of competition and/or game, require students to keep each other accountable, students are checking the answers with me as opposed to me telling them the answers, and fun. I'm trying to keep a simple checklist going. How's this for a start? Anything else to add?

515 +1 dot

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Little Mr. Sunshine

I'm honored to receive some rays from the sunshine of Shauna Hedgepeth and John Stevens. Like Christopher Danielson, I don't forward those silly emails of inspirational PowerPoints, cats in meadows, Bigfoot sightings, and other pyramid emails. However, I am compelled to do my part (or some of it) and respond to the two math tweeps who threw sunshine my way. If you're not familiar with sunshine, click on any of the three links above and read their posts so I don't have to retype it.

Act 1: Acknowledge the nominating blogger(s)
Hedge is totally awesome! She loves her students. Don't even argue that. Email her some thoughts, ideas, and/or jokes and her replies have a sincere, lovable vibe to them. She makes me laugh with all her A.D.D. talk, but I'm not sure how true that is. Wait, yes, I do. Just read one of her blog posts. They're awesomely funny. Where she might be intimidated by my height, I think I would be equally intimidated (if not more) by her love and knowledge of stats. Stats is definitely one of my shortcomings as a math person. I look forward to meeting her at NCSM in April 2014.

John Stevens reminds me of a professional juggler. Not necessarily a clown juggler. However, recently he did dress up in a chef's outfit during a presentation. This guy juggles and contributes to many cool parts of math education.  Check out his blog for iPad resources, his CUE Rockstar status, presentations, #CAedchat and his up and coming Would You Rather site. When you meet him in person, he's a very personable and interested guy. Sit down and have a beer with him. Keep rocking John!

Act 2: Eleven Facts
1) I've never broken a bone (knock on wood). Never.
2) I don't drink coffee. However, I love iced tea.
3) I'm a philosophy major.
4) I've only used my passport once and that was to Canada. I hope to travel to other countries in the future.
5) I enjoy doing yard work.
6) I can't remember the last time I've slept passed 6:30 a.m.
7) My iTunes library would take 36 days, 22 hours, 55 minutes, and 5 seconds to play from start to finish.
8) I'm actually terrible at estimation (just kidding).
9) My In-N-Out order is:
1 Protein-style Cheeseburger with grilled onions
1 Animal-style Double-Double
1 light-well french fries
1water cup (with water in it)
10) I love/have the board game Othello, but I have no one to play against.
11) Newcastle and Rogue

Act 3: Answer questions from the people in Act 1
Hedge's Q's:
1) If you had to pick one area/concept of math that is your "jam", what would it be?
Spatial reasoning.

2) True, but there's at least one student that sticks out in my mind that I feel I failed. Do you have one?
Yes. Actually, many students from my 2012-2013 school year. See this recent post for a visual. I went overboard with too many questions, not enough validation and too little direct instruction. Avoid this cocktail.

3) Twenty years from now, what's something kids will probably remember about you (phrase, moment, habit, characteristic, etc.)?
That guy sure took a lot of pictures standing in front of stuff so we could estimate its height. He worked hard and expected us to work hard.

4) What's something that you'd like to "fix" about yourself in your current job?
I'd like to learn more Spanish.

5) Name a movie title that describes you and why.
Tommy Boy. I don't need to explain.

6) Which tweep would you love to have a conversation with over a beverage?
My top 3 tweeps I haven't done this with are Hedge, Christopher Danielson, and Steve Leinwand. By the way, just one beverage? What kind of nonsense is that? I'm excited as it looks like I'll meet Hedge and Triangleman at NCSM this year! WOOOOOHOOOOO!

7) If you couldn't teach your specific subject, what else would you teach?
Home economics and culinary. I'd learn how to be a better cook and I could eat.

8) Everybody has a song they can dance/jam out to. What's yours?
Venice Queen by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

9) Who would you love to see karaoke at TMC14 and why?
Steve Leinwand. First he, wouldn't need a microphone. Second, he can probably rap faster than any rap artist, alive or dead. Third, what jam would he pick? Definitely NOT a ballad.

10) What's one thing (item, app, software, etc.) that you love so much that you can't imagine doing your job without it?
Apple's Keynote or Pages. Don't even ask me to use PowerPoint.

11) If you could job shadow one tweep for a week, who would it be and why?
Michael Pershan. Having met Michael and been intimidated by his fountain of intellectual curiosity, I'd love to see how he facilitates a classroom. Runner-up: Fawn Nguyen. Maybe I could steal her Brad Fulton books when she's not looking.

John's Q's:
1) Why do you teach?
Am I supposed to be teaching? I'm still learning and I expect my students to learn with me. This might help explain.

2) If you didn't teach, what would you do for a living instead?
Playing music in crappy bars while making guitars at a guitar factory.

3) Money being no obstacle, where would you like to visit? Why?
Europe. Most of it. See my passport comment above.

4) Kids always ask who your favorite student is.  Describe the characteristics of yours.
My favorite student is the one who perseveres, is open to making mistakes, takes responsibility along with the risks, and can see that math isn't about printed number on a paper.

5) What is your favorite board game and why?
See fact #10 above.

6) What is the most frustrating component of education right now?

7) Would you rather buy a Mac or a PC?
See the answer to Hedge's question #10. Mac!
John, you had to sneak in a "Would you rather?"

8) What is your favorite book?
Early John Grisham stuff.

9) If you had to choose blogging with no way to share it (ex. via twitter) or tweeting with no way to elaborate (ex. via a blog), which would you choose?

10) Who is your hero?  Why?
Wow! Too many to name. My grandfather (hero for being a role model of a man). My sister (a family and best friend hero). Dan Meyer (a math hero who saved me from ruining my teaching career).

11) What is the most exciting part about your job?
I get to make mistakes. I get to create my own lessons. I get to explore number sense and logic with non-adults. My job doesn't define who I am.

The Sunshine stops here. Thanks for reading. I'm not torturing 11 other tweeps. It was fun.


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Being the Answer Key (or not)

After reading through the Pimm Quotes that Dan selected, some type of bittersweet emotion about teachers being the answer key was rekindled within me. I left a few comments/questions and I appreciate Dan's timely and thoughtful responses.

For the following questions, I'll define "yourself" to include you, your students, and your classroom culture.

  • Where would you place yourself today?
  • Where would you place yourself at the beginning of this year?
  • Where would you place yourself last year? 
  • Where would you place yourself during your first year?
  • Where would you like to be placed at the end of this year? 
  • Where would you like to be next year?

*I'll share mine at the end.

There's way more to talk about here. I did not fully capture the essence of Pimm's quote, Dan's response, nor my own thoughts. I just wanted to toss this around as is.

I challenge you to blog about this too.

  • Reflect. 
  • Label your axes how you want. 
  • Should it just be two axes? 
  • Either way, create/add some type of visual.
Stadel this school year:

Stadel last school year (I went overboard and it was not enjoyable for anyone.):
AVOID quadrant IV

Stadel in the past (pre #MTBoS):

Stadel as a rookie:

Answer key,

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Daily Something [WCYDWT]


What can you do with this?

Why would a teacher use this?

How would you use this in your class?

What would you add? subtract? replace? other?

How would you use the information from student performance on this?

How could this be used as a pre-assessment? an assessment? an intervention?

Take a few minutes to complete each day. What do you notice?

*  **  ***  ****  *****  ******  *******  ********  *********

Answer as many or as few of these questions... or feel free to add your own.


Thanks in advance!