Thursday, June 25, 2015

How Much Is Your Name Worth?

Starting next week, I'll be back in the classroom with my own roster of students. I'm super pumped and plan to be really active on this blog...  I plan to do a mixture of blogging about ideas before I use them with students and after I use them.

I need to quickly learn the names of my students on Day 1, especially since I'll only be with them for only 20 days. I'll probably do the Name Tent activity and Class Height activities found here. However, I want to establish some mathematical tones as well. For example, most tasks/activities will require students to:
  • make guesses (too low, too high, just right)
  • submit data
  • collect data
  • sort data
  • use the data
  • measure
  • problem-solve
  • make predictions
  • use technology
How much is your name worth?
If each letter of the alphabet was worth its place in the alphabet, how much is your name worth?
For example:
A-N-D-R-E-W would be 1 + 14 + 4 + 18 + 5 + 23 = 65

Figure out how many points your name is and submit it here:

What name will have the lowest points?
What name will have the highest points?
What will be the class average?

If this is golf, the lowest wins.
If this is basketball, the highest wins.
If I want the class average, what would that be?
  • Students will submit their values using Google Forms.
  • We learn how to sort the data in Google Sheets.
  • We can answer our questions.
  • We can use the data to predict the value of the next person that walks into our class, or the principal, or a parent, a stranger, etc.
This should not necessarily last that long, but there will be parts of the process that will be important to being more successful and efficient during our time together.

Name value,

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Classroom Visit in New Hampshire

Yesterday, I had the great fortune to Skype with a second grade class and their teachers in New Hampshire.


There were about 6 students who came up to the webcam to:
Here are some of their favorite Estimation 180 challenges:
Some of the questions they asked:
  • How do you say your last name?
  • How do I think of the estimation challenges?
  • Who takes the pictures of me?
  • Will you do more Lego estimation challenges?
  • How many estimation challenges are there on the site? (I was asked this twice.)
  • Will I continue to make more estimation challenges?
After finishing Q&A with my six new friends, Ms. Spear asked if anyone else wanted to share something. One girl spoke up and thanked me for
"...helping my brain to think more and not give up."
This warmed my math heart and made my day. I think that's a direct reflection of Ms. Spear and her colleagues who are creating a classroom of curiosity, perseverance, and risk-taking. They're raising the bar high for all of us, so anyone who gets Ms. Spear's students in the future, please continue to carry the torch and never let that flame become extinguished.

Something else warmed my heart. Ms. Spear shared that the class used estimation challenges, mohawks, and the strength of a small school community to raise money for Levi and his fight with cancer. Woah! Cool!

I thanked them for being such a polite, mature, and respectful group. As you can only imagine second graders staying seated for longer than 18 seconds is a small miracle. They were a classy group that has inspired me.

Thank you Ms. Spear and your students for allowing me to briefly visit your classroom.
You're the inspiration!


Monday, June 15, 2015

Fastest Sticky Sticker

It's rare that I post about something I haven't tried in the classroom. Here's an idea that came to me today, inspired by:
I haven't done this activity, yet. If you try it out, please report back or offer suggestions. Thanks!


Who is the fastest Sticky Sticker?
Translated: Who is the quickest at covering a 2-dimensional shape with sticky notes?

  • Whiteboards
  • Stickies
  • Blue painter’s tape
  • Scissors
  • Timers
Break students into groups.
Have them time each other sticking 10(?) stickies somewhere (whiteboard, desk, etc.).
  • Determine who is the fastest Sticky Sticker of the group.
  • Use their cell phone stopwatches as timers
  • Use some type of table to predict how long it will take each person to stick different amounts of stickies and write an equation.

  • Have each student determine their rate.

Reveal the playing fields

  • First, without the dimensions, of course.
  • Muster up some trash-talking
    • I bet you I could beat anyone in here with one-hand behind my back.
    • I might even give you a head start.
    • I could beat you blind-folded.
  • Have them write down guesses as to how many stickies will cover each shape.
  • Have students guess the dimensions.
  • Have measuring tapes out for students to measure their shape.

Have all groups figure out how many stickies are necessary for each shape. All dimensions given in inches.

  • Square (24x24)
  • Rectangle (21x27)
  • Triangle (27x24)
  • Parallelogram (24x18)
  • Trapezoid (b1= 27, b2=21, h=18)
  • Circle (d=18)

*The following is where I start thinking out loud and not entirely sure what makes sense since I haven't tested this out with students. Feel free to try it out and please report back.

Have each group randomly pick a shape.
  • I'm going to predict that some students or groups will complain/gripe about receiving anything other than the square or rectangle. That's where the scissors come in.
  • Give each group the amount of stickies they calculated for their shape
    • Include a couple(?) extra stickies for a mistake?
    • Give scissors to every group, but the square and rectangle groups.
  • Groups who don’t get the square or rectangle must cut their stickies to fit inside
    • The Circle group(s) should maybe get a little bit of a cushion (modification).
    • The square and rectangle groups need to be challenged while they wait.
    • They can help other groups prepare or figure out a reasonable head start.
  • Should certain shapes get a head start?
    • Should the head start be:
      • time?
      • stickies?
    • Can we modify any of our equations from above?

Ready, Set, GO!
I’d love to see each student participate in the competition. At first, it might appear as though each group picks the fastest Sticky Sticker, but I’d love to make this competition a relay race.
  • Have each group divide their total number of stickies by the amount of group members
    • Each group member should stick about the same number of stickies.
  • Groups determine the order (strategy)
  • Could we graph what that might look like?

*At this point, go back to the blog posts by Al and Jon for more tips.

Determine how the head starts will be determined.
Blow the whistle and get kids sticking those stickies.
Congratulate the winners. Take selfies. Play your national anthem...

Round 2
Who can take the sticky notes off the fastest?

Useful Math:

  • Area of various 2-D shapes
  • Ratio of stickies stuck to time (or time to stickies)
  • Rate
  • Unit rate
  • Writing an equation to model the rate
  • Using the rate to predict how long it will take
  • Possibly graphing the data (or “constant of proportionality)
  • Translate (graphically) the equation above to account for the head start
  • Piecewise functions for different members of the group.
  • Decompose square units in a defined area

Let me know if you're going to try this one out. I will probably test it out in a few weeks during my summer course and report back here.

Sticky sticker,

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Should We Use the Term "pace" More?

I'm preparing to be one of the presenters at a 3-day NCTM Deep Dive Institute in July. Hope you can make it. Fawn will be presenting too.

I've come across some great tasks from NCTM, thanks to Peg Cagle (that's C-A-G-L-E everyone) that I've adapted to have a much lower entry point for teachers and students. However, I'm also looking to mix in some favorite Estimation 180 challenges and 3 Acts like Fast Clapper from Nathan.

I really dig this task. At first glance though, it looks pretty straightforward. Act 2 could look as simple as showing students a screenshot like this:
Then tell students to use this ratio to predict how many claps this dude will complete in a minute. We could call it a day, but what fun would that be?

Here's what I think should precede any screenshot from the Act 1 video. Have students get out their cell phones and partner up. Record their partner clapping for various increments that are less than 30 seconds. For example: 0, 5, 6, 10, 12, 15, 20, etc. Keep track of it in a table...
Then see who is the fastest clapper in the class and if they can break the record. Talk about what might prevent the students or dude in the video from breaking the record.

Here's an additional place I'd like to take Act 2. Talk about the term "pace". I really like this question I'll be using from now on with students and teachers:
How often should we check to see if he is on pace to break the record?
I think this question opens up the mathematics, especially for a table of equivalent ratios and double number lines. Forget equations (proportions) here. Furthermore, it reminds me of the pace timers that you sometimes see on television during the Olympics.

Talking about the word pace, is this the same thing as rate...?
I'd really love to hear from you about the term "pace".
  • How often do you use the word pace in math class?
  • What context do you use the word pace?
  • Are terms like rate or slope synonyms to pace?
  • Tell me everything you know about pace or how you use pace in your class?
Seriously, I want to know. Teach me!

Pace yourself,