# New Probability Assignment

Last week I posted this on twitter after I attended the Math In Action Conference at Grand Valley State University:

However, I couldn’t post the assignment online right away as I hadn’t given it out to my students at that point.  Now I can.  Although I had lots of student questions about the assignment (more than I do a ‘normal’ assignment), I could tell that this problem had the students think outside of the box more than they would have had I not given them this assignment at all.

I tried to manage the student questions by starting a discussion thread on CANVAS and I jumped in at what I thought were appropriate times during the discussion.  For the most part, though, what I saw were students helping each other and confirming that they were all thinking along the same lines as they were working to complete the project.

I really liked this project and I would definitely assign this again.  I was even tempted to have the students find the population numbers on their own, but the problem is that Wikipedia, Wolfram|Alpha, and other sources were not all matching in there definition of a ‘village’ and of the actual population (some sources are using 2010 Census data and some even earlier).  Thus, giving the population numbers was definitely for my own sanity.

# Matching Activity using Hot Potatoes

This week I was asked about an easy way to make an interactive activity in which students would be able to match equations with graphs or descriptions with graphs.  I knew that there had to be an easy way to do this that didn’t involve having to know anything about java or any other type of code.  My first thought was to use Sharendipity.  However, that didn’t work out because I couldn’t figure out how to build a game from scratch in which I would be able to upload my own images of graphs and equations.

After a week-long search, I remembered about a program called Hot Potatoes.  The only other time I had used this program was when I was creating an online course using Moodle in graduate school.  Moodle has Hot Potatoes integration, but the integration didn’t work the way it should have worked.  Thus, I abandoned Hot Potatoes.

However, after revisiting Hot Potatoes this week, I realized that Hot Potatoes works great as a standalone program.  Of course, this means that you need to have your own space on the web to post your interactive activities once they are done.  To this end, I recommend that you do Jing your images and embed them into Hot Potatoes using the stable URL.  This way you won’t have to store the images on your own space.

This is a link to my Sample Matching Activity that I created using Hot Potatoes.  You may also want to mess around with the settings and tweak things such as whether or not the buttons at the top of the page appear or not.  Good luck!  And if you decide to use make some Interactives of your own, I would love to see them!

# Teaching the Properties of Addition

Here are some fresh off the press resources that I’ve created for teaching the properties of addition.  One of them is an infographic that I created using Piktochart (I pay for the Pro Version) and the other is a new paper-based game that I’ve affectionately called ASCII for Associative Commutative Identity Inverse.  I plan to use these resources with my Pre-algebra and with my Math for Education classes.

# Guessing Ages Activity

This semester I tried a Guessing Ages Activity as a first day activity in my statistics classes.  My version of the activity is adapted from page 11 of Teaching Statistics: A Bag of Tricks.  I found this activity to be a good ice breaker for the first day of class.  The students really enjoyed working in small groups to guess the ages of people and it gave me a chance to briefly review how to find the mean with students, a concept that they should already know from Pre-Algebra class.  Of course, later on in the class we talk about properties of the mean above and beyond what is learned in a Pre-Algebra class.  But this was an excellent way to review how to compute the mean.  It was also a good way to have the students do some calculations on the first day to break up the long list of definitions that is covered in Chapter 1 in the textbook.  Overall, I found this to be a successful activity.  And of course, the results from this activity can be used for further analysis later in the semester, but I have other activities I use down the stretch to get the students active again rather than just referring back to the same results again.

# 1.653*Pi Day

Happy 1.653*Pi (5/19) Day!

Yes, I know that Pi Day was way back on 3/14 and that 2*Pi Day is coming up on 6/28.   But celebrating 1.653*Pi Day is a little more fun, don’t you think?

Here are few resources that you may be able to use in your classroom:

Pi Day Activity

My Pi Day Exponent Activity from Pi Day 2011

Pi Day Rap Videos

# New Games, Activities, and Projects

In this post, I want to talk about a few of the projects that I have been working on over the break to use with my students in the upcoming Winter 2012 Semester.

1.  Electrifying Truth Table – This is an activity that a friend of mine got from Pete Wildman during the 2011 AMATYC Conference in Austin, TX.  The idea is for students to build multiple different circuits to model truth tables in different situations.  The one in the picture above is the AND Circuit since both switches (sets of paperclips) must be closed for the light to turn on.  The biggest pain in getting this activity up and running was getting the proper supplies.  It seems that in Michigan where I am from, there is no ‘one stop shopping’ for these supplies.  However, the activity is a good activity.  And I do have permission from Pete to share the activity with anyone who contacts me.  So, just ask if you want it.

3.  Indian Mathematician Project – My school is really big on Multi-Cultural initiatives and one of the college-wide activities for the upcoming semester is a display about India at the library. So, I have decided to have my classes participate in the upcoming Library Fair by creating tri-fold posters about a famous Indian Mathematician or Indian Statistician.  A couple of my students last semester created a prototype of a poster for me.  Thus, I really have a good idea of what level of work that I am expecting from my students this semester.  I encourage all of you to think of one way this semester that you can implement a Multi-Cultural initiative within your own classroom.  I believe it is a really good way to raise awareness among our students about the importance of diversity.

4.  Prime Number Tiles:  Revisited – If you have visited my blog often enough, by now, you know my frustration with teaching students about the Least Common Multiple and the Greatest Common Factor.  I have always wanted to use these Prime Number Tiles, but it did not seem worth the trouble or the expense to me to buy the scrabble tiles or cut out the paper number squares.  But I have found a solution that I really am happy with.  I am going to write the numbers on the backs of dominos that I got from the dollar store, which is 40.5% cheaper than using the Scrabble Tiles

# First Day Policies and Activities

Below is a list of rules that I plan to give to my students on the first day of class to try to prevent some of the behaviors that bothered me last semester from occurring again during the upcoming semester.  If the tactics in the handout seem a little extreme, good, I mean them to be.  I want students to realize that certain behaviors have consequences, both for the low achieving students and the high achieving students, both at school and at home.  I know that I will not get through to every student, but if you like my handout, feel free to tell some of the stories in your own classroom.

The_Rules.pdf

As for how I am going to present the rules on the first day of class, I am going to use the grid below.  The students will be given a blank version to fill out while I am giving an overview of the course policies.  I plan to give this to the students before I even pass out the syllabus.  So, the first piece of paper the students will receive from me is a sheet of paper that they have to take notes on.  I hope that this will instill in them the importance I place on taking notes in class, as last semester I had way too many students who did not take notes and then when they did not understand how to do a problem, wanted me to redo the entire examples for them.  By the way, I got the idea for the grid from Dan Meyer’s First Day Wiki.  He has example of one that he uses in a high school geometry class there.

Syllabus_Grid_Version_web.pdf

Another thing that I am going to do on the first day of class is the coin problems that are listed below.  I got this idea from last year’s MichMATYC Fall Conference.  The idea is to give students logic problems to work on in small groups on the first day of class so that they can get a feel for working in groups in a less intimidating setting.  I hope that this activity will help instill in my students the importance that I place on group work and participation in class.  I really believe that students learn the most when they are given the time and opportunity to explain the material to each other during class.  And for your convenience, the answers to the problems are on the second page if you want to use them in your own class.  I actually got my selection of five coin problems from a website of multiple coin puzzles.

Coin_Problem.pdf

For those of you teaching statistics, you may be interested in Sugar Coated Statistics or this blog post from the Sage Statistical Blog on Starting it Out Right.

I hope you enjoy your semester!

# “Factor Gate” Activity

This problem came up in my Intermediate Algebra class today and one of my students said that we should call it “Factor Gate” since even though all of the students have correct work, they all ended up with a “different” answer.

# Translation Terminated.

A quick and easy activity for reinforcing how to translate words into algebraic expressions.  (The version below may have a typo in it.  If it does, let me know and I’ll e-mail you the corrected version.)

# Histogram Match-Up Activity

When I got this Histogram Match-Up Activity, I liked the concept, but the instructions weren’t very clear for the students.  I’ve cleaned it up some (again, my modifications), and am posting it here.  This activity is different from Histogram Sort as it covers constructing a histogram verses simply sorting the histograms by ‘shapes’.