# 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!

# Rotten Tomatoes, Linear Equations, Ratio and Proportion

This problem came about because I was talking about solving the equation 4x + y = – 14 for y and there was a little confusion about how I could  subtract 4x from – 14.  Although this was really a problem with combining like terms, I figured that now was as good of a time as ever to reinforce the idea of combining like terms.

“Yaletta bought an unknown number of tomatoes at \$4 each, but when she got home, she found out that all of the tomatoes were rotten.  In addition, she checked her receipt and realized that the store had charged \$14 to carry the tomatoes to the car.  Write an equation to model Yaletta’s total losses.” (as a signed number)

The students seemed to come to the consensus that an appropriate answer would be y = – 4x – 14.

Then I asked these questions as well:
• What does y represent?
• What does x represent?
• What does -4 mean?
• What does -14 mean?
• How much would Yaletta lose if she bought 25 tomatoes?  (as a signed number)

What’s even more interesting about this problem for me is that later in the day I was talking about ratio and proportion and so I used this same problem to ask questions such as:

• Do you think that it’s fair that the \$14 dollar charge is fair?  Why or why not?
• Would it be more appropriate to have a charge proportional to the number of bags of tomatoes carried to the car?
• What additional information would we need to know in order to make this change to the charge?

After a recent afternoon meeting about statistics, I needed to find a few old links that I had buried away.  Well, here are a few odds and ends I found while looking:

1.  Virtual Math Lab at Texas A&M – This is a very good resource for College Algebra, Intermediate Algebra, and Beginning Algebra.  When I opened my link, it actually opened on ‘Absolute Value Equations’, which means that’s probably what my students were struggling with when I initially discovered this website back in 2009.

2.  Quick-and-Dirty Guide to the TI-83, TI-83+, TI-84, and TI-84+ – Although it seems like it would be most useful for the beginning calculator student, I have to say that the time I used this website the most was when I taught Calculus, and I couldn’t remember many of the calculus-related functions.

3.  Pete Falzone’s On-line Office – I have been borrowing handouts from this guy for the longest time. The pre-algebra resources are especially good for developmental math classes.  And I have found a lot of other great worksheets for other courses for when I have been called to substitute at the last minute and needed an ‘in a pinch’ lesson outline.

4.  Project-Based Learning – I am obviously all for project-based learning.  But if you need a little more background information, along with some additional examples and ideas for your mathematics classroom, feel free to visit this website.  There is a good description of project-based learning, along with some wonderful links to helpful websites.

5.  Classroom Assessment Techniques – This is definitely worth checking out, as I know that I got at least a couple of ideas from this website for the times when I knew that I had to do an in-class assessment, but needed something that was quick to set-up (I usually realize things 1/2 way into class for some reason).

6. Quiz Star and Easy Test Maker – Two quick links to create on-line and off-line quizzes and tests.  Both are free.  I know, I know, you probably don’t need another free product to do this, as you already have your own Course Management System, or you have your own system for creating tests.  That’s fine, but these may be useful if you’re looking to do something different.

# Cities as Math Equations

I must have an insane mind or something.  I just found out that Posterous will embed Google Maps right into my posts, like this:

But then, I started searching around to see if there is actually a city named 'Math' anywhere in the world.  I couldn't find one.  If I'm wrong, please correct me, as it would be really awesome to live in a place like, 'Math, Michigan'.

However, the whole search wasn't a total loss, as I found an interesting article about Cities as Math Equations.

# Teaching Equations to Pre-Algebra Students

I got in a heated discussion the other day with a couple of colleagues about how to teach equation solving to pre-algebra students.  The equation x + (1/2) = (3/4) came to mind because generally I start a discussion of equations by showing examples of one-step equations.  However, this equation (or most equations with fractions for that matter) is special because the quickest way to solve it may not always be the easiest way to solve it.  This can cause a dilemma if I am discussing one-step equations, but NEED to show the students two step equations in order to make the problem easier to understand for the students.  Does anyone else have an opinion on this?  Any input would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks.

# Pre-Algebra and Algebra Resources

A few months ago I had students in my Basic College Math class create a game about fractions.  One student created “Fraction Bingo”.  I decided to search the web to see if there were printable bingo sheets available.  Well, there were, along with some other activities that I found on the same website from Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.  And below is a list of a few of my favorite ones, appropriate for college-level basic math classes (organized by topic):

Operations on Numbers

# Factoring Activities and More

A few weeks ago a colleague of mine was in need of an activity for Factoring.  He was ahead of his pacing chart and wanted something to fill up some class time with.  I referred him towww.ilovemath.org, which has hundreds of free activities to download.  Here is a list of a few that I have successfully used the in the classroom: