Tag Archives: Graphs

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!

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Observations on Plotting Points in Pre-Algebra

Disclaimer:  Some of this might seem very, very obvious.  But sometimes it’s good to state the obvious, right?

This semester I decided to teach plotting points differently than I have in the past.
 
I started the lesson by handing each student a piece of graph paper and a ruler.  Yes, I know college students should probably be accountable for bringing their own supplies to class. However, in this particular class we spend a grand total of 2 class periods discussing graphing.  I do not believe it is worth it for these students to buy a pack of 100 sheets of graph paper when we do not do 100 sheets worth of graphing in this class.

The first thing I had the students do is draw a vertical line and horizontal line down the middle of their papers.  I did not even bother mentioning the terms x-axis and y-axis at this point, as my major focus was on the drawing itself.  From observing my students, I found out that it is not OK to assume that they can draw straight lines, even when they do have a ruler.
 
Next, I had the students label the positive x-axis, negative x-axis, positive y-axis, and negative y-axis (in this order).  From observing my students, I found out that it is not OK to assume that they can properly number a number line, even though this is a skill that we also discuss in the chapters on whole numbers, integers, fractions, and decimals.  For the x-axis, which I was still calling the horizontal axis at this point, many of my students had trouble figuring out if the positive numbers should be to the right or to the left of the negative numbers.  Interestingly enough, they were better with labeling the y-axis.
 
After every student had their graph drawn properly, we started labeling the Quadrants, the x-axis, and the y-axis.  Then I talked about x being positive and y being positive in Quadrant I.  I had the students determine the direction of x- and y- in the other three Quadrants on their own.  Then we plotted one point in each of the four quadrants.
 
It seemed as if it was much easier for the students to plot points on a graph that they created themselves.  They seemed to have taken ownership of their graph at this point.  This is a stark contrast to how I have taught plotting points in the past.  My previous method was to either have the students construct a graph without graph paper, or give the students a pre-labeled grid.  I found out that neither of these methods is OK and I will never do either of them again.
 
I continued the lesson from here by having student plot the coordinates of a sailboat.  I did not tell the students that we were going to plot a sailboat.  Instead, I told the students that we were going to plot one point at a time, drawing a straight line connecting the points as we go.  Many students were resistant to connect the points as we went, causing for chaos in constructing their sailboats.  What I found out is that some of my students did not want to connect the points until they knew whether or not they were plotting the correct points.  Once they realized that we were plotting one point at a time so that I could walk around and make sure they were plotting it in the correct position, their nerves were calmed a little.
 
Finally, I had the students plot the coordinates of a coffee mug on their own.  This seemed to be a good reinforcement activity to clear up some of the odds and ends.  Of course since they were now ‘on their own’ and not being guided by me, some students went back to not connecting the points as they went.  And some students got (0,1) confused with (1,0).  However, since I was walking around the classroom, I was able to correct the majority of those issues before the students got too far into the drawing of the coffee mug.

Overall, I must say that this was a half-an-hour of very well-spent time.  I would definitely use this particular progression of steps to teach this lesson to students again in the future.

Web-Based Tool to Quickly Make Venn Diagrams

I just learned about a free web-based tool called ‘Crappy Graphs’ (http://crappygraphs.com/user_graphs/makecrap.php) that if you’re not trying to make a crappy graph, would actually be quite useful to quickly make a Line Graph or a Venn Diagram to illustrate concepts in logic, set theory, etc.  I’ve included a few examples of what it can do.

After note:  You may want to check out http://grapholite.com/ as well.

A Paper Idea for Learning to Plot Points

First of all, congratulations to Maria Andersen for winning the Mindomo MindMap of the Week.  Now, let’s document my journey over the next 30 minutes or so after I started hunting around the Play and Learn Mind Map.  And this is truly interesting, as it might show you exactly how I think sometimes.

I started with the Play and Learn Mind Map, which led me to the Playing to Learn Math Mind Map (Also by Maria Andersen).
I noticed that the Playing to Learn Math Mind Map (a work in progress) did not have any links to games about logarithms (although there is a spot for it).

I started searching Google for Logarithm Games and I came across this post called This Game Really is Worth 1000 Worksheets, which is simply a printable war-style card game about logarithms.

This site then led me to Let’s Play Math, where I found a wonderful post about a Graph-It Game.  However, the Graph-It Game only came with one -9985″>Christmas Example.  

So, I started searching Google again for “Plotting Points to Make a Picture Worksheet”.  Kaboom!  A lot of examples came up, all of which I think could be useful in their own way:  Mystery Graph (Owl) or click here for even more mystery graphs.

I also found these not so free options, although I am mildly inclined to sign-up for the ‘free trials’ and see what I can pull out of there in my 10 days with them.

1.  Math Crush has even more mystery graphs, and even a Battleship activity.
2.  Lesson Planet has some more as well.
3.  Math Worksheet Center has a ton of data and graphing worksheets.

Along the way, I also stumbled upon this post of the 20 Best Math Games and Puzzles.

Overall, I think it was a productive 30 minutes or so, and I hope that you found this post useful.  I am starting graphing with my Beginning Algebra students at the end of this week, so I will let you know how incorporating this whole Graph-It/Mystery Picture Idea works out.  Although, this is not something totally different than the What’s Brewing Worksheet that I have been borrowing from Pete Falzone’s website for a couple of years now.  But having more than one ‘picture’ is a good thing, since I am personally getting bored of seeing students draw the same coffee cup semester after semester after semester!

Maps and Mathematics

Just a couple of ideas that I think are interesting ways to approach the idea of using Maps to teach Mathematics.  I really think that the Map Application is a good away to introduce ordered pairs because students have to find locations such as A1, B2, etc., where there is a distinct order.  If you start getting students in the habit of thinking that the first coordinate is a letter and the second coordinate is a number, then it isn't as difficult to move to the first coordinate being the x-value and the second coordinate being the y-value.  And as for using Google Maps to Teach Elapsed Time, although the activity says Grades 3 – 5, I feel as if it could be easily adapted to any developmental math class.

Map Application.pdf
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Google+Maps+to+Teach+Elapsed+Time.pdf
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Math Vocabulary Becomes Art

I was researching the best way to use maps to introduce the topic of ordered pairs to a beginning algebra class, when I stumbled upon something totally different, and totally unique:  A website called Wordle that takes text and turns it into JAVA created art.  I actually threw the RSS feed for this website into their art generator (a wonderful option, by the way), and the results are below.  Immediately, my wheels started spinning about how to use this in a math class, and viola!  The nice people who write the Ed Tech 4 Math Blog Technology & Software For Teaching Math already have a nice post on how Math Vocabulary Becomes Art.  As you can see from my attachments, Wordle can also provide word counts, which could lead to a lot of discussion about word frequencies, etc.  Enjoy!  This also means that a future post is still coming about using mapping in the classroom.

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Wordle word counts.pdf
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