# 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.

# More Videos

I first heard about these two videos from this Tech the Pluge post, but what isn’t mentioned there is that there are more videos that can be found.

Additional Videos: Getting Triggy Wit It and Teach Me How To Factor

Additional Videos:  Facebook for Math Nerds, Glee for Math Nerds, The Tonsil Hockey Team

# Using Virtual Tools to Solve Real-World Problems

I recently saw this video come up in my Twitter Feed.  It is about a group of teenagers who are working on a project for Abbott Labs, and the story of their teacher who realizes that after working on this Real-World Problem, that the students will never be able to learn the same way ever again.  Meaning, in the traditional sense, without the technology and virtual tools.  I understand where the teacher is coming from.  But as an educator, I don’t think it should take a project from Abbott Labs for us to realize this.  We need to realize this now.  We need to revolutionize learning for our students now.  We need to take action before its too late.

# Mid-Week Ideas, Anyone?

A couple of things I came across this week.  Of course, there were more, but here are the highlights:

1.  TI-Nspire Videos over at Atomic Learning – These are wonderful walk-through videos which cover the basics, graphs and geometry, lists and spreadsheets, data and statistics, calculator and data collection.

2.  TopicMarks – I heard about this wonderful tool this week in my Twitter feed that summarizes text documents for you.  This has wide implications, such as allowing more free time to read other materials, or to just simply give an abstract for one of your own works.

3.  Inequality Match Game – I actually found the direct link for this game from the North Carolina Public Schools first, and then hunted down the original source once I realized that the wonderful state of North Carolina has come up with what seems to be hundreds of activities for teaching math.

Here’s a recap of the links that I’ve posted on Twitter over the past week or so:

1.  A friend told me that she used this Divisibility Rocks game from over at The Utah Education Network with her Developmental Math students and that it worked really well.  It turns out that they have plenty of other great lesson plans as well.

2.  Z-Type is a very intense typing game.  It turns out that as a Math Instructor, I do have to teach typing, computer, and writing skills as well.  For example:  One student told me just today that he couldn’t write a paper for my class about an African American Mathematician because he hadn’t had an English class yet.

3.  NightMare is an example of a 25-word story.  I’m considering having my students write their own 25 word stories about a concept in mathematics.  This would be good introductory video to show to students, though, because it is absolutely hilarious!  It’s one of the best laughs that I have had in a really, really long time.

4.  100 Ideas for Data Projector and Document Camera – Well, yeah, these ideas really are for my friends who still want to teach like they’re still in the 19th century.  And even if you’re already using the document camera, I’m sure that you can’t think of 100 ideas.  Well, maybe you can.

5.  Times Attack is an awesome multiplication game that takes over the top spot for me as my favorite multiplication game ever!  And let me tell you, I learned so much from the hour I played this game just about the world of video games.  I was just as frustrated with figuring out how to navigate as I am sure a student would be with doing the multiplication.

6.  Math Illustrations is a new program that I just found out about for drawing mathematical figures that I really think that you will like once you watch the tutorial video on this page.  It is so great that I am really considering the \$59 fee to buy this program because I think it would make my life a lot easier in the long run.  And the Word Drawing tools suck, especially for number lines.

7.  NCTM Black History Month Resources – It’s Black History Month and I am trying to incorporate some lessons into my curriculum.  I found these resources to be extremely helpful.  I am even going to check the recommended book out from my library to read over the next month or so.  I checked already and it is indeed one of the books that they have!

8.  E-Learning Tools for Schools and Education is a Mindomo Mind Map with hundreds of wonderful resources for E-learning.  There are a lot of tools that I thought were regrettably left off the list as well.  However, I know that there are plenty of resources on the list that I have yet to explore.  I hope that you have time to explore some of them as well and to find what will work best for you.

9.  Math Wordles – I have talked about Wordles on this site plenty of times in the past and this activity just reminded me of the fact that there are so many things that can be done with a Wordle.  My plan is to develop a modified version of this activity in the near future to use with one of my classes.  As described, I think this could be a great activity for Math Anxiety toward the beginning of a semester.

10.  On-line LaTeX Equation Editor – I think LaTeX is so easy for entering equations, and I especially love how in the newer versions of Word I can type LaTeX code directly into Equation Editor.  However, even that bridge until the next time I can use LaTeX is not enough.  I can see this on-line tool being a great use to some people.

11.  TED Talks I’ve ‘liked’ over the past week:

There have been at least 3 times in the last week when I have showed a colleague this website and have gotten a surprised look of, “Where did you get all of these ideas?”  When I tell people that Twitter feeds a majority of my inspiration to go looking for things, they start listening.  But no one ever really seems to follow through by actually signing up for Twitter.  From what I can tell, it is a slight fear of just not knowing enough.  So, here I’m sharing a few links and videos to help people get in the Twitter mood -

Here is the most recent set of helpful resources that I have sort of stumbled upon out of well over 200 hundred that I’ve looked at today:

1.  Broad Texter – This is a service that allows you to create a group so that your students can join so that they can receive text messages from you.  In fact, I’ve set up one for my students that I hope to use in the near future.  Feel free to sign up at the top of the page if you’re so inclined.

2.  Smart Teaching Blog – My biggest advice when looking at this blog is to start scrolling down and to not get overwhelmed, as there are probably 1000s of resources listed, including this list of the 100 Best YouTube Videos for Teachers.

3.  Get the Math – This the link to ‘Get the Math, an initiative out of the PBS Station in NYC, which has challenges related to fields such as Fashion and Video Games.  I know I posted this on twitter earlier, but that’s why you need to follow along (if you’re not already).

4.  Bubbl.us – This is a simple and free web application that lets you brainstorm online (essentially a stripped down version of Mindomo), so it would be ideal for those who are beginning into the world of Mind-Mapping.

5.  CamStudio – Free streaming video software.  I mean, does the name remind you of something?  Personally, I’m doing just fine with Jing! for now, but some people may want to check into this.

6.  Poll Everywhere – Allows you to create a poll that your audience can participate in using their cell phones, twitter, or the web.  I’ve personally used this in a classroom before as a quick and simple alternative to using clickers.  It doesn’t give you a person-by-person tally, but you can get an overall idea of if your students understand a concept.

7.  Super Saas – An online scheduler, which I want to try out for future semesters to have students self-schedule for my office hours.  I think that they may be more likely to come if they can schedule themselves.  Has anyone tried this successfully?  I would love to hear!

8.  ToonDoo – The online cartoon, comic strip creator.  Create your own cartoons, comic strips, publish, share, and discuss!  In fact, I’ve mentioned something similar, called ‘Make Belief Comix’ in the past.  The major difference upfront is that ToonDoo is in color.

9.  Transfer Big Files – Transfer files up to 1 GB.  This would have been especially helpful when I was having trouble with students sending me their homework assignments last semester.  Another similar website is You Send It.

10.  Motivational Posters – This actually could be turned into a great class project if the students created a mathematics-related image themselves, along with a descriptor to put along the bottom.  Another similar website is The Parody Motivational Generator.

# Comment on a Few Useful Tools

This comment is more here for myself than for anyone else, as I keep on forgetting about them just because I don’t have them documented anywhere:

1.  bit.ly – You would not believe (or maybe you would) how much this URL shortener has come in handy lately to quickly and easily customize URLs to give to my students.  At one point I customized something with the student’s name because the student was afraid that he would forget by the time he got home.  You can’t forget your name, now can you?

2.  zamzar.com – Free online file conversion.  I have found this especially useful to turn YouTube videos and the like into mp3 files and to simply download videos that would not normally be downloadable.  I know there are other websites out there that do this, but Zamzar keeps a record for you rather than just a one time conversion.  Nice.

3.  I think that the video below is awesome, so awesome that I figured even if you didn’t appreciate my two comments above, you would appreciate the video.