Saturday, January 23, 2016

Rubik's Cube Mosaic...Fun, Satisfying, and Great Teambuilder

Today my Problem Solving Class unpacked the 225 Rubik's Cubes shipped from and began the task of creating our school crest. Last week, a student used Photoshop to turn a picture of the crest into a mosaic, and after spending time adjusting some of the squares that did not turn out quite right, we were ready! I asked Diane from the company for a bit of help, and she immediately responded and helped me to figure out what to do. My class and I divided the mosaic into 25 sets of 9 cubes. Each student (9 altogether) were assigned 2 or 3 sets of the 9 cubes, and their task was to make the top face look like the one portion of the 9 for example, if you remember the opening of the Brady Bunch, one student had to first figure out the face of "Marcia", then "Carol", and this continued till they did the whole group of 9...then they placed them on the butcher paper I had on the floor.

 Here is how we divided up students, and we looked at the original just to make sure we fet good about the colors.

It was pretty amazing to get 225 Rubik's cubes all was quite satisfying see them all! But we had to mess them up to get them to match the picture. 

We had no idea how long it would take. Our class is 1.5 hours long, and I definitely thought we would need at least two classes to complete our task. But about an hour in, I new we could do started getting really exciting as we had only a handful of cubes left. We finished with about 10 minutes to spare!

We may do one more, depending if we can find a piece of student artwork that works well with the mosaic program. Next year, we will use 400 cubes to get an even more accurate design.

I think this project really promoted teamwork, collaboration, and grit. We talked about it for months, so finally doing it was very fulfilling for students.

I am working on writing up directions to solve the cube--it will not be directions to make you the fastest, but rather to make you remember how to solve it and show other students...I am collaborating with the teacher who skyped with me and taught my class and me how to solve a Rubik's Cube, Dan VDV. He was so patient and helpful, and I hope to do the same for the #MTBoS! I have written about how solving the cube helps to develop grit here.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

A Day in the Life of a Math Teacher: 2016 Blogging Initiative

As part of the MTBoS Blogging initiative, today I will capture my "Day in the Life of a Math Teacher."

I am a week late, but I was the lead chaperone on an Immersion Trip to Canada with 22 students and three other chaperones last week. It was truly the trip of a lifetime, not just because the kids were fantastic, but because the chaperones were too. We went dog sledding, tobogganing, tubing, and visited an Ice Hotel, a Canadiens game, and so so much, onto my Day in the Life.

5:45 - Wake up to Allison by Elvis Costello. My husband reminds me that I need to make the alarm lower. I agree as it wakes us up to the core. I forget to try to change it every evening, and so it's "Groundhog's Day" all over again tomorrow.

5:45 - 6:00 Shower

6:00 - 6:30 My favorite part of the The Skimm, catch up on emails, texts, and go through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Blog feeds. I had 130 Blogs waiting in my inbox when I got back from Canada!

6:30 - 7:00 Get dressed and ready for work

7:00 - 7:10 Make breakfast and take things out to the car

7:10 - 7:50 Drive to school. I've been making this drive for 20.5 years, 12.5 of which have been with my son. He has been coming to school with me since Kindergarten, and now he is finishing up his senior year at SA!

7:50 - 8:05 Go to the faculty lounge to make Via Starbucks coffee...the coffee in the lounge is just too weak for me! Say hello to several colleagues. Punny Guy and I contemplate rhombi at the copy machine (true story). Colleague A and I talk about Mu Alpha Theta (Math Club) announcements.

8:05 - 8:30 
-write this up
-email with Student A about upcoming MAO competition
-Student B pops in with a question
-email Department Chair about organizing AMC competition and a middle school student needing a peer tutor

Keep in mind that this is my easy day. I only have one hour and a half class...this is why I have time at all to blog. Yesterday, I taught or worked in the Math Lab from 8:30 - 3:30 with only two ten minute breaks, and 30-minute lunch. Then from 3:30 - 4:00 there was a math competition. But today is easy in comparison!

8:30 - 10:00 Honors Problem Solving Seminar
We were not in school last week, so I need to pick back up from where I left off. Half the students are new this semester, so I have to do some differentiated teaching. My plan is that one-half will learn how to do the Rubik's Cube (see my blog here), and the other half will work on math competition problems today. Yesterday after school, I worked on a draft of how to solve the Rubik's Cube, which I will allow my one-half to try out today. I also asked Dan Van Der Vieren to collaborate. I will also assign Problem Set 9 for them to work on for a week outside of class. We are getting ready to build our mosaic of our school crest! I am so excited and am thankful for for providing 225 free Rubik's cubes! We have a lot of work ahead of us, but this is the idea, below:
OK, so #MTBoS changes everything, as I wrote about here. I gave this warm-up to my Problem Solving class from My plan was just to make it a warm-up...students have been working on it for an entire hour! We emailed for a's a tough one, but my students love the challenge.

My student called this an "asymptote problem," because you get "really close to the answer, but you never get it."

Hoping to hear from the person who posted the problem soon. Also, taught one student how to get to level 2 of the Rubik's Cube and taught a new student how to get the white cross. Very fun class!

10:00 - 10:15 Pick up Work Wife and Fun Bobby and walk to Chapel. Gave Work Wife the geometry problem in hopes she will help us. Talk about shoes that are suitable for the "cold front" we have here in Florida, and how to handle a situation that came up in class.

10:15 - 10:45 Chapel
We sang Amazing Grace, said the Pledge of Allegiance, and listened to opening prayers...this one was interesting, and became part of the homily: "And why worry about a speck in your friend's eye when you have a log in your own?" Our reverend went on to talk about reflection and introspection before judging. He showed the video above and talked about how we all need some harmony in our lives rather than judge others. We had a birth this week in the community and a death. Life.

10:45 - 10:50 Walk back to classroom with Punny Guy. Of course, a pun was told along the way. Wish I could remember it now!

10:50 - 11:20 Debrief with Sheila from Explorica about our trip to Canada. Briefly talk about possibilities for next year.

11:20 - 11:35 Walk to Math Lab and sing happy birthday to Colleague A with math department.

11:35 - 12:05 Work on quiz, print materials for class tomorrow, answer emails, look over possible Immersion Trip for next year that Sheila already sent me!

12:05 - 12:35 lunch--caught up with Bestie. Haven't seen her in a while!

12:35 - 12:40 Deans office for peanut m&m's, Head of Upper School's office for lotion for my chapped hands!

12:40 - 2:45 Worked on getting Mosaic ready for Friday's class, emailed art teacher, answered emails; Graded most of the grading from when I was away last week

2:45 - 2:55 On hold with Sur La Table--to see if we can have a cooking class reunion for our immersion trip.

2:55 - 3:30 helped students with math, sent messages on classroom google to student groups about looking for a peer tutor and also for Algebra 2 honors class to google change of base theorem because I forgot it was in their homework; collected MAO check from student

3:30 - 3:45 chatted with Work Wife about new geo book possibilities and weekend plans. Find it unbelievable that she looked at new book (Jacobs) today, and it has the same impossible geometry problem in it!

3:45 - 4:10 got butcher paper from an art teacher, talked to her about getting her to enter one of her pictures into the mosaic contest. Found a peer tutor for Middle School student! Working on getting a second one.

4:10 - 4:20 entered Florida Math League scores

4:20 - 4:45 Delivered Trig Formula Sheet and Florida Math League papers to colleagues mailboxes and chatted with My Vault about blessings and curses and children and colleges and Jewish Forum

4:45 - 5:10 talked with Sur La Table representative--pricey...texted student to see what he thinks...checked on another cooking school.

I am glad that I am in the habit of doing all of my lesson planning on the weekends because so much of my easy day is spent doing other things! Though, truly, I contemplate having more free time on the weekends...

5:10 - 6:10 change and work out--tried Piyo DVD...hard!

6:10 - 7:00 drive home, ask kid about his day, watch him catch up on his sleep

7:00 - 8:00 enjoy this dinner hubby made, clean up

8:00 - 9:00 catch up on emails and texts, clean, get ready for tomorrow...4 peer tutors available for middle school! Entered workout into #FITBoS sheet. Tweet out help on the geo problem. Sur La Table is No. Pack stuff up for tomorrow, including Exploding Kittens.

9:00 -? Chill with hubby, watch TV, catch up on Words with Friends and Pinterest, and then we do it all again. Will I remember to change the volume of my alarm? Probably not :(

Sunday, January 17, 2016

My Favorites MTBoS week 2 -- Pi Day Challenge

A Pi Day Challenge for Advisories...they have a week to work on it and it is due on Pi is an example from 2013...some favorites were teacher or student doppelgangers and movies that involved math. (Note: I deleted any students or faculty members from the one I am sharing) I used math club (MAO) member names throughout for fun. It can be used in a problem solving or a regular class as well, but it's got a mix of levels.
Click here for all 61 questions!

A Comprehensive Trig Formula Sheet

Here are some formula sheets that I have taken from the web over the years and put together for my personal use. I am not sure who each part is originally from. I googled today, but I don't see an originator. If you know, please let me know and I will update this blog.

This year, I color coded it a bit, but here is one that is not color coded and can be changed as necessary for your class.

I hand this out to students for a quick reference so they can see everything at once, but they are not allowed to use it on tests and quizzes.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Let's All Teach a Course Based on #MTBoS

My Honors Problem Solving Seminar is an elective that is new for me and my school this year, and although I definitely brought many topics to the course, I must admit that my plans often get thrown out the window thanks to the MTBoS. One blog post or one tweet that I read before school could completely change my plan for class that day. There are so many things that I wanted to teach in my regular math classes, but never had the time. Now I can share with interested students all of the cool topics that are not part of the traditional curriculum. So I say, everyone, let's all teach a flexible #MTBoS course to our kids! Now is the time to get your elective out there to be approved by your department chairs or administration. My students all double up with this course and another math class. The prerequisite is Pre-Calculus or any honors math course.

Below is a list of many of the topics I covered first semester.

Things that I brought to the class (i.e., used before #MTBoS) but have mostly blogged about so are now out there:

Problem Sets These will last two semesters.
Figurate Numbers
Tower of Hanoi (I still need to blog about this.)
Art Benjamin's Mathemagic
The Monty Hall Problem
The Radioactive Cube Problem
The Art of Problem Solving
Die Hard 3 The Jug Problem
Florida Mu Alpha Theta Test Bank

Amazing things that I've built entire classes around using #MTBoS

Rubik's Cube (This was a long unit)
Sam Shah's Fistbump problem
Mr. Orr's Pumpkin Time Bomb Activity
Alex Overwijk's great little card problem
This tweet, below, which was a response to how to make a Sierpinski Triangle, which one of my students made (see above) as her final project.

Videos I've shown or problems I've given from #MTBoS

The Bridge Problem
The Fold and Cut Theorem
The Math in Pixar Movies
Cannibals and Missionaries Problem
Einstein's Riddle
Anything from Jo Morgan's Resourceaholic
Any puzzles from Emma Bell
Corbett Maths 5-a-day
The 3 Hats Problem or 4 Men in Hats Problem
Another Prisoner Hat Problem
Math major talks about fear
These Challenges

I know there's more that I've forgotten. I'm looking forward to Part II next semester!