Thursday, April 27, 2017

On Learning Grit from a Student

I recently discovered that Popular Mechanics, a magazine I remember hearing about from when I was a kid, has a riddle of the week, given by Jay Bennett. I used to love Click and Clack's riddle of the week from Car Talk (anyone remember Dewey Cheetham and Howe? I am dating myself again!), so I was pretty excited when I found Jay's puzzles.

I decided that we would dedicate a day to going through the problems in my Honors Problem Solving Seminar. It was pretty cool to see that we had already solved a majority of them, and even cooler that there were a plethora of ones that we haven't solved yet.

When we got to "The Airplane Problem," I saw it was deemed "hard."
I remembered when this came out as a Ted-Ed Riddle (see video at the top), I heard it was one of the hardest riddles. So I never watched it.

It's interesting, considering that on day 1 of Problem-Solving, we talk so much about grit and struggling to work through a problem, and yet, I really did not want to tackle the airplane problem.

There are definitely times when we can't solve a problem in class, and we have to look it up. I think it's good for students to see that the teacher can't solve every problem, and sometimes there is a twist that we just never would have thought of. 

Well, my students dug into the problem. We talked it through for a while and after about 15 minutes, I said, are we ready for the answer?

K, a great thinker, said, "I need more time." She was on to something. OK, I said and started shuffling my papers, cleaning my desk, graded a question or two...I was done. I couldn't do it, so I stopped.  A few times, I stopped the students, feeling bad that the problem was deemed so hard and maybe they were 'wasting' time, thinking maybe it was one of those impossible ones that you just don't totally understand even after watching the video, i.e., I'm still lost on the three gods riddle.

I said, "Should we watch the answer?" K said, "Wait, I need more time." OK, I said and really began to look at her work. Within a few minutes, she stepped back, admired her work,  said, "I think I finished", and proceeded to explain step-by-step, how to solve the problem that I gave up on. 

SPOILER ALERT! Here is her work:
As we watched the answer on the video, K nodded at each step, as it matched her solution. I thought, wow, K just taught me a thing or two about grit today. K put the "possible" in "impossible" for me. 

I am so proud of K's accomplishments in this class. It's great to learn things from your students, both knowledge, and perseverance! 

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Having a Unit Circle Tournament Using Purpose Games

If you want students to know their radians, sines, and cosines quickly, then this is the game for you and your students--especially if they are a competitive group like mine.

Students will be given a radian, point, quadrant signs, or an axis label and they have to click on the blue button quickly that matches it. And it's timed! I ask students to shoot for their best time with 100%. One of my students made top 5 of all players in the world with 37 seconds. We have no idea how she could do that!!

Click here for the link at Purpose Games. In the past, my students have logged in and played the game to try to get their names on the leaderboard. I assign it for homework the night after teaching the unit circle and give a bonus point to the top 3 students. But this year, I found the tournament section!

I discovered that there are lots of things to do on this site, but all I have tried so far is to click on CREATE at the top and create a group.

I entered in all of the info and I actually did make it public because when I initially tried invite only, I couldn't get it to work right. No one else joined other than my classes, so I think it's fine to do it that way.

You can name the group whatever you want and even can add a picture. Then click on create a tournament, in the yellow box. On the original, I did write some clever things, but for show here, I didn't. 

Enter the name, description, and when you want the tournament to start and end. Save the tournament.

Search for "unit circle" in the search box below and click enter.

Lots of choices pop up. I choose the one by felliax08. Click on "add game." Then click "publish" at the bottom. You will get a link, and you can share it with students and the tournament is on!
A few things to note: π/2 is not on there. Also, "x-cosine" means click on the button that is the x-axis, and "y-sine" means click on the button that is the y-axis. There is a glitch for quadrant signs. x,x means +,+, etc, so the plus signs come out as x's. Otherwise, it's all good, and my kids really enjoyed playing it. There was a lot of chatter about it the next day in class. AND they know their unit circle!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Ted-Ed Virus Riddle

My third Ted-Ed riddle was published yesterday. Here is the link to the actual lesson:

This was a fun one to do because it required me to research some Discrete Math topics that I learned back in grad school, like Hamiltonian Paths and circuits. The playful ending of the "Traveling salesperson" is a famous graph theory problem that students likely don't know about yet.

It's not a particularly difficult one, but certainly can stump a class for a good five minutes. Show it in class and be sure to show the second part even if kids get it right so they learn a little bit about graph theory and Sir William Rowan, not THAT Hamilton!

Here are links to my other Ted-Ed riddles:
This one is more "mathy" and great for higher levels, though MS kids do enjoy it, too. 

This one is an easier one that takes some time for kids to figure out. This could be done with all levels and I love having students "act" out the part. 

And here's an all-time favorite that I did not write, but I love to do with kids. Again, having them act it out is very fun!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Algebra 2 Honors Unit Circle Projects 2017

Each year, I give my students a Unit Circle Project to help them to remember the Unit Circle and to show off their creativity. Entries from two years ago were also great and can be found here. This year, students also rocked their projects. I think this is the hardest working class I've had in a very long time, and I am so proud of them. Students are told that they are not allowed to use project ideas already posted on the Internet, as that would be plagiarism, just as copying a paper is against our Honor Code. I showed them some projects I found online and told them theirs should all be original. I use guidelines and the rubric from, and also tell students that they must make their own circles and not use pre-made materials for them. Here are some of their projects:

I've seen these crayon melting effects on Pinterest!
"Arc" Reactor! Such a clever name (Ironman)

Look at the pepperoni, pineapple, and pepper cut-outs. The crust is very creatively done,
and there is real oregano sprinkled throughout!

A play on Dr. Suess

This student drew this by hand and dedicated it to her father. 

Beautiful hand drawn peacock!

This student "made" her own lampshade from scratch!

Though I did get a few dartboards, this one actually works with magnetic darts!
The student put a magnetic sheet under his hand drawn board.
I liked the "Stonehenge" look of this, particularly as I am traveling there this summer!
Stay tuned for my blog on the Unit Circle Tournament, which I will try to blog about later this week!