Thursday, March 31, 2011

Math Door Handles (Indirect Homework 2)

I am all about assigning indirect homework. Indirect homework, to me, is simply learning in small intervals without the student directly knowing they are learning. To do this we must be sly ;) We must be crafty, clever teachers who give students something mathy to use in their room or their daily lives.  How about a door handle?

Now, this need not be basic. It can be definitions, pictures, problems, etc. Yet, it needs to be stripped down to the essentials so that the student can make small glances at the picture multiple times per day and learn. Aggregate these small amount of learning over the weeks, months, and year and you have your extra homework :)


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Creating A Math Clock (Indirect Homework)

Is it just me or can students no longer read the traditional clocks on the wall with hands?   I remember being asked what time it is, pointing to the clock in the back of the classroom, and being told “I can't read that clock, can you look on your computer"? 

Nonetheless, this next exercise is to build a mathematical clock. 

The awesome guys at Think Geek (i want the whole store!) were awesome enough to send me this cool math clock that i have on my wall in my office. 

The concept is both nerdy and genius for teaching math! By placing these math-problems on a clock, it becomes somewhat more challenging for anyone to figure out what time it is. 


Think about it, if you have your students make a clock to hang on the wall in their room, using knowledge they will be tested on throughout the year, you have created what i call "indirect homework". Every time a student wants to know what time it is, they need to do some math :)

How do you do it? 

1)You can either take the expensive route and have your students buy clock making devices (about $6.00 each) at your local Walmart (or order them online and collect money to cover the costs) 


2) You can simply build a face cover for a clock by cutting out a circle with a whole in the middle and a slit down the paper using the sites here and here.

Be sure to send me some pics ;)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Graphs of Functions In Nature

For Algebra teachers we know there are certain "go-to" graphs of functions that tend to be most popular in our texts. Having the ability to recognize these graphs enables the student to anticipate the shape of the graph and any of its variations. Simply knowing its normal shape allows students to visualize any transitions or reflections in the graph.

The point of this exercise is to send your students on a scavenger hunt in nature for the graphs of functions. Such an exercise would make a great recess or study hall period activity as well as an end of the class exercise.  

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Twilight Math Word Problems

You can download this via the link or in my math downloads sections. Though not hands on, it add some student relevance.  

Vampire Math pdf

Friday, March 25, 2011

Teaching Statistics With Tootsie Pop Data

Need To Teach Statistics? Mean, Median, Mode, Range, Standard Deviation, etc? Then you need data...

Now, you can surly get data from predetermined data sets, but such data does create any relevance. It doesn't spark any interest because it is too far removed from the student and the classroom. Here's an idea! Tootsie Pops!

How many licks does it take to get to the center of the tootsie pop?

So here's what you do. Buy a couple bags of tootsie pop suckers

1st: you must decide if your question is how many licks to remove all the candy around the tootsie pop, 1/2 of it, or simply to reach the tootsie pop.

Now decide, do you distribute them at the beginning of class and allow the students to lick the sucker throughout class, or assign it as homework? Either way, you will collect a diverse set of data that will interesting to investigate. Let me know how it goes! Send pics  

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Another Variation of Plotting Points and Graphing Lines

Instead of plotting points the normal way here is a variation

Educator may choose to replace the nails with tac's and the board with cardboard or other products like construction paper. The purpose is, as always, to let the students engage the material.

The same concepts may be used for more advanced plotting also

y = x

y= x^2 (hard to hold the string and take pictures while watching your 2-year-old :)

What else could you do? 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Matching Lines To Equations

Does the above look familiar? You give your students an equation, ask them to pick arbitrary points for x in order to solve for y. Then take those points, plot them,  and graph the line. Here's a variation from paper and pencil.

Instead of plotting point, try matching lines with equations  

Bolting two pieces of wood together we create an X, Y coordinate. 

Using a straight stick, the students goal is to hold the stick in a way that represents the line drawn when the points were plotted.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

It's Here!! My First Math Children's Book!

I dare say its the greatest math book for teaching the Real Number System of natural, whole, integer, rational, and irrational numbers ever :) At the very least it's a good one

Do Natural Numbers Ever Wonder What's Unnatural?

Journey with the wonderful number one as he travels throughout his Real Number universe to meet a diverse set of Real Number creatures. From the beginnings of his little Natural Number farm though Whole Number Forest, Integer Island, Rational Road and The Land of Irrational, our wonderful number one seeks knowledge. 

The story couples cute art and alliteration to create an easy to follow story for you students learning the Real Number System. Educators may decide to use this wonderful guide as either supplementary or primary material for both inner subject or cross discipline learning.

The Future of Math Education

Monday, March 21, 2011

Math Outside The Textbook (Acute Angles In Nature)

Educators, we know that there is math outside the worksheets and textbooks. Let's take our students to the math! This short vid asks us to look for angles in nature

Angles In Nature 2
The power point was taken from here 
View more presentations from micdsram.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

My First Math-Childrens Books Will Be Out Soon

It's about a wonderful number as he travels throughout the real number universe. It reads with lots of alliteration. Please let me know what you think of the pic

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Rock, Paper, Scissors Math Variation To Teach Angles

Most rock, paper scissor, games are played with an odd number of choices in order to optimize each choice. I choose to use four choices obtuse, acute, right and straight

 Obtuse x > 90 degrees

Right Angle 90 degrees 

Straight Angle (line) 180 degrees

Acute Angle x < 90 degrees

So here's how you play
1) Have your kids right down the choices and write their definition as well as draw a picture
2) Provide your students with the rules of play (shown below)


1) Obtuse Angles beat Acute angles 
2) Acute beats Right and Straight Angles
3) Right angles beat Obtuse angles
4) Straight angles beat Obtuse and Right angles. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Icebreaker: Advice For The First Year Teacher

Teaching Properties Associative, Commutative, Distributive, etc, Through Matching

Teaching any properties in math can be tough for educators. Properties as intuitive as Associative  Commutative, Distributive or as tough as the ones shown below are hard for students to memorize. 

(hosted at 

And that's just what we need...a memory game!

Using flashcards (premade flashcards may be found here) have students play the old fashioned memory game.

1) Each student gets a turn to flip over two cards
2) If they match the proper property with its definition they keep the set of cards and go again. If they don't, its the other students turn
3) The Student who collects the most sets of cards, wins!

The same concept may be used to teach algebra properties. For example, the various definitions of perfect square trinomials and the difference of two squares. They too can be made to play in the same fashion.

Let me know how it goes :)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Teaching Simple Interest: Choosing The Best Deal

Teaching Simple Interest: 

I= prt

I =Interest, p = principle, r = interest rate (in decimal), t = time in years

Let's tell a story about a kid who wants to borrow $70.00. He has three choices to borrow the money, "mom and dad", "the bank" or "the loan shark"

Lets see who he chooses

Teaching Y-axis, Output, Range and Dependent Variable With The YORD

The YORD is a mythical creature that teaches students to remember y-axis, output, range, dependent variable. The video shows a pic of a potential YORD. See more at our website

Talking About A Math Lab

Sunday, March 13, 2011

I'm Working On A Sketch For Distributive Property

It's going to be about a detective who busts into a set of parenthesis and "distributes" punishment. Let me know what you think

Learning Whats A Function Through Text Messaging

Functions can be a hard concept to teach to primary and secondary students! Math Is Fun gives as good of a review as anyone. One of the hardest concepts for students to grasp in when a function is really a function and when it isn’t. If we are lucky enough to have a graph then we may simply use the vertical line test  but normally this is not the case, so, let me offer an analogy

Using text messaging for our example here are our definitions using inputs and outputs.

Function: Cell Phone

Input:  Cell phone numbers in our address (a)

Output: Sent text messages (TM)

Our Function is thus
TM = f(a)
Text massages are a function of what address we input.

Now we have a platform to teach our function concept. For additional questions, download the worksheet titled What is A Function in the math downloads section

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Just finished revising the polygon workbook. It now has more directions and examples. Check it out!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Is Your Secret Safe? Think Exponentially (Exponential Growth)

Is Your Secret Safe? Think Exponentially 

1st: Think and write a secret that you wouldn't want anyone to know about you, aside from a couple of dear close friends
2nd: Think of who those close friends, draw them and write their name under the picture (stickmen will work fine)

3rd: If in one day you tell each of your friends your secret, how many total people (aside from you) now know your secret?
______ total people in ___ day
4th: Now, if the next day each of your friends tell three of their friends, how many people now know your secret (aside from you)? Draw them underneath each of their friends

______ total people in ___days

5th: Now, lets say the following day each of these friends tell three friends. Now how many people know your secret? Draw them

______ total people in ___ days
6th: We can see how fast your rumor can spread right? Theres got to be a better way of calculating who will know your secret. 
In Walks Exponents :)
Exponents will quickly allow us to calculate how many people know your rumor 
Day 1: 3^1 know your secret 
Day 2: 3^2 know your secret (plus your original  3)
Day 3: 3^3 know your secret and so forth (plus your original 9)...
Our equation can be thought of as this 
# of people who know your secret = (how many people you tell) raised to the power of (how many people they tell) . As those who are told begin to tell others, the exponent grows. Don forget to factor in the original amount of people :)

Moral of the story? Keep your secrets with you or those you really trust

Additional Questions To Ask?
How long till you school or neighborhood knows your secret?
How long till the country know your secret?
How long till the world knows your secret? 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Got A Kindle? Read Surviving the Trenches of Education For $2.99

I'm working on volume 2 of Surviving The Trenches of Education but if you're not someone who likes to read the book online, you can kindle it for $2.99 (just click on the pic or go here

Surviving the Trenches of Education (The First Week)
Available in Kindle For $2.99

Solving Equations Using Weigh Scales

The following is a hand drawn experiment, however, i believe it would best be received if the educators actually used a scale and a real doggy-bowl(or a paper bag) on both sides to represent the variable as well as actually manipulated the experiment so as to show how the scale must balance. Thus, i'm well aware that the hand drawn experiment here is flawed...but i think you'll get the idea :)

How Many Bones Are In The Dog Bowl

Use Algebra To Solve

Now look in the dog bowl to see if you are correct? 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Foldables: Study Organizers

I've always been a huge fan of foldables as study organizers. Here are the three that I used most often. Any suggestions?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Teaching the Value of the Pythagorean Theorem with a Football Field

Activity: Teaching the Value of the Pythagorean Theorem with a Football Field

You will need:

Yard sticks

Pen and paper

(Measure using inches to avoid added conversions)
Overview of Activity:

Students will be split into groups and placed at the four corners of the end zone of a football field. Using a yard stick students will measure how many yards are from one corner of the end zone to the other. After the activity, the students will be shown how they could have easily calculated the distance by simply using the Pythagorean Theorem.

Pre Activity:

1. How to measure using a yard stick.

2. How to keep record of each yard stick using tally marks

1. Have Students split into four groups

2. Ask them to measure how many yard sticks reach from one corner of the end zone to the other (the hypotenuse of the triangle).

3. Place each group at each corner of the end zone and have them measure how many yards from one end zone to its diagonal.

4. Have them record their data
Post Activity:
1. Have students share their data and compare it to your own

2. Share the way you calculated the distance using the information that the field is a rectangle with a distance of 120 yards and a width of 50 yards)

3. A^2 + B^2 = C^2, A= 120, B= 50. C = Square root(16900)

4. Introduce the Pythagorean Theorem

5. Practice