Yesterday, as I was looking for a “battleship game” template to get my class started with the coordinate grid, I came across an awesome resource to use at the “I Want to Teach Forever Blog.” After a few quick edits (changing Captain D to Captain W), I thought it might be beneficial for me to give this to the students so that there are two games on one sheet of paper, so if we want to play twice, it is a possibility without wasting too much paper.

At our school, the easiest way to print class copies that are less than 30, is by sending it directly to the printer from our class computers. This is not only convenient, but it saves a couple sheets of paper that you would otherwise have to print to the copier and then take to the printer to make copies. Therefore, my goal was to take this one sheet, and send it to the printer so that I would have a front and a back of the same sheet. This proved to be quite difficult, as I first tried copying and pasting, but then the format of the second page wasn’t quite right. So then I got to thinking, “would it be possible to simply type in the page number twice into the printing options?” I tried it, and it worked! Now I am able to print two of the same sheet, using the front and back option (found in Properties), without having to actually make two copies.

While it would have been nice to know about this technique years ago, I’m just glad that I was able to figure it out while it is still useful to me.


Wow, my remedial math is something else.

Today, I don’t know how we got on the topic of it, but we were talking about yawning. I mentioned to my students that if you just say the word yawn to people, they will yawn as well. After a bit of a conversation about yawning, one of my students raised her hand and she told me the exact same thing I had said only a few moments earlier.

Student: Did you know that if you say the word yawn, then it will make other people yawn as well?
{Laughter from the rest of the class}
Me: Did you know that by stating the fact that “if you say the word yawn, it will make other people yawn too”, you too can make someone else say the exact same comment?
{Even more laughter from the class}

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Today in class I decided to have a little fun with my remedial math, since we have been working it out these last few weeks with some complicated concepts. I thought it would be fun to let them play the Wizard’s Notebook and work on their logic skills. I also did it because later on we will use their scores along with some other factors to make scatter plots and graphs.

While playing, a lot of students got stuck on the level A Dog for All Seasons. To help them along, I would give hints. Here’s how my hints went:

Me: What’s the name of this level?
Student: A Dog for All Seasons
Me: And what are some seasons?
Student: Summer, Winter, Fall, Spring

After typing these words into the box, I would usually get called back over.

Student: I still can’t figure it out.
Me: What’s another word for Fall?
Student: Spring.

At this point, how could I not crack up. It happened three times in class, and every time I couldn’t keep it contained.

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If you ask a graduating senior, and most adults, what topology is, you will either get a crazy answer that it has something to do with maps or they may look at you with a blank stare in their eyes. Not many people outside the mathematical realm realize tht topology “is a major area of mathematics concerned with properties that are preserved under continuous deformations of objects, such as deformations that involve stretching, but no tearing or gluing. It emerged through the development of concepts from geometry and set theory, such as space, dimension, and transformation” (Wikipedia).

While reading The Mobius Strip by Clifford Pickover, I decided that this video would be the first of a series of videos that I would show relating to topology. In the coming weeks I will be showing videos that relate to perfect squares, knots, and possibly some other topics that I discover while reading Pickover’s book.

Rather than come up with a worksheet, I’ve decided to present the students with a series of scenarios for them to try on their own.

  • If you cut along the middle of a Möbius strip, what do you end up with? Does Mr. Ug ever reunite with his dog?
  • What happens if you cut along a Möbius strip a third of the way in from the edge?
  • Create a Möbius Strip sandwich by taking two strips of paper one on top of the other, like two pieces of bread in a sandwich. Together give the strips both a half twist and tape them as if you were constructing a sing Möbius strip. What do you get?

Usually, I like to keep my questions short, because I find a lot of students are really intrigued by Moebius strips and they continue to discover on their own.

On a side note, I think it would be fun to crochet. Maybe if I ever learn how, I can make something like this.

This week’s video clip was brought to my attention by a senior from the class of 2011. He told me to check it out because it contains real life math that affects almost everyone in the United States.

I love this clip because it takes a number that sounds incredibly large, and changes it into a number that isn’t that spectacular. The United State of America, as well as countries around the world, use units of measurement that are common to everyday life, but if a person were to tell you the actual size of these units in relation to everyday objects, many could not. How big is an acre? How large is a ton? How big is a 5.8 earthquake? How big is a gigabyte? How much is a gallon?

My goal of YouTube Tuesdays in my classroom is a warm up and not a lesson that will devour the whole hour. Therefore, even though I would love to deal with all of the different mysterious units of measure, my time frame won’t allow for it. Instead, I am taking three units: an acre, a ton, and a mile; and then with these I have planned a short lesson. Hopefully, this will take no longer than 15 minutes of class time, and the students will have a better understanding of measurement when they are done.

To conclude the lesson, I have found another clip that uses the terms “acre” and “tons”, as it compares the amount of trash in the Great Pacific Garbage dump to things we Americans can relate to. Check it out below:

And here is the accompanying worksheet:

One thing that I have in my classroom that always baffles my young students’ minds is a digital binary clock. Students always look to the blinking lights and while some might notice a pattern, most of them have no clue as to its purpose. After a couple of weeks of having students in class, and once we have gotten into a rhythm for our daily routine, I then like to share how it is possible to tell time using this clock.

Usually, I go to the board and show them how the binary number system works, but then I fail to provide them with any practice in which they can show their understanding. This year, I plan on using a YouTube Tuesday to help illustrate the workings of the clock. Before I show them this week’s video, however, I plan on giving them a worksheet that helps them to understand what it is they are seeing in the video. As much as I love Vihart’s videos, it’s pretty obvious that she zips along in her videos.

To help them understand the idea of binary number, I will give them this worksheet (worksheet #3), which shows them the basics of binary numbers. While this worksheet was created for students in grades 3-5 to use for an entire 60 minute lesson, I intend to use it for a warm up for my high school students. It may be necessary to change some of the smaller numbers to larger numbers, just to make it more challenging for my older students.

Once, the students have a basic understanding of binary numbers, then I will show them the Binary Hand Dance, performed by Vihart:

I realize that after watching this video, that some of the number sign combinations are a bit controversial, but hopefully students will realize that when we count with our fingers, sometimes these things happen.

Also, if time permits, I would like to show them a clip from the TV show ancient aliens, in which they mention that the best way to communicate with other civilizations in the universe may be using the binary code.

While going over past posts on Google Reader that I had starred, but not yet had a chance to look at in depth; I found this week’s video from Vihart on Math Mama’s Blog. In the past I have mentioned that I really like her videos because she does a great job of explaining difficult math concepts. While I like her videos a lot, my students have mixed reactions. Last semester when I showed my class the Snakes + Graphs video, a lot of my students grumbled and complained that not only did she talk way too fast, but she also was way too intense for them. The funny part about this is that many of those same students that complained were the ones that turned in homework assignments from that day with snakes drawn on them.

The worksheet provides an example similar to the one seen in the video. Rather than just have the students watch this method, they can experience it for themselves. I first included an example of the visual method that she presented in the video, but then I also included the every combination method and then went into a few FOIL problems. Rather than redoing examples, I took them directly from the Free Math Help website. I also included another multiplication method not talked about in the video, but rather taken from the book Rapid Math Tricks and Tips and pulled some of the examples from The Math Lab website. I included this method because it is what I use most often in class, and it’s always good for students to know how I am able to quickly find the answer to two digit multiplication problems without using a calculator.