Thursday, September 30, 2010

Content Resources

Did everyone enjoy the professional development Tuesday? I know I heard some mixed reviews, but nothing out and out negative. Perhaps I’m too optimistic. I know some people in felt starting with addition was too basic for middle school teachers, but then again I heard some comments about how some students would make simple mistakes like answering twelve for:
4 + 8 = _ + 5
I think I remember helping to revising curriculum at a school last year and someone saying something to the effect of “if they don’t learn it in previous grades I don’t care if its a standard or not we need to include it.”
If our students are making addition and subtraction mistakes then a quick lesson, or differentiation, on strategies for addition is something we might consider doing. More importantly knowing what students are, or should be, thinking can help us identify misconceptions.

Inquiry based math.

I don’t make it a secret that I like the Connected Math Books. It isn’t because they have great example problems. Actually, since I started reading Dan Meyer’s blog I’ve kind of learned to dislike textbooks as a rule. What I like about the CMP books is the inquiry based format. I like the fact that everything is tied together from book to book. I like the fact that often parts of today’s lesson will be used in later lessons. Though if a previous teacher didn’t follow connected math it can be more difficult to make the connection.

If you don’t like a problem presented in the CMP book I highly encourage everyone to find a problem that you like better. For example this high school algebra lesson (Transparent Algebra blog) is very similar to the paper bridge problem in Thinking With Mathematical Models book. The point is not so much the actual lesson, or even the actual math, but getting students to think.

So the actual resource here today are some content web sites. Find out what CMP is trying to teach (I know sometimes it is difficult) take a minute to figure out some of the procedures they have used in the past or will likely use in the future so you can make connections past and future. then go pick your own content, a better content, something you will teach with passion.

Basic math content sites.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Hello Math Teachers,

We've probably all seen those online math games. They are pretty cool, but never exactly what you wanted. Don't you wish you knew enough programming to create your very own games? Well, even if you didn't I have the tools to do so and you don't have to know a lick about programming. Sharendipity, a neat web site that allows you to create your own games. Such as this one, which took me all of two minutes to create.  I didn't notice earlier today that the words you are supposed to find are almost impossible to see against the tree background, but you get the idea I hope.


Monday, September 13, 2010

Google Forms for Pre-Testing.

We all know what a pre-test should do right? Take a quick measure of the concepts students know and don’t know on the unit coming up.

What we usually get when doing a pre-test is a raw score often something in the neighborhood of 7 out of 20. Almost completely useless except for that occasional student who gets 19 of 20 correct and is basically given the next few weeks off. Er I mean differentiated work.

What we want is what concepts need the most coverage and who needs help on the specific concept. With this knowledge we can assign better cooperative groups, we can design differentiated homework for each student, and we can create better lessons.

I know when I create a pre-test then grade it I barely have time to record the overall score in my gradebook, much less make a chart of the data.

I need something to do all the hard work for me. Google forms to the rescue.

A basic Google form gives the questions and allows for one multiple-choice answer, multiple answers, or short answers, and more. All results are then entered into a spreadsheet. Each question will have a separate cell for an answer.

Now you can play with your spreadsheet to examine the data as you see fit. How to do that is a subject of a different lesson, and likely not something I will try to teach in one of these resource emails.

Here is the Google instructions for creating a quiz. I created a simple quiz for you to see what it looks like. Look at the form take the quiz and then look at the spreadsheet of answers.

A few things before you go. First this is an online form. Schedule 30 minutes in the computer lab or ask students to do it for homework. Second, the web URL is long and ugly, either email a hyperlink to each student or use and URL shortener such as Tiny URL to make the URL easier to copy by hand.


Friday, September 10, 2010

Calculus By and for Young People

This week’s resource is Calculus By and for Young People. Take an hour to listen to the Elluminate recording if you have the time. If not check out A Map to Calculus for some great activities to do in the classroom.

While most people argue that Algebra is too difficult for students below a certain age. This position is based on the idea that young brains just don’t seem to be able to grasp the concepts of variables or intangibles.

On the other hand many people have found that exploring math and not calling it Algebra can have positive results. In this case we will jump right over Algebra and move to Calculus.

For the high school teachers this can simply be a more constructivist way of teaching Calculus concepts.

For everyone else there are some really cool activities in A Map to Calculus

Don't forget I add all the resources to the wiki and I am also starting to add them to my blog.