Friday, April 28, 2017

SpreadSheets in Math.

Apple, Caffeine, Coffee, Coffee Shop  Like it or not, spread sheets are an important part of running a business.  Spread sheets are used to create so many documents but the bottom line is many applications within the spread sheet requires math.  In addition, spreadsheets can be used for assessments in the math classroom.

Education world states spreadsheets help facilitate inquiry and analysis, explore elementary algebra as they use functions and function tables.

In addition, students can observe patterns as values are changed, can do data analysis with dynamic graphs which adjust as data is added or changed, or they can compare and contrast real life data with theoretical data.  Research indicates that the use of spreadsheets in the classroom is a step towards creating student centered classroom.

What is so cool, is the use of spread sheets for sequences such as arithmetic, geometric, triangular, squared, cubed, and perhaps even the Fibonacci sequence. Create formulas for conversions of length, weight, money conversions. etc.  Alphabetize lists or sort by numerical value, make dynamic magic squares, create function machines, etc.

Spreadsheets can be used to perform standard operations of multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction along with exponents, order of operations, and functions such as sum, average, minimum, and maximum.  Spreadsheets are also great for finding the line of best fit when analyzing data.

According to one article I read, spreadsheets are awesome for "What If" scenarios when you want to see what certain changes do to the whole situation.  For instance, if you purchase a house using an adjustable rate mortgage, what does a 1/8th percent increase do to the overall cost of the loan?  How much will it change the monthly payment?.  What happens if the interest drops?  How does an increase or decrease change the over all cost of a 15 vs 30 year mortgage. 

One suggestion from Alice Keeler who is a google guru and recently co-wrote a book on this topic is you create a vocabulary list of words for the topic in one column.  Label several other columns with sub topics so students can sort the words into the proper group.

If you are not sure where to start, check out What If Math.  They have a whole list of labs students can utilize in the classroom beginning with introductory labs designed to get them started.  Dr Christie has another great site with links to interactive spreadsheet activities for more ideas.  While you're at it check Kutztown Univeristy for more great ideas including weighted averages, creating charts, keeping a checkbook and other activities.

Remember, if you do not know how to do something, check YouTube to help you learn, then post the link in Google classroom or in a QR code so students can watch it themselves to learn.  Remember, let them do most of it themselves. 

I found directions so students could create their own quadratic factoring calculator using the spreadsheet.  This is one of my projects to learn this year so I can have students do it next year.  So Let me know what you think.  Have a great day.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Previewing Material With Trailers.

Photo Manipulation, Alien, Foreign  I'm working my way through the book Teaching Like A Pirate.  I really enjoy the book because the ideas are conveyed through questions.  Questions phrased in such a way as to allow your mind to come up with solutions.

One question in there lead me to consider using movie trailers, like those you see on television which try to capture your interest.

After some playing around, I discovered iMovie allows a person to take some pre-made trailers and adjust them to fit your needs.  I made one for my Algebra II and one for my animation class.  This is actually a cool idea.

When I played them, the class sort of stopped and looked with confusion on their faces.  They asked me to replay the trailers so they could see what they missed.  They fell silent and began reading the words flashing across the screen.  The attention was awesome.

Here is the video:


iMovie allowed me to create this.  I hoope it uploaded properly but I wanted everyone to see the possibilities.  For the last couple weeks of school, I plan to do a unit on the math involved in getting man to the moon so this is what the trailer is about.

I took the retro trailer, added pictures, changed the wording and I had a cool trailer so students would be teased into thinking about the upcoming work.

Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Slide Rule Followup

Slide Rule, Slider, ScaleIt was quite an adventure for both myself and the class.  Talk about confusion and frustration!  I've never used one and the video we used was great for the first couple of things but then we got totally lost. 

In case you missed the entry, my Algebra II class made slide rules this past Monday out of paper. I had them use tape over the paper to make it stiffer.  The implement worked much better this way.

Yesterday was the day we tried to learn to use them.  Multiplying by two was easy but it got harder when we tried 7 x 3.  We got sort of lost and when we tried 455 x 615, we were so lost, I'm not sure we could have found our way back to where we started.

One of my students complained it was too hard which meant she didn't understand what to do while another  got so frustrated, he threw it on the floor and slept.

Fortunately, there was a retired geologist visiting whose father taught him to use a slide rule so he was willing to help us.  It was great, once we understood we had to align the number one to the first number, count over the other number and read the answer.  It was illuminating because we could suddenly do it.

At the same time, we talked about trying to do serious calculations using this slide rule.  They shook their heads in awe because they couldn't perceive a world without the fancy calculators they use now. I pointed out the women who did the calculations that resulted in sending the man to the moon.

It is so mind blowing.  I read somewhere that the engineers had the women check the computer results because the computer was so new, they weren't sure about its accuracy.  Next week, we'll watch the movie Hidden Figures to learn more about this. 

I'm hoping the movie will show one student what it all has to do with math.  I enjoyed learning to use a slide rule. Its not something I"ll use regularly but I can teach it again next year in conjunction with the movie and showing how important math is.

Let me what you think.  I love learning new skills and this is one, I'll have to practice.  Have a good day.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


Free stock photo of black-and-white, cartoon, donald duck, spotlight

As you know, I teach the math of animation as one of my classes in high school.  I have been integrating Pixar in a Box from Khan Academy with actual math work.  Since this is a short week, I'm taking a bit of a break from teaching to let students create a short animation in the old fashioned way before computers.

I"m starting with a You Tube Video showing how Walt Disney people created the early animated films one slide at a time.  There is math involved in these early films.  Some of these early films used over 50,000 individual drawings. In addition, the pages have to be presented at a specific rate so the finished product looks great.

The going rate for most feature films was 24 frames per second and animated movies were created using this same rate. Now a days the rate is 30 frames per second to meet NTSC standards.  This means it takes 1800 frames to create one minute of animated film.  A five minute long film requires about 9000 frames. 

The original process required the best artists to make the main drawings with gaps in between so another person called the "inbetweener" could fill in the gaps making the action much smoother.  These first drawings were only of the characters, the background was added later.

The original process required people to plan the story ahead of time so they knew what was going to happen when.  This allowed the main artist to create the key action points so the inbetweener could provide the connecting frames.

I am going to have my students create a few seconds of film with the beginning of a story.  I plan to use my iPad to actually film each drawing so as to create the actual film.  I'd like to show these creations at the next assembly or at graduation. We'll see where the principal will let me do it.

Again, I'd love to hear your thoughts.  Thanks for reading.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Old Fashioned Technology

File:Vintage Small Slide Rule, 4.75 Inches in Length, Made in England (9610232930).jpg
By Joe Haupt from USA

I've been working my way through the book Teach Like A Pirate by Dave Burgess.  It had so many questions leading to ideas that I've taken a few for use in my classroom.  My Algebra II class has been working with exponential functions, logs and natural logs recently so I thought we'd do something different.

For the warm-up, I sent the students to a web site which gave information on the real ladies featured in the movie "Hidden Figures" to give them a bit of background on how people worked equations before hand held calculators or computers.  I find it fascinating the engineers had the women check the computer calculations prior to the launch.

A short discussion followed this on how they ran the calculations use a slide rule instead.  Of course, I found a template on the internet so they could make their own.  After having them make it, I played a video to show them how to use the slide rule.

Did you know there is a slide rule museum with a virtual slide rule and instructions for doing math on it?  There is.  So I sent them there to read the instructions to figure out how to do more.  And its being finished off using the slide rule to actually solve a few problems.

You might wonder why I'm doing this?  Well, it gives them a bit of a history of math in terms of calculating machines used to send man to the moon, provides the history of real people who used it, and it gives them a lesson in the use of older technology.  No I don't know how to use a slide rule but I'll be learning along side them. 

When I got to college, calculators were used by almost everyone in class.  These were HP's and TI's but you could do everything on them, so who needed a slide rule.  I wanted to change up the routine a bit because students only have two days of instruction this week.

Let me know what you think.  I'd love to hear back from people.