Friday, March 28, 2014

One more gold tidbit.

I found out that the price of gold dropped from 1304.40 to 1290.95.  This lead to a question on why the price changed.  I also ended up looking up gold bullion in bars.  I discovered that the US govt has declared the gold bar to be : 7 inches x 3 and 5/8 inches x 1 and 3/4 inches and weighs around 27.5 lbs.  This means that although the bars are rather small, they are actually quite heavy.  Since we are heading into state mandated testing next week, I will not be doing as much actually teaching so I will be posting some real life ideas for warm-ups and plan which apps I still need to try out.  I have a couple but between now and mid may, the students will actually not get quite as much done because it is beautiful and spring.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Problems on gold

Due to parent teacher conferences, we are having 40 min classes today so rather plan too much, I concentrated on the warm-up.  It turns out Alaska produces a decent amount of gold from several mines within the state. I learned that gold production went from 800,000 to 954,000 troy ounces between 2008 and 2013.  The price of cold on 3/26/14 was 1304.40 per troy ounce.  I also learned that it costs $555 to produce one troy ounce of gold.  The total US production is 7,426,822 troy ounces.  Finally 32.15 troy ounces = 1 kg. 
Today I asked
1. What was the percent increase in production between 2008 and 2013?
2. What is the percent of gross profit per troy ounce?
3. What percent of the total US Gold production does Alaska account for. 
My students are actually finding these interesting because there is a Gold mine, not too far from here and they hire local population.  They did note that although oil production is decreasing, gold production is increasing. 
Tomorrow I think I"ll be asking questions like
1. How many pounds of gold did Alaska produce in 2013?
2. How many pounds of gold the is US produce in 2013?
3. How much did the price of gold change from the 26th to the 27th of March?  Give the answer in both dollar and percent.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Today for a change of pace, I gave students 4 dice and asked them to find a certain number. Some classes I placed restrictions and others I did not.  When there was no restriction, the students found the number fairly quickly and often used repeated numbers.  For instance they might use the number 4 many times.  When I placed a restriction on the number of times they could use a certain number, it made it harder for students to reach the number.  In one class, where I incorporated the restrictions, about half the students were unable to get the answer because they kept trying to use certain numbers 4 or 5 times.  In the rest of the classes with no restrictions, students found the number within two minutes.
I learned that adding restrictions make the activity harder to do.  I think next week, I am going to give them three dice and have them find a specific number using any operation to obtain a certain number.  They can do it intellectually but I want to see if they can do it with the dice.  It would make it more visual.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Exterior angle app lite.

Friday, I had the students use the geoboard app to find the number of total degrees in a regular polygon.  Yesterday, we took it a step further and I had the students take the information from Friday and divide each total by the number of side to find the individual interior angles.  Once they had that information for 3 to 9 sides, I had them find out what the exterior angle was for each angle and multiply it by the number of sides to find the total of the exterior angles.  Today we went through what they'd learn to create the formulas for individual interior and exterior angles.  It was awesome because they were able to verbalize the formulas and where the formulas came from. 
Today, I had them use the exterior angle lite app.  It began with a video, then had an exploration activity followed by a short 5 question assessment.  Several of my students did not like their scores so they retook the assessment and worked slowly and carefully to improve their overall scores. 
They have been totally involved in this section so far.
On the real world math front, I found some information on Alaska's production of crude oil.  I discovered that production decreased from 7.38 million barrels in 1988 to 1.92 M in 2012.  So Alaska's contribution to total US oil production dropped from 25% to 8%.  According to the internet, a barrel contains 42 US gallons of crude oil.  One barrel of crude oil produces 19 gallons of fuel for your car, truck, snowmachine or ATV.  Using the information, I had students calculate the percent decrease in production, what percent of a barrel of crude becomes gas and an estimate of total US oil production.  I pointed out to the students that we were doing some economic analysis and a few of them were so surprised. Tomorrow, we will check out gold.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Math toons app Logarithms + real world

The Math tons app on Logarithms differs from most of its other apps because it teaches the students something about logs using the mnemonics Be Happy and Bacon and Eggs to help the students learn about logs.  My students enjoyed using the app and said they learned something new.  It is not much but the characters who teach it are loggers who help the students see the process.  They do get some practice problems but not as many as in the other apps  I think I would use this to help introduce the topics of logs.
Todays real world problem was fun.  I discovered that about 56.9% of the cigarettes sold in NYC, are sold illegally.  This is because the price of cigarettes in NYC are $14.50 per pack and this includes a $5.85 tax.  In July, NYC sold about 15, 630,000 packs of cigarettes.  I had the students calculate the number of packs sold illegally, the percent of the cost that was actually tax and how much revenue was lost in a month.  For my students it was quite eye opening.  I am having fun finding these problems.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Geoboard app and other items.

In geometry, I passed out a worksheet that has the students physically draw a quadrilateral, pentagon, hexagon, etc  and then draw line segments out form one vertex to others to create triangles inside the figure. Today, I took the same worksheet and had the students do this on the Geoboard app.  My high schoolers really had a great time working on this. They did get a bit frustrated when they got to 7, 8 or 9 sides however no one rushed to finish this.  On Monday, I am going to have the students add a chart to the back of  the paper for total degrees, each interior angle and a column for exterior angles, the number and their measure.  We will be using the Geoboard app and this way I hope they have as much finding the answer to the questions for each shape that they still have to answer.  Most of the questions deal with the idea that if you change the size of the figure, the number of triangles will not change.
Today I showed the students the yahoo video about the college aged girl who ended up being charged a total of 787.33 for her cab ride of 2 miles.  Then they answered three math questions such as how much was she charged per miles, how much was the tip and What is your opinion of the whole event.  They have requested I provide more of these types of warm-ups.  This is great that I've got their interest.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Good Warm-up and started using Mathtoons apps.

Today I started class reminding the students about the dog bought in china a couple days ago for 12 million yen or 1.9 million dollars.  Then I asked the students to find the exchange rate for $1 US.  First thing half the students did was to go to the internet and find some currency exchange and came up with all sorts of answers.  I pointed out they had 12M yen and $1.9M so they had everything they needed.  It took a bit but they got the problem set up.  Then I asked how much the guy paid per pound if the dog weighed 200lbs which is the average weight for a Tibetan Mastiff.  At $9500 per pound, they thought it was a bit excessive.  What really took things home was when they figured an approximate volume based on some average info I was able to find and discovered he paid about $35 per cubic inch.  The conclusion was that you could do better things with your money......LOL.
I downloaded a bunch of Mathtoon apps today so I assigned one app to each period and had them start working through the quizzes and very few students scored well on material they should have known. 
My state test prep class, I gave number skills to and they had trouble with just adding positive and negative numbers.  Per 2 got to do the intermediate algebra part of the advanced algebra app.  Some struggled with it.  Per 3 did logs and it was not as much a quiz as a lesson and the students gained better understanding of logs using this app.  Per 4 tried geometry pro whose first quiz had them working with angles.  Per 6 did the first quiz in number equations and most students ended up between 2 and 7 right out of 10.  These apps are helping provide some formative data to help me understand where my students have gaps in their mathematical skills.  I am going to work them through all the quizzes and materials before I move them to another app.  I should probably have period 2 do the exponents app because we are just starting to work with polynomials.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Real life math problems.

I was reading the news on yesterday and came across two articles I can use in my classroom to show some real live math problems.
The first involved a young lady who took a taxi cab from the station to the restaurant, a jaunt of about two miles.  She used a credit card to pay for it and the taxi driver ran the transaction and added quite a tip so the total was close to $800.  I can ask them how much was the actual taxi ride per mile and what percent was the tip the taxi driver gave himself.  I can have them figure out cost per tenth of a mile.  This opens up some nice discussion.
The other story was about a Chinese land developer in China who purchased a one year old full blooded Tibetan Mastiff for 1.9 million US dollars.  He paid 12 million yen.  This means I can have students figure out the exchange rate, $ per pound, percent above the normal price of a Tibetan Mastiff in the US. 
Lots of possibilities and each one would make a great warm-up with the material and questions.  I will have to keep an eye on the newspaper for various warm-up ideas like this.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

One time distance class

Today I had my students participate in a wonderful presentation through CILC or Center for Interative Learning and Collaboration.  I signed my geometry class up for the "Ancient Egypt: Proportion, Symmetry and Size" from the Milwaukee Public Museum and it was awesome. 
The students learned about the 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 body ratio that is still used today.  They learned that a royal cubit was the length of the ruler's arm from elbow to the tip of the middle finger and changed every time a new Pharaoh came into power.  They learned about the Egyptian idea of perfection, perfection and symmetry in art, buildings, etc. The war between Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt.  I learned so much from this.  Everything that was shown or talked about in this presentation always came back to proportion, symmetry or size. 
I have four more on request over the next month or two so we'll see how they go.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Found app for use with polygons

I found a lite version of the Sum of Exterior Angles which helps students explore that all the exterior angles add up to 360 degrees always.  This might be a nice way to help students learn the material  but I am also wondering if we could accomplish the same thing using one of the apps I already have on the iPad.
I know I can use the geoboard to help students constructively learn that the total interior angles is based on the number of triangles you can subdivide the figure into.  I am wondering if I extended the side further out so that students could see that the exterior angle.  On the other hand, the Sum of Exterior Angles lite allows students to explore this concept using both regular and nonregular polygons.  Maybe I will just download it and see how it actually works.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Remedial group.

I am working with several seniors to help them prepare to take the state graduation test in about 3 weeks.  As we work through the practice test, they are not really writing down everything they should so they get the problem right.  I am going to try having them write down information using something like the SAS Gloss program or some other program like that.  They need to get used to writing information down and showing their work, even if it is just scribbling down something.  That is going to be my goal for first period tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Started, looking at other testing possibilities.

I had the students choose one word problem and start their comic strip.  Most students finished one frame but this is a new program so some people spent much of the class exploring the program.  Some of my more artistic students really had a great time with it.  I'll report back in about a month to let you know how it goes.
I was hoping to give students a practice test tomorrow where they would take a practice test online but I ran out of time this week so I think I am going to plan ahead to do it next time.  There is a push to have my students become comfortable with online testing due to the state tests going online beginning next year.  The problem I have doing this is simply I do not have a way of always looking at their work unless I have them show work on scratch paper and turn that in.  Otherwise I have to choose to accept the answers as right or wrong with no inbetween. This actually brings back a discussion in my college methods class on full vs partial credit.  I usually prefer partial credit but will the state tests end up with the full credit or none.  This is something I have to continue struggling with.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Notes for an upcoming test.

I love it when students take notes on the iPad for upcoming tests but then I have to wrestle with the issue of giving students access to those digitized notes.  I fear some will use the opportunity to go onto Safari and search out the answer.  I am still working on balancing using the calculator, graphing calculator, digital notes, mind maps, etc to help them on the upcoming test vs the old write down your notes.  I am trying the write down your notes on regular paper with requiring students to find certain information using their iPads to add to their written notes. 
Today, I had my geometry class use geometry pad to find out where various points of concurrency occur on triangles and incorporate the results in their notes.  Next time I give a test, I am going to have students do all the prep on the iPad and they can use the iPad on the test but not the actual test.
On Thursday, I am going to have the students take a practice test on-line so they can get immediate feedback on similar questions to those that will be on the test.  I am hoping this helps and it will be set up to show the answer if they missed it.
In many ways, having technology makes things a bit more complicated in balancing the use of technology with what they really need to know.  I don't know that I will ever be comfortable with my choices because I keep remembering some lyrics from a 60's song about the year 2525.  The line is something like "some machine is doing it for you."  We have apps that do so much that we used to do by hand and use our brains. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Zoodle Comic

In preparation for Wednesday, I found Zoodle Comic app (free) from iTunes.  It is installed on my iPads and I have had one of my students, who hates working in class, exploring and learning to use it so she can help me answer student questions on using it. The student has had a great time learning to use it and is creating some great things.
It has a choice of 4 different cartoon type characters and several different speech boxes.  It allows you to draw in things and make a real comic strip.
I am going to give the students a choice of three or four word problems.  They will then create a comic strip showing how the problem is solved and include the answer.  I think it will give them a chance to use their writing skills and it will help the more artistic ones.  Since I work with ELL students, this hopefully will help them improve their knowledge of the English language.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Found 2 websites

1.  I found Yummy Math which is a website with some real world examples of Math from places like Dunk'in Donuts, the Olympics, Mardi Gras, Pi day and that is just the first page.  I looked at the one on Dunk'in Donuts and it was looking at how many ways you can have your hot chocolate.  The story going with the info was really nice and it is set up as a more complex task that you can create with an extention if you want to have the students look at nutrients when considering which drink to order.
2. The other site is 101 questions by Dan Meyer.  He has a bunch of pictures which all ask the student to come up with a question.  You can also download pictures to use in class.  I could have the kids come up with a mathematical question for each picture. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Algebra Tiles App

The other day, I found an app called Algebra Tiles.  I tried it myself and just could not get it to work correctly so I put it on the back shelf.  Today, I had a student who got bored and wanted to just throw paper wads at the garbage can so I had him check it out and see if he could figure it out.  I showed him the factoring trinomials one and figured out how to do it.  So he tried to figure out the solving part of it.  He got it and I was able to use the app in my last period class (Algebra 1).  The students spent most of the period working on the app and I think it has clarified solving one and two step equations for many of my struggling students.  I think I will have my algebra II class try it tomorrow for a few minutes just to try factoring quadratics.  There are two other parts are substitute and expand.  I hope to get those understood so I can use the substitution with my Algebra I class for solving linear equations using substitution.  Now that I understand how to use it, I will be able to use it in several classes.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

More thoughts on comics and other things.

I spoke to some of my students today about creating comics that would cover a specific math topic and they love the idea.  I have been looking at various apps but I think I am going to have the tech dept get me comic life because I think it is the best app for what I want the kids to do but I may have a couple others downloaded so the students have some choice and feel some ownership in the process.  Besides, I have several kids who are artistically inclined and likely to really enjoy doing that.
I am exploring a website called Learn Zillion that has math videos that I am going to try integrating into my classroom and the kids only need the code to go watch the video.  This is cool because youtube is not allowed at school and I have to find other sources.  This is a good possibility and they have a nice app that I can put on the iPads. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Do Comics have a place in Math?

As I was typing the title, I realized that the set of textbooks that I have for the classroom actually came with comic books or graphic novels.  So I was thinking that I could download a few different comic apps for my iPads and then do one of two things.
1.  Have students research real life applications of the topic we are studying and create a comic or animation showing how the  topic is used.  An example might be population growth using that deer study years ago where they eliminated the predator and the population grew to being larger than the land could support.
2.  Create a comic explaining the topic so they are teaching whoever is reading their product. Much along the idea of peer tutoring.
I think I am going to try this shortly.  I've run into two or three free apps that I will download and let the kids try the different apps to see which one they like best.  I have a manga book of linear algebra so I know this is possible.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Performance math tasks and technology

I found a lovely site full of performance math tasks for grades k to 8.  Although I teach HS math, many of the tasks for grades 6 to 8 will work for my students because most are classified as ELL.  I am using performance tasks as homework but I got to thinking.  Why not have students create a video presentation using one of those whiteboard apps such as Educreations or Showme.  So rather than having students write down their explanation, they create a digital response.  If I assign students to work in groups of two and allow some time to create these digital presentations in and out of class, I am thinking it might increase their ability to do these types of assignments.  I think I am going to try it on the next homework assignment (tomorrow) with one on eating candy. 
I am going to make a list of places that offer performance math tasks to share with others.