The Almanac of Interesting Numbers

I am living proof of the myth that only some people are “math people.” For years, I suffered under that delusion — and that I was definitely not one of those people. But things changed in high school. I won’t go into the long, boring story, but I realized that I enjoy math. And while I am not a lightning fast mental problem solver, the logic and patterns fascinate me. That is why I started collecting fun math sites for my students, and made this public list of Math Sites That Won’t Make You Fall Asleep. I also started following fascinating people who tweet about math (#MTBOS is a wonderful way to start), which includes Sunil Singh (@MathGarden). Singh is a Content Writer for Mathigon.org, one of the Math Sites That Won’t Make You Fall Asleep. While I’ve included Mathigon on the list, I didn’t notice the “Almanac of Interesting Numbers” until Singh tweeted about it.

Although I don’t believe that only some people have a “math gene,” I do know that there are some of us who find math far more intriguing than others. I’ve had students like that, and if you have them in your class you should show them this interactive number line that will give them amazing facts about numbers. I found the easiest way to navigate the number line is to put a number in the search box and click on the zoom in/zoom out magnifying glasses at the bottom of the page. That’s how I discovered that 40,585 is the sum of the factorials of its digits (4! +0! + 5! +8! +5!) and that 25 is the smallest square that can be written as the sum of two squares.

If I don’t publish any more posts this week, I think you can guess what I’m doing instead…

Photo by Flash Dantz on Pexels.com

Genius Hour Presentation Planner

I’ve updated the free Genius Hour Presentation Planner, and I’ve added it to my Genius Hour Resources page under “Free Genius Hour Downloads.” This is a digital planner made in Google Slides, and is meant to be used after students have completed the Genius Hour Research Notes (also on the Free Genius Hour Downloads page). In the past, I noticed that students often jumped to creating their presentations before acquiring very much new knowledge, so these two resources gave them a framework to help them with gathering information and preparing to share with others. I would also recommend taking a look at my post, “Step Away from the Slideshow,” to get some ideas on how students can present without boring themselves or their audiences to tears. One particular addition I made in the update to this Presentation Planner was to add some guidelines for the Timeline to help students understand what needed to be done before each of the three dates (Rough Draft, Rehearsal, Final Presentation).

(“From Jaded to Joyful: Galvanizing Students with Genius Hour” is one of the many Professional Development sessions that I offer, and can be done virtually or in person.)

Teacher Checklist for Current Events

As school boards, districts, and states pile on bans of teaching Critical Race Theory in the classroom without even understanding what they are censoring, others are substituting vague language in weak attempts to disguise these racist laws. I am not a lawyer or a history teacher, but I oppose any efforts to restrain students from learning the truth and exercising their own critical thinking on the lessons that could be learned from that truth. I also think it’s important to keep things relevant in the classroom, and that means that current events should not be ignored. Facing History has a free checklist for educators to use for planning purposes when considering current events. You will need to create a free account on the site in order to download this editable PDF, which also has links to reliable news sources as well as suggested strategies to use during student discussions. Armed with this and a list of the state standards you are addressing, you can be prepared to help students make connections between the past and the present, as well as to their own personal experiences.

I will be adding this post to my Wakelet of Anti-Racism Resources. Click on this link to find more!

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Plotting Plots

If you have a fascination with literature and graphs, you may have seen LitCharts, which I wrote about back in 2016. LitCharts includes an interactive Theme Wheel for each of the works of prose covered on the site, such as this example for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I enjoy the meaningful conversations students have as they analyze such charts, often giving me many new understandings about the books from their perspectives. “Plotting Plots” is a website that also aims to give you alternative visualizations of books, though its “library” is not a comprehensive, yet, as the one you will find on LitCharts. Tom Liam Lynch is open to suggestions for new books to add as well as any other feedback from users. On this site, you choose a book, then select up to four words from the book that you would like to see plotted on a graph. The graph shows you the chapters where you will find those words and their frequency. For example, here is a graph I made for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone:

I would ask students to do a “See, Think, Wonder” activity with this graph to find out what they already know about the book, what assumptions they might make based on the numbers, and what questions this prompts. I would say, having read the book a few times, that I think Chapter 5 is right around when Harry comes face to face with blatant displays of magic for the first time, and I would wonder why friendship does not appear very often in the book despite the relationships he develops with Hermione and Ron.

The blog posts on the site are equally intriguing, such as this one on The Hate U Give, where Lynch gives us some insight into his realization that the parents play a more important role in the book than he initially assumed.

Because I love seeing the way different people can find to creatively use graphs and infographics for deeper understanding, I have this new Wakelet to share with you. As you will see, graphing is not just for math!

The End of the Year As We Know It

A couple of weeks ago, I shared some of the activities that I’ve done in the past with my students as the school year comes to a close. I decided to put them in this Wakelet so you don’t have to search for them. On Twitter, Susan Barber (@SusanGbarber) shared a fabulous activity she did with her high school seniors, and I asked for her permission to share. (My post, Blackout Poetry Maker, has been one of the most popular ones this year, so I thought this might be something my readers would enjoy!)

Of course, once people saw her examples, they wanted to know more about the project. It turned out the students had several choices in addition to the blackout poetry of college essays. She later tweeted this Google Slides presentation so people could see the options and examples. As you know, I am a big fan of choice and open-ended activities that allow students to show their creativity, so I am a big fan of Susan’s idea, and I hope you can use it, too!

option from “The End of the Year as We Know It” activity by @SusanGBarber

Spintronics

Way back in 2017, I blogged about a new project I had backed on Kickstarter called Turing Tumble. The game is a mechanical version of a computer, and includes a book with stories and challenges that slowly scaffold the working parts of computers. My students and I liked it so much that I reviewed it on the blog and recommended for my Gifts for the Gifted list in 2018.

Paul Boswell, inventor of Turing Tumble, has a new venture on Kickstarter. The project is called Spintronics, and it is designed to help children (and adults) to learn how electronics work by building mechanical circuits. Like Turing Tumble, Spintronics includes a book of stories and challenges. Without having to risk hot soldering irons or engage in complicated mathematical equations, students can learn the basics and vocabulary of electronics as they build, experiment, and play.

I literally received the e-mail announcing the beginning of the Kickstarter today, and Spintronics is already fully funded – more than 5 times over! So, the good news is that you should be able to receive a kit if you back it. The downside is that you will need to wait until January, 2022, to start playing the game. However, as I learned with Turing Tumble, it is sure to be worth the wait!