Category Archives: Math

One-Hole Punch Puzzles

I am so not proficient when it comes to spatial reasoning.  This makes sense to me because I can’t think of ever really practicing it as a child.  I didn’t build with Legos or blocks, and I wasn’t really into jigsaw puzzles.  Mostly, I read a lot.  That means I’m generally a decent speller, but when I try to sew a face mask you will have to turn it right side in to make it right side out.  Or something like that.  Let’s just say my very un-straight stitches are very visible on the side of the material that you would normally want people to see.  And, yes, that is with a sewing machine.

So, as I spend the second half of my century of life trying to visualize what comes naturally to everyone else in my family, I would like to re-iterate that spatial skills are pretty important, and aren’t really a big focus in most schools.  Regular readers will know that this isn’t a new theme on this blog, and here are some past posts that I’ve done with other great resources: Spatial ReasoningSpatial Puzzles, and a bunch of reviews of apps and games.

Today’s spatial reasoning resource would have been so fun to do with my engineering students.  It comes to us from Mark Chubb (@MarkChubb3), who offers these One-Hole Punch Puzzles on his blog, Thinking Mathematically.  I’ve seen puzzles like these on some aptitude tests, but usually the questions show how a paper was folded and punched, and you have to select from the multiple-choice the subsequent result when unfolded.  In this hands-on twist, Chubb produces the results, and students have to use their own pieces of paper and one-hole punch tools to demonstrate where the paper must have been folded and punched.

In a pre-Covid class, we could have shared hole punchers and then had a huge confetti party.  Sadly, this may not be an option for any teachers anytime soon, but I encourage home-schoolers, parents, and anyone who can’t sew a mask to give these puzzles a try.

Hole Punch Confetti
Image by Monsterkoi from Pixabay

 

Math Art Challenge

Math Art Challenge caught my eye the other day when I saw a tweet from its organizer, Annie Perkins (@anniek_p), about the most recent challenge, “Mandalas,” authored by Siddhi Desai (@SiddhiDesai311).  Mandala projects used to be a student favorite in my gifted and talented classroom, and we have created them from all sorts of materials, such as the traditional sand ones and 3d printed ones.  The students also loved making digital mandalas, especially using words and kaleidoscopes of nature.  When I read Desai’s post, I was blown away by a video she included about the extraordinary mandalas that pufferfish make to attract their mates, and wish I could go back in time to show it to my students.

From the tweet from Perkins, I found that she has a page of Math Art Challenges, with 81 on there to this date!  I have always been fascinated by the intersection of math and art, so this collection is a goldmine to me.  Since I usually try to give specific resources on my posts in order not to overwhelm, I decided to recommend her challenge from Day 53, “Origami Firework From One Piece of Paper.”    This seems like an appropriate challenge for this particular holiday weekend, when viewing a real fireworks show is improbable for many due to the pandemic.

While you are visiting Annie’s site, I would also like to encourage you to go to this page, “Links to Resources on Not Just White Dude Mathematicians,” and the page for  “The Mathematician Project,” both of which promote inclusivity when it comes to math – and STEM in general.

Rangolis Stones Mandala
Image by Maitri Lens from Pixabay

Charty Party – All Ages Edition

Charty Party is a game based on charts. (H/T to @MsMessineo for tweeting about this!)  Played like Apples to Apples, a judge is selected who turns over a card with a chart on it.  Only the X-Axis is labeled.  Players look at their own cards, which have potential labels for the Y-Axis, and choose one from their hand that they think the judge will find the funniest.  The player whose card is chosen by the judge collects that chart, and a new person becomes the judge.  The game ends when someone has collected 5 charts.

The creators of the original Charty Party, which was designed for ages 17+,  received a lot of requests for versions that would be appropriate for classrooms and young families.  So, after interviewing many people, including teachers, they are back with an All Ages Edition on Kickstarter.  The good news is that the game has already been funded, so production is guaranteed.  The even better news is that for every $5,000 the team raises from backers, they will donate 10 Charty Party All Ages games to a school.  As I am writing this post, they have already raised over $56,000. (Their original goal was $10,000.) The kind of hard-to-swallow news for those of us eager to play it is that delivery of the games will not begin until January, 2021.  😦

You can get the original Charty Party right now, and add on your All Ages Cards when you receive them.  I read some of the Q&A on the product’s Amazon page, and in response to, “How many cards would I have to remove before I could allow my high school students to play this at school?” one person answered, “About half.”  Personally, I think it would be fun to have your students make their own cards to go with the charts for the time being.

If you teach math, I envy you, and definitely think you should check out this game.  For other math fun with charts and graphs, see my posts on: Slow Reveal Graphs, Dear Data, and What’s Going on in This Graph?

 

Charty Party All Ages
image from Charty Party All Ages Kickstarter

How to S.T.E.A.M. Up Distance Learning

In my third article for the NEO Blog, which was published today, I give a detailed look at how S.T.E.M./S.T.E.A.M. instruction can be accomplished remotely.  The article has links to many resources, so you will likely find at least one new helpful tool somewhere in the post.  You can read, “How to S.T.E.A.M. Up Distance Learning” here.

My previous NEO articles have been: How Distance Learning Fosters Global Collaboration, and How to Use Design Thinking in the Classroom.

Next month’s article will be, “Applying Universal Design for Learning in Remote Classrooms.”  As always, I would love reader input on this topic.  If you have any resources or examples that would be helpful, please comment on this post!

STEAM Up Distance Learning
Image by janrye from Pixabay

Graspable Math

I’ve been in the process of gathering recommended tools and strategies for distance learning, and bookmarked a spreadsheet started by Fawn Nguyen (@FawnPNguyen) where she is collecting “Distance Learning Best Practices for Maths.”  One of the resources entered on the sheet is Graspable Math.  Intrigued by the title, I decided to check out the website.

Graspable Math is a free website that allows students and teacher to manipulate the terms in algebraic equations easily online.  You can see how it works by going directly to the canvas, and typing in your own unsolved equation.  (Go to Insert – Math Expression.) Then, just click and drag to indicate each step you would go through as you attempt to solve it.  A neat feature of Graspable Math is that only the results of your most recent step will show on the canvas.  However, at any time you can click the handle on the right side and drag it down to show any or all of the previous steps as well.

Here is the short video that was included on Nguyen’s spreadsheet that summarizes Graspable Math:

Once you are ready to create assignments (there are specific lessons on the site you can use if you need help getting started), head over to this page for a quick tutorial on how to design lessons for your classes.

For those of you who are elementary teachers with students who may be ready to move on to algebraic thinking, Graspable Math also has a projects page that includes interactive games that scaffold the topic.  One of the games is specifically appropriate for elementary students.

Whether using an interactive whiteboard at school or teaching remotely, educators will find that Graspable Math is a nice way for students to demonstrate their understanding of algebra.

mathematics-1509559_1920
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Which One Doesn’t Belong – More Photos!

One of my favorite math activities to do with students is called, “Which One Doesn’t Belong?” This was an idea that seems to have originated with @MaryBourassa, who created a website for this.  I described the concept and offered some links in this post from 2016. Recently, I saw a Tweet from @Simon_Gregg offering an entire album of over 200 WODB images for educators to use for stimulating math discussions.

Each picture set has 4 different images.  Project the images to your students, and ask them which one doesn’t belong – and why?  Hopefully, you will receive many different answers, and they will all be right for various reasons.  Because these are so open-ended, they can be used with different levels of complexity from number sense to geometric reasoning.  Encourage students to use mathematical vocabulary as they defend their choices, perhaps even making it a game where points are awarded for including particular words.  Challenge the students to try to find a reason for each one of the four to be excluded from the group, not just the first one they notice. The “See, Think, Wonder” Thinking Routine would go very well with this activity. (For more on Project Zero Thinking Routines, see this post.)  A formative or summative assessment option would be to ask students to create their own WODB challenges.

WODB is one of the 15 Math Sites That Won’t Make You Fall Asleep that I’ve listed on this post. I highly recommend checking out those links if you feel like you want to add a bit more zip to your math lessons – or just enjoy doing unusual math puzzles.  (I’m addicted to the SolveMe Mobiles!)

wodb numbersearch 1
Which One Doesn’t Belong? Image by Simon Gregg (@Simon_Gregg), from this WODB album