I want to thank @MsABahri for sharing the link to these free Women in STEM posters on Twitter (still not calling it the other name, sorry not sorry). There are nearly 100 free downloadable posters on this site from Ingenium Canada, and I am sorry to say that most of the names are new to me. Fortunately, each poster in the series has an image as well as a caption to help us all learn more about each of these amazing people. In addition, you can go to this page for lessons that can be used with the posters, and 3 of the posters have been made into coloring sheets that you can download.
Don’t forget to check out the STEM videos, the interactive Timeline, and the other educational resources while you’re on the site. If your students are studying the ocean, there is also an #OceanDecade link that has specific posters and lessons for that topic.
You can also take the “Implicit Association Test” to get an idea of your own implicit bias when it comes to men and women in different careers.
I was listening to a podcast this week in which Steven Soderbergh, the famous director, stated, “I am not interesting; I am interested.” This is absolutely how I feel about myself. In fact, I responded, “Curious” to a recent Twitter post asking, “What’s Your Word?” I could spend all day learning new things, and I get really excited when any of those things happens to be something I think might be of interest to you.
On an AI thread in Twitter the other day, someone shared a bunch of images they created with Midjourney, an AI tool. The artwork involved something called, “knolling photography“, which reminded me of natural mandalas. As some of you may know, I used to do a unit on mathematical masterpieces with my 4th graders that included mandalas, and we used many methods to create some. You can see one of my posts about this here. I thought I would jump down this rabbit hole to see if I could create any decent mandalas with some free AI tools at my fingertips (Midjourney is not one of them), and I was pleasantly surprised with the results.
Since Canva is free to all teachers, I started with its “Text to Image” tool, and asked it to make a mandala of quilled flowers. Here is the result:
I also asked for one made with seashells.
Then I asked it to change the style to “watercolor” for another flower mandala. Here was the response:
Even though Canva is free for educators, there are some of you who don’t use it, so I decided to test out another AI chat tool, Bing, in case you wanted a different option. (By the way, if you have the Adobe Creative Suite subscription, you can also try Firefly to do this.)
When my students created mandalas, we worked a lot on symbolism and the meaning of colors, so I started by trying to ask Bing to create a mandala of sports equipment (because that’s invariably what some of my students do). That did not go well. The images were extremely abstract and not recognizable. I finally settled on one where I was able to request a specific type of mandala (spiral dot), the colors red, blue, and green, and a photo of a soccer ball in the middle.
Bing allows you to upload photos, but I didn’t have any success in it making mandalas out of the couple of photos that I tried in the limited time I experimented.
What would students learn from this activity? As I mentioned before, our previous mandala lessons included symbolism and the meaning of colors. We also learned about different types of symmetry and the history of mandalas in many cultures. Creating mandalas themselves helped them to delve more into their own values and creativity. And trying to make them with AI tools will not only bring up philosophical and ethical discussion, but also help them to refine their critical thinking skills to improve their “prompt engineering.”
As Steven Soderbergh also states in that podcast episode when asked about AI, that it’s an iterative tool, but, “It hasn’t experienced anything.” He quotes a Pixar motto, “Be wrong as fast as you can… Just get to the end. If this helps people get to the end of something, fine.” Maybe this is one more option you can give students to get to the vision they have for their mathematical masterpiece — or to create a new vision even better than they imagined.
Of course, St. Patrick’s Day isn’t the only holiday in March. There’s Read Across America Day (March 2), International Women’s Day (March 8th), Pi Day (March 14), and World Poetry Day (March 21). You can get links to activities for all of these on my March Wakelet.
By the way, the next potential SpaceX launch date is on Thursday, March 2 (Read Across America Day), and if all systems are go, a very special book will be going up to space. The book, Astronauts Zoom, by Deborah Lee Rose, will be read by an astronaut for the Storytime from Space program! Congratulations to her and everyone who is helping to make this happen!
If you’re looking for some “heartfelt” Valentine’s Day resources for teachers, this post has got you covered!
In the process of trying to update and collect my downloadable resources from over 11 years of writing this blog, I decided to start a “store” (located under “Downloads for Teachers” in my top menu) hosted on my website. The purpose of this store is not for me to make money, but to make it easier for teachers to search and filter through my resources. It has been a slow process, and I haven’t worked out some of the kinks. But I think it will be worthwhile eventually.
You do need to create a free login in order download items from the store. The majority of the items are free. However, I’ve decided to sell bundles of items for a low fee, donating $1 out of every $5 earned to teacher projects on Donors Choose. I am slowly removing my items from Teachers Pay Teachers and will eventually host everything I create on my store with the multiple goals of giving teachers easy access to free resources that are good for students and hopefully earning money to give back to teachers who have amazing ideas for which they need funding. Currently, all of my S.C.A.M.P.E.R. resources are available in the store and I am now working on getting my Visible Thinking Routine resources added.
While working on my store, I recently updated my “Would You Rather Math?” for Valentine’s Day using a cute Canva template. You can download the new PDF here. For the old versions (including Google Slides and PowerPoint), as well as a more detailed explanation, here is the post I originally wrote when I made this resource based on the work of John Stevens and his WYRM website. Want the free Canva template link so you can edit it and make your own? I’ll be posting it in this week’s newsletter, so be sure to sign up if you haven’t already!
I haven’t had a chance to update and upload this next Valentine’s Day resource to the store, but if you like to give out something other than candy for Valentine’s Day (or any time of the year), these QR Code Coupons that I made way back in 20212 are a cute option to insert into an old chocolate box or into Valentine’s Day cards for your students.
If you are looking for more Valentine’s Day Resources, you can check out my Valentine’s Day Wakelet here.
Several years ago, I thought I would help out the parents of my gifted and talented students by writing about some games, toys, or books that I thought might make good purchases during the holiday season. I called the series of posts, “Gifts for the Gifted,” and I have continued to do it annually (except for 2019) every November and December. These gifts are suggestions for any child – not just those who qualify for a GT program. Sometimes I receive a free product for review, but I am not paid for these posts, and I never recommend a product that I wouldn’t buy for my own child. For past “Gifts for the Gifted” posts, including my ongoing 2022 list, you can visit this page.I also have a Pinterest Board of Games and Toys for Gifted Students and one for Books for Gifted Children or Anyone who Loves to Learn.
I envision today’s recommendation being given to: teachers who like to engage their students with different games, families who are looking for ways to have fun together away from screens, kids who have a somewhat adversarial relationship with math (as I once did), and geeky people like me who appreciate humor, logic, puzzles, and the surprising elegance of math.
Math Games with Bad Drawings is the third book from Ben Orlin, who is also the genius behind the Math with Bad Drawings website. The book was released in April of 2022 and, frankly, I wish it had been published ten years ago. There are so many ways I would have used Math Games with Bad Drawings in my classroom, particularly when my students did their unit on mathematical masterpieces. It’s not only the games that would be a hit with the students, but the actual commentary throughout.
And, of course, the bad drawings.
As a teacher or a parent, I would set aside time to read this book with children as well as to play the games. Don’t skip the introduction because it’s also quite amusing. (I’m also pretty sure that a lot of the gifted teachers who I’ve worked with will appreciate some of the references to games we’ve played in class with our students. Escher, Fibonacci, and Set all make appearance at the beginning. And wait until you see Quantum Tic-Tac-Toe!) The rest of the book is divided into: Spatial Games, Number Games, Combination Games, Games of Risk and Reward, and Information Games. In addition to the rules for each game and illustrations, Orlin also describes, in many cases: where each game originated, why it matters, and any known variations.
This book is large (in both its length of 368 pages and its physical size), hardcover, and heavy. In the “Conclusion,” you’ll find tables that display the games listed in the book as well as the materials required (mostly pencil/paper), and the recommended number of players. (Most are 2 or 3 player games, though “Con Game” could be played with the seemingly arbitrary limit of 500 people.) The “Bibliography’ at the end is the most intriguing and entertaining bibliography I have ever read in my life. Not that I ever have read any bibliographies in the past, which just goes to show you how good it must be.
Math Games with Bad Drawings is going to have a prized spot on my bookshelf, and I’m pretty sure my family and descendants will never have cause to be bored again. I’m certain all will agree with me that there are infinite possibilities for fun with this book. Otherwise, this once-upon-a-time-despiser-of-math-turned-math-nerd will feel compelled to declare to all,
Some of you may not be in school on Fibonacci Day (11/23) as it is during the U.S. Thanksgiving Week. Maybe you can celebrate it early, or when you return to school. No matter when you do it, there are plenty of ways to recognize the significance of this unusual number sequence, which has inspired mathematicians and artists for centuries. You can begin by visiting Donna Lasher’s “Fibbing Can Be Fun” page where you will find videos, puzzles, and lesson ideas. I have more links in my November Wakelet and you can also find some related links in my Math, Art, and Nature collection.
A new link I will be adding will be to the picture book, Leo + Lea. Written by Monica Wesolowska and illustrated by Kenard Pak, this story was inspired by a student the author met who was only interested in numbers. In this delightful tale, a burgeoning mathematician, Leo, meets Lea, who is obsessed with art. The two become friends. As the story unfolds, so does the Fibonacci sequence in words, numbers, and colors.
You can see a 90 second video in which the author and illustrator explain how the book developed here.
You might also be interested in this article written from both of their perspectives. Monica includes a free Fibonacci poetry handout on her site. If your students write some mathematical verse, you might be interested in submitting them to Donna Lasher’s Poetry Gallery here.
The products that can be dreamed of when a subject as logical as math intersects with the creative arts of writing and illustration will never stop seeming magical to me. I think your students will appreciate them, too.