How Do You Really Feel About Pi Day?

If you’ve never celebrated Pi Day (March 14th) in your classroom, you may be missing an opportunity to get your students really excited about math. There is something quite magical about this number that appeals to curious young minds, inviting those who even believe (wrongly) that they don’t have mathematical minds to join in the fun.

Or, maybe not.

I was looking for new resources to add to my Pi Day Wakelet, and realized that I had somehow missed that Vi Hart, worshipped by my students for her math videos about Fibonacci as well as her awesome sketches of slug cats, has a tiny bit of a problem with Pi celebrations. She eloquently explains her argument in this video from 2014, Anti-Pi Day Rant.

I only discovered Hart’s argument by first unearthing Why Pi is Awesome (Vi Hart Rebuttal) by The Odd 1s Out on YouTube. (FYI – there is the comment that, “This is all bull crap” around 6:42 in the video.) And that, to be honest, is the first time it ever occurred to me that Pi might not be all that.

Side note: The first comment I saw under the rebuttal video was, “When the 2 quietest and smartest kids in class have a heated argument and everyone takes notes and grabs popcorn,” which seemed quite funny to this former GT teacher, who listened to debates like this in her classroom all of the time.

So, I guess what I’m saying is, if you really want to add a bit of a twist to Pi Day in your classroom, maybe you could show the students Hart’s video a few days before March 14th, and ask the students to persuade you as to why this number should be celebrated. And then you can use the ideas in my Pi Day Wakelet.

There are subsequent videos about Pi Day by Vi Hart in which she seems to soften her stance a bit – even one asking Pi to stay home last year to avoid coronavirus – but I haven’t watched all of them. Suffice it to say that my world was rocked hard enough by one anti-Pi video that I need a bit of time before I watch more.

from giphy.com

More Math Sites That Won’t Make You Fall Asleep

One of the most popular posts on this blog is called, “15 Math Sites that Won’t Make You Fall Asleep.” One problem is that I keep updating it, so the number is misleading. Another problem is that I don’t update it enough, so there are many sites that I’ve discovered that weren’t on the post. I spent this morning putting all of the site links into a Wakelet, and it now has 56 items! Some are brand new to me, while others are ones that I’ve written about in the past. Quite frankly, it was difficult for me to stay focused as I re-discovered old friends, like Splat Math and SolveMe Mobiles, and stumbled upon unfamiliar but intriguing ones like Mystery Grid and Cube Conversations. Whether you love math or despise it, I guarantee you will find at least one site on this list that will fascinate you!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Same but Different Math

Same But Different Math encourages students to think about and discuss how two images might have the same value but different visual representations. It helps students to make connections and develop their own mathematical reasoning skills rather than to rely solely on rules that require memorization. You can find the 6-Step Protocol for discussion here. Though the concept seems simple, it can lead to much deeper thinking, and there are examples in the top menu for students in Kindergarten through high school.

Same But Different Math reminds me of Which One Doesn’t Belong? Though the latter is more open-ended, and might even lead you to conversations outside of math, WODB tasks can also promote valuable discussions among classmates that help to develop lasting memories they can continue to build upon.

For more math sites that depart from learning and practicing algorithms, check out my post, “15 Math Sites that Won’t Make You Fall Asleep.”

Would You Rather Math – Valentine’s Edition

I’ve just updated my “Would You Rather Math – Valentine’s Edition” Google Slides to look a bit better graphically (layout from Canva), and to leave room on the slides for student responses since many of you are virtual. You can get a copy here. The presentation has a blank slide for you to fill in your own problem(s) if you like. For those of you who didn’t see my original post on this, these were inspired by the work of John Stevens, who has a website of Would You Rather Math problems here.

In addition, I made a Jamboard using the slides as background images (so they are a tiny bit fuzzy), which you are welcome to make a copy of here. The link to this post will be added to both my Valentine’s Day and Jamboard Wakelet links.

Mathigon Puzzle Calendars

Mathigon has appeared on this blog from time to time, most notably on my post, “15 Math Sites that Won’t Make You Fall Asleep,” because of its visually engaging math activities. In the past few years, the site has offered a puzzle calendar with 24 different challenges every December, only one of which can be opened each day. Solutions are given the subsequent days, but you will need to log in (it’s free to register) to see them. If you prefer to pick and choose among puzzles, the puzzles from 2017-2019 are available by clicking on the tabs at the top of the page – great for challenging your advanced students or looking for specific math problems that will support what you might be currently covering in your curriculum.

Since Mathigon’s puzzle calendar is basically a mathematical Advent calendar, I will be adding this post to my Winter Holiday Wakelet. Check it out for some more fun activities to do this December!

Photo by Black ice on Pexels.com

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.

Image by Monsterkoi from Pixabay