Would You Rather Be My Valentine or Do a Few Math Problems?

Would You Rather Be My Valentine

UPDATE 1/26/2021 – Here is my up-to-date Wakelet collection of Valentine’s Day resources.

Earlier this month, I saw a post by Richard Byrne that led me to this great site of mathematical “Would You Rather” problems.  John Stevens (@JStevens009) is the clever man who creates these mathematical challenges, and I love the thinking that is required to solve the questions he poses.  I tried a few with my 3rd graders, and they were hooked.  Many of the problems, though, require a little more advanced math knowledge than generally possessed by 8-year-olds, so I thought about penning a few of my own.  Since Valentine’s Day is closing in, I decided to go with that theme.  I asked John if he minded me borrowing his idea, and he generously gave me the go-ahead.

The rule I give my students for these problems is that they must prove their answer using mathematical reasoning.  They are allowed to use the internet to research and/or do some hands-on measurements.  It’s possible that they may be able to justify completely different answers.  For example, on the one about the pound of chocolate, they might choose the lower amount instead of the higher because they are not huge fans of chocolate – though that seems to be rather rare.

I don’t know if you have ever heard kids playing the actual “Would You Rather” game, but it can get a little disgusting.  They seem to enjoy the gross questions, so I threw one into this series for the sake of low entertainment 😉

Feel free to use the Google Presentation, this Powerpoint file, or this PDF.

UPDATE 2/8/16: Here is a link to my post that includes a printable sheet for students to record their Would You Rather responses.

For more Valentine-related links, check out this post!

Questimate

Questimate is a free mathematics app available for the iPad on iTunes.  The free version only allows you to reach a certain point, offering in-app purchases that allow you to purchase more “quests.”  There is also a Pro version that is $7.99 on the app store, but $3.99 for educators.  If you visit this page, you can get information for requesting a sample of the Pro version.

I first saw Questimate on the Technology Tidbits blog, and downloaded it immediately so I could try it later.  I do this a lot – and then I forget that I downloaded the app.  Then my daughter, who gets all of the apps I download on my personal device on her device as well, will say, “Hey, mom, what’s this app for?”  And then I (instead of admitting I have no idea) use my best teacher voice to say, “Well, why don’t you try it to see what happens?”  It doesn’t take very long for her to tell me if the app is a waste of time.

That didn’t happen with Questimate.  I started playing it by myself, and after I cheered a couple of times when I got something right, my husband drifted over to see what was going on.  Then my daughter entered the room, and pretty soon we were all giving input.  That’s when I decided that I definitely needed to feature Questimate for Fun Friday this week!

Questimate allows you to design your own estimation questions using their supplied options.  I’ve loaded a sequence of pictures below in a slideshow to show you the process for one question.  Once you create a question, you are given a screen for making your guess.  In this example, you use the number-line to choose.  Some of the other questions have you type in a number or actually resize pictures to show the general comparison between two objects.

You have 3 lives in a quest, and your estimate has to be within a certain target range of the correct answer in order to not “lose a life.”  You can earn points that can be used for various helpful hints during the game.

Questimate is fun, offers choice, and is educational.  It can be played in “Solo”, “Pass & Play”, and “Game Center”  versions.  Variations to choose from, even the Free version of the game should keep you engaged for quite a long time.

Questimate would be great as a center activity or as a fun game to project for the whole class.  It’s pretty good for family entertainment, too!

QAMA

QAMA is one of those brilliant products that you will wish you invented.  It stands for, “Quick Approximate Mental Arithmetic” and also happens to mean, in Hebrew, “How much?”  This is a very appropriate name, then, for a special kind of calculator that makes you work for your answers.  Instead of immediately giving you the solution to an equation, QAMA is programmed to give you the answer only when you enter a close estimate.  On the page where the Aim of QAMA is described, it is explained that, “The QAMA calculator should not be seen as an aid for occasional estimation practice sessions: Students should each have their own QAMA calculator so that they use it routinely and exclusively – every time they perform a calculation:  in the math classes, science classes and labs, and also at home: It should become second nature to always engage their head when performing calculations.”

One QAMA calculator is $19.60.  You can use the calculator in 2 different modes – as a “regular” calculator, or in EST mode.  Teachers (and parents) can easily see which mode the student is using, as there is a blinking light that shows when the EST mode is turned off.

I think that QAMA is a wonderful idea.  Honestly, I would like to see an app developed that would work the same way.  This gives students the opportunity to use technology while they continue to develop their own problem solving skills.