The Kid Should See This tweeted the link to this great video, “Which Door Will the Ball Hit?” so I think it’s only fair to send you to their link to read more about it. I adore this idea from Joseph Herscher of using Rube Goldberg-type machines to make video puzzles, and I think it would be an excellent “hook” to show students before asking them to design their own. To get some practice before they design their first prototypes, they could play the Bubble Ball app, Goldburger to Go, or this game on Engineering.com.
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.
Girls Who Code at Home is the perfect way to keep your young programmer happily engaged while social distancing. So far, I count 14 free activities that can be downloaded, and the site promises a new one will be added every Monday. You can register to be notified each time the page is updated.
The activities range from beginner to intermediate/advanced. Different programming languages are used. Some are even “unplugged” activities, meaning that you do not need to use a computer to do them. Also, although Girls Who Code is an organization that was formed to narrow the gender gap, these resources are available for anyone who wants to use them.
The downloadable worksheets include a lot of scaffolding, so don’t be worried if you and your child/student are new to coding. From making a digital memory book to designing a simple chatbot, you are sure to find an activity that will appeal to your interest and skill level!
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!
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.
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!)