Diarra Bousso Guey, Senegalese Mathematician
Careers, K-12, Math

More Math Inspiration

One hashtag that is always sure to reveal exciting math resources is #MTBOS (Math Twitter Blog-o-Sphere). That’s how I discovered Nathan Day (@nathanday314), and a couple of his great shares. With his permission, I am putting the links in this post as I really want more people to become inspired by math and mathematicians. If you’re a teacher with a few blank spaces on your wall, some of these might be great additions!

First, here are Nathan’s files for 50 Mathematical Quotations. You can access them as a Powerpoint file (which can be added to Google Drive and converted to Slides if needed) or PDF:

Next, these are his files for 82 famous mathematicians from around the world:

I love seeing the diversity and representation (53 countries), and I think it will help your students to see that as well.

Thanks to Nathan for putting these together and sharing them! He also gave some shouts out to @DrStoneMaths, @SimonYoung10, and @Desmos for the versions/blog post on which he based his Famous Mathematicians posters, so thanks to them, too. As Sir Isaac Newton said, “If I have been able to see further, it was only because I stood on the shoulders of giants.”

from Famous Mathematicians, compiled by @NathanDay314
Colorful fraction pieces and math sign
K-12, Math

Build a Math Mindset with a #WIM Playlist

If you’re still thinking about how to begin the school year on a positive note with mathematics, you might just want to consider a Week of Inspirational Math. I first blogged about this seven years ago, and the site has added more and more resources since that summer of 2015. Not only that, but there are a lot of features that make it even more helpful, including a method for creating a free, personal playlist of hands-on math activities that will work best in your classroom setting. The original WIM plans were posted annually, with 5 days of math activities designed to encourage discussion and thoughtful analysis while promoting a positive attitude toward math. You can still access those by clicking the button on the top banner, or you can search for specific activities and filter by grade level (K- College) and topic and create your own five days of math. You can see the newest activities for 2022 here.

I often share on this blog about my journey from being fearful of math to truly enjoying it, and I told my students the story every year because I wanted them to know that it can be done. So, when I see resources like Week of Inspirational Math, I want to shout about them to every educator who teaches math. These are the kind of activities that help children to see that math is not a subject that can only be mastered by the most nimble minds — and it can often be quite fun.

I’ve added the link to this year’s WIM resources to my Back to School Wakelet, which has other ideas for you as well. WIM is also one of the 73 sites in my Math Sites That Won’t Make You Fall Asleep collection, if you’re looking for more reasons to stray away from the textbook;) In addition, I’ve added a new Professional Development session for 2022, “Off on a Tangent,” in which teachers learn about methods to help their students to hypothesize, discuss, and apply their knowledge in diverse situations that will provoke their curiosity and stimulate an appreciation for the complexities of mathematics. 

Portrait of schoolgirls by the blackboard pointing at a math problem and looking at camera
Math doodles on chalkboard
3-12, Math

Math Fun with Howie Hua

One thing about me that I always made sure my students knew is that I used to hate math. I dreaded it, and my anxiety levels were super high during class and when I did math homework. It wasn’t until I was in high school, where I encountered some amazing math teachers, that I realized I could enjoy math and even look forward to it. To this day, I love discovering exciting math lessons, puzzling websites, and educators who demonstrate a true passion for this subject.

Speaking of the latter, I follow @Howie_Hua on Twitter. Because I’m slowly learning the value of TikTok, I only recently became aware of Howie’s TikTok videos. This is one in particular that I came across a couple of weeks ago that I think my GT students would have delighted in (and not only because he mentions Fibonacci):

@howie_hua One of my favorite math tricks #math #mathematics #mathtok #teacher #teachersoftiktok #maths ♬ original sound – Howie Hua

Howie has puzzles, math jokes, and more tricks on his TikTok channel here. Whether you’re a math teacher looking for some fun to fill in the spaces between standardized testing and the end of the school year, want some warmups to start class, or just like to play around with math, Howie Hua should definitely be one of your resources.

I’ll be adding this to my Math Sites That Won’t Make You Fall Asleep collection. Don’t forget to follow me on Wakelet so you can get updates on new resources that I add to my ever-increasing bookmarks!

osprey with dry grass flying in blue sky above nest
3-12, Books, Science

Swoop and Soar

Two of my favorite picture book authors have teamed up again to produce another non-fiction masterpiece, Swoop and Soar. You may recall the fantastic book by Deborah Lee Rose and Jane Veltkamp, Beauty and the Beak, which I reviewed back in 2016. That story related the uplifting journey of an eagle who was given a 3d printed prosthetic after her beak was shot off by poachers. Jane Veltkamp, the raptor biologist who led the team that engineered the new beak (and who has lifetime care of Beauty), returns in Swoop and Soar when a pair of osprey chicks are orphaned by a storm.

Cover photo credit: (c) Ann Kamzelski from Swoop and Soar, used by permission

Reading about the plight of the chicks and Veltkamp’s clever and science-based plan to find them new parents in the wild is fascinating and suspenseful. Once again, Rose and Veltkamp distinguish their book from other non-fiction by crafting a personal story around the scientific facts, and highlighting it with amazing photography on every page.

(c) Scalder Photography from Swoop and Soar, used by permission

Swoop and Soar is an excellent companion to Beauty and the Beak. Both books are perfect for teaching STEM, with compelling narratives and intriguing information about raptors, conservation, and careers in science.

You can learn more and see Rose’s other books (including Astronauts Zoom, which I’ve also reviewed) here. Veltkamp’s site is Birds of Prey Northwest. Swoop and Soar is available for pre-order for its September, 2022, publication date at Bookshop.org, Amazon, and B&N.

Mary Gertsema, (c) Jane Veltkamp from Swoop and Soar, used by permission
earth blue banner sign
3-12, Science, Videos

Box and Escalade

I know that it’s a bit too late for the actual Earth Day observance on April 22, 2022, but I just came across these short animations that are perfect for showing students, and thinking about the consequences of our actions on the world around us. They are both by a studio in Brazil, Birdo Studio.

Box is a little over a minute long, while Escalade is about 90 seconds. (I’m linking to the article about Escalade on the Kuriositas blog, as that is where I originally found it.) There is no dialogue in either video, so you don’t need to worry about translating.

Escalade reminds me of a simplistic version of The Butter Battle by Dr. Seuss, which I used to use with my 5th graders when we discussed systems thinking and escalation behavior. There are lots of applications where you could find use for the video, such as how consumerism and our quest to appear “bigger and better” to those around us is making our world less stable.

Box could be used for basically the same theme, but it has many more details and clever animation that may make you want to watch it more than once.

Caixa from Birdo Studio on Vimeo.

I’ll be adding this post to my Earth Day Wakelet, though of course we shouldn’t be thinking about the potential effects of our greed on the planet just one day a year. I’ll also add this to my Inspirational Videos for Students Pinterest Board, where you can find over 200 other videos that might be useful in class.

Creative Thinking, K-12, Videos

Tinkerhunts

For anyone new to 3d design, Tinkercad is the perfect entry level program. It’s free, web-based, and contains lots of tutorials. As a teacher, you can create classes and assign projects that you can oversee through a dashboard. I’ve used it with students from 2nd grade through 12th, so it’s quite a versatile tool.

I had no experience with 3d design when our school got its first 3d printer, so I have great empathy for anyone starting from the beginning. Tinkercad is very user-friendly, but it requires some adjustment if your brain has had as little spatial reasoning practice as mine did when I first began. That’s why I think these Tinkerhunts from HL Modtech (Mike Harmon, @HLTinkercad) are pretty genius. In the first one, he gives kudos to his student, Kingston, who first gave him the idea for these three-dimensional virtual scavenger hunts. Each video (21 as of today’s blog post) introduces the Tinkerhunt for that week, and includes a link to the project in the video description. Students can click on the link (or you can post it as an assignment) and they can then search for the objects within that week’s design. Mike has his students post the locations of the 5 hidden items in the comments, but you can come up with an alternate method that works for you.

This idea is good because it can help students to get familiar with the Tinkercad tools, while also seeing a variety of ways that they can be used. It will give them practice while hopefully inspiring them to create their own designs. Mike also includes some tutorials in the video descriptions, like this one for “Unicorn Dude.”

While Tinkercad can be a means to an end for 3d printing, it doesn’t have to always be used that way, as Mike’s Tinkerhunts demonstrate. It’s excellent for creativity, reinforcing Design Thinking, and practicing spatial reasoning. For more ideas on ways Tinkercad can be used, check out this post that I did last August.