Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Underground -- International STEM Project

Mind the Gap. Mind it Well.

Expand your student's international education with an exploration of the London Underground in this 21st Century Math Project. Through building skills of estimation, measurement, and use of scale, students will conclude their learning with an estimation of London's Circle Line. This is a hands-on STEM Project for hands-on learners and provides a nice departure from the grind of the daily classroom.

Name: The Underground
Suggested Grade Level: 7-12 (Algebra & Geometry skills)
Math Concepts: Measurement, Scale, Proportion, Distance and Estimation
Interdisciplinary Connections: Travel, Global Studies
Teaching Duration: 3-5 Days (can be modified)
Cost: $5 for a 14 Page PDF (1 project, 1 assignment and answer key) 
PDF Version: The Underground @ TPT

What's a ruler?
The Product: Students develop a strategy to approximate the length of a train line on England’s famous Tube and use their approximation to find the distance between the tube stops of tourist destinations.

Whenever our math department gets disaggregated data back on standardized tests there always one consistency that we can count on – students are low in measurement. Usually they are really, really bad. It’s as if they have no concept of an inch or never touched a protractor. When the word scale is thrown in the mix – it’s every math teacher for themselves. Anarchy.

My idea behind this project was to make a creative task that would be both mathematically rigorous, but interesting. In this project, students will have to measure, use a scale, calculate proportions to estimate distances… all in a seemingly sensible way. This packs in about as many problem spots into one project as humanly possible. Buckle your chin strap and dive right in.
Haha. Gotcha. Proportion and
measurement are elementary skills!

I learned something interesting in developing this project. The Great Wall of China is in fact spread apart in many different pieces. Miles apart. I always thought it was one long wall. Uh… hey what am I talking about? Too much cough syrup? When I originally conceived this idea I planned to approximate the length of the Great Wall. When I discovered this would be nearly impossible I went for something a little more achievable. With all the math packed in, I couldn’t bear to complicate the project by estimating multiple pieces of the Great Wall.

Truth be told, the necessary level of these separate math skills (measurement, scale, proportion, distance and estimation) vary great. In the Common Core, some of these skills are listed in 5th grade, others in 8th grade. However as a high school teacher, these are areas of significant skills deficiency. Students can cross multiply and divide, but they have difficulty recognizing a proportion problem and have trouble setting it up. Certainly, the higher order thinking skills necessary in this project raise the level of difficulty.

Calculus? I could get used to that...
Depending on your state tests, this could be a useful prep assignment. If you are working with remedial students, it’s a more concrete assignment to help work on past skills, while pushing forward their thinking skills. Usually when I teach high school geometry, I like to slip this in after I want to review Perimeter. Perimeter is an elementary skills, but non-linear perimeter? We’re talking about Pre-Calculus and Calculus.

EXTENSION: This can get a little tricky, but an idea that I have to extend this is that you can have students find a picture from the internet of a non-geometric shape. After determining a scale, they could do the same activity. It's tricky, but maybe you could pull it off. 

However, or whenever you decide to try this 21st Century Math Project, have a jolly good time and Mind the Gaps. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Solar Oven -- International STEM Project

Lunch the 21st Century Math Project way
If you are trying to integrate an international flair into your science and math curriculum, this 21st Century Math Project is a great place to start. Students will design, build, test, and present a solar oven design with the objective of heating a hot dog the hottest. This is a hands-on STEM project for hands-on students. This works great when integrated scatterplots, best-fit functions, with energy. There are plenty of great opportunities to extend this learning into the humanities as well! Temperature probes with TI's work great! Any will do.

Name: Solar Oven
Suggested Grade Level: 7-12 (Advanced Algebra, Algebra II or Precalculus skills)
Math Concepts: Scatterplot, Creating, Using and Analyzing Regression Functions, Data Collection
Interdisciplinary Connections: Science, Heat & Energy, Global Studies
Teaching Duration: 4-5 Days (can be modified)
Cost: $5 for a 9 Page PDF (1 project and handouts) 
PDF Version: Solar Oven @ TPT

The Product: Students will use their solar ovens to heat a hot dog and will measure its temperature over time. And eat! 

Whoopdidoo! Like this applies to
your content area! Good grief!
At our school we had a local professor speak to an entire school body. Essentially, his work was developing large scale, efficiency solar cookers that he could then take to some of the poorest communities in Africa. To me that sure sounded like a 21st Century Math Project!

Of course I did not invent the idea of a Solar Oven project, but in most iterations I could find, most of them were science specific. As with a few of my other projects, science is the ideal fit for both mathematical rigor and real world relevancy. The challenge is to build up the mathematics side of these traditionally science activities, identify the core math concepts in play and concentrate on teaching these skills. In terms of Solar Ovens, regression functions, (exponential functions specifically) are at the core when heating or cooling. If you are teaching lines of best fit (or your students have this skill), there’s no reason this can’t be extended to work in your classroom.
An actual authentic application...?
Did I take the wrong bus this morning?

The best, simple, Solar Oven designs I have seen is with a modified pizza box. Fortunately high school kids eat pizza so these contraptions are usually available. There are plenty of possible designs that are one Google away from helping your students on their journey. I would suggest that the design component of your project should take place in a computer lab for the resources.

This is another project that can easily draw in the community. If there are local engineers that want to get out of their cubicle, walk in the sunlight and stuff, it’s a great way to get your students in contact with professionals outside of the school. I’ve been very fortunate with my engineer contacts. They always come with and provide invaluable classroom support. They also like it a lot! Give it a whirl and make the contact and I wouldn’t be surprised if they become an annual fixture!

How might we use this knowledge to
help the global community?
EXTENSION: There are endless possibilities. Creating PSAs. Entering Science Fairs. Building a large scale oven with the help of engineers to send it to a developing country. Comparing and contrasting the results of morning classes and afternoon class results. It’s a matter of how far you want to step.

If you give a man a hot dog cooked with the sun, they’ll eat it, but if you teach a man to cook a hot dog with the sun, it’s a 21st Century Math Projects. In the event of the forthcoming Zombie Apocalypse, you can’t take for granted things like grills, ovens and microwaves. This might be the only means. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Silence the Violence -- International Take Action Project -- FREE DOWNLOAD

Empower young people to use their voice and not let policymakers forget.

Lord bless the 26 new angels
Name: Silence the Violence
Suggested Grade Level: 6-12 (Pre-Algebra, Statistics skills)
Math Concepts: Correlations (calculations or scatterplots)
Interdisciplinary Connections: Law, Policy, Peace
Teaching Duration: 2-3 Days (can be modified)
Cost: A Free 20 Page PDF 
Interactive & Customizable Version: Silence the Violence @
PDF Version: Silence the Violence @ TPT

Product: A PSA for gun control and non-violence that perhaps can make a difference.

Since the tragedy in Connecticut, it has been put on my heart to to something meaningful. I learned as much as I could about the issues at play.  Perhaps with enough teachers and enough students classroom can come together to make a clear, data-driven argument that there is a positive correlation between firearms ownership and firearms homicide.

Empower your students to take action and create a PSA. Encourage them to make something powerful and let their voice be heard!

I built this project through the use of correlations of international data. I have included content for either middle school (plotting and calculating) or high school (calculating correlation with summations).

The results are meaningful, the results are real and the data is possibly the same data policymakers are reviewing right now. It was put on my heart to make this, perhaps it will be put on a student's heart to drive this point to Congress.

I will likely be updating this file, but I wanted to get it to you before some of us go off on Winter Break.
A Spreadsheet is included for convenience.

Of course taking on a project like this depends on the psyche and maturity of your class, but feel free to use anything or pass it on.

God Bless.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Person Puzzles -- Mother Teresa

Adding to the already prolific (not really) collection of 21st Century Math Project Person Puzzles, we have the greatest mother ever... Mother Teresa! 

Best Mother Ever? Goose v. Nature v. Teresa... You decide!
Name: Person Puzzle -- Mother Teresa -- Factoring
Suggested Grade Level: 7-12 (Algebra skills)
Teaching Duration: 10-30 minutes
Cost: $0.75 for a 2 Page PDF (1 assignments and answer key) 

Lets face it, many people think Mother Teresa is from Asia. While she earned her India citizenship, her life was far more interesting. If you asked kids who she was some may say "she was nice". Although we remember her and her work, she passed away in 1997 -- the same year my Freshmen were born. Yes you are old. 

Mother Teresa is a figure far more deserving as opposed to always being the token woman entry into the most important person ever debate in high school! Help your students imagine leaving the United States for another country to go serve sick and poor people in another country, never asking for any credit, and doing it for decades! 

I'm Mother Teresa, I never wanted any
credit or recognition and I'm honestly
uncomfortable being the subject
of a person puzzle. 
Help preserve the legacy of Mother Teresa and get down with some mathematical swagg. Mother Teresa swagg. Anyone who forever Googles "Mother Teresa swagg" will now hopefully find my website.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Prezi -- Cool Free Web-based Software

Tired of PowerPoint after PowerPoint after PowerPoint after PowerPoint after PowerPoint? While, making a good PowerPoint is a great skill for a high school student to have. Students will quickly hit a wall with the software and not learn any new tricks. I think it’s important when I do a project that I’m teaching a new skill with a new software. This way they are learning multiple things at one time! Enter Prezi!

Kill posterboards with me
You have likely seen a Prezi before and it’s possible that you have used it in your class. When I introduce it to students, their eyes light up in a way doing a PowerPoint for the 431st time will never. Prezi is relatively user friendly if you understand their control “wheel”. They do have high quality how-to videos on their site that you can show to the class. One thing I have learned about this software is they are always upgrading it. Every time I log on there seems to be some new feature (Like Spellcheck!).

What else is super cool about Prezi? Technology group work does not mean three kids sit at one computer. One types, one rocks with their iPod and the other naps. Multiple students CAN ALL be working on the Prezi from DIFFERENT computers. Funny little characters “walk” on your partners screen so you know where they are working and what they are doing.

The way my brain works
The other awesome thing? It’s web-based so it saves to the web. No worries about flash drives or school networks or emailing to themselves. They can log onto any computer and get it. It is 99% impossible to lose it (forgetting their password is a completely different story).

Who can use this? Pretty much anyone who wants to use a PowerPoint can just as easily use a Prezi. How does it fit into a math class? At times, I like students to conclude a math project with some sort of analysis presentation whether it be a PSA or a jury trial. This can just as easily be used for those conclusions. How I use class time with this is the careful issue. It is certainly something I’m more likely to ask students to do at home.

If there’s someone who uses their union paid counseling because they are tired of PowerPoints – this could be a welcomed change for them.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Person Puzzles -- John Herrington

The latest release to 21st Century Math Project -- A Person Puzzle! I came across a handout similar to this earlier in the year and found that my students really enjoyed it so I decided to go insane with it. It's necessary to practice skills, but why not throw some interdisciplinary connection in there for fun? 

They're Puzzles...about People... they're Person Puzzles!
Name: Person Puzzle -- John Herrington -- Solving Equations with Variables on Both Sides
Suggested Grade Level: 7-12 (Algebra skills)
Teaching Duration: 10-30 minutes
Cost: $0.75 for a 2 Page PDF (1 assignments and answer key) 

Bring to life the traditional practice class or homework assignment with some global competency and diversity! While your students practice solving equations with variables on both sides, they can learn about the interesting life of John Herrington, the first Native American to fly in space. 

Person Puzzles are designed to highlight individuals with diverse backgrounds who have made significant contributions to our world. In my experience, our students are underexposed and unaware of many significant (historical or current) figures and this is a an easy way a math teacher can throw some interdisciplinary content without sacrificing their math!

My name is John Herrington and I approve this
Person Puzzle! Not really. I haven't contacted Mr.
Herrington and hope that he's comfortable being
the subject of a Puzzle. Fingers crossed.
Students enjoy the person puzzles because they innately like figuring out these type of facts and enjoy learning about someone interesting and different. I typically use Person Puzzles as timed warm-ups which allows me to share a little about the person's background before my daily lesson. I can also drop some college readiness info like majors, degrees and careers!

Stay Tuned. More Person Puzzles are coming!
You can also get the Interactive & Customizable Version of Person Puzzles entire collection at my store and optionally customize it for your needs.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sploder -- Cool Website Spotlight

Does every student in your class want to design a video game? Sometimes I've felt that way. They certainly love playing games in the computer lab when I'm not looking. When I was tasked with designing a 21st century technology course, I knew we'd be in the lab a lot. Video Games are a natural extension and I came across this jewel of a site that is ready for students -- Sploder.

Be the favoritest teacher ever.
On this site, you are able to design one of four different model games (each with a varying degree of difficulty). Three of them are designed primarily with dragging and dropping pre-designed objects into a world of their own creation. I started my students on what I thought was the simplest game. "The Classic Shooter" this allows a student to create a game board, set up tasks and objectives and litter their world with hazards. Students created high quality games in 2-3 days.

After learning the ins and outs of this, we moved on to "Platform Creator" and this is where they fell in love. Students are able to create games that surpass the  quality of original Nintendo games. They are able to create multiple levels and customize on a more intimate level.

Enter Rambo Spongebob
It was in the middle of this that I made a surprising revelation. Students were designing, testing, redesigning, getting peer feedback, offering feedback, revising. This is exactly what you want students to do with their English paper, but they are happy to turn in a 30 minute turd. After this was completed I shared this observation with students and got some interesting reflection.

The final game we created was the "Physics Puzzle Maker" which is an animal all in itself. This is finally the point some of the kids through in the towel and others buckled down. In this game builder, you are building and defining EVERYTHING that happens in the game. As opposed to the convenient dragging and dropping in the other games, this gets very complex, but there are some high quality video tutorials on YouTube that could help with it.

How will this fit into your class? Unless you are teaching technology, I'm sorry to say this likely will not work into your lesson plans, but if you need to cater to a student's interest in games, be the cool teacher that lets your student build a video game during lunch! There just not enough options to customize it to make it work into a lesson in a content class (believe me I've though about it for a long time). There is a ton a math and science on display, but right now I can't think of a meaty enough topic that could work with it.

Pass it along to the Computer teacher in your building though! And perhaps your own children need to get away from playing six straight hours of video games, but you'd rather spark their creative juices!

It truly is a fun site that I'm surprised I'd never heard of before. Check it out!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Theme Park Tycoon -- Integrated Math Project


Any teacher knows ANY period can be a roller coaster ride. In this 21st Century Math Project, Variables & Expressions go to the Amusement Park in this engaging four assignment unit designed for Algebra or Pre-Algebra. Bring variables to life using a theme park motif. From park operations to admissions, variables and expressions are the backbone of the analysis of the Amusement Park’s data.

All that and this happen to be one of my hottest selling projects!

Name: Theme Park Tycoon
Suggested Grade Level: 7-12 (Basic Algebra skills)
Math Concepts: Translating Verbal and Algebraic Expressions, Order of Operations, Mathematical Modeling
Interdisciplinary Connections: Business, Entertainment
Teaching Duration: 2-3 Days (can be modified)
Cost: $5 for a 12 Page PDF (3 assignments, 1 project with answer key) 

The Product: After a careful analysis of the park’s data, students make a proposal regarding the need for another roller coaster at the park.
Money. Speed. Cotton Candy. I'm in.
Josie is the new manager of a theme park -- Fun Time Awesome Place. Unfortunately, Fun Time Awesome Place is considered the thirteenth best amusement park in the Midwest and she has to turn it around! One of her duties is to collect and analyze data to determine how the park is doing financially and figure out which rides are the most efficient. It’s the student’s job to help determine some mathematical expressions that will help make her job much smoother.

Although most adults are deathly afraid of the Quadruple Brain-Crippler Vortex, Middle School kids will hop right on and claim it’s the most amazing thing ever. Capture that invincible, youthful energy and package it into your Pre-Algebra or Algebra 1 class.

Understanding and writing verbal expression is still one of the most difficult skills in math. Really, whenever students are asked to learn to interchange between multiple representations, it’s a challenge. I created three assignments that increase in difficulty and practice different aspects of the skills. Depending on the level of your students, these assignments may be better off done in groups and follow it up with some teacher leadership.

Roller coasters? I need to see the
Common Core.
After having done this a few times, I have worked out a number of the kinks that my students faced in the assignment. For the most part there was great benefit to doing it in class and going over the answers in the end.

While there are a number of Common Core Standards in regards to mathematical modeling and writing algebraic expressions, I have selected a few from 7th Grade and High School Standards.

7th Grade Algebra
Use properties of operations to generate equivalent expressions.
·         Apply properties of operations as strategies to add, subtract, factor, and expand linear expressions with rational coefficients.
·         Solve real-life and mathematical problems using numerical and algebraic expressions and equations.
·         Solve multi-step real-life and mathematical problems posed with positive and negative rational numbers in any form (whole numbers, fractions, and decimals), using tools strategically. Apply properties of operations to calculate with numbers in any form; convert between forms as appropriate; and assess the reasonableness of answers using mental computation and estimation strategies. 
·         Use variables to represent quantities in a real-world or mathematical problem, and construct simple equations and inequalities to solve problems by reasoning about the quantities.

How can you cover all those standards
in a stupid roller coaster assignment!!!
High School Algebra:
·         Interpret expressions that represent a quantity in terms of its context.
·         Interpret parts of an expression, such as terms, factors, and coefficients.
·         Interpret complicated expressions by viewing one or more of their parts as a single entity. 
·         Choose and produce an equivalent form of an expression to reveal and explain properties of the quantity represented by the expression.

This won’t be a three minute thrill ride, but this 21st Century Math Project is at least three days of glorious business related relevancy. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Wiffleball -- Sports-Based Statistics Project

Take your class out to the ball game
Theoretical and Experimental Probability gets a facelift in this interactive game-based 21st Century Math Project. Tired of flipping coins and spinning spinners? Students play the role of team managers and with only player statistics they must build a team capable of winning the championship. 

Name: Wiffleball
Suggested Grade Level: 7-12 (Pre-Algebra, Statistics skills)
Math Concepts: Theoretical vs. Experimental Probability, Fractions, Data Collection
Interdisciplinary Connections: Sports, Games, Awesome Fun Stuff
Teaching Duration: 2-3 Days (can be modified)
Cost: $5 for a 11 Page PDF (1 project, 2 assignments and all game essentials) 
PDF Version: Wiffleball @ TPT

The Product: Students build their teams to compete for a championship. Bracket style tourney optional and included!

Game on, homie.
Combine together three juggernaut hobbies into one colossal  21st Century Math Project. Sports. Gaming. Mathematical Swagg. While there are plenty of class activities to teach the difference between theoretical versus experimental probability, I had to lob in my own crazy attempt.

In this 21st Century Math Project students will plays a series of Wiffleball games (6 players on a team and 4 inning games to keep things shorter) where they will keep track of statistics using a baseball/softball inspired scorebook and after the game crunch the number to see if their players performed up to their theoretical expectations. How does experimental probability match up? Students will find out together.

Did someone say drunk?... Hey, you
wanna use my spinners?!
In 7th Grade, my math teacher (he may have been drunk or a genius) pulled out Strat-O-Matic baseball, a card game with every MLB team, a 60 sided die and told us to go at it. Of course we loved it. While I was 12 years old, I certainly do not remember doing any actual math. The much older version of me says, what a missed opportunity! Why can’t we do both?

In my trial runs with this project (during student lunches since this content hasn’t quite come up), students keep coming back for more. Nothing like having to kick your students out of your room because they are doing too much math! Now, I discovered keeping the scorebook was difficult at first. If you have any experience with baseball or softball this will probably be an easy thing to teach. I have simplified the game to have three outcomes. Homeruns, singles and outs.

EXTENSION: Perhaps a few students want to get together to create a league and play a season worth of games during lunch! It can happen.

Sometimes 21st Century Math Projects can get a little too intense. Students will get emotional. Some might cry. It’s all part of the design. But seriously make sure students don’t cry.  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving Eve -- A Sale is a Comin'...

Step off the elliptical machine and check out an upcoming sale on the Mothership,
Give a special someone the gift of an engaging, integrated math lesson!

While I don't want any of you trampling over fellow shoppers for PDF files to my latest 21st Century Math Projects, I am participating in the TeachersPayTeachers sale next Monday and Tuesday. Everything on the site will be on sale and then sellers can throw there own sales on top of that. My own personal sale will actually start on Saturday, but you wouldn't get the extra TeachersPayTeachers discount. So if you've had your eye on a Math Project to tuck under the tree for a loved one (or if you love yourself) stop by this weekend.

Gift wrapping is available upon request. 

Not really, it's an electronic document.

But seriously if you want me to wrap an electronic document, I'll make it happen.

But that's not really possible. 

But if you point your mind to something you can accomplish anything.

That's not true. Someone lied to you. It's unrealistic. Putting your mind to something doesn't include the element of hard work that's necessary--

You're probably right. Gift wrapping seems unlikely.

Unless you put your mind to it.

But I thought you just said--

Monday, November 19, 2012

Population Growth: Seven Billion and Counting... -- International STEM Project

Wait until the robots start cloning us...
As the world's population has ballooned in the past three centuries researchers wait for the other pen to drop. Currently sitting at a cool 7 billion (and counting), researchers believe (based on their models) that the world's population will top out at 9.2 billion. In this 21st Century Math Project students will analyze the same data as the experts and make their own predictions. Which model best projects the world in 2050? I guess at the class’s 38th year reunion you can find out.

Name: Seven Billion and Counting…
Suggested Grade Level: 9-12 (Basic Algebra II, Precalculus skills)
Math Concepts: Scatterplot, Creating, Using and Analyzing Regression Functions, Patterns, Evaluating Predictions
Interdisciplinary Connections: Social Studies, Global Studies, Population
Teaching Duration: 3-4 Days (can be modified)
Cost: $5 for a 20 Page PDF (2 assignments, 1 project with answer key) 

The Product: After a careful analysis of population data by continent, students will use their chosen mathematical model to predict how the world’s population will breakdown in the year 2050.  

An authentic task? You're teasing me
right? Where's my drill and kill?!
Will it ever end? Most statisticians believe we will taper off our growth. They are expecting a logistic function although to date our population is freakishly exponential. In this 21st Century Math Project, students will investigate population of the different world regions over history. Students will begin by simply trying to observe a pattern, move to lines of best fit and finally have the freedom to choose their own non-linear best fit functions. This dataset yields some interesting conclusions for prediction and discussion especially in regards to the limitations of linear modeling.

Students will use the skills of patterns, constructing pie graphs, regression functions for modeling and using their equations to make predictions. What makes a model strong? Students will explore this question. This lesson is designed to work with a class set of TI graphing calculators and would work with an Advanced Algebra 1 class, Algebra 2 or PreCalculus.

That's like a lot of people, ya feel me?
People should, like, stop making babies
and stuff.
The final project is a challenging, multi-faceted task which needs certain skills to be built. To compensate, two assignments were added which help introduce the topic and skills. Thus a student’s understanding of the mathematics concepts will grow with their familiarity the topic of population.

-- "Seven Billion and Counting" -- using patterns to determine the world in 2050 and constructing pie graphs to represent 1750. 

-- "Predictive Models (the long and short of them)" -- students use linear models for global data for two different intervals (1750-2000 and 1975-2010). Students then are asked to develop their own non-linear regression functions.

Which all leads to the Mama…
This will shape the world for
generations to come. What can we do
to take action now?

-- "The World in 2050" -- students will compare the results of their 4 different results, use them to draw conclusion about modeling in general and will construct a pie graph representing the world in 2050.

I wrote this assignment relatively recently so I have only used it one time, but students were honestly intrigued by the study and the challenge of comparing their models to the experts. Others were interested in the observations that can be made in the population data by continent which certainly can generate some discussion.

EXTENSION: Population is a global issue with serious implications in terms of sustainability, natural resources and poverty. Using their models, students could create PSAs and other Presentations that can be viewed in the community.  

Will this blog go on forever? Will it live in the cloud forever? Are you someone from the year 2341, searching through Google’s cache? Did you find my laptop? If you found my laptop, there’s a really weird short with the battery that cases the screen to flicker every now and again. 21st Century Math Projects might live forever, but one day I may have to start a new company… 22nd Century Math Projects. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Superhero Transformations -- Hands-On STEM Project

Mathematical Swagg Power Up!
The first-ever 21st Century Math Project Blog poll winner is now an official 21st Century Math ProjectTurn your Geometry, Algebra 2 or Pre-Calculus classroom into Superhero City while teaching the useful skills of tranformations. Specifically focusing on translations and reflections, heroes paired with a specific mathematics function family, have to zap enemies all over the coordinate grid into submission to save their city. Students will use cutouts of functions to turn this into a hands-on math project that will serve many different types of learners and plays into their childhood superhero infatuations!

Name: Superhero Transformations
Suggested Grade Level: 7-12 (Geometry & Pre-Calculus skills)
Math Concepts: Transformations, Translation, Reflection, Families of Functions
Interdisciplinary Connections: Comics, Art
Teaching Duration: 3-5 Days (can be modified)
Cost: $6 for a 25 Page PDF (4 assignments and answer key) 
PDF Version: Superhero Transformations @ TPT (Download the Preview to see everything for FREE)

The Product: Students complete a series of tasks that culminate in taking down the mysterious Big Boss Villain. Can be expanded to creating a Pixton Comic (not provided)!

Hey Kid, put down that printer.
BOOM! POW! WHAMO! If those words remind you of your 7th Period Class, I... think you should find another blog regarding classroom management. If those words remind you of the hours you'd spend trying to hunt down that elusive Magneto action figure this might be perfect for you. If your kids dig comics and comic-book movies. This might be perfect for them! I've noticed a comic book renaissance of sorts in the school hallway especially with the awesomeness of the Avengers. 

One of the things that I do that many would consider unconventional is that before I teach how to manipulate any non-linear functions (square roots, exponentials etc.), I teach families of functions and transformations. I think this breaks down students intimidation of long equations with these different functions in them, it makes them more accessible and helps them understand that in many respects, they work the same. 

Does this mean I won't feel like I want to
disappear from class for a few days?
Are we actually going to do
something challenging?
In this project, I have assembled a dynamic mathematical superhero team where each hero has a different power that behaves like a different function. Heroes with Linear, Quadratic, Exponential, Cubic, Square Root and Absolute Value functions are stars of the show. There are a couple special guest appearances from the villains. 

No hero with a Wolfhead?
I'm slightly put off by the omission.
In creating this project, it was critical to me that it's not just glitz and glamor, but there truly is a bunch of hardcore mathematics at its core. I feel I have created something that authentically teaching translations and reflections and will serve both ends of the classroom. By creating functions that can be cut-out, this will make the tasks hands-on and accessible for all learners. By creating wicked challenging scenarios, the most advanced students will be enriched with the puzzle that the later problems create. By creating colorful, amusing heroes and villains, the most difficult to engage will be grabbed. 

EXTENSION: Perhaps there can be a comic book assignment that emerges that uses solid math jokes. Don't use class time for this. I'm begging you. Maybe a weekend extra credit assignment. :-)

So here it is, the 21st Century Math Project for the peeps. Hopefully you dig. I'll be setting up a little challenge for the blog followers tomorrow to give away a free copy! Keep you eyes open.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Oscar Winner -- Inquiry Project

And the winner of greatest blog visitor is...

Glitz, glamor and a 21st Century Math Project. These three things go together like peas, carrots and bubble yum. Utilize twenty years of Oscar winners (from 1990-2010) as a data set to guide your students through creating box and whisker plots, histograms, and exploring mean, median, and mode.

Name: Oscar Winner Inquiry Project
Suggested Grade Level: 7-12 (Basic statistics skills)
Math Concepts: Box and Whisker Plots, Histogram, Mean, Median & Mode and Stem and Leaf Plots
Interdisciplinary Connections: Film, Entertainment, Acting
Teaching Duration: 3-5 Days (can be modified)
Cost: $6 for a 13 Page PDF (1 inquiry project, 2 assignments with answer key) 
PDF Version: Oscar Winner @ TPT

The Product: An inquiry project asking students the question “Does the age of the award winning star in a film relate to the overall gross of the movie?”

They sure don't make 'em like Frank
Capra made 'em
Is an actor or actress more likely to win the Best Actor/Actress nod when they are older? What about younger? What is the range? Are actors in R rated movies more likely to win the Oscar? Students will explore these questions and more in this 21st Century Math Project.  Depending on your curriculum, this works well as a middle school math project and I have also used it for remediation at the high school level and as preparation for the high school state test. One thing is for sure, students will always have to read graphs so this really could serve as a refresher at all levels.

Although most middle and high school kids do not gravitate toward Academy Award Winning Performance, but instead to teen erotica vampirey – guy dress up like a girl is lolOMG!ZZ type of movies, I have found students are still into it. There are enough famous actors, actresses and movies that there’s still strong interest in the assignment.

Who is Julia Roberts? Was she that
substitute we had yesterday
EXTENSION: Well unfortunately, this 21st Century Math Project relies more on swagg than global relevancy. Fortunately the mathematical rigor is still there. So I’m ashamed to admit, there’s not a meaty extension that comes to mind. Perhaps you could suggest a student watch a film that you believe had an exceptionally great performance so they can appreciate great acting.

In a 21st Century Math Projects the mathematical rigor has to be there, but there is a scale between global competency and awesome swagg coolness. Typically I try to lean to global competency, but eh, you can’t win them all.