Reading Assignment 11/23

Can we talk about how today’s date is the first 4 Fibonacci numbers? In 44 years it’ll be even more exciting.

We have the whole week off for Thanksgiving, so I’ve mainly been sitting on my couch playing iPhone games, but I have also been catching up on reading.


Dyslexie, a font designed to be easier for people with Dyslexia to read.

TIME Magazine is trolling us again.

Selma looks like it’s going to be great, and useful for teaching about voting rights and the civil rights movement.

Resources/ Ideas

Flowchart proofs with a secret office-supply weapon! This is a great idea. Honestly, last year I abandoned geometric proofs entirely and did only algebraic proofs – proof by induction and proof by contradiction. A downside to having total curricular freedom is that I sometimes abandon useful topics I just can’t think of a good way to teach. This year I want to re-include this type of proof and I’m always looking for ways to make it actually work.

Card Colms are magic tricks involving mathematics – a parent shared this with me recently. Seems pretty cool.

Math scavenger hunt on the national mall! As a math teacher at a school that goes on weekly field studies, this is the definition of perfection. If I end up using this I will surely blog about it.


Indecision 2014 – HGS Cookie Election

I finally had the chance to do a math field study! To celebrate election day and tie into my Is Democracy Fair? probability unit, last Tuesday we held a chocolate chip cookie election at school.

One of our parents was elected to state office in Massachusetts, so he and a colleague who makes political ads came as guest speakers. The kids had lots of questions to ask them about political news, gun control legislation, and the most recent election.

In the afternoon, students participated in the cookie election! We had 5 candidates running: 3 home-made chocolate chip cookie recipes, 1 box of Chips Ahoy, and 1 batch of oatmeal raisin cookies. Students were asked to fill out three types of ballots: approval, ordinal (ranking each of the cookies 1st, 2nd, 3rd choice etc.), and cardinal (giving each cookie a score out of 5 for various qualities including roundness, flavor, and edge crispiness). Then the students were put into groups to determine the winner based on all this data.

There were 6 groups who used several different methods, and between them 3 separate winners were chosen. Along the way we did a lot of reflection. We compared this election to real-life elections, and talked about why these other methods aren’t typically used. The oatmeal raisin cookies were definitely brought up several times in conversation.

Polynomial Sense

In math 3 we’re talking about polynomials, their degrees, and what it means to have imaginary solutions. We just finished doing a ton of work on adding/subtracting and multiplying/dividing complex numbers. I’m feeling confident that if I gave them a page of “multiply these complex numbers” problems, they would definitely know to distribute the real and imaginary parts. Most would draw the box (honestly, I still always use the box). The difficult part is definitely multiplying individual numbers – they know they have to multiply 2i x 4, just not necessarily what it is. To practice, I adapted this game, but made it about 16 times more complicated. I got four 8-sided dice from the RPG club adviser, in different colors to represent positive imaginary, negative imaginary, positive real, and negative real numbers. We soon realized that it would be extremely difficult for anyone to win the game as it was designed, so we improvised.

dice game

This week I showed them second, third, fourth, and fifth degree polynomials and asked them to describe the pattern.

polnomial pattern

Then I told them something like this had 2 imaginary solutions and asked them how they knew:

degree 4 rereimim

That’s not the actual one, but one that was on the very conceptual handout I gave them next. I’m attaching it in case you’re interested. It involves some writing. Click for pdf: matching polynomial equs

I’m realizing we are way ahead, and I’m not sure how I feel about that. I guess I could decide it’s definitely a good thing, because they’re all doing well on assessments and seem to be grasping concepts. I could also decide it’s a bad thing, that we’re rushing through material and not delving as deeply into it as we could. In any event, I’m taking advantage by re-including some polynomial standards I initially rejected because of perceived time constraints. I’ll be doing polynomial long division next week – let’s see how it goes!