Wednesday, March 21, 2012


I want to investigate Infographics.

Are you using them? If you are, how? What's effective about them? Do they help create discussion in your class? Do they create 'perplexity' as Dan Meyer would want. From the little I have seen of infographics tonight, I see some strong potential, especially with 3Acts and discussion based learning.

One of my RSS feeds, Mr. G Online was talking about Infographics and I thought I'd see if there's any gems. I clicked on Cool Infographics, immediately finding a picture of an iPad and usage. Continuously trying to better train my brain to look for potential math lessons, I quickly:

  1. Snagged the graphic
  2. Added some lovely black boxes and...
  3. Poof! A potential math lesson? 
  4. Uploaded link to

What's the first question that comes to mind?

Is your question, "What percentage is each activity on the iPad?"
Additionally, I want to know if each colored area actually represents that percentage of the iPad screen?

Off to explore some infographics.

12% (that's one of the percentages)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Pi Day Review

This was a crazy busy week: preparing for Pi Day, executing Pi Day activities, and then some family happenings. Overall it was a great week!

I thought I'd briefly share how well my Pi Day activities. I was strongly motivated to make a 3Act lesson (a la Dan Meyer). Well, I didn't make just one, I made two. Let me tell you, the response from my students was overwhelmingly positive and engaging. Furthermore, I invited my administration to check out the lessons and they were highly engaged and excited to see what was going on in my math class.

Activity 1: Filling a cylindrical vase with water. Water Vase - Act 1 can be found here.
I did this lesson with 4 classes. The students asked great questions after the first act and on we went to answer the question: How long will it take to fill the vase with water? Act 2 helped give necessary information via video and my Promethean Flipchart. Act 3 revealed the time/solution and we were close (4 second discrepancy).  The best part: our discussion throughout the lesson and most importantly, at the end?
I asked my class:

  • What could have caused inaccuracy or inconsistency with your calculated answer and the practical answer?
The discussion that ensued was not only flattering, but very telling that students enjoy discussing errors, conflicts, mistakes, and of course the thrill of being really close to the answer.

Activity 2: Filling a cylindrical vase with scoops of sand. Sand Vase - Act 1 can be found here.
I did this lesson with two classes and was just as engaging and discussion based as the other activity. Act 3 reveals that there is a 2 scoop discrepancy between our calculated answer and practical answer. Again, the discussion that followed by asking the same above question was very stimulating. 

I'm so excited to do more 3Act learning this year and spend time over the summer preparing for next year. 

If you want any of the Promethean flipcharts, PDFs, PowerPoints, to accompany the videos, email me.


Graphic Organizer that went along with the lesson:

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Law of Lego

I went to the Lego Store in my local mall the other day. There weren't many people in the store so I was able to take a picture of their back wall full of bins with those little magical plastic pieces. I don't know about you, but quite a few questions popped into my head:

  1. How many Legos are in all those bins?
  2. How many pieces could I fit in the quart-sized cup for $14.99 ($15)
  3. If I worked there would I be allowed to build anything I wanted?
  4. Given an hour, what could I build?
  5. Am I dreaming?
  6. Is this a tease?
  7. ...and so on, you get the idea
Most importantly, I left the store with what I think was the best question:

How can I incorporate Legos into my classroom to have an awesome learning experience and lesson?

There's my new objective, especially with surface area and volume coming up in my Geometry class.

What question comes to mind for you?


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Can negative answers equal stealing?

If someone gets a negative answer to a question involving a purchase at a store, is it stealing?

Today, I was grading the tests I gave last week covering linear systems in Algebra. I was actually quite impressed with the majority of students who were successfully solving the mixture, distant, and linear systems questions. Then I came across an answer where the student answered with a negative value to the following question:

Mr. Stadel bought a total of 31 Red Bull drinks. Each individual can is priced at $2 and a 4-pack of Red Bull drinks is priced at $7. Mr. Stadel paid a total of $56 for the energy drinks. How many individual cans did he purchase? How many 4-packs did he purchase?

The student answered -6 for the amount of 4-packs. Checking their work, they accidentally forgot to account for a negative in their solving. Of course this prompts me to encourage my students to analyze their answers even better, considering the practicality of their answer before submitting it...

or maybe -6 meant I stole the Red Bulls.


Friday, March 2, 2012

A Week off to rethink!

My school had a week off... 'ski week.' No, I didn't spend it snowboarding. However, it was one of the best weeks of my life since I got to spend the entire week with my 21-month old son. Another reason it was so great was because it gave me a chance to rethink some of the things I'm doing in my middle school math classes. I plan on keeping this post short by briefly explaining my blog title, my week of rethinking, and a link I would love some feedback on.

Blog Title:
My favorite divisibility rule is that of three. Although common in the math community, take any number, add its digits and if the sum of its digits is divisible by 3, then the number itself is divisible by 3. For example, 582 is divisible by three since the sum of its digits equals 15. The same rule applies to nine, but I am simply drawn to the rule of 3.

Week of rethinking:
An overwhelming majority my week off was spent rethinking my approach to my math classroom, inspired by Dan Meyer. If you haven't checked out his website, blog, or popular TED video, I highly recommend it. He has given new life to the timeless relevance of learning math in the classroom and how it applies to the world. I am not the most eloquent writer and would not be able to accurately describe his contributions to the math community. Simply, check out his downloadable lessons on his website, subscribe to his blog, or find some videos of him on YouTube and you'll quickly see why he such an inspiring educator. He has willingly shared ideas and resources that both teachers and students need. It has given me a whole new set of glasses for looking at life around me and constantly thinking how I can better incorporate media into my lessons.
I will be attempting to apply some of his philosophies and techniques in my classroom, one being the 3 Acts process. Act 1: present media to grab the attention of your audience in a way that allows room for discussion, asking questions, and making predictions. Keep the presented information limited so you can lead to Act 2: encouraging your students to discuss what relevant information is necessary to solve the question(s). Solve. Act 3: Finish the media and compare the actual/practical results to the theoretical results.
*Of course this is my interpretation and have still yet to test the process out... leading to my next part.

Video Feedback:
Using Vimeo, I posted two videos about linear inequalities. I am starting this section with my Algebra classes next week and I am excited to attempt my own version of 3 Acts. I am looking for some feedback. I am open to all constructive feedback and want to see if you think the videos will help open the floor for discussion of linear inequalities, shading, and possible outcomes given the necessary information.

78,021 (also divisible by 9)
**Would it be cheesy to sign off leaving a number divisible by three? Ha!