Thursday, January 16, 2014

Would You Rather - Quick and Fun Math Lessons

Last month I shared a list of math lesson resources for middle school and high school teachers. At the end of the post I invited you to email me with suggestions for more resources. Jamie Rykse recently took me up on that and emailed me a great set of resources. Two of the items that jumped out at me from Jamie's list were blogs called Would You Rather? and Estimation 180.

Would You Rather? presents a picture with a mathematics problem that asks "would you rather?" The questions that I looked through all had a financial aspect to them. One of my favorite examples from Would You Rather? is this November 7th entry that asks "would you rather buy unleaded gasoline at $3.49 per gallon with cash or at $3.59 per gallon with a credit card that gives 3% cash back?"

Estimation 180 contains 180 pictures that contain a prompt to estimate something like height, quantity, or volume.

Applications for Education
In my email to Jamie I mentioned that Would You Rather? is a resource that I could see myself using in an Intro to Personal Finances course. Would You Rather? provides a great context for math lessons that students can relate to.

Jamie's email to me contained some other resources that I've included below as he described them to me. 

Visual Patterns: by Fawn Nguyen
Math Munch by Anna Weltman,  Justin Lanier, and Paul Salomon
  • On the "For Teachers" page, the "Why Math Munch" gives an overview. Also includes link to a Tedx Talk they did.  Favorite quote: "We write Math Munch to help more kids find something mathematical that they love."
  • I had the opportunity to room with Justin at Twitter Math Camp '13 and got to see first hand his passion behind the above quote.
  • How Fawn Nguyen uses Math Munch in the classroom:
    Really, if you are a middle school math teacher you must follow her.

Common Core Problem Based Curriculum Maps by Geoff Krall
  • He has pulled together tasks and problems from others like fellow math bloggers and sites like the mathematics assessment project (a resource onto its own
  • He created curriculum maps for grades 5 to Algebra 2 using those resources that you can use and modify to fit your needs.

All of these resources are from my limited participation in the Math Twitter Blogosphere ( #MTBoS.  If I were to meet a new math teacher, I would point them there and say participate as much or as little as you can handle. Be prepared for a fire hose of resources and many very kind math teachers putting themselves out there and sharing what they do. I would also encourage them to participate in a Global Math Department session ( 

A Good Google Earth Tour Builder Tutorial

Google Earth Tour Builder is a slick tool that Google introduced a couple of months ago. Tour Builder is a browser-based tool for creating Google Earth tours. Placemarks in your Tour Builder tours can include up to 25 images and videos, that's one of my favorite aspects of the tool. I published a video about using the new Google Earth Tour Builder shortly after it was made available to the public. My tutorial did not include using the tilt and planned locations aspects of the tool (aspects that I would introduce after students get the basics of tour building). Rich Treves who writes the Google Earth Design blog has published a tutorial covering those aspects that I left out. Rich's video is embedded below.

H/T to The Google Earth Blog.

Using Pizza to Explain Politics

Lee LeFever recently shared a great example of how to stay neutral while explaining concepts in political science. Lee shared why he used triangles, squares, and circles in his explanation of the Electoral College. He went on to share a recent BuzzFeed video in which pizza slices were used to explain Congressional redistricting.

Applications for Education
Two thoughts came to me while reading Lee's post and watching the BuzzFeed video. First, what a great way to remove politics from explaining important concepts in political science. Second, I've seen lots of high school students struggle to demonstrate their understandings of current events because they allow their personal feelings to cloud their explanations. Having students use pizza slices, candies, or simple shapes to explain current events without their feelings clouding their explanations.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Webinar Recording - Digital Storytelling With Comics

On Monday I published a short guide to digital storytelling with comics. This evening I gave a free webinar presentation based on that free guide. More than 200 people registered for the webinar in less than 48 hours. If you wanted to join and missed it, the recording of the webinar, sponsored by Storyboard That, is now available here and as embedded below.

Click here to get a copy of the PDF that I released on Monday and mentioned in the webinar.

Compare the Size of Countries and States With These Map Mash-ups

This morning through Google Maps Mania I found a neat little site called MapFight. MapFight lets you select two U.S. states or two countries to quickly see which one is bigger and by how much. The select states or countries are put into overlays to help you see the size difference. MapFight reminded me of a similar, but more robust tool called OverlapMaps.

Overlap Maps is a free service that can be used to quickly compare the size of countries, states, provinces, and some bodies of water. To create a visual comparison of two countries select one country from the "overlap this" menu and select one country from the "onto this" menu. The comparisons you make are displayed on a map. You can make comparisons from different categories.

Applications for Education
MapFight and Overlap Maps could be a good littles tool to help students can perspective of the relative size of places that they study in their geography lessons.