# If The Earth Contained 100 People

I discovered the books, “If the World Were A Village” by David Smith at a local math conference two years ago.  I would love to explore the math in this books with my class but have not come up with a good lesson for it yet.  I am posting about this now to get my links together, inspire myself, and maybe get some ideas from the amazing math teachers that read my blog.

If you have lessons or activities surrounding this concept, please share them in the comments with me!  Once I get something together, I will tell you all about it.

# Graphing Stories

I absolutely loved Dan Meyers Graphing Stories! I rounded them all up into a single Powerpoint presentation, and watched them with my 7th grade class last fall. All I forgot was popcorn (…next year)!

After the viewing, I told them that they were all going to get to make their own Graphing Stories.  I put them into groups of four, and then assigned each group a graph characteristic, either vertical, horizontal, increasing, or decreasing.  (About fifty percent of their graphing story needed to be their “assigned” characteristic.)

After the groups brainstormed and planned, we hit the outdoors to film!  We filmed their 15 second stories around our beautiful campus with my iPhone. I uploaded their videos to YouTube and then they went to work!  It was the beginning of the year, and they were all new students to me thus I had just introduced them to Google Spreadsheets.

Graphing Story Requirements:

• The presentation must be done on Google Presentations (so that the four group members could easily share and work at the same time).
• Fifty percent of the graph needed to be the assigned graph (vertical, horizontal, increasing, or decreasing).
• Create a “blank” graph with label axis so that students could label their graphs.
• Create an activity sheet with a blank graph and summary questions.
They worked so hard – and this was a very difficult project for them because they were new at Google Spreadsheets and had never used Google Presentation before.  It took them longer than I had anticipated.  The end results were beautiful and creative.  Some of the graphs were not as “exact” as they could have been, some bumps were left out.  But, I was so proud of them that I did not even take off that many points for the errors.  I have included links to their movies below.
Now, seven months later Dan has created a Graphing Stories website and very generously offered to create beautiful Graphing Stories videos from stories we all send in!  I am excited about this extension of their graphing stories for my students.  This is perfect timing for them as we have just begun reviewing material in preparation for their final.  Going over their graphs in order to submit their stories will be a great way to review.  And I am so excited that their Graphing Stories are going to the next level.
I can’t wait to watch all of the new graphing stories that Dan pumps out next year with my rising 7th grade.  I think it will be fun for kids to watch them as homework, and then present their favorites the next day.  I know it will be fun for them to watch their class mates as well!

# Math Wiki Project to Develop Interactive “Concept Help” Resources

One of my primary goals this year has been to develop easily accessible resources for students to get additional help outside of the classroom.  Students, parents, and tutors ask me for extra material for the students to work on.  Additionally, sometimes students are at home and stuck on a problem, need help with an entire concept or lesson, or miss a few days of school and need to catch up.  I wanted to be able to point students (and parents and tutors) to an interactive “re-teaching” resource that they could benefit from.  As a bonus, it would be nice if these “re-teaching” resources varied from my original instruction, were interesting, or even fun!

I started this project solo.  But, there are many, many concepts in the two classes that I teach.  Also, I did not feel that I was finding enough of a variety of resources.  So, I decided to enlist student help.

I created a project for my 7th grade pre-algebra students called “Concept Help Pages”.  I assigned each student three

concepts.  I picked the three concepts for each student from their lowest personal concept scores.  For each concept, students had to create a wiki page on our class wiki and fill it up with four different types of resources.

• Online video explaining their concept
• Online worked out practice problems that illustrated each step and had the answers.
• Online “interactive” problems for students to work and get immediate feedback
• Online game
Part of the requirements were that the videos and games had to be interesting and fun.  They needed to view the videos and play the games.  I wanted the pages to be visually appealing as well so I offered a small amount of bonus points for including a picture or illustration that directly related to their concept.  I also had the students do “Peer Reviews” of each other’s pages to check the links, play the games, and give suggestions on how to make each others pages better.
This is a work in progress.  I plan on having other classes add to the help pages in the future.  As a project for 6th grade, I am going to assign them each one of the wiki help pages for them to explore.  I will then see if they feel that they can find additional (and maybe even better) resources to include on each page.  In this way, I hope to make the pages very rich in helpful resources.
Going forward, I would like to use these pages during after school help sessions, especially when I have multiple students that need help on several different concepts.  When this happens after school I am usually scrambling to help everyone.  I make up several problems for several students and then try to work with them all individually (at the same time).  The students are rarely at the same level.  Usually, everyone ends up waiting on me while I work with one student.  If all students could pull up the online interactive problems on the concept that they need to work on, they wouldn’t have to wait for me to make up a problem for them OR check to see if their answer is correct.  I would have more time to walk them through the problems and help them when they got “stuck”.  This would enable me spend after school help time circulating between students, helping each student with exactly what they needed help on, instead of spending time making up problems and giving out answers.

# The Black Death: Percents, Ratios, and Rates

As much as I love teaching math, sometimes wish I taught social studies.  History is so much fun!

In our 6th grade curriculum the students do a interdisciplinary project on the Middle Ages.  They study the Middle Ages in Social Studies, read period books and fairy tales in Language Arts, create Middle Age art, and even learn popular dances from the Middle Ages in dance class.  With all of the Middle Age fun coursing through the 6th grade, I could not be left out in math class!

The Land Of Matheval

I created “The Land of Matheval” for our Medieval Mathematics Unit.  Matheval was a fictional medieval community comprised of my 25 6th grade students.  I let all of my students pick a person from the Middle Age to become and research.  We were studying percents, ratios, and rates so I wanted to look at the percentages of the different classes of people of the Middle Ages.  To study rates, I decided to focus on the death rate of the Black Death across Europe.

Day 1:  Percent of the Population

When people think of the Middle Ages, they often think of Kings, Queens, and knights.  However, nobility was only about 1% of the population.  In our class we investigated the percentage of the Medieval population that was nobility (1%), monks and priests (5-10%), and commoners (90%).  We then took those percentages and applied them to our 25 6th graders to see how many of each class we would have. We had to do a little rounding and estimating so that we didn’t end up with half a person.  We ended up with 1 member of nobility, 1 monk and 1 priest, and 22 commoners.  The students were quite surprised that there was only one member of nobility among us!

I had the students draw their role from a hat to decide if they would be nobility, clergy, or common.  After drawing, we talked briefly about roles of commoners in the Middle Ages.  They had been discussing this in more depth in Social Studies so were already familiar with the roles.  The commoners got to pick a job.  For part of their homework, they were to enter their job and provide a brief description of their responsibilities on a Google Document that  I created.  I told them that since we were such a small community they could not duplicate jobs.

Day 3:  Estimate Your Chance of Survival

After they picked their roles I told them that we would be studying the Black Death.  I explained that many people in Europe died from the Black Death.  For part of their homework that night, they were to go onto their Google Docs and estimate their chance of survival according to the job that they had picked.  This was when the students realized it was NOT a good time to have picked being a rat catcher!

Day 4:  Rate of Death – The Black Death Arrives!

This day was one of those amazing teaching days that you wish you could have every, single day!  I arranged for the art teacher to dramatically interrupt our class to announce that the Pestilence had arrived!  What I didn’t know was that our art teacher was also the director of our school theatre productions OR that the social studies teacher would also join in the fun!  About five minutes into class, the art teacher exploded through our door screaming, “The Pestilence has arrived!” before dropping dead in our doorway.  She was then dragged out by their social studies teacher.  This was immensely entertaining and made QUITE an impression on my students!  With urgency, I told our students that our plans must stop at once today!  We needed to stop everything and learn more about THE BLACK DEATH!

We discussed the spread of the Black Death throughout Europe by analyzing graphs and charts I had on a Powerpoint.  We researched the population of Europe from 1347 to 1352 and discovered that 25 million people had died in 5 years.  We then calculated how many people died each year, each month, and each day!  As we continued on with our calculations, the numbers became more and more manageable (and thus realistic) for the students.  They wanted more, so we then calculated how many people died each hour and finally, how many people died each minute.

When the class was back, seated and winded, we discussed what had happened.  At hearing the Black Death was coming, what did all of my students do?  THEY RAN.  What happened to them anyway?  THEY ALL DIED.  But, what did they do in the meantime?  They spread the Black Death across the entire Woodlawn Campus!  We talked about how this was human nature, and many people in Europe probably reacted the same way that they did.  They fled, and they spread the Black Death.

I then opened the Google Doc and we looked at their estimated chance of survival.  After what we learned about the rate of death, we updated their percentages as a class.

It was a fantastic week, it was an amazingly fun lesson, and my students have not stopped begging for more activities like the Black Death!

# Skype + NC = NYC! Stop-Motion Movies and Technology in the Classroom

The 7th grade class at my school is currently working on a cross-curricular Japanese Anime project where they creating their own stop-motion animated films based upon environmental themes.  The students work in groups and come up with their own idea relating to the theme, the characters they would like to use, and how they would like to present their message.  Then, in the classic stop-motion animation style, they take a series of pictures that they edit in imovie to create an animated film.

The project, The Animated Classroom: Using Japanese Anime to Engage and Motivate Students, was recently written up in the September edition of the English Journal.  For the math aspect of this project, the students read and timed their entire movie, and then read and timed each scene.  The art teacher and her previous students had determined that they would need 2-3 pictures per second to make the animation appear “smooth”.  So I had my students calculate the range for the number of pictures they would need for their total movie and for each scene based on this estimate.  It is important that the students take enough pictures as it is often difficult to go back and take more pictures once the shooting is over.

The students take all of the shots and do their own editing.  The characters in their movies can be anything from lego figures to barbies and paper dolls, or they can draw on a whiteboard.  An interesting part of the project for students is determining the angles to take the shots from, and how much they should pan or zoom.  Since the characters aren’t alive, it would be very boring (and not very animated) for the characters to be just standing facing each other during the talking.

Fortunately, I am friends with Matt Clark, the two-time Emmy nominated Director of Photography of the NBC hit show 30Rock.  With this project looming, and all of these camera angle questions in mind, who else better to ask than an extremely talented and exceptionally good-natured cinematographer?

Thanks to Skype, we were able to live stream Matt into my NC classroom directly from 30Rock’s NYC set!  Thanks to a overhead projector, we were able to put his face on the BIG screen!  However, for him to see the students, they had to sit in front of the computer when they asked their questions.  We also hooked into the sound system in the room, and it was great hearing his voice overhead!  But there was too feedback, so we had to go back to computer audio.

Each group collaborated before the interview and came up with the questions they wanted to ask him.  The students came up with some fabulous questions and I was impressed by their professionalism.  It is so hard to believe that they are only 12 and 13 years old sometimes.  They are an amazing group of students!  Some of the questions the groups asked about were camera angles, panning, zooming and the amount of hours it took to film a 30 minute episode (the answer is 60 hours!).  Thanks Matt for the math lead there – we are going to find that rate tomorrow in class and see how their filming hours and finished film time compare to 30Rock.

When they were finished asking their group questions we had a couple more minutes so Matt gave them more great tips about filming.  Then, I let them ask their fun questions.  They were most interested in the number of re-takes Matt had to take (especially of Tracy Jordan)!  At the end, they thanked Matt and then all at once said, “Who Dat Ninja?”.  That gave Matt a laugh.  My students had obviously been planning that one.  ; )

The video is on YouTube now but will be embedded once Zamzar is finished converting it!

Tomorrow the art teacher is going to have the students chose two of Matt’s suggestions to incorporate into their film.  It should be another exciting day!

# I Just Cannot Get Over Google Docs!

I really cannot get over Google Docs.  I just CAN’T!  It is so amazing!  I am having my 6th graders finish up their “How I Spend My Time” Google Spreadsheet project this weekend.  All they had to do was enter in their decimals, insert a chart, and then print it out at home.  Many students finished entering all of the information during class, so they just had to insert the chart and print at home.

There are two things that I love about Google Spreadsheets.  One, as a student types, I can WATCH them type!  Two, if they have questions, they can ask me i in the chat box.  Then, I can give them suggestions and even look at their sheets to see what is going on.

So, it’s Sunday night and I am working now that the kids are in bed.  I open the Google Docs to see how my students are doing.  I pop into the chat box to ask them if they have any questions.  I look at their work and help a few of them.

Here is a screen shot from my computer of all of the action (click on the picture to see everything including the chat box and the pie chart)!   It’s amazing, and I love it!  Everyone should try this!

# Join the Math Teacher Wiki!

Calling all math teachers!!

After teaching only HS (and specifically Alg II or higher) for the last few years I am moving on over to the wonderful world of middle school this fall!  I will be teaching 6th and 7th grades.

Since this is a new arena for me I am putting out the all call for resources!  So, I have set up a wiki for any math teachers to add resources.  Math Teacher Wiki

I am new to the whole wiki thing so the format is pretty basic right now.  I hope to improve it as time goes on.

Just updated:

You can add yourself to the wiki!   I fixed it so I do not have to add people.  Yeah!  Very exciting stuff!

Let’s do this!