Would You Rather Be My Valentine or Do a Few Math Problems?

Would You Rather Be My Valentine

Earlier this month, I saw a post by Richard Byrne that led me to this great site of mathematical “Would You Rather” problems.  John Stevens (@JStevens009) is the clever man who creates these mathematical challenges, and I love the thinking that is required to solve the questions he poses.  I tried a few with my 3rd graders, and they were hooked.  Many of the problems, though, require a little more advanced math knowledge than generally possessed by 8-year-olds, so I thought about penning a few of my own.  Since Valentine’s Day is closing in, I decided to go with that theme.  I asked John if he minded me borrowing his idea, and he generously gave me the go-ahead.

The rule I give my students for these problems is that they must prove their answer using mathematical reasoning.  They are allowed to use the internet to research and/or do some hands-on measurements.  It’s possible that they may be able to justify completely different answers.  For example, on the one about the pound of chocolate, they might choose the lower amount instead of the higher because they are not huge fans of chocolate – though that seems to be rather rare.

I don’t know if you have ever heard kids playing the actual “Would You Rather” game, but it can get a little disgusting.  They seem to enjoy the gross questions, so I threw one into this series for the sake of low entertainment ;)

Feel free to use the Google Presentation, this Powerpoint file, or this PDF.

For more Valentine-related links, check out this post!

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Maps That Will Help You Make Sense of the World

Twisted Sifter has a great article that includes pictures of “40 Maps That Will Help You Make Sense of the World.”  Not all of them are appropriate to show students, but some of them would be great to use for incorporating some Depth and Complexity into the classroom.  Here are a few, and some suggestions.

Big Idea – What general statement could you make about this map?

Change Over Time – How has the metric system been accepted throughout the world since its invention?

Multiple Perspectives – What are the pros for using the metric system?  What are the cons?  Who might benefit from its adoption by the U.S.?  Who would suffer if it became our only method of measurement?

included in "40 Maps That Will Help You Make Sense of the World" on TwistedSifter.com

included in “40 Maps That Will Help You Make Sense of the World” on TwistedSifter.com

Rules – How are the laws about driving different in countries that use the left side than the ones that use the right?

Details – What other aspects of life are effected by driving orientation?  (For example, car manufacturing, and street signs.)

Unanswered Questions – What does this map not tell us about driving orientation?  (For example, is one way more safe than the other?)

included in "40 Maps That Will Help You Make Sense of the World" on TwistedSifter.com

included in “40 Maps That Will Help You Make Sense of the World” on TwistedSifter.com

Big Idea – What conclusions can you make from this map?

Patterns and Trends – What similarities do you see?  Are there other things that the regions of the same color may have in common?

Ethics – What arguments or controversies might people have about these results?

And finally, this map sparked a little creative thinking from me.  How would the world be different if it was rearranged?

included in "40 Maps That Will Help You Make Sense of the World" on TwistedSifter.com

included in “40 Maps That Will Help You Make Sense of the World” on TwistedSifter.com



Lego Mindstorms Fix the Factory App

Screen shot from Lego Mindstorms Fix the Factory app (this level was HARD for me!)

Screen shot from Lego Mindstorms Fix the Factory app (this level was HARD for me!)

What do you do when you have 24 students on their way to a Robotics Club meeting and you find out from a technician that your laptop hard drives have mutinied and need to be re-imaged?  If you are like me, you consider asking the technician if he would like to switch jobs for the afternoon.  The kids have spent three meetings building the robots and are eager to start programming.  I had kind of promised that the laptops would be ready for action yesterday, so I wasn’t looking forward to breaking the news that it would be at least two more weeks before the students could start.

But then I remembered something.

During a recent Twitter chat (#kidscancode – 8 PM EST on Tuesdays), @reesegans mentioned a Lego programming app.  I’m not embarrassed to admit that I immediately downloaded it, and spent two hours trying to climb through the levels. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I almost tweeted @reesegans at one point to ask her how in the world to solve one of the levels (and it was not a very high one).  I am really proud to admit that I made it through 23 levels. On. My. Own.

I’m waiting for just the right moment to conquer the last level, 24.

Anyway – back to 24 students about to be disappointed…

I have enough iPads so groups of 3 could share.  Thankfully, Lego Mindstorms Fix the Factory is free, so it was a quick download.

As soon as I demonstrated the first level, one of the students asked for a piece of paper so he could write down the name of the app to play it at home.

Fix the Factory fixed my problem.  The students still got to practice programming a Lego robot.  They were helping each other, engaged, and using creative problem solving skills.  Thank you, @reesegans!!!!!

It’s not the perfect app for a school setting, as you can’t set it up for different players on the same device.  But you might want to consider it for next week’s Hour of Code if you are planning to participate.  I would recommend Fix the Factory for 4th grade and up.  There are a few jumps in the scaffolding of skills, so you really need to guide the kids through thinking things out and persevering.  It’s similar to Cargo-Bot, but has the added bonus of an actual robot to program.

Speaking of the Hour of Code, check in tomorrow for a last-minute round-up of resources!

Sifteo Cubes

It’s Friday again, which means another episode of “Gifts for the Gifted.”  This is a series that I do in November and December to give suggestions for those of you shopping for holiday gifts for your students and/or children.  So far this month, I’ve posted about “Scrabble Flash” and “Makedo“.  You can view more recommendations on my Pinterest board.

This week, I offer you Sifteo Cubes.  They are similar to the Scrabble Flash game I reviewed last week – but they do so much more!  Of course, with the added functionality comes a heftier price.  Based on my daughter’s reaction to them last Christmas, however, they are well worth it.

My daughter, who is 10, can quickly lose interest in gifts that she receives.   I was worried that the Sifteo Cubes, which were at the top of her list last year, might suffer the same fate.  Fortunately, there was no need for concern.  Once the gift was unwrapped, it got the entire family’s attention.

A set of Sifteo Cubes includes 3 cubes that are pre-loaded with 4 different games, and a base.  The base is the key because you can connect it to your computer to download more games.  (You do have to pay for new games.)  You can also add on cubes.

The cubes interact with each other.  If you go to the Sifteo website, you can see video of the cubes in action.  The number of people who might want to play with them depends on the game.  One of my personal favorites is “Word Caravan.”

Sifteo has provided a few resources called “Creativity Kit“, which shares how the cubes can be used to develop Spatial Reasoning, Literacy, Perception, Pattern Recognition, and Collaboration.

At a price of $129 on Amazon, the Sifteo cubes are not cheap.  But, our family has found them to be worth it.

Now, I just need to convince my daughter to let me take them to my classroom…

North Star Smart Stars Survey

My colleague, Daryn, pointed me toward this app a few weeks ago, and I finally had the chance to download it and try it out this weekend.

North Star Smart Stars Survey is an iPad app produced by Fablevision.  It was designed by Peter Reynolds (author of The Dot, Ish, The North Star, and other books) and Megan McDonald (Judy Moody series illustrator).  Based on Howard Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligences, the app allows the user to answer a series of questions in order to end up with a beautiful constellation map of that shows his or her strengths based on the relative sizes of each star.

Constellations can be saved to the Photo Gallery, or shared through e-mail.  They can be edited at any time.  Multiple users can take the survey on one device, and all of the information is saved under each user’s name.

For teachers, this can be a valuable resource, allowing you to differentiate activities based on the interests of your students.  There are also whimsical downloadable posters available for each intelligence.

This app is $2.99, which might be a problem for teachers at schools where purchasing apps is a complicated process.  I ended up downloading it to my personal device, instead, to avoid red tape.  The good news is that I only need the app on one iPad.  Since I have over 40 students,  it is money well spent!

Genius Hour Challenges


Since I have decided to gamify Genius Hour, I thought that it would spice things up to give the students surprise challenges.  I haven’t designed the cards, yet, because I am hoping that some of you can give me more ideas.  Please go to this link  to add some ideas to my Padlet wall, tweet me @terrieichholz, or add your suggestions in the comments for this post.

The idea is that students will choose cards knowing their level of difficulty, but not the challenge.  Level 1 and Level 2 cards will be challenges that could be accomplished during the hour.  Levels 3, 4, and 5 are challenges that can be accomplished during the length of one Genius Hour project.  Students who choose Level 1 and Level 2 cards must choose one each Genius Hour.  Higher level challenges can be done at the students’ discretion.

This is what I have so far:

Level 1:

work with someone new for this hour

use no computer/mobile technology during this hour

no speaking during this hour

use a non-dominant hand for the entire hour

Level 2:

use 2 completely different resources than you have been using so far

use this hour to write a blog post about your project

go to Wonderopolis, and find a way to make the Wonder of the Day connect to your project

Level 3:

interview at least one person for your project

include a timeline with at least four major events in your project

Level 4:

include a game in which the audience can participate in your final presentation

include a self-created video of at least one minute long in your final presentation

create a poster advertising your presentation

Level 5:

switch projects with someone else (my daughter thought this was a particularly cool idea!)