Screencasts in Math Class

Years ago, as a middle school math teacher, I had a dilemma.  My 51 minute math classes had been shortened to 43 minutes.  As any teacher knows, this is a big deal.  After wrestling with a lot of ideas for how to handle here’s what I landed on:

Each day, during my planning period, I pressed record in a screencasting program called Jing, stepped up to the SmartBoard and went over the day’s homework as if my class was there.  (I’m sure I looked like I had lost my marbles to any passerby) I did it quickly, forcing myself to keep it under 5 minutes.  Any longer would mean 2 things: my assignment was too long and I was using to much class time to explain content that my students had already done.

The next day, I would play that video while taking attendance, checking to see who did their homework and meeting with any students who had been absent.  This allowed me to combine two sets of things that I had previously done–going over the homework and doing the beginning of class teacher stuff–at once.  It made up for those 8 lost minutes, and then some.

Nowadays, my philosophies about homework and classrooms where all students are doing the same thing at the same time has changed, so I wouldn’t repeat this format.  However, I think these recordings would still be valuable in a blended learning setting.  When students finish certain assignments, they could view the videos to self-assess and learn more.  Learning Management Systems and websites really open up the possibilities on this.

Here’s a sample of one of these videos:

Exploring the Number pi with Google Sheets & Forms

What better way to celebrate Pi Day than with a hands-on, tech-on exploration activity that helps students build their own understanding of what pi really is?  Well, probably a good piece of pie, but this is awesome nonetheless.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Get a bunch of fabric tape measures (using string and then measuring lengths on the string works too).
  2. Get a bunch of circular objects.
  3. Have kids measure the circumference and diameter of different circular objects.
  4. Instruct the kids to submit their measurements to a Google Form
    (note: my form doesn’t collect names, but it would be best to collect them so you can help kids who have measurement errors).
  5. Setup a QUERY formula to find the circumference/diameter for each entry.
    =QUERY(B2:C1000, “select B/C”)
  6. Fix that pesky 2 in the Query formula after the first submission – when the first entry inserts a row, it changes B2 to B3.  Change it after the first entry and you’re good to go.
  7. Setup an AVERAGE formula to find the mean of the circumference/diameter calculations.
  8. Project the spreadsheet as entries are recorded.  See what your kiddos notice about the numbers they see on their screen!

Exploring Measures of Center with Google Sheets

My obsession with Google Sheets is no secret. I loooove spreadsheets.  And I think that they have a big place in education, especially in math (but elsewhere as well).

Recently, I posted about how you can prove the mean (or average) formula using Google Sheets.  In this post, I’d like to share with you how you can find all 3 measures of center (or measures of central tendency) and explore them in Google Sheets.  I love to change or add numbers in the data set and ask students to make predictions about what will happen.  It really is a great–and relevant–way for students to become more familiar with these statistical measures.

Proving the Algorithm for Mean (Average) in Google Sheets

I am a huge spreadsheets nerd and a huge advocate of the use of spreadsheets in mathematics instruction.  If you keep an eye on my site (or Twitter feed or YouTube Channel) you’ll see plenty of my reasons why I feel this way.  Here’s one:

Spreadsheets are a great tool for proving mathematical algorithms and formulas.  In this post . . . how we can use a Google Sheet to prove the formula for the mean (which, in spreadsheet land, is known as the average).

Check out this post about finding and exploring all 3 measures of central tendency with Google Sheets.