22 January 2016

Create Interactive Number Set Venn Diagrams with Google Slides

I'm in number sets and set theory land in our Applied Math curriculum, which means I'm in the midst of my yearly debate on what, exactly, matters about classifying numbers, and what doesn't.

That's manifesting itself this year in a desire to bring more interactivity to our investigations of these numbers. While searching for activities a few days ago, I came across this self-checking Venn Diagram activity that I really enjoyed. (Okay, its not the one I actually found the other day, but that seems to have vanished from my history. LOL)

Here's another self-check style page for sets - I particularly like that a few of these questions require description of sets that are already in groups.

What I liked about the practice I found in my initial investigation was that it had students thinking of the numbers not ONLY in terms of "integer" or "rational," but square or even, too, so I integrated rational/integer with square and even to increase rigor in this activity.

My diagrams look like this:

Creative Workflow:
1. Place your circles on the Slide, change color properties to differentiate regions
2. Define your sets
3. Use an equation editor (I used the Daum Equation Editor Chrome app) to get images of numbers to save to laptop or Google Drive.
4. Insert numbers into slide, adding numbers to fill out the sets.
5. Duplicate slides for new groups
6. Share link to students

Student Workflow:
Students will be separated into groups of 3(ish) and directed to the Google Slides document pictured above via Google Classroom. Students will drag the numbers from the grey box onto the Venn Diagram and then add their OWN number anywhere to the diagram using a text box.

I made a separate page for each group in this one Google Slides file to keep the open/close/grade/repeat to a minimum for my groups. It could end up just being a copying situation, too, but I like the layer of potential scaffolding in place of the other groups being able to see what each other is doing.

Paper. Yeah, you could. There's less of a penalty if students need to revise their number placements this way, though. Instead of erase or start all over, its as simple as dragging.
Google Drawings. If you are working on a laptop of desktop and can edit Google Drawings (not possible on my class iPads), you could accomplish the same interactivity with a Drawings file. You would, however, lose the scaffolding I mentioned above.

Can I get the file??  Sure - make a copy. :)

05 January 2016

Roominate STEM toys and Other "Girly" Toys

The list of things my 6 year old daughter enjoys is pretty short:
Science experiments in a Minnie shirt - why not?
  • Art
  • Science and Math
  • Dolls
  • Legos
  • Putting on shows for anyone who will watch

Step into the big box toy aisle, and you'll see many kinds of "gendered" toys on the shelves (although Target recently took steps to dial that back), and that makes some feminists angry (take this blogger, for example). So what are we to think? Do we benefit culture by creating only "gender-neutral" toys, or is there a loss we suffer?

I'm in the camp of appreciating "girly" toys. My daughter likes Lego. My daughter likes Disney Princesses. Why can't she have both? She may play differently with her Lego sets than my 4 yo old son, who prefers to just build-teardown-build, but having "girly" STEM-oriented toys allows her to play longer at one activity and broadens her interests. Rather than putting her in a "these are girls toys" box, it actually expands her playset (and worldview).

So that's play in our house. We bought the Studio set from STEM toy brand Roominate for Christmas, knowing that she would enjoy putting something together, playing with the characters, and putting together the small, battery powered motor included in each kit.

We had a good time playing with the kit, and I stayed as hands off as possible. She was able to put together most things that she wanted to, and even learned how to put in batteries! (I'd never bothered with that before because nothing had been "hers" to do that with.) She learned a bit about electricity with the motor, battery, and switch, and practiced a lot of problem solving skills as she worked on getting her fan blades to spin freely with the motor.

 The helicopter/submarine/airplane kit was much more difficult, however. It had specific instructions, which was good practice for following directions, but required lots of wiring stuffing that was hard enough for me, let alone a kid. She got really frustrated, I tried to encourage her that the box said a 6 year old should be able to do it, and then she reminded me "just turned 6!" (which was true. LOL). So this was one less hands on, for sure. Here's a Periscope of me assembling the "airplane" so you can get an idea.

Beyond the specifics of these Roominate kits, what was interesting to me is that Roominate is quite clear about advertising their products as "for girls!" and I think that's cool.

04 January 2016

Try Out These Military Leadership Principles with Your Students

Cleaning out my workshop tonight, I laid hands on a 12 year old notebook from my summer in Marine Corps Officer Candidate School (OCS). I flipped to the back, found a itinerary for one of our days on training, and then found a list I remember from one of our leadership discussions.

I think I traced around my thumb...?
These 11 leadership principles are used to train commissioned and non-commissioned officers in all of the U.S. armed services, but there is a lot crossover and truth that resonates with me as I lead my students in learning. Anywhere I included "students" or "class", the military's text says "subordinates," or "unit" but it works because you're the sergeant/captain/admiral/general/etc of your classroom - you set the tone, good or bad.

11 Leadership Principles

  1. Know yourself and seek improvement.
  2. Be technically and tactically proficient.
  3. Know your [students] and look out for their welfare.
  4. Keep your [students] informed.
  5. Set the example.
  6. Ensure the task is understood, supervised, and accomplished.
  7. Train your [class] as a team.
  8. Make sound and timely decisions.
  9. Develop a sense of responsibility among your [students].
  10. Employ your [class] in accordance with its capabilities.
  11. Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions.

Notice, these have nothing to do with fighting war or handling weapons - they're principles to develop your own growth, to develop and enable discipline in your students, and to empower them to do the same by giving them responsibility and modeling (as the "leader") how that looks.