# ZeroSum Ruler (home)

## Blogging on math education and other related things

### Grade 10 Math MCAS Review – A Prezi!April 27, 2013

You can get to the Grade 10 Math MCAS review Prezi here or by clicking the above screenshot.

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It’s about that time again. No wait, it is that time again: Grade 10 Math MCAS. Forget about grades 11 and 12 as these grades are meaningless. The new Grade 12 is Grade 10. The new SAT is MCAS.

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I write this with both a migraine and with my tongue in cheek. As a Special Education 10th grade Geometry teacher, I have very mixed feelings about this dreaded test. As a teacher who never had to take MCAS, I think that my students will come out perfectly fine without proving their 10th grade knowledge on some expensive test. I did. All [most] of my friends did. As a person who has taken a boat load of tests and who has become very aware of the unique sense of accomplishment that comes from passing the seemingly-impossible, I want to give my students every tool to show this test who is boss. There is no better feeling than whipping a test’s ass. I want my students to experience this feeling.

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I learned an important lesson from an unlikely source at UMass: Kids in Mr. Chandler’s inorganic Chemistry class who had internet and could access Chandler’s old exams would do better than me. Why? Because his tests were partially-recycled. Above is a screenshot of a Prezi I made from 2012′s Grade 10 Math MCAS multiple choice questions.  Every kid gets 4 colored index cards with either “A”, “B”, “C”, “D” written on it. My “A” is red, but that part doesn’t matter so much. As we click through the slides, kids do their work on scrap paper then hold up the colored card that corresponds to their answer choice. This does two things: makes the kids feel that they’re playing a game and lets me see the class-wide weaknesses to focus on during explicit cramming. In addition to practicing the concepts exemplified in these multiple-choice questions, we’ve been doing the open response questions in class, being sure to review Statistics. MCAS creators love mean, median, mode, range, box-and-whiskers, stem-and-leaf, line plots. “When will I ever use a box-and-whiskers thing in real Life?” Never kids, just possibly on May 13th.

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The best of luck to your students!

### What do you know about Triangles? (Prezi multiple choice)October 31, 2012

Filed under: Geometry — ZeroSum Ruler @ 5:00 pm
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Clicking the picture below will bring you to the What do you know about Triangles? Prezi.  This Prezi consists of just 11 questions and filled up about 60 minutes of time.  I had my kids put up cards (red:A, orange:B, yellow:C, green:D) to answer each of the multiple choice questions.  I also had them record their answers on an easy answer sheet.  They had a blast and it became a more valuable “fun” activity than I had anticipated.

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Click the flags to go to the Prezi.

### Selling Math To Students – number tricks, cell phones and fractalsOctober 22, 2012

Filed under: algebra,classroom management,number theory — ZeroSum Ruler @ 8:02 pm
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Do you have a number trick you like?  I’d love if you posted it in the comments below!  Also see Super Cool Math Tricks.

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To begin each new school year, I like to sell Math a little.  So each fall I like start the year with my favorite number trick:

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1: Have a student choose an item: pen(3), book (4), board (5), or eraser (6)You can also do this with fruit of different word lengths or anything else, really.  The important thing is that the words are all different lengths.

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2: Have the student:

a: Turn the word into its number

b: Multiply by 5

d: Double the number

e: Add in favorite single digit

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3: Now ask for the number.

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To “undo” the trick, simply subtract 6 (in your head is most impressive).  The first digit in the number you now have corresponds to the item the student chose.  The second digit is the student’s favorite number.

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The debunk:

Let’s say we chose “eraser”.  We’ll use E for “eraser”:

5E

Let’s say my favorite number is 3:

5E + 3

Now I double it:

2(5E + 3) = 10E + 6

Add in my favorite digit “n”:

10E + 6 + n

The 10 shifts the “eraser” (E) number to the tens placement and the favorite digit is in the ones spot.

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If this doesn’t work (it usually does), then I move to more drastic measures.  This Prezi has embedded clips from Nova: Hunting the Hidden Dimension because it is the most awesomest Nova special (or any type of special) ever.  The kids enjoyed this intro to their school year:

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### Encryption and Algebraic Code Breaking! (Prezi + Activity)May 9, 2012

Filed under: algebra,class,patterns,Prezi — ZeroSum Ruler @ 10:59 pm
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Code breaking is so cool.  Above is a short Prezi on Kryptos in Washington, DC.  Below is an activity that allows students to encrypt, and decode, their own secret messages using Algebra.