# Monthly Archives: February 2013

## Investigator Training

The Description:

The goal here was to use Dan Meyer’s “Bone Collector” 3Act problem, as the motivation for a series of lessons on scaling.

The basic premise is as follows:  I show the Bone Collector clip first (see the link above for the clip), tell them we need to figure out the shoe size of the killer because we need to make sure that the killer is not in the room.   Then I concede that I realize they are not trained investigators.  Thus I tell them that over the next couple days we will be doing some investigator training, to get them ready to take on this case.   I help a lot during the first two cases, but I provide little help during the Bone Collector case – and the good news is that they didn’t need much help on it after the investigator training.

CASE 1 “The Drug House”

For their first case, I used a google maps images (see Keynote or PowerPoint file below) of a huge house that I was calling a “known drug” house (It’s actually Michael Jordan’s house).  The goal is for them to calculate the area of the very suspicious large building at the bottom right of the picture, where a lot of cars are located.  I tell them the FBI wants to perform a raid but they do not know how many agents to send, because they don’t know the size of the building.  And they are waiting for our calculations to proceed.

I handout the above picture to each student.  Then do a little strategy session where they write down how they are going to calculate the size of the building.  At that point they are given time to solve it with their pair/share partner.

The next day  I come and say that althought the FBI was happy that we correctly calculated the size of the building, unfortunately after performing the raid they learned that this was not a drug house, it was in fact Michael Jordan’s house.  And that big building is a basketball court.

CASE 2 “The Statue Thief”

I use a picture of the Surfer Memorial Statue in Santa Cruz.  Then I show a the same picture but with the statue photoshopped out.  I then tell them that a security camera picked up a very suspecious person who had visited the statue multiple times before night of the theft , and that the FBI needs us to find the height of the suspect in the picture.  This case is very similar to the Bone Collector.

(awesome statue)

(but we have a suspect)

Students get a copy of the image above.  We again do a strategy session, where I require them to write a strategy for finding the suspects height.

The next day I reveal that the suspect was captured and he is 6ft.  Most students calculate something around 6″3′, so we spend some time talking about possible sources of error.

CASE #3 The Bootprint

Here we do the actual Bone Collector problem, delievered in much the same way that is described in Dan’s blog.

– I have students work in groups of two.

– I don’t spend the entire class period on these.  I do investigator training for the first 20 minutes or so, and then move on to something else.  Thus I essentially make this investigator training week.

– I help the students with the strategy sessions for the two practice cases, and then leave it up to them for the Bone Collector problem.

– Definitely play up the investigation aspect of these cases.  I tell them how much investigator make and that they should take these cases to the polic department and interview for a job.  If a couple students complain the quality of the bootprint picture is not very good, respond with “Yeah, I’m not sure why the FBI would provide such a low quality image”.

– That is me in the picture for the “Statue Thief” problem.  That is definitely an added bonus if you can do it.  It allows me to completley deny it’s me, while also saying “Look it’s not enough to just tell the police the suspect is extremely good looking, we have to get them information about his height”.

The Results:

High level of engagement.  Take a listen to student reaction when they hear that the shoe print is a size 10.

Bone Collecter student reaction

The students were upset (yes, actually upset) because all their solutions were between size 13.5 and size 16.5 .  They all calculated a larger size because they used the bootprint, rather than the actual size of the foot inside the boot to convert to shoe size.   I ended the lesson with a great back and forth with the students about what happened with their calculations.

One of my lowest performing students asked me if her proportion she setup was correct…  it was.

Using the Bone Collector clip without the associated investigator training works too, but not as well for me.  I really enjoyed these lessons, and I felt like my two initial cases put the students in a place to be successful with the Bone Collector problem.

The Goods:

Dan Meyer – Bone Collector problem

The Drug House Handout

The Statue Thief Handout

Bone Collector Bootprint  (just pick one – my girlfriend and I messed around with the image in photoshop to get the best quality for different printers)

InvestigatorTraining   (Keynote and PowerPoint)  I created this in Keynote, and highly recommend using Keynote.

Update 1:

To see whether or not the students retained any of this, I put the following picture into the chapter test.  The question was:  How tall is the tree?

The guy in the picture was brave enough to take me on as his student teacher and I am a profoundly better teacher because of it.  His name is Walt Hays.  His height is 6ft.

Update 2: 3/23

Based on Debbie’s comment, I have fixed the typos in the Keynote and Powerpoint files and adjusted the scaling to result in an answer that is consistent with the size of the tennis court next to the basketball court building.

## This Is What I Was Born To Do

I don’t watch American Idol looking for inspiration towards the teaching profession.  But I found it the other night.  Contestant Nicholas Mathis went on stage looking very defeated and full of doubt, and his performance was lack luster because of it.  After Mathis finished, Idol judge Keith Urban made the following remark to him about musicians, but I believe it applies even more for teachers:

“There’s a lot that pulls at you in this calling. And somehow we have to compartmentalize that and when we wake up at three a.m. in the morning on a tour bus and we wonder ‘What are we doing here,’ and we just cry, the only answer can ever be ‘This is what I was born to do. This is my calling.'”  –  Keith Urban

Except for teachers instead of 3am, it’s 3pm, and instead of a tour bus it’s a classroom.

The judges voted Mathis off after that appearance, and if we show up to the classroom like Mathis showed up to Idol, then we are likely to be voted off by our students.   We cannot show up to a class looking defeated – your students deserve a teacher who is positive and professional.  So you need to figure out how you are going to intrepret the things that happen in your class in such a way that keeps you positive and happy.  Realizing that you were born to do this, well, that is just one way.

## Factoring Puzzle – Practice Version

The Overview:

I wrote about a factoring puzzle I found online here.  That puzzle is difficult because it has trinomials with a leading coefficients other than 1, as well as special products.  I wanted to create a puzzle that would be a simple review on factoring trinomials where the leading coefficient is always 1, or could be 1 if the GCF is factored out first.  Thus when they eventually challenge the more difficult puzzle, their questions will be focused on factoring, rather that “I don’t get what to do?”.

I did not create a scrambled version, so obviously you will need have a TA cut out the pieces and put them into envelopes.

The Goods:

FactorPuzzlePractice

FactorPuzzleChallenge

Update 1:

Thanks to a great comment from John, I have created one that does not have a border, thus allowing us to differentiate for the excelling students.  That puzzle is now included above in the original post.  The puzzle without the border is the exact same on the inside as the puzzle with the border, I will eventually make that different too when I get some time.

## ‘Who Am I’ Worksheets

The Overview

I have been making more of these “Who Am I” style worksheets where the students are given a set of clues and possible answers, and they need to figure out which answer works for which clue.  I would consider this a graphical organizer and a puzzle activity, since all the information is already organized, and the students are making connections between the answers and the clues.

The worksheet for graphing slope intercept has exactly one right answer for each clue.  The one for classifying polynomials has a couple right answers for some of the clues.  I think my next “Who Am I” worksheet will have some answers that do not fit any of the clues, which will take away any process of elimination technique the students may be using.

The Goods

WhoAmI_SlopeIntercept

WhoAmI_ClassifyingPolynomials