March Madness Mathematics

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The following activity is designed to use in grades 7 through 12 math classes, with varying levels of difficulty. Pdf’s of this activity – student and teacher – can be downloaded here.

Link to a short video explaining this activity.







My Favorite Math Ed Books 2016

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Click on the links to go to a website to view/purchase the books.

What’s Math Got To Do With It?

Mathematical Mindsets

Jo Boaler

Professor of mathematics education at Stanford University, formerly the Marie Curie Professor of Mathematics Education at the University of Sussex in England. She is the author of seven books and numerous research articles.

Both of these books are based on recent brain research and the findings of Carol Dweck, world-renowned Stanford University researcher and psychologist, about Mindset – The New Psychology of Success.

“… that everyone has a mindset, a core belief about how they learn.

People with a growth mindset are those who believe that smartness increases with hard work, whereas those with a fixed mindset believe that you can learn things but you can’t change your basic level of intelligence.

… math was the subject most in need of a mindset makeover.”

Brain research shows that:

< there is no such thing as a math gene

< mathematics, more than any other subject, has the power to crush students’ spirits.

“That single belief – that math is a “gift” that some people have and others don’t – is responsible for much of the widespread math failure in the world.

So where does that damaging idea – an idea that notably is absent in countries such as China and Japan that top the world in math achievement – come from?”

This question is answered throughout the book.

“The idea that only some people can do math is embedded deep in the American and English psyche. Math is special in this way, and people have ideas about math that they don’t have about any other subject.”

Solution: “Relatively small changes in teaching and parenting can change students’ mathematical pathways, because the new knowledge we have on the brain, mindset, and mathematics learning is truly revolutionary.”

“Studies of successful and unsuccessful business people show something surprising: what separates the more successful people from the less successful people is not the number of their successes but the number of mistakes they make, with the more successful people making MORE mistakes.”

She then goes on to tell the story of Howard Schultz who made several mistakes before finally coming up with his successful brand – Starbucks.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”   –Thomas Edison

Also Jo Boaler explains how students do learn more from making mistakes that by doing problems correctly.

Jo Boaler’s Math Education website:

Contains “tons” of free information. One idea in particular: How to Learn Math is a free course for learners of all levels of Mathematics.

Mindset (The New Psychology of Sucees)

Carol Dweck

< parenting     < business     < school     < relationships

(I ordered this book and one of Jo Boaler’s books while I watched her speak for the first time – within 15 minutes!)

Smarter Than We Think

Cathy Seeley

Former president of NCTM, K-12 Director of Mathematics for Texas, Senior Fellow at the University of Texas.

Contains 40 messages (3 to 6 pages of essays) that can be read either individually or following an order based on themes, messages about:

  1. Who we teach and how they learn
  2. Teachers and teaching
  3. Leadership, issues and policies
  4. Thinking mathematically in a common core world – mathematical practices and more

Cathy also cites the Mindset ideas of Carol Dweck.

Embedding Formative Assessment

Dylan Wiliam

A leading authority on the use of assessment to improve education.

He taught math and physics in urban schools for seven years, head of the School of Education   King’s College in London, and was senior research director at ETS, Educational Testing Service in Princeton, New Jersey. ETS creates the SAT, AP exams, GRE, Praxis, among others.

Wiliam explains why we need formative assessment and how to implement it. His book applies to all subjects, however, since he was a math teacher, many of his examples cite mathematics teaching and learning.

My comments

I have seen all of these amazing people speak, except for Carol Dweck.

Some of them several times. I also was able to attend a 3-hour workshop with Jo Boaler and her methods are outstanding. She puts into practice what she preaches.

I highly recommend these books to you.

I also strongly encourage you to hear any one of these speak whenever you are able to do so.


St. Patrick’s Day Shamrock with Graphs

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Link to the pdf and tns files

Link to the image that can be imported into a TI-84 CE


How can this shamrock be drawn with graphs? Proceed to see one possible solution





 What this looks like on a TI-84 CE:


 Link to the image that can be imported into a TI-84 CE



Pi Day Activity for TI-Nspire

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Link to TI-Nspire files for handheld and computer

Link to the video: Why Pi?

Link to website with more Pi activities and Einstein information

Nspire activity on one page


Pi Day Activity for TI-83/84

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Link to All Content: student version, teacher version, data

Link to more Pi day activities and Albert Einstein information

Link to short video explaining the activity

The student version is shown below. The teacher version has solutions and teaching hints.





My Heart is in Pieces

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For Valentines’s Day, February 14, I have created a series of graphs that outline the shape of a traditional heart.

If you are using a TI-83/84 or a TI-84 CE, I have created programs that when executed, will sketch out the shape of a heart. On the TI-84 CE it will be in color.

If you are using TI-Nspire, I have created a file that will not only sketch out the shape of a heart, but the file will also show the student (teacher) how this was accomplished.

Link to the files using the TI-83/84

Link to the files using the TI-84CE (color)

Link to the files using TI-Nspire

                                TI-Nspire “heart”                                        


                                TI-84CE “heart”


Lines of code for the programs for the TI-83/84 and the TI-84CE are listed below. The actual programs can be downloaded from the links.

TI-83/84 version:


TI-84CE (color) version:


Link to a 2 minute video explaining the activity.

Link to a video showing how this was done using TI-Nspire with regression equations and limited domains.

If you have questions, comments or suggestions, contact me:


Groundhog Day February 2

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This activity can be used at grade 7 or beyond. It can be done with a scientific or graphing calculator.

Below are links to a word document of the activity, a pdf of the activity, a pdf of the answer key, a TI-Nspire file of the activity, and a zip file with all these files.

Link to my dropbox with all files.

photo of phil  Phil

According to folklore:

If it is cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow on February 2, then spring will come early.

If it is sunny, the groundhog will supposedly see its shadow and retreat back into its burrow, and the winter weather will persist for six more weeks.

There are several celebrations of Groundhog Day throughout the world, but the largest and most popular takes place in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, at Gobbler’s Knob, where crowds as large as 40,000 have attended the ceremony (about 90 miles northeast of Pittsburgh).

The German-based tradition began in the U.S in 1887.

photo of gobblers knob

A groundhog is also known as a woodchuck, a member of the squirrel family. Naturally they eat green plants such as grasses, clover and dandelions. Punxsutawney Phil, however, thrives on dog food and ice cream in his climate-controlled home at the Punxsutawney Library.       

Up on Gobbler’s Knob, Phil is placed in a heated burrow underneath a simulated tree stump on stage before being pulled out at 7:25 a.m. to make his prediction.

Here is a summary of whether or not Phil has seen has shadow from 1887 through 2015:

Shadow         107

NO shadow     12

no record          9

1 – 5. Please round all answers to the nearest percent or nearest whole number.

1.What percent of the time that records were kept, did Phil see his shadow?

2.What percent of the time that records were kept, did Phil not see his shadow?

3. What percent of the time since 1887, was there no record of what Phil saw?

4. Assume that records will be kept from now on. If the pattern above continues and you know that Phil has seen his shadow 150 times at some date in the future, how many times would he NOT have seen his shadow at that time? Explain.

5. How often has Phil been correct? Take a guess. Since 1887, when records were kept, what percent of the time do you think Phil was correct?

C 2016 Reardon Gifts, Inc

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