Stats Puzzle

Jennifer Gonzales at Cult of Pedagogy wrote an excellent blog post yesterday Frickin' Packets that did a great job distinguishing between different kinds of worksheets teachers use from worksheets that are just busy work that she calls busysheets to worksheets that "directly support student learning" that she calls powersheets. Jennifer also writes about how sometimes the technology we use in class is really just a busysheet in disguise. 

One of the kinds of busysheets Jennifer rails against are word search puzzles. And naturally I thought "Hey I have a word search worksheet I made that is not a busysheet!" I'm not sure Jennifer would think its a powersheet but who knows. It's time to share it so I give you Stats Puzzle.

Click through to download a full copy of Stats Puzzle to use in your classroom.

Click through to download a full copy of Stats Puzzle to use in your classroom.

I use this worksheet on the first day I am going to teach descriptive statistics. I think I collected the words initially from the IB SL syllabus but they are pretty standard words so this should work with whatever curriculum you are using. (I've used it for Non DP and even college intro stats courses too). I created this worksheet a while ago (I need to write on this blog more) and I think I made the initial word search using puzzlemaker.com

Here is how I run the lesson. I give students five minutes to find as many stats words as they can in the word search. When time is up they tally the number of words that they were able to find. From here we collect each others data on the board and then I lead a discussion where I invite students to use the words from the word search to talk about the data we collected. We also define words as necessary. This always proves to be very fruitful, we are able to fill the board with charts and graphs and connect the vocabulary immediately with an activity they participated in. It also gives me a sense of which words the students already have a solid grasp of and which vocabulary they are less familiar with. It is also much more enjoyable than defining lots of terms by using the bland deck of power point slides provided with the textbook.

If you are going to teach stats this year download this worksheet and give it a shot. if you'd like give me some feedback on Pinterest, Twitter, or share it with a friend, that would be awesome.

 

 

 

 

Factoring Puzzle

Two or three years ago I discovered a nifty factoring match up worksheet on Pinterest. I thought that it was pretty neat but I also wished it could be more of a puzzle. The brainstorming began. My mind drifted to two puzzle types that sometimes appear in Games Magazine. Analograms and A to Z. In A to Z there are 26 pictures and the reader has to label each one of them with one letter of the alphabet. This inevitably gets tricky –is that winter apparel a jacket, a coat, or maybe even a parka? In Analograms the reader has to supply the second half of an analogy using two words from a word bank, these also get very difficult in the same way as A to Z.

When I have given  students these puzzles to play around with after a test or something they find them extremely engaging. Sometimes so much so that teachers have confiscated them in other classrooms. These were my inspiration while creating this Factoring Puzzle worksheet. If you don't aim for the stars...

SOME OF THE FACTORING MIX UP PUZZLE WORKSHEETS I WAS INSPIRED BY

SOME OF THE FACTORING MIX UP PUZZLE WORKSHEETS I WAS INSPIRED BY

In Factoring Puzzle in addition to matching up the factors (just like in the Factor Mix Up Worksheets) each factor is also assigned a word. So students need to make all the word pairs match up as well. To make the worksheet more of a puzzle I repeated factors and added decoy word pairs, for example DOG HOUSE and HOUSE CAT are two word pairs that make sense but only one of these is in the actual puzzle solution. I hope this will be fun and engaging while also helping students practice their factoring! I purposely didn't copy the problems from the Factoring Mix Up worksheets while making this version so if there are any repeated problems this is purely coincidental. 

I am sure that students who are not good at factoring are going to approach the puzzle by multiplying out word pairs that they think are viable solutions and this is ok. When I notice students using this as their only strategy I will be able to intervene and give them targeted help. I think my Chinese students will also learn some additional two word phrases. Check out the puzzle below and download a copy if you want to try it out. Give me some feedback on Twitter or Pinterest if you'd like as well, that would be awesome.

CLICK THROUGH TO DOWNLOAD A COPY, EDITABLE IN ILLUSTRATOR IF YOU HAVE IT.

CLICK THROUGH TO DOWNLOAD A COPY, EDITABLE IN ILLUSTRATOR IF YOU HAVE IT.

Finally, here is what the factoring pieces look like. One thing not posted here (and hopefully not anywhere else online anytime soon) is a key to this puzzle the kids can work that out for themselves!

Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 5.02.20 PM.png

Log Puzzle

If you search for "Log Puzzle" in Google the first few hits are for a very clever packing puzzle with physical logs that I (of course) have a copy of in my too big puzzle collection. Anyhow, I've wanted to make a new math puzzle worksheet using basic logarithms for a while now and today was finally the day. (And yeah it took forever.) The initial idea was to make my own version of one of those maze worksheets but somehow I ended up with a design that is kind of a cross between dominoes and the iOS puzzle game Flow.  

I STARTED WITH A DRAFT ON GRAPH PAPER.

I STARTED WITH A DRAFT ON GRAPH PAPER.

I decided to make the puzzle bigger so next I drafted a larger version and planned out all the routes. (I am not going to share a picture of this since it would give away the solution to the puzzle.) Next, I created lots of basic equations with similar answers, trying to have many logs that would have positive, negative, and fractional answers. Finally, I created the whole thing in Illustrator and populated the puzzle with equations using Math Type. For some reason the parenthesis would not export out of Math Type into Illustrator so I had to screen shot these which is why some of the equations might look a little different. As I filled in the equations I tried to make the puzzle tricky by adding false routes, and grouping similar answers near each other. In case the puzzle is too tricky I made two versions of it, one where the ends of the snakes are revealed and one where they are not. You can download the puzzles below and give them a shot. Let me know on Twitter or Pinterest if you like them! As always I haven't posted the solution anywhere to keep them off Google for as long as possible.

 

CLICK THROUGH FOR A PDF VERSION OF THE PUZZLE, IT'S EVEN EDITABLE IN ILLUSTRATOR IF YOU HAVE IT.

CLICK THROUGH FOR A PDF VERSION OF THE PUZZLE, IT'S EVEN EDITABLE IN ILLUSTRATOR IF YOU HAVE IT.

Radical Puzzle

If you search for "Trig Puzzle" in Google one of the first links is to this blog! Pretty neat since I don't update this enough, certainly not enough for my friend Rory. Anyhow, just before Christmas my PLC searched "Radical Puzzle" in Google a few times looking for a Tarsia style puzzle but couldn't find exactly what we wanted. Which was a Tarsia style puzzle that included simplifying radicals as well as basic radical operations (without variables). So we whipped one up that you can download as a PDF. Just click through the picture below.

Click through to download this as a PDF file.

Click through to download this as a PDF file.

The puzzle is a little tricky since there are problems on all 4 sides of the boxes, but the solution will read as expected. If you find the solution phrase too obnoxious you can always edit it in Acrobat. I haven't posted the solution anywhere to keep it off Google, although I know none of our students would ever search for such a thing.

Trig Puzzle

Generally reinventing the wheel is not the way to go with a math activity but I am a glutton for punishment sometimes. Years ago teaching pre-algebra I had made students a handwritten puzzle worksheet in which to solve they had to cut out the pieces and reassemble them into a box making sure to align the sides using exponent rules. This, I think, might have been inspired by a similar Pizzazz worksheet.

These ladies were on fire during this activity. Just outside my classroom are these awesome booths where students can work, love em.

These ladies were on fire during this activity. Just outside my classroom are these awesome booths where students can work, love em.

Anyhow, in one of my recent field trips through Sam's filing cabinet I remembered downloading something similar called a Tarsia puzzle. I would create one for my trigonometry students I figured. They had mastered the Unit Circle and I wanted to have them use the unit circle to have them think about some of the basic identities (odd, even, co-function etc.) I figured one of these puzzle worksheets could serve this purpose well. It might also be a nice bridge between the trig we had done so far and the next lesson I had originally planned about identities that I feared would be too hard. It turns out there is a free program to create these Tarsia puzzles (great resource here), but alas it is Windows only and at home I only have a Mac. Nevertheless the idea was gnawing at me so I decided to go for it and make my own.

I found the PDF I had downloaded from Sam's site (I can't seem to find the exact link) and opened it in Illustrator. From here I was able to delete all the original equations and add new ones I created in Math Type. Before I entered any equations into Illustrator I made a list of the six identities I wanted to focus on and made eighteen pairs that students would have to match. Next I drew the final shape for my puzzles' picture on paper and entered the equations to create the key. From here it was relatively easy to create the student version of the worksheet because I just cut up my key and entered my triangles into Illustrator. It was initially challenging to get the text rotated and oriented properly but by the time I had entered a few triangles of data I was a pro.  Additionally, I decided to add a couple layers to what was already a puzzle. First, I did not tell my students what final shape the triangles would be assembled into, and second I added a quote (that connects to the shape) that would reveal itself when the puzzle was completed. Further the quote has blanks that need to be filled in, making it even more challenging. I also figured that the blanks in the quote would make it more difficult for students to work the puzzle backwards. The quote also made it really easy to check to see if the puzzle was properly solved.

I've used this activity with two of my three algebra two classes so far and it has gone great. It is a little bit more difficult than I intended but in one class one group was able to crack the whole thing during the time allotted but just barely. Another group stayed behind after class to finish it. During the lesson I moved from group to group and helped students make connections between the puzzle and the unit circle, great lesson for a Friday afternoon math class.

Click through for a PDF version of the puzzle, editable in Illustrator if you have it.

Click through for a PDF version of the puzzle, editable in Illustrator if you have it.