Sunday, December 13, 2020

Escape Dr. Latham's Laboratory

The final game from the 2020 math capstone GAMES class. Begun by Char Beckmann, I was thrilled to teach this course and will soon have my second group. Here's the final entry, an escape room. Ashly was committed early on to make an escape room and I am impressed at the work as well as the perseverance required to finish while student teaching during the pandemic under the conditions .

GUEST POST by Ashly Latham

Escape Dr Latham’s Laboratory is a game I created for my capstone project for MTH 496. When I first heard that we were creating a game I thought of the escape room me and my friends played before the class where we sat down and started talking about creating our game. This inspired me to create an escape-room inspired math game that allowed students to have fun while also doing math!

This game originally started as a fifth grade game but as I got into an accident and injured my hand, I had to postpone the idea. Finally, when I received enough function to get back to work I was a Teacher Assistant in a third grade class classroom. These third graders inspired me to adjust the game so they could play it. 

The puzzles students will complete in this game will focus mostly on multiplication skills as this is what my students were working on at the time I created this. There are ten different puzzles but some puzzles have two answers which allow students to only play six puzzles each play. 

To create this game I searched the internet for fun multiplication puzzles. This included literal puzzles but also some riddles. After I found enough puzzles for what I wanted, I began to construct the scene cards. These tell a story as students work from puzzle to puzzle. The hardest part was constructing the solution wheel so that it was hard for students to guess answers and each answer had a different code. This took me spending lots of time creating my own symbols.

When I tried it out with my third grade students, they LOVED it. I tested out the first couple puzzles and the students were constantly asking where the rest were. After finishing it, I had those same students try it. It took two 30 minute sessions to complete but they sacrificed their recess time just to finish it! They even want to do it again to find the other solutions! 

In the attachment for the game, all of the topics and standards are explained along with how to begin the game and set everything up. Though it’s in color, you can absolutely print it out in black in white. I hope you give it a try as it’s very fun and rewarding! Though carving out an hours time of your classroom might be hard, you could have students do one puzzle a day for a morning or ending activity for the day. 

Ashly's extensive materials and instructions, including for her supper cool solution wheel are here.

In addition, each capstone student picked a good math game to promote with a video. Ashly picked Michael Pershan's Baldermath.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Fractions vs Decimals

 From the things you forgot you wrote file...

Fractions vs. Decimals

The Battle of the Century

Ringside Announcer (RA): Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the Battle of the Century:  Fractions vs. Decimals!

Old Man Fractions has been king of the hill for so long he can remember the pharaohs.  But relative new-comer decimals has been rocketing through the ranks past previous contenders like Mixed Numbers and Percents, buoyed by the rise of science and handheld technology.  Tonight they settle the issue once and for all, mano a mano.

Color Commentator (CC):  That’s right, Jim.  And they have both clearly prepared.  Fractions has developed his upper body so much he looks positively improper.  Decimals has emphasized speed work, and is awfully quick to the point.  Hey, looks like they’re ready to start.


RA:  They come out swinging!  Fractions looks like his strategy is to corner decimals and work his weaker visual representations.  Oh there’s a pie model and a fraction strip combo!  Decimals finally lands a 100 grid haymaker and gets back out to the center of the ring.

CC:  Looks like that speed work is paying off, Jim.  Decimals is coldly calculating without having to hit any special menu buttons on the calc, if you know what I mean.

RA:  Not really, Howard, but I’m used to it.  Oh!  Decimal made a rounding error and Fractions lands an uppercut.  

CC:  That’s exactly the answer, Kid Decimals!

RA:  The traditionalists are out of their seats, cheering on Fractions.  Even the French are into it!

CC:  He’s certainly got that je ne sais quoi, eh, Jim?

RA:  Huh?  Back to the action, Fractions is pressing his advantage.  But decimals sees an opportunity and – oh! The referee calls time!

CC:  I don’t think it was intentional, but that was definitely below the vinculum.

RA:  The referee gives Decimals a warning and they’re back in.  Fractions still looks a little wobbly, and Decimals presses the advantage, really working over Fraction’s arcane and misunderstood algorithms.  

CC:  Invert and multiply that!  Whew!

RA:  Fractions gives a nice example of unit fraction multiplication and is back in the fight.  Oh, and lands a nice left hand on a complicated long-division problem.

CC:  Decimals looks like he doesn’t know if his point is going left or right, Jim.

RA:  It’s back and forth at this point folks.  Fractions simplifies nicely, and catches Decimals a good one.  Decimals lands a nice easy comparison, but Fractions hits a unit confusion counter-punch.  

CC:  That’s half of something, alright.  

RA:  Then Decimals comes right back with a repeating combination!  Oh, and a non-terminating, non-repeating wallop!  Fractions has no answer for that.

CC:  Right in the Pi hole!  Practically transcendental ring work, Jim.

RA:  They’re really taking a beating out there.  Howard, I think the crowd’s getting confused about what’s important here.

CC:  I think you’re right, Jim, there’s kind of a baffled silence.   Not that unusual at a rational battle like this one, though!


RA:  That’s time.  The fighters move to their corners.  The judges communicate their decision to the ref.  It’s pretty close on my scorecard, Howard.  What do you think?

CC:  Did you double check your answer, Jim?  Nothing would surprise me –

RA:  The ref is ready and brings both fighter’s to the center of the ring.… he pulls up both fighter’s hands!  It’s a draw!

CC:  The judges have called them equivalent!  Oh the equality!  Looks like we’re in for a rematch.