Filing Cabinet Post-Its #3ActMath #MFM2P

From 3 weeks ago, here is the filing cabinet post-it activity. It was originally created by Andrew Stadel and available on the 101 Qs website here. I’ve made my own photo prompt for act 1 so that students can do the measuring on our classroom filing cabinet in act 2.Summary 2016.09.29 (2).png

Act 1



Act 2

Each group was given 1 sheet of paper. Students got busy measuring the filing cabinet and their sheets of paper. They worked at their boards:

There was some confusion to start about how to “read” and thus use the formulas for surface area on their formula sheet. A few groups worked through the areas of each face instead of the formula. I did a little direct teaching about nets and they can be more intuitive to use than the formulas.

Most groups got answers around 60 sheets.

Act 3

After all my years of using this activity, I have yet to get a group interested enough to take the time to cover my filing cabinet with paper to get the actual real life answer to see how close their work is. They always seem content that their Math has found the answer. Perhaps I just need to do it myself one of these days.

The individual practice was 2 sets of exercises on Khan Academy:
Part 1 – Nets of polyhedra (quick)
Part 2 – Surface area using nets

All of my materials are available here.

– Laura Wheeler (Teacher @ Ridgemont High School, OCDSB; Ottawa, ON)

Ice Cream #MFM2P

From end of September, my “would you rather” styled ice cream problem. It’s not fully would you rather style, but it’s a good question prompt for this. The problem is probably mostly styled after Garfield Gini-Newman‘s “choose the better or best” style problems.Summary 2016.09.27 (1).png

Students were presented with the three ice cream options above & asked to guess which one offers the most ice cream? Looking back I wish I had made the images to scale … I think I will adjust that before I use this one again. (Editable image file here)

Most students guessed the block would have the most ice cream.

Groups were sent to their boards to solve:

I had to answer questions about what the various formulas on their formula sheet meant. For example, many are unsure how to read V = lw + wh + lh and how to then use it, which operations to use, etc.

Many groups did not notice the discrepancy in units between the various shapes. We had a discussion about converting units. I did some direct teaching about how students tend to make less mistakes if they convert the lengths BEFORE calculating volume, rather than trying to convert cubic units (if calculating by hand). I sent students back to their boards to correct their work so that they have comparable units for each shape.

First time I’ve done this one. I like it & will use it again w/ a few tweaks.

All materials here.

– Laura Wheeler (Teacher @ Ridgemont High School, OCDSB; Ottawa, ON)

Phone Plans #MFM2P #PBL

I’m already behind on my goal of blogging all of my MFM2P (grade 10 applied) activities for the semester. We did this one about 3 weeks ago.summary-2016-09-23-1

The prompt:lr3-phone-plans-info


Today’s question:2016.09.23estimate.JPG

They went to their boards to solve. Most groups used a set of table of values. After they found their answers, I walked them through creating an equation to represent each phone plan and then using Desmos to find the point of intersection between them. They then sketched their graphs next to their tables. I only took a photo of one group’s board:IMG_20160922_114324.jpg

The next day students individually worked through a problem set on Khan Academy to solve linear systems graphically:
 Linear systems; solve graphically (use Desmos – help video here)

All materials for this activity are here.

– Laura Wheeler (Teacher @ Ridgemont High School, OCDSB; Ottawa, ON)

Similar Triangle intro #MFM2P

This week we explored similar triangles for the first time in MMF2P:summary-2016-09-21

Part 1:

Students, in groups of 3, are provided with a set of triangles all cut out (my first class to ever do this activity cut them out & I save them in envelopes for re-use each year). This set of triangles was created by some teacher candidates in one of my courses a few years back.IMG_1244.JPG
Using a Pear Deck slideshow, I prompted each group to organize their triangles into groups using a common attribute; their choice. We discussed the groups they made; right triangles, acute, obtuse, scalene, isosceles, equilateral, and same shape but different size. One group had even stacked the similar triangles on top of each other, nested russian-doll style, which I showed off to the class. The discussion allowed a great review of vocabulary around triangles.

Part 2:

I asked all the groups to make groups of triangles that were the same shape, but different sizes now (which some had already done).img_20160919_103824
I introduced the terminology “similar triangles” and we drilled down as a group to a proper definition. Since we don’t take notes I asked students to find the definition in their course notes pack & highlight the keyword.

Part 3:

I showed a set of similar triangles with a missing side length to solve for. In 3-act-math style, I asked them a) What do you notice? b) What do you wonder? and c) Estimate the value of x:NWE 2016.09.19.jpg
They worked in their groups at their boards. Here is one group’s solution (I have to get back in the habit of photographing every group’s work) w/ my annotations written in red:IMG_20160919_112807.jpg
I then did a bit of direct teaching to show them how to write a proportion to solve algebraically:
Looking back at this, though, I’m not a fan of having them flip the proportion as I’m sure many don’t understand why that’s allowed (h/t to Nix the tricks). I wish I had showed them to set up the proportion in such a way that we start with the unknown value, x, in the top left position. Next time.

Part 4:

Individual practice solving similar triangle problems on Khan Academy. I gave them a second class period for this & what they didn’t get done was then for homework.

Lesson materials available here.

– Laura Wheeler (Teacher @ Ridgemont High School, OCDSB; Ottawa, ON)

26 Squares – Sum of Squares #MFM2P

I’ve started my #MFM2P course again this year with a set of activities using the 26 Squares thought up by Al Overwijk & Bruce McLaurin (there’s a write-up about how Al uses them here). The 26 squares are a set of squares cut out of grid paper; a 1×1, 2×2, 3×3, … all the way to a 26×26 square. Each group gets one full set.

We started with the perimeter investigation that I blogged about last year.
Summary 2016.09.09 (1) (1).png

Our second activity was the area investigation that I blogged about already last year.
Summary 2016.09.13 (1).png

Our third activity involved creating right-angled triangles with our 26 squares, starting with a 3-4-5 triangle:

Students were asked “What do you notice?” about this and other right-angled triangles made from our squares. Several commented that the area of the two smaller squares add together to make the area of the largest square (well, it took some prompting to get them to express themselves w/ the proper mathematical terminology!). And they remembered from past Math classes that this is the Pythagorean Theorem with the equation a2 + b2 = c2.

I gave students the measurements of 3 sides of a triangle and asked them to verify if it is right-angled or not. I forgot to take photos, but they all had the idea of using the P.T. equation to check that the two side are equal.

Finally I gave them this problem:
A right triangle has two smaller sides measuring 28cm and 45cm.
Determine the length of the longest side:IMG_20160915_113624 (1).jpg

The homework was to practice Pythagorean Theorem on Khan Academy.

26 squares
Perimeter investigation w/ Pear Deck
Area investigation w/ Pear Deck
Sum of Squares investigation w/ Pear Deck

– Laura Wheeler (Teacher @ Ridgemont High School, OCDSB; Ottawa, ON)


This week I started seeing photos on Twitter of teachers participating in the #ObserveMe movement; an open invitation to colleagues to visit our classrooms anytime we’re teaching in order to observe & provide us with feedback. The idea is the brainchild of Robert Kaplinsky.

I’ve decided to jump in on this! I’ve always thought that part of our assigned duties in a school should be assisting another teacher in their classroom once per week. It would allow teachers to observe each other more & foster more collaboration & feedback. #ObserveMe is the next best thing.

Here’s my sign:


ObserveMePhoto (2).jpeg

– Laura Wheeler (Teacher @ Ridgemont High School, OCDSB; Ottawa, ON)

Podcast w/ @DerekRhodenizer

Last week Derek Rhodenizer invited me to chat on his podcast, Eduthoughts. We talked about innovation VS invention, problem-based learning & its similarity to a flipped classroom, and Twitter as a professional learning network. And maybe a bit about Pokémon Go too😉

Have a listen:


– Laura Wheeler (Teacher @ Ridgemont High School, OCDSB; Ottawa, ON)

Problems We Solved in #MFM2P

My plan was to blog about every problem-based learning activity I did this year. I did not succeed; I think I blogged about two from the my MFM2P course? So as a runner up to a full blog post reflection on each, you’re getting one post with a summary image of each activity or problem & a link to my materials for it.
I’ll group them by strand here, but they are not listed in the order that we did the activities. If you’d like to see the progression of activities I used, you can see that here.

Linear Relations

26 Squares: This one I did manage to blog about.Summary (11).jpg

Banquet Hall2016.04.22 2P summary.png

Phone Charging2016.05.19 2p.JPG

Phone Plans2016.04.27 2p.png

Gummy Bears: I did blog about this one here.Summary 2016.02.29 2P.jpg

Measurement & Trigonometry

Lamppost: w/ shadows 2016.04.15 2P Summary.jpg

School Height: w/ mirrors 2016.05.25 (1).JPG

Tree Height: w/ clinometer 2016.05.11 2p summary.jpg

Wheelchair ramp2016.06.08 2p (1).JPG

Filing cabinet post-itsSummary Filing Cabinet 3-Act.jpg

Pyramid Post-its2016.05.13 2p (1).JPG

Quadratic Relations

26 Squares: I did blog about this one2d 2016.02.08 (1).JPG

Visual Pattern2016.04.12 2p summary (1).JPG

Not every lesson we did was problem-based. Sometimes I need to do some direct teaching right from the get go, like with expanding & factoring. Other times we explore & investigate by drawing & cutting out shapes, like with similar triangles & trigonometry. But in any case, maybe someone new to the MFM2P course (or not so new to it) will find these activities useful!

– Laura Wheeler (Teacher @ Ridgemont High School, OCDSB; Ottawa, ON)

#Sketchnote: 5 Practices for Orchestrating Mathematics Discussions

I’ve been hearing about this book lately, 5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Mathematics Discussions By Mary Kay Stein, Margaret Schwan Smith. I still haven’t gotten around to ordering & reading the entire book, but I did read a shorter article that one of the authors wrote on the same topic. And as I’ve been doing more & more lately, I created a sketchnote summary of the article to help me organize my thoughts & to share with others:

5 Practices Orchestrating Mathematical Discussions.PNG

– Laura Wheeler (Teacher @ Ridgemont High School, OCDSB; Ottawa, ON)