Running VS Walking Headstart #MPM1D #MFM2P #3ActMath

A month ago or so I read a post by Mr. Hogg about his Fast Walker activity. I thought it would be a great way to introduce linear systems graphically to my combined grade 9 math class before the end of the semester. I also did this activity with my Grade 10 applied students – next semester I’ll use it as an introduction to systems graphically with them earlier in the course.

What turned out to be super awesome is that a student in my grade 9 class just won gold at OFSAA last week! So I tweaked Mr. Hogg’s activity to use Joe’s winning data in our problem. I also structured the activity to be a 3 act math task. Here’s what we did:

Act 1: Notice – Wonder – Estimate

Runner Speed (1)

What do you know / notice?Capture

What do you wonder?Capture

If you want to cross the finish line at the same time as Joe, what distance head start will you need?Capture.JPG

Act 2: Measure & Solve


Students were told they had to stay in class when taking measurements; my idea being to force them to time themselves walking over shorter distances (the length of our classroom) and then use that to model their speed for this problem given. Each student had to calculate their own head start:

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Act 3: Check & Reflect

We went out to our 400m track and students measured out their starting position. They staggered themselves according to their calculation (photo below – tried to take video but my phone battery died). Most students were around 100m before the finish line (~300m head start). We counted down & Joe started running & the class started walking. I so wish I’d gotten the video because it was awesome how close they all finished to each other!DB6mp2rXgAE8O55

I had my grade 9s graph their walk & Joe’s run on the same grid. Here are their graphs overlaid on top of each other:
Most students had the right idea, and I talked to a few with incorrect graphs individually but when I look at this overlay now I can see that I missed helping a few students correct their work 😦

We discussed which line was partial variation & which one was direct. I then introduced the language of “linear system” and “point of intersection”. My 2P class time to create an equation for each line also.

The next time I try this, I’d like to add an individual follow up question such as if you only had a 50m head start, at what distance would you & Joe meet? At what time would that be?

Here are my files for this activity (the unassociated one is the Pear Deck slideshow).

Tech Tip: Did you know you can add the same Google Doc/file to multiple folders without copying it? I didn’t until recently. It was useful for this lesson because I wanted to have it in the folder for each of the 2 classes I did the lesson with! Once you’ve clicked on the file just press Shift+Z :Capture.JPG

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

Tree Height #3ActMath #MPM2D #MFM2P

Here is a tree height 3 act math activity I do for right angled trigonometry with both my 2D & 2P classes. The screenshots below were taken from my 2P class this semester.

Act 1: Setup


Some noticings:IMG_2298

Some wonderings:IMG_2299

We do some turn & talk guesses for “too low” & “too high” then we go back to Pear Deck for our best estimate:IMG_2300

Act 2: Measure & Solve

Students downloaded a clinometer app onto one of the phones in their group.

Here are photos of last year’s group out measuring:

Up to the “vertical non-permanent surfaces” to solve in their “visibly random groups”:

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Act 3: Consolidation

This is one activity I don’t have a true act 3 for – I don’t know the actual height of this tree 😦 I led a class discussion going over the solutions from various groups. We discussed the fact that trig would not find the whole tree height & that groups needed to add the height of the person up to eye level to their value found using trig. I sent groups back to their boards to adjust their solution for this (final photos above).

The whole activity, including the Pear Deck file, can be found here.

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

#3ActMath – What is it?

I learned about a great tool this past weekend at the Ontario Summit; Adobe Spark video. A huge shoutout to Rushton Hurley for the introduction to this tool. It’s a super fast & easy way to combine photos, videos & text and narrate over top of it to create a seamless professional looking video.

I tried my hand and created one about 3ActMath lesson style. Give it a watch & let me know what you think:

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

Buying Calculators Problem #MFM1P/#MPM1D #PrBL

As an introduction to linear direct variation, I put together a quick problem-based learning task that was proportional for my combined academic & applied class:summary-2017-02-15-m9-1


Buying calculators.jpg

What do you notice?

Capture.JPGI had to use the Pear Deck dashboard to hide some responses that involved calculating the price per calculator as this was part of solving the later problem. I suppose I could have left them up, but I wanted to leave the calculating part until later when students were in their groups.

What do you wonder?Capture.JPG

How much would it cost to buy a class set of 25 calculators?
Best estimate: ________$


You can find the Pear Deck slideshow in this folder. Also in the folder is a follow up slideshow exploring the concept of Direct Variation.

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

Yard Space #MPM1D/#MFM1P #PrBL

I took the typical “find the largest area given a specific perimeter” problem and created a hands-on, problem-based learning task for my combined grade 9 Math class (academic & applied combined):summary-2017-02-13-m9

Ms. Wheeler wants to build a fenced in yard for Sally to run around in.
She buys 16 1-metre long sections of fence.

What do you wonder?

Physical & Visual Representations:

The yard must be fully enclosed. Use toothpicks to create show different ways of placing the 16 pieces of fencing (I forgot to take photos of this part but they made stuff like this):IMG_20170220_112029-01.jpeg

Draw your shape & label its dimensions:


How should the pieces be set up to create the largest enclosed area possible?

What shape offers the largest area?


We discussed that while a square was the largest rectangle possible, there were other shapes possible with greater areas.

How should the pieces be set up to create the largest enclosed area possible if Ms. Wheeler uses a wall of the house as one side of the enclosure?

We have some more exploration to do here. I left this pretty open and they explored various shapes. But I’m not sure they’ve drawn any solid conclusions just yet for the case where we have 1 side of the shape already accounted for.

Get the Pear Deck slideshow here.

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

Height VS Foot length #MFM1P/#MPM1D #3ActMath

As an introduction to Linear Relations with my combined 1D/1P grade 9 Math class we investigated height VS foot length and the guinness record holder for the tallest woman:Summary 2017.02.08 (1).jpg

I asked students to measure their height and foot length and record it on a Google Spreadsheet we had up on the projector:


What do you notice?Capture.JPG

What do you wonder?Capture.JPG

I posed this question:

Zeng Jinlian was born in 1964 in Yujiang village in the Bright Moon Commune, Hunan Province, China. She holds the record as the tallest woman. She measured 2.48 m (8 ft 1.75 in) when she died on 13 February 1982. How long were her feet?

Estimate: _____ cmCapture.JPG

Students were sent in their VRG groups to their VNPS boards to solve. Here are their boards:

Since it is still early in the semester I scaffolded the activity a bit by instructing them to create a scatter plot of the data on their board to help them solve the problem. I did not however instruct them to use a line of best fit, although many groups used that strategy to help them come up with an answer. Some groups had graphs with a Height axis that went high enough to lookup Zeng’s height and find the corresponding foot length from the line of best fit. Other groups made an educated guess based on the trend the points were showing.

Each student was asked to determine her foot length based on their graph:Capture.JPG

Her real foot length was 35.5cm!

The following day students were assigned some individual practice with scatterplots on Khan Academy.

Activity materials (include a slide deck for Pear Deck) available here.

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

Chicken & Goat Legs #MFM2P #PBL

Summary (scroll down for more details):2017.01.11 summary.png


I asked some questions on Pear Deck to get students thinking about the parameters of the problem:

captureWe discussed some of the above responses that did not meet the criteria of a total of 70 legs and why.

Students went to their boards in their small groups to solve this problem:

She has 26 animals all together.
There are 70 chicken & goat legs all together.
How many chickens? Goats?

Most groups were very unsure as to how to proceed in their solving. Most were simply guessing & checking various pairs of numbers. After a few minutes of allowing that productive struggle, when I noticed frustration setting in for some, I asked if anyone had considered drawing animal bodies & assigning legs to them? Here are the student boards:

We returned to our seats and our Pear Deck session & I put it into student-paced mode. I asked them to create the equations for the various parameters of the problem: Capture.JPG
They struggled with this so I did some direct teaching about how to build the equation for this and the next slide:

Students were asked to use Desmos to graph their 2 equations & then sketch the graph and point of intersection:capture

Students were asked to develop an algebraic solution using the elimination method:Capture.JPG
Not all of my students are comfortable with the algebra still (even though we’re at semester’s end now).

I like that we used 3 different methods of solving this problem; diagramming, graphing & algebraic. I want my 2P students to know they can always fall back on “less sophisticated” methods to solve these problems at evaluation time (as opposed to the algebraic solution).

The resources can be found here (including the Pear Deck interactive slideshow).

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

Flight Costs #MFM2P

I’ve done this activity once previously. I changed how I did it for this second go. I will change it again for next semester.

Here’s how it went this time …

Students were presented with this data:copy-of-lr-flight-distance-vs-cost

Students were asked:

2016.12.21 notice.JPG


The task for day 1: Determine the initial value & rate, on average, for flights with Air Canada.

Some groups went to Desmos straight away. Others needed some reminding that Desmos can be very helpful with data like this.

On day 2, groups were asked to determine the distance they could fly for $500 using their equations from the previous day. I only took a photo of one group’s board that day:2016.12.22 summary.png

I think next semester I will change this up. I think I will present the name of a city & ask students to estimate the cost of flying there. Then I’ll give them the set of data for cost & distance for multiple cities, but with the first city blanked out; perhaps allowing them to adjust their estimate if they like. We’ll do notice & wonder, and then proceed to solve for the price. I won’t specify modelling algebraically but will perhaps create a Desmos activity builder they can do to practice that in the case where they don’t use an algebraic model to solve.

Update: Find the Desmos activity builder follow-up here

Activity available here.

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

Pyramid SA #MFM2P #3ActMath

Not the most exciting problem, but my students were still engaged even if it wasn’t a contextualised scenario.2016.10.31 summary (1).png

Act 1:


What do you notice (facts)? What do you wonder (Qs)?
– The shape is a pyramid that has a square base.
– The area of the triangle is 1 cm square.
– What is the area of the base?
– What is the volume of the shape?
– What is the surface area of the shape?
– What is the height of the shape?
It is a triangle What is the lenght and height of the triangle
It’s a square based pyramid how many sticky notes do we need to cover the square based pyramid
It’s a Square pyramid
It’s a triangle and it has 1cm squared What are the lengths and widths of the pyramid
Its a shape. what is 10m2?
Square based pyramid, with a sticky note that reads “I cm squared) Why is there a sticky note on one of the sides?
That it is a square base pyramid What are the other lengths
There is a square based pyramid What does the 1cm^2 represent?
There is a triangle What is the value of this pyramid
what’s the area of the square based pyramid

Estimate:2016.10.31 estimate (1).JPG

Act 2:

Each group of students was given a plastic pyramid like the one in the picture. They began measuring dimensions of the pyramid and using the formula from their formula sheets in their binder. They solved the problem on their boards:

I asked the group why they thought we got different answers in different groups and they commented that some of our plastic pyramids were slightly smaller than others. I did a little direct teaching about the net of a square based pyramid and how that translates into the formula on their formula sheet:


Act 3:

I then handed out grid paper and asked the students to draw a 1 cm by 1 cm square at the top left of the page. They told me that the area was 1 cm^2 and determined that every 4 squares of our grid paper made a 1 cm^2 area.

I asked them to trace all of the faces of their pyramid onto the grid paper to create a net. Then to colour in alternative 4-square blocks to allow us to count the area in cm^2.img_1915img_1913

We counted up the area and found the answer to be 114 cm^2; right on with our calculations!


Students were assigned a “surface area” practice set of questions on Khan Academy; different ones depending on whether or not they had completed the previous set I assigned earlier in the semester.

The materials for this activity are available here.

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

Quadratic Block Pattern #MFM2P

This past week I did an activity inspired by Fawn Nguyen’s Visual Patterns work. The last time I did this activity, I blogged about it here.2016.10.25 summary.png


Notice & Wonder:

What do you notice (facts)? What do you wonder (Qs)?
each step the cubes increase how come the reds arent increasing?
How many blue blocks will they add on the 4th step
Each step, more cubes are added Why is there always 3 red but the blue always increases?
Why Do we only have 3 reds
There are 3 steps in the picture
there are red and blue cubes how much the sides go up each time
The number of blue blocks increase as the number of steps increase. why isnt red increasing?
Cubes, there is steps How many cubes added every step?
I notice there a step 1 , step 2, step 3 Why does the blues always increase and the red stays the same
Always 3 red in the middle the outside length increases by 1 each time Why is the red not increasing
– The number of blue cubes increase each step. (2, 8, 18, etc)
– The number of red cubes stay the same each time.
– How many blue cubes will there be at step 10?
– What is the formula?
3 red squares on each step ,
There’s always 3 red in the middle How much blue cubes will it be in step 4
the red blocks stay they same but the blue blocks increase every time how much the blue blocks are going up by

Estimate:2016.10.25 estimate.JPG


Groups used tables to start. Then, most could see the pattern of the two squares on each end with a side length equal to the step number and they used this pattern to calculate the number of blocks for step 57.

A follow up question in the Pear Deck slides asked them if the pattern was linear, quadratic or neither. We discussed how we can determine this, and I sent students back to their boards to find the first & second differences.

The next question in the slides asked them to use Desmos to find the curve of best fit and its equation. I reviewed how to do both linear & quadratic regression on Desmos on the board for them. After students found the equation with Desmos, they were asked to go to their boards one last time and use their equation to verify how many cubes would be needed in step 57.

We then had a whole class discussion on how the terms in the equation represented the visual pattern.

Individual practice on quadratic relations was assigned from Khan Academy; different exercises depending on whether or not they had finished their homework from the last time we worked on quadratics.

Activity available here.

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