Math Movies

There are great math movies and clips on the internet that can get your students interested in mathematics by showing them the "real drama" behind mathematics.

There is a great show on YouTube that features "Math Warriors," which is a dramatic web series that takes places with great math concepts behind them.  Its creator, Kristina Harris- has a Ph.D. in microbial biochemistry and has taught at both New York and Columbia Universities- thinks of the series as "The Big Bang" meets "The Office," if on a much tighter budget.

Harris says a growing number of public school teachers have been using the series to de-mystify math for their students. The short length of each episode, she says, makes it a good ice-breaker at the beginning of a class.
“I think often times, people feel discouraged or overwhelmed by math and science, and if we can kind of dispel the myth that it’s something that is unattainable or make it somehow more popular or accessible then that’s something I’d like to be able to do.”
You can watch the first webcast below, I recommend subscribing to the channel.

You can view other videos of theirs here:

Or you can go to their website here:

You can view other articles like this one here: Math Movies

GIF's that Teach Math

There are many GIF's out there that are of funny cats and of many different movies.  I know that I love the occasional GIF's and especially when they are about math.  Here are some great GIF's that you can include in your classroom to spice up lessons and activities for students.

Find more here:

Circle radians gif

sin cosine gif

Find other great GIF's here: 7 GIF's for Trigonometry

Drawing a Circle

Can you draw a perfect circle?

I know that I couldn't, but with help from a SmartBoard game it became easier and my students loved to draw circles on the Smartboard for a great end of the year activity.

I had students put their name with their high score and by the end of the day we had a leaderboard and by the second day students were inching closer to my high score.  (Yes, I did practice for 2 hours to beat some of my students.)

It was a great competition to get students engaged and motivated in the classroom.  I hate to see teachers only using a SmartBoard as a presentation tool, it is there for students to use and manipulate.  I had some students up there for 20 minutes trying to get the tips and tricks down and finally making the leaderboard.

Check out the game here: Circle Drawing

Some of my students didn't know what the cat was there for, but it is a great reminder to tell the students how close they are to 100% like a badge.  If the students do poor enough, they get an angry cat that all the students laughed at.

Angle of Impact

Blood splatter analysis is a powerful forensic tool.  Spatter patterns allow investigators to reconstruct what happened at a crime scene.  The blood spatter pattern "tells a story" of the crime and help the investigators determine if eyewitness accounts are consistent with the evidence.  To study impact angle, you will need to use trigonometry math skills.

Use trigonometric functions to determine if the impact angle for any given blood droplet.

By accurately measuring the length and width of a bloodstain, you can calculate the impact angle using the following sine formula:


To determine the angle of impact, take the inverse sine to get degrees.

Lesson: Angle of Impact Lab
Objective: For students to learn and use trig functions in the real world.  Students should be able to solve for angles in a right triangle.

Standards: Apply content to real-world scenarios.

Time: 45 minute class.

Set-up: 10 minutes before class.

  • As students enter the classroom, students will begin work on the daily question.
  • After two students go up to the board to work out the daily question, go over the correct answer with them.
  • Spend 5 minutes going over any missed or confusing questions the students had on the assignment.
  • Before the start of the angle of impact lab share with them a quick way of determining the blood splatter pattern. It should look like the image to the right.
  • Have students spend 20-30 minutes working on the angle of impact lab.  Worksheet is attached.  Students should be in groups of 2 or 3.
  • When students are finished with the angle of impact lab, students are to complete the final part of the lab with a poster.  Students should spend the remainder of the classroom working on the poster and putting their finishing touches on the assignment.
  • 2-3 minutes before the bell rings students should fill out their exit slip, for an informal assessment.

Goals: Students should be able to use their knowledge to real-world scenarios.  Students should be able to use the angle of impact formula and know how it is derived.  Students should be creative and put their math knowledge to the test to apply the concepts provided. 

Student Developed Apps

Who knows apps better than students?

Not too many people, so who is best for creating these apps?

Students, perhaps.

Having students develop apps is a great way of getting students creating when they are young to see if this is a possible career choice for them.  Some great articles include college students developing apps to help with algebra.  The tools assist teachers in diagnosing where students struggle and offer interactive solutions to put them on track.  One app called "Card Clutter" helps students understand the relative value of numbers by arranging cards in order with face values ranging from negative fractions to absolute numbers. Those expressions sometimes stump students when solving algebraic equations.

Others include: Recently a handful of his students tapped the touch screens in rapid fire to solve for x. "Do some 'Alge-Bingo' for me," he told Zack Sheldon, who quickly got to work.  "It makes it fun and easy," Sheldon said.  Jones said it was a great way to use her math skills, teaching skills and computer science skills at the same time.She developed the "Diamond Factor" app, which helps students factor trinomials, an algebraic expression with three terms such as x² + 8x + 16.

To read the entire article click here: Algebra Apps

One great example that I want to share with you is a student at Elkhorn Public Schools who wants to take his app on the market.  It has many different incorporations in mathematics.  It is called Roll It, and you can check more of it out here: Roll It

Roll It is an app created by a student from Elkhorn Public Schools.  There is an app for it coming soon to iPads and iPhones.  But for now, you can use the online one for your students to use. 

Here are a few things Roll It can do:

  • Roll It comes with up to 4 possible players.
  • Easy to read design.
  • Perfect for SMART technologies.
  • Comes with a random player selector to decide what player comes next.
  • Four random generating dice, perfect for all games. 
  • Easy to use timer.
You can use any of these technologies for any game and when teachers lose parts to games like I do all the time there is an online place where I can fill in the missing pieces with online parts.  Once the app is up and running in the App Store for iTunes, students could use this at their desks for review games, stations, or even in their homes.  This is a great web 2.0 tool that all teachers can use in their classrooms.

Forensics in Math

I have been looking for ways to get students to use math that we learn outside of the classroom and I know that some of my students love mystery books and crime scene investigation shows.  So I have obtained some extra activities for my students to do that includes some forensics work.  Here are some ways you can include forensics in math.

  • Probability is the chance of something occurring.  It is calculated by dividing the number of favorable outcomes by the number of possible outcomes.  The theoretical probability of how a coin will land after being tossed 100 times is half. 50/50, if you actually flip a coin a 100 times, you will find the experimental probability, which may be 60 heads and 40 tails, whatever your result.
  • Ask students to define probability.  How high does the probability occur for a conviction to occur?
  • Regardless of their specialty, scientists use mathematics to help describe the world around them.  Forensic investigations use average growth rates of various structures in the human body, such as hair and fingernails, to decode clues left at a crime scene.  When using average growth rates, it is important to pay close attention to the units of measurement being used.
  • To illustrate how blood types are inherited, show a cross between a mother who has blood type O and father who has type AB.  The mother can contribute either an A or a B allele.  So this couple could have children of either blood type A or B.  Point out that the child would have a probability of 1 in 2 of having type A blood.
  • Explain how the laws of probability are used in determining the probability that a particular person's blood will match the blood found at a crime scene. 
There will be more activities included in the future.  Right now these are just a few questions to have your students use forensics in these questions.

How could you incorporate this in to your classroom?

KUCE Taxonomy and iPad Apps

I recently blogged about the KUCE Taxonomy and what it is all about here: KUCE Taxonomy

Now is the time that I mention some iPad Apps that can be used when using the KUCE Taxonomy.  All of these apps fit great with 21st Century learning in all of the classrooms.

For a quick review session:

K: Know

U: Use

C: Create

E: Evaluate

These are the quick steps that let me know that a student is proficient for a particular concept or section I am teaching in the math course.  If a student can successfully go through each step the know the content, how to apply it, and be able to create with it as well.

Featured below are some shots of apps, I will briefly mention and move along.  I am a math teacher so most of these apps are based on the math classroom, there will be more apps later for elementary and middle school.



These are the few knowing apps where students can gain knowledge through these apps.  The first on the left is Britannica Kids on Volcanoes where students can learn and watch videos about Volcanoes.  The next two are math related which are Khan Academy and DragonBox where students can learn more about math.  Next is Gooru where students can learn bits of sections that lead them to learning an entire amount.


This next app is Maps and History where students can use their knowledge of maps and keys to put their knowledge to the use of getting familiar with maps.  The next two are also math related, in both of these students use their knowledge that they gained to practice problems all the way to finding real-world problems that they can solve.  (MyScript Calculator and WolframAlpha)


This is one of my favorite sections where students use the knowledge they gained and create.  Students can use these apps to produce and send via the web on apps like EduCreations and ShowMe in video form for anyone to watch.  The next app is Aurasma where students can create augmented reality videos in format with the camera on the iPad and watch their videos in a 3D environment.


This last section is evaluate where students can evaluate each others work on the web.  Using apps like Linoit where students can post what they liked and disliked.  Socrative, where students can vote on their favorite creations.  YouTube where uploaded videos can be watched and evaluated by other students.  Lastly, KidBlogs has an app where students can blog and have their teachers, peers, and family members evaluate their work.

This is just a few of the apps that fit in these niches, if you have any apps that you use and where they would be placed on the KUCE Taxonomy please feel free to comment below.

Dueling with Math Snowballs

A great lesson idea stems from Jenna Krambeck at Elkhorn Ridge Middle School in Elkhorn, NE.  (You can visit her site here: )

Dueling with Math Snowballs, now she is a reading teacher at Elkhorn so I have adapted this lesson from her.  You start with a simple snowball fight.  Students write down math problems on a half sheet or full sheet of paper and students fling their paper across the room.  For more math snowball information check it out here.

To put this in perspective, students are in groups and it is their job to solve the problem.  First team with 5 points wins.

The game proceeds as a student from a particular group walks up and picks up a piece of paper and challenges a group to solve a particular problem.  If they get the problem correct they get a point, if they guess incorrectly the team who selected the problem has a chance to steal.

This is dueling, because the student has the choice of selecting a group to send a problem to battle.

Could you use this small review game in your classroom?  What could you change to better adapt it to your students?