Monthly Archives: August 2016

Zombie Lines

This is one of those proud moments. The moments when someone has observed you doing something and then goes and does it themselves. My colleague Tessah is a 3rd year teacher, and quite amazing at what she does. She has watched me create & share math activities with GAFE for the past two years. She even created some of her own last year. She found this zombie activity online as a paper copy and after collaborating with our Algebra 1 group decided we could practice our online graphing skills. She did an amazing job creating this digital version. She used the font Zombie Salad from, also a habit she picked up from me. I asked her permission to post it here and she was very willing to share (maybe another habit from?).

Tolen Zombie Graphing (1)

It was created on Google Slides, probably my most favorite Google App because of it’s versatility.

Here’s the finished product. Sorry for those of you who don’t give your students the solutions.

Tolen anwers Zombie Graphing.png

Feel free to use this activity with your students. You may make a copy of this slide here. Please let Tessah & I know if you like her activity. It makes us happy when people use our stuff.

Categories: Google Sheets, online graphing | Tags: | 3 Comments

I applied to be a Google Innovator

I submitted my application today to be a Google Innovator. It’s been a goal of mine for a while now. My vision is to change how we teach using technology, to get away from the factory model of sit and get. Here’s my vision:

I want classrooms full of thinkers, collaborators, & risk-takers, who have an internal drive to learn, create, and contribute to the world, not robots who just follow instructions. The world wants innovation, so let’s send them students who have the skills to innovate.

250 characters is VERY challenging. I know the sentence is choppy but wow 250 characters! I hope the selection committee takes that into consideration!

My solution is to change how we teach math using Google Expedition and Google Sheets. I worked with Alice Keeler this summer and helped her create the first lesson about functions while climbing El Capitan. Then I began a second one. This one is based on an expedition to a Tanzanian manure farm while exploring rearranging formulas. The lesson is titled: This Lesson is Poop.

This isn’t the completed spreadsheet activity, but it’s a good start and will give you an idea about what the spreadsheet lessons will look like that will accompany the expedition.

Other than the expedition part (teacher guided), the lesson is student directed and self-paced. It allows the teacher to ask students individualized questions and guide their learning instead of direct instructing.

Screen Shot 2016-08-28 at 6.15.36 PM.png

Make a copy of spreadsheet here.

I will be working with Alice to finish the spreadsheet in September. August was crazy busy and slowed my progress on it. I will post the final product here whether I get accepted or not. I think this type of math lesson is important and I will continue working on them when I can. I REALLY hope I am awarded one of the grants I’ve applied for so I can get a Google Expedition classroom set! Right now I don’t have the supplies to do this with my students.

I also had a lot of fun making the Video to go along with my application. I hope it conveys my message.

Categories: Google EI, Google Expedition, Google Sheets | Tags: | 1 Comment

Order of Operations with Google Sheets

I look for real reasons for why we use math. Students can spot BS from a mile away, probably because it STINKS! A few years ago, I realized that a spreadsheet was a great way to explore order of operations. We have to tell technology how we want it to process numbers. If we don’t, technology defaults to the basic rules of math, order of operations.

While reading Jo Boaler’s book, Mathematical Mindset (if you haven’t read it, get a copy RIGHT NOW!), Alice Keeler and I started chatting on Twitter. Alice was working on a spreadsheet activity and asked me to collaborate with her. I realized it was the perfect platform for a student directed lesson (I used to guide the exploration) on order of ops using Alice’s inspiration. This is what was born.

Students begin with some research on equations and expressions, inserting images or typing their own examples. There is also a place where students draw a conclusion from their research. Communication and collaboration is encouraged.Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 9.18.00 PM

Then it’s time to play a game. One student writes an expression in words. Their partner calculates by hand and enters their guess. Then we teach a spreadsheet skill (Alice would say Computer Apps class isn’t needed, we can embed it in content – I agree!) This is a basic introduction to entering a function using the =. If your partner calculated correctly, they get a point, if not the first person does. The spreadsheet tally’s the points to see who wins. The 2nd person has to figure out how the spreadsheet would calculate and then calculate by hand the same way.

Screen Shot 2016-08-26 at 9.20.28 PM

The sad part, I didn’t get to use this lesson this year because of the late roll out of Chromebooks. I may put it in Google Classroom as a warm-up one day.

Feel free to use this but please give me feedback. It makes my day when people use my stuff!

Get your own copy here.

Categories: Google Sheets, order of operations | Tags: | Leave a comment

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