Monthly Archives: March 2017

Make Math Not Suck

My Google Innovator project is ready to be released. Make Math Not Suck is a website where I will post questioning and activities to take the drudgery out of math class. I will still be posting here as well and sometimes they will be mirrored posts. I will also be taking submissions from others so I can include awesome activities that others do to make math better. Please visit and share with others.

Make Math Not Suck 2 (2)

Categories: Google EI, Make Math Not Suck | Tags: | Leave a comment

Measuring height with Trig

I started to share this project with someone the other day and realized I had never written a blog post for it. We have used this project for quite some time and I love the digital aspect having students label their image and explain their process. We have the students make the clinometers but we give them little guidance as far as the project goes. We want them to problem solve and figure it out. We simply tell them to go measure something bigger than they are. I also limit their travel to school grounds (I did have a student go to the nearby gas station once. You have to be specific!!) I had a group of students last year that forgot their tape measure so they measured in shoe length (yes, I had a one-shoed student outside) and then converted that to inches when they came inside. I love the thought process behind their solution!

Not only does this give purpose to the study of trig, it also gets students outside and working together. It also helps students understand angle of elevation a little better with concrete examples.

I love the first one. She wrote a word problem for her image. Hmm… might have to steal that idea!!

I’ve included my clinometer document (I did steal the image from someone, sorry whoever you are!) and my scoring guide.

Trig Project Scoring Guide

GuideBuild a Clinometer

Happy measuring! Concur Bitmoji

Categories: Geometry, Google Drawing, Google Slides, Trig | Tags: | Leave a comment

Popcorn Containers and Volume

Anytime you can have food in class it’s a good day (unless you are the custodian sweeping up popcorn. I’m sorry!) I came up with this project probably four years ago. We did the whole pour the water from a cone into a cylinder thing, and it was ok, but I wanted something better. While eating popcorn at the movies, my daughter and I started talking about the cost of the popcorn and the sizes available. Putting those two ideas together, this project was born.

The first year I had students create a cylinder and then figure out how to make a cone with the same base area and height. This was a struggle and I ended up showing them. It does involve a lot of thinking and many would not have gotten there on their own. The following year, I created a hand-drawn example of how to calculate the dimensions of the cone. I now have the information in Google Slides for students to use.

There are great discussions about the slant height becoming the radius of the cone. I do have to show students a visual of this and they are always amazed. Once they see the visual and we discuss how the circumference of the cone piece has to meet up with the base circle, they begin to see how it all fits together.

I’ve included the activity for the first day. I’ve popped trashbags full of popcorn and I’ve popped microwave popcorn. If you can get your concession stand to open up their popcorn machine then you have it made.

Popcorn Container Activity

As a follow-up activity, I decided to have students calculate the cost and the amount for which they could sell their popcorn. This allows them to make some decisions about which container would be best. Many of them tell me that it doesn’t matter which one is the best deal because the cone of popcorn would be inconvenient. 🙂

Popcorn Surface Area & Volume Follow-up activity


Categories: Geometry, Google Sheets, performance task | Tags: | 1 Comment


Dave Burgess always asks, “If kids didn’t have to come to your class would they?” I think some days the answer to my class is no. Teaching math is challenging so when I can plan a fun, engaging & standards-based activity it’s a win for all.

While researching for our parabola unit I stumbled upon the project posted by Julie Reulbach on her blog I Speak Math. If you don’t follow her on Twitter, you should! I adapted her activity a little to make it go along with Clash of Clans and carried the theme throughout the activity.

I shot the orange spikey stones (because if you say balls in front of freshmen…) at students as they walked in the door starting about a week out. They were pretty excited to get to shoot the catapults themselves. Many of them also play Clash of Clans or Clash Royale so they enjoyed that part too. The activity is frustrating for some of them who like to have their hand held through each step. We have them work together at tables and only intervene if the productive struggle is no longer productive.

I also added a #mathsnap to the activity to reinforce the different parts of the parabola. They LOVED making their Bitmoji’s. They haven’t turned the #mathsnaps in yet but I can’t wait to see them.


I have attached all of my documents for this project. Remember, this is modified from Julie’s project. You can get all of her originals here.

This is a printable bulls-eye. I feel like I can use the castle image in the middle since it’s a screen-shot I took from the game. If you feel this is questionable, then take the image off.

Desmos activity This is updated from Julie’s as well. I included the Clash of Clans images (possible copyright issues here – sorry) but it makes it more engaging for the students.

I also drop this document in Google Classroom so students can be self-directed when making the #mathsnap

Scoring Guide


Categories: #mathsnaps, Bitmoji, parabolas | Tags: | 1 Comment

Blog at