## Wednesday, December 7, 2016

### Conjectures/"Who Am I?" Game (Days 71-72)

Back when I was a sub, I would often post about the Conjectures or "Who Am I" game, since I often played it in classes where I subbed. This is what I wrote last year about what the game is:

We begin by dividing the class into groups -- say of three or four students. Each group is assigned a worksheet -- or the members can write down answers on a common blank sheet. Then my usual set of ten questions are assigned -- but there are some differences between this and the usual individual worksheets that I post.

First of all, let's look at the first two questions:

1. What is the teacher's __________?

2. What is the teacher's __________?

Beforehand, the teacher fills in the blanks with words -- I'd fill them in with age and weight. I have no problem with giving this much information to the students -- but many people, especially women, are highly sensitive to revealing such personal data. This is why I left blanks in the questions -- so that the teachers fill in the blanks with words that they are comfortable revealing in class.

The teacher asks the question, "What is my age?" (or whatever is in the first blank). The groups signal when they want to answer. The teacher calls upon the group that signaled first to answer -- and since this answer will almost certainly be wrong, the teacher then calls upon another group. When a group finally gives the correct answer, the teacher awards this group a point.

Notice several things about this game so far. The first team to give a correct answer -- and the answers in my version of this activity are numerical so far -- is the one to get the point. And after the first two questions, two groups have one point each -- or possibly one team already has two points -- and the rest have none.

Certainly the groups without points so far are eager to earn one. And so they are faced with the next question in the activity:

...which would be a true-false question relating to whatever lesson I'm teaching.

Now I decide to play this game today in all my classes. And you may ask, why today? Well, I actually played this game as a sub one year ago today -- and I did it for one very particular reason.

The answer to the first question "What is the teacher's age?" is 36. That's because today is -- you guessed it (or remembered from last year) -- my 36th birthday! And so I knew that if I was going to play a game which starts with my age, it might as well be on my birthday.

Today is my 36th birthday. It is also my ninth Julian birthday. This refers to the fact that on the Julian Calendar, Leap Day (February 29th) occur once every four years -- and we can ignore the Gregorian rule, as I wasn't born yet in 1900 nor will I likely live to see 2100. In four years there are exactly 1461 days, and so today I'm exactly 1461 * 9, or 13149, days old.

What lessons do I include in today's game? Well, just as in the version of the game I posted as a sub, I want to focus on geometry questions. As it turns out, the game fits the current seventh grade lesson like a glove. Yesterday, the students cut out triangles out of straw, and Illinois State even asks the students to make conjectures about the triangles they created. So it's easy to fit some of those right into the game.

Today is Wednesday -- always a scheduling adventure at our school. For once, we actually follow the same schedule as last week -- but again, it means that I don't see the seventh graders as much as the other grades. I try having them come up with Triangle Inequality as a conjecture. A few of them are able to get on the right track, especially after I give them the hint (or "lead them by the nose," much to David Joyce's dismay).

For eighth grade, I notice that the STEM project mentions the measures of angles that are vertical, adjacent, corresponding, and so on. So I play the game using these conjectures. One big problem is that some students can't use a protractor correctly, so many don't arrive at the conjecture that vertical angles have the same measure. (Actually, the seventh graders also had to conjecture Triangle Sum, but I don't even try to reach that conjecture, knowing that if the eighth graders won't use the protractor correctly, neither will the seventh graders.)

Meanwhile, for sixth grade, the animals project ultimately relates to guessing how much room animals need, so it fits into the game as well. They are learning about how to find the dimensions of a rectangle given its area -- that is, factoring.

I like this game as a sub because it gives the students something to do. But if I use it in the regular classroom, it might be better to do some preparation. Once again, I just took the STEM project and added my own "What is the teacher's age?" questions. But instead, I could have come up with some questions such as just measuring random given angles. If I award points in the game, then the students should be motivated to find them. Then after that I segue to finding specific angles such as vertical angles or those of a triangle. That should lead them to make the conjectures.

The "Day in the Life" poster with a daily posting day of the seventh is Miss Beebe:

Here's a link to her most recent post, which is actually her Day Before Thanksgiving post:

Beebe writes that this was a strange day for her. Her school district gives a five-day weekend for the holiday, from Wednesday to Sunday. The problem was that it snowed in her home state of New York the Monday before the holiday. This meant that Tuesday was the only day of school that week!

In a previous post, I referred to that day as Floyd Thursby Day -- a reference to the Edsource poster who criticizes teachers take that day off. Well, I hope Thursby reads about Beebe -- a teacher who didn't take that Tuesday off, as tempting as it might have been after the Monday snow day.

Beebe writes:

I gave my General Geometry students a coloring activity that reviewed parallelogram, rhombus, rectangle, and square properties.  They really struggled with this activity.  Every year students struggle with parallelograms and special parallelograms.  I really don't understand why, other than the fact that there is so much information packed into one lesson.  I'm wondering if next year I just have to teach each shape as a separate lesson.  However, I don't want students to view them as separate items.  I will have to continue to mediate on this.  On [Cyber] Monday, I plan to do a mini-lesson to review the properties, and then give them time to finish the activity.

Notice that the original version of the Conjectures/"Who Am I?" game that I've posted on the blog was actually about the properties of quadrilaterals. I wonder whether Beebe's students would have understood the quadrilateral properties better had it been presented as part of my game -- but then again, my game doesn't help my own students learn the angle properties better, so what I am saying?

Beebe devotes the rest of her post to how she spent her Thanksgiving break, so there's no need for me to discuss it here.

This is a two-day post. My next post will be Friday.