Monday, May 11, 2020

Hy-flex model storage

Howdy, this is mainly a storage page for some links and articles that I am looking at about the so called HyFlex model of classroom setup.


  1.  Robert Talbert's blog that first introduced me to it.  rtalbert.org/
  2. A summary of a stats class done this way.  Intro Stats course
  3. A summary of a whole college that did it.  From inside higher ed.
  4. An editorial suggesting this model, and pros/cons From inside higher ed.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Escape Room First Post



Inspired by an presentation at the AMATYC 2019 conference (Proceedings here), and a post from Derek Bruff (@derekbruff) about his Cryptography class, I decided I would do escape rooms in my Calculus I classes this spring.  I have two classes of 30 students each this semester, over at our RELLIS campus.  (That means the students are Texas A&M engineering students, but attending Blinn for most of their basics.)

I decided I would have each review day as an escape room.  The class would self select into teams of no more than four, and then compete to escape the room.  The carrot was that order of escape determined which tier of bonus points they would get on their in class exam.  I also made sure that every team that escaped would get some points. 
(The bonus points ranged from 4-9%)

TL/DR summary, I had great student buy in, the event did (basically) what I wanted it to do, and I am doing it next review day.  But there were some problems.

First, I have put in to present this as a session at the AMATYC 2020 conference  so this will be a fairly short post.  I do plan one more post about this after the second attempt, but I want to save most of the information until the presentation.  Assuming I am chosen to present!  I should find out in early April if I am chosen or not.

The Set UP:
I found some cheap little treasure chest type boxes at Michaels, (Boxes) and some cheap luggage locks on Amazon. (Locks )  I also had a couple of cheap plastic ammo boxes I got from Harbor Freight. (Ammo box) BTW, if you are not familier with Harbor Freight, check your mailers or their website for coupons.  I got a coupon that had the boxes basically half price.
These would form the basis for the first attempt.  I would have one problem to open each of the wooden boxes, while each ammo box had a “lockout lock” . (Hasp Lock but look around to make sure the one you get will fit in your box!) with four and then five locks on it respectively.  Inside the wooden boxes would be problems to find the last code for Ammo box 1, or the next to last code for Ammo box 2.  The code for the last lock for Ammo box 2 is the solution to the problem in Ammo box 1. 
I prepared a handout for each team that contained the problems to open each wooden box, and all but one of the locks on Ammo box 1, and all but two of the locks on Ammo box 2. 

The Class Day Before:
At the end of class the meeting before the escape room day, I took about 10 minutes to explain to the students what the plan was for that day, that they should select teams, and be ready to work.  I also told them that each group would get a packet of paper containing problems.  The answers would provide the codes to unlock the wooden boxes.  Inside those boxes were more problems that would help unlock the Ammo boxes.  The bonus points were in Ammo box 2.

The Actual Day:
The students seemed a little excited.  Once I set up my stuff, I announced they should send up one team member to get the packet.  They then went to work.  I had set up the room so that each group would come up to me, and I would try the code on the lock.  Mainly so that I would be gentle with the lock, but also so that I would relock it after they were done. 
I realized about halfway through class that I had a couple of typos on some problems, that lead to a couple of wrong codes!!!!!  I fixed this by just opening the box in question, but not until after several groups had tried the wrong codes.

I also over estimated how many problems the students could solve in the class time, so the first class ended up with several groups close to escaping, but no one escaping.  At the start of the next class, I removed the one problem lock, and one other lock that had jammed when I opened it, and everyone in that class escaped.

Some Things I Did Right
I did spend some time planning this, so here are some things I did that turned out to really help:
  1.     I labeled each lock when I first got them, so I could tell them apart.
  2.     I created a spreadsheet to keep track of the codes for each lock.
  3.     I had a few extra locks lying around, in case one of the cheap locks broke during the game.
  4.      I had my own copy of all the problems, including those inside the boxes, so I could easily reference things.


Some Things I Did Not Right:
  1.  The typos I mentioned before.
  2.  Letting them pick their own teams the day of the event.  I think next time I will require them to sign up as teams the class day before. 
  3.  Related to that last point, I could then send some stuff via email out ahead of time.
  4. I went with all physical objects, instead of say a Google Form.  Turning all the locks on the Ammo Boxes for each group got tedious.
  5.     Having each group just come up and ask me to try a code for them meant a couple of groups could listen in and gain an advantage. 


At the end of it all, the students reported that they liked the day, had fun, and several of them commented that the room made them realize they were not as prepared as they thought they were.  So despite the problems, it worked.

Stay tuned for an update after the second attempt.







Thursday, November 14, 2019

IGNITE! Some of my favorite mathematics books

Howdy, here are the books and other things from my IGNITE talk.  We livestreamed the event on the AMATYC Facebook page.
I will try to add in links and stuff, but I was editing the talk right up to the start of the conference, so give me a week to get all this in place.  I will blast on Twitter when I update.