The Staircase Problem


You worked on the staircase problem over the weekend.  We discussed possible pattern explanations in class today and hopefully, you were able to see how it works; adding the figure numbers to find the number of squares.  This is the definition of a function…the figure number determines the number of squares.  We came up with a rule that works  f(f+1) /2   See the pics below.

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For tonight, write up a paragraph explaining your thinking on why you think the rule works.  It has something to do with the area of the square…simplify the above expression.

God Luchk


Border Problem Part 2

Ok Students,

After doing the Part 1 of the Border problem and understanding how many squares make a border around a certain side length square, now you need to see what would the side length of square be if you had a 64 squares, 256 squares, and then see if you could determine for any length square.  Remember, what you discovered about determining the number of squares in the border from part 1 and use that.

Here’s is your HW(you received the paper in class):

Ok, tonight’s homework is attached; although with a slight change.  You do not need to complete  Part 1….only need to complete Part 2 plus this below:
“If you have 64 squares, can you use all of them to make a square border?  If you can, what are the lengths of the sides of the square?”
– “If you have any number of squares, how can you determine if you can make a square border using all of the squares?”
Come to class with your thinking on this problem already done…..
Mr. Holmes

Deepening Problem Solving & Critical Thinking

Welcome to Semester 2!

As you hopefully can tell, you will be expected to become more of a critical thinker and problem solver.  All week long, we have been tackling some tough math problems forcing you to think about relationships between things and represent these relationships mathematically.  I have been showing you a Word Problem Method, which will help you organize the information in the problem and at the same time guide you in setting up the problem.  It will help you solve it so please do your best to use it.

For HW, I want you to continue to work on Word Problem with a Bite.  Remember, this is due on Friday and you must show all work on a separate sheet of paper using the method I have been teaching you all week.  Here is a link to a video on one of the problems and you can see the method we have been using in class.

Also, we had a Viral Reaction in class today where we mimicked an outbreak of the deadly Follicanase virus which causes premature balding (not real, just for experimental fun).  Actually, in two of the cups there was baking soda mixed in with the flour.  Your Task for HW tonight is to complete III on Viral Reaction HW and explain your thinking of who you think the original carrier of the virus was.  Remember, there were two original carriers.  I expect you to write at least 1/2 page on who you think it was and most importantly, explain your thinking!  Hopefully, you used your class time wisely to talk to other classmates on who they traded with so you can figure out who might have spread the follicanase virus to others.  Refer to your notes!!

There will be a greater emphasis this semester on explaining your thinking…you’ll do that through speaking, presenting, writing, and justifying your answer!   Justify with evidence your claims about all the work we do in class!!

Upward and Onward,

Mr. Holmes

Time to Prepare for POLs and End of the Semester


Whew!!  What a way to jump back into the swing of things….preparing for POLS and closing out the semester.  You all have been working very hard preparing for your POLS all this week and you are cleaning up/wrapping up your 1st semester grades; namely, your chemistry questions, your Black Belt Advancement, and the 3rd and final Black Belt scroll.  Also, we spend some time reviewing the Chemistry set of questions and I handed out the study guide for next Fridays Semester Final Exam…..Yikes!  What’s that?  It’s a final wrap up to test your understanding of what we have been working on all this semester.  A high school level activity for sure.  I gave you the study guide today so that you can start to make notes on the key questions/topics for the exam.  I will also post the questions on Google Classroom so you can access there.

VERY IMPORTANT:  Please start preparing this weekend by :

1) Put the polishing touches on your POL- practice presenting

2)  Start studying for the final exam…I recommend going through the chemistry questions and through the site.

3)  Practice and work on your Black Belt Scroll so you can get your Black Belt….(if you haven’t already?)

We will be doing more studying and notes to prepare for next week’s final exam!

“Failing to prepare is preparing to fail”  so do something about it NOW!

Your Master Sensei,

Mr. Holmes

Being Thankful for Solving Equations


Wow!  The Bridging the Gap Exhibition was amazing!  There were great bridges, great presentations, and of course some great destructions of the bridges.  Here are a few pics:

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The Bridging the Gap Project encompassed so much more though than building toothpick bridges, I hope you saw the value of working on a team, managing resources, being resourcefu (thinking differently), learning stuff to earn what you need to be able to do, and staying on task.  It’s time to start moving…hmmmm…should I say hovering to a new project where yes, you will be building again!

For now, before we get out of here for Thanksgiving, let’s be thankful for know how to solve an algebraic equation for a variable, that is, becoming an Equation Master.  We will have a Blue Belt Advancement this Friday so make sure to finish up Part 3 of the Blue Belt Scroll (evens only).  Also, due on Friday is your November Stock Value Chart.  – just update by adding a sheet from last month’s stock value chart.

Become an equation master….practice, practice and practice…you should be to page 19 by tomorrow.  Also, check out my How 2’s on solving equations.

Good Luck and you’ll be Thankful you worked hard to complete and earn your Blue Belt before Thanksgiving!

Solving Equations with Fractions! Yikes!!


I hope you are enjoying the little break for Veteran’s Day.  Fractions strike fear in the heart of all….but, don’t worry!  I got you….Below are two videos I made to help you understand how to solve equations with fractions.  The first is a basic understanding that we covered in class and the second, is a faster, quicker way to solve by using an important principal of reciprocals.  Watch Both to help you….you can choose whatever method is easier for you.

1st Video:  Solving Equations with Fractions

2nd Video:  Solving Equtions with Fractions Part 2 Reciprocals

For HW tomorrow, the first set of problems for the Blue Belt Scroll is due and also, complete p. 7 (solving equations with fractions) from the second set of problems I gave you on Monday.

Remember, always perform the opposite operation of what is being done to the variable.

Good Luck and see you tomorrow,

Mr. Holmes

A New Way of Math Understanding….Articulating your Rationale

Hey Students,

SLC’s are over and hopefully, we have a new sights on goals for growth for the rest of the year.  Ms. Staff and I enjoyed them very much in terms of sitting down with you and your parents to discuss your strengths and plans for continued growth this year.  You listed some goals for Math/Science and I will be sending out a “Connect the Dots” assignment for you to keep going throughout the whole year.  Your first entry will be to list out your 1-3 goals you have for Math/Science.  Be specific and list out the action steps you will take for to reach these goals.

Today, we launched a new phase in our math program called the Problem of the Week (POW) designed to get you to Articulate your Thinking (your Rationale) on why and how you solved a particular math problem.


We had a dynamic, dialectical discussion on the Frogproblem.  Your HW tonight is to write up a specific and detailed solution to the frog problem.  Make sure to write in depth and be specific about your thinking.  The goal is for you to write enough so that any reader can make sense of your thinking… is sense making!  A good write up includes:

  • Detailed Analyses-  write more and be specific about your thinking
  • Use Evidence- use the evidence to support your claims as you write.
  • Use Math & Numbers- show it with mathematical support.
  • Use Visuals- to further explain what you are thinking
  • A good write up should be 2-3 paragraphs at least.

The MOST IMPORTANT thing is how you explain how to get to your solution.

So, tonight…complete the Connect The Dots document (see your email) and do your writeup for the Frog Problem.

Cheers and here is to a great start to the second half of this first semester!

Mr. Holmes