For week 1 of Walk the Plank Wednesday we are trying to make Rationalizing Denominators more interactive/fun/exciting for the students. One thing that my kids enjoyed (or at least they did without complaining because it was different) was tarsias. (Go here for my blog post about tarsias.)
So I decided to make one for rationalizing denominators. I used some sample problems off the internet, so please let me know if I have something wrong and I can fix it. How I used tarsias in my classroom was I handed out the table to the kids (with the answers whited out before I copied it) and had them try to simplify first. Then I handed out the puzzle pieces as a way for them to check their answers. I did it this way, rather than giving the puzzle pieces first, so students actually tried simplifying first rather than doing things like – “this problem has an x variable so find another one that has x for a variable” or other shortcuts like that.
When I presented at a state math conference another teacher thanked me for showing her the tarsia software (unfortunately only for windows right now) because she had been making these activities by hand all year. While I’m not for sure this is extremely Pirate-worthy, it’s better then the kids just doing a worksheet in my opinion. Another thing I like about tarsia is they make it easy to differentiate learning with – harder problems “if you are ready for a challenge take the green puzzle, if you feel you need to practice the basics still choose the yellow puzzle”, or you can even add wrong answers around the outside of the puzzle to add a level of difficulty.
Here are the file links
Tarsia file for Rationalize Denominator – no variables (you will need to have the software downloaded)
In case you don’t have the software I also saved the three important things you would need as pdfs for you to use.
Again, I didn’t work through these problems or check to make sure I didn’t have a typo so you might want to check the table out first to make sure my solutions are right. If I have a mistake please let me know and I can fix everything.