June 04, 2023
Greg Collins
Episode 211

Whiteboard Stumpers for the Classroom

Substitute Teachers Lounge

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Sometimes a substitute teacher's students need a little break. Here's some stumpers that will keep your students interested.

Greg:

It's summertime baby, Greg Collins, Substitute Teachers Lounge, I got to thinking that this week may be a good week to share with you some of the things that I've written on whiteboards just as a little break for the students. And a lot of them are little puzzles that some are actually jaw dropping, I'm going to share all of them with you today. It's not something you want to fill up a classroom time, but maybe 30 minutes and you're looking for something to get their attention and maybe think that you're, you know, maybe I want this substitute teacher back. They're pretty cool. They're writing problems on the board. So here we go. We're going to talk about whiteboard stumpers. It's official, I think my family thinks I'm crazy. I to Saturday morning, I am sitting in a parking garage recording this podcast, because I'm in Lexington, Kentucky and this weekend, Lexington is hosting a I think it's all country music. It's a festival 40,000 people and they're using the campus parking. But there is also a high school, track and field meet. There is the state tournament for high school softball players. And the University of Kentucky's baseball team made it into the regional of the end of the year baseball games, and all those people are using the same parking. And you know, I have nothing better to do, I thought I would just come over make sure I have my parking spot for the day. I'm going to be here until probably 10pm tonight. So that's the kind of life I'm leaving this summer, I thought it would be a great idea to run through some stumpers that I've written up on the board. I would recommend maybe that you don't do this right at the beginning of the class, but maybe halfway through or maybe in the last five, three of them go well in a math class. Although deep down, when you write it up, it looks like it's going to be a mass stumper. And it's really not my favorite, the one that makes the jaws drop, I'm going to save for the end of the podcast. But for the others, we'll go over those. I've got some based on ELA and just general things that I've written up on the board that I just think makes the class a little friendlier, they get to know you just by the fact that you're writing these stampers up there. Let's start with one that goes well in English class. I try to I'm going to make fun at Kentucky people. And since I'm one I don't want any of you Kentucky people out there taking offense but whether right or wrong. We're not known for our use of the English language. I am 65 years old. And it wasn't until I started substitute teaching about four years ago that I tried to start polishing up on my English. So here's the first thing that I want you to do to teach your class a lesson. Right up the phrase you did real good today. Now, sounds good on the surface, right? No problem, then ask the student who's my best English student, you're going to have some raise their hands more than likely you have students pointing to another student who's not raising their hand because they know maybe that students one of the smarter ones in class, and so they want to put them on the spot. So basically, you tell them all right, is this sentence, okay, as is? Or how would you change it to make it correct? Well, I know some of you are thinking that I used to use a phrase like that all the time. And there's two things that need to be corrected. There's an adverb. And there's a verb that needs to be corrected because it's in the wrong tense. Instead of saying you guys did real good today, it should actually be you guys did really well today. So you change real to really good to well, and that makes it a correct sentence. You know, I don't want this isn't directed any teachers but I made a statement once in a class. And I said, oop, I need to correct that. And I changed my I had used an adjective when I shouldn't used an adverb and I changed it. And it was a seventh grade class. And they said, how can you change it and I explained it to them how adjectives go with nouns. Adverbs go with verbs. And they looked at me and said, You know, I never had it explained to me like that they're in the seventh grade. So bless their hearts, I have a feeling it was more they weren't listening when it was explained to them. But you know that that's kind of a cute little thing to write up there, see if they can correct it. The other one, ask a student who's a really good speller. Okay, then what you do is, I, you say I want you to step to the board, I'm going to give you a word, and let you spell it. And the word is separate or separate. And more times out more times than not, I should say, they will spell it with an E in the middle. It's actually one of the most misspelled words commonly used words in the English language, to actually spelled SCP, A R A, T E. So that's kind of a fun little thing to write up on the board. All right, now this one, I want you to write it down, as I say it, draw a diagram, I guess it's, it's it symbolizes. Well draw these six numbers across the bottom of your page, First, write down 16 06 6888, leave the next one blank. And then 98. Now in the spot, you draw lines between those and then draw a line at the bottom so that it resembles parking spaces, then in the block that you left blank, draw a picture of a car like it's parked, okay. And this puzzle, when you draw it up on the whiteboard, draw it just like that, the question you're going to ask is, what is the car's parking spot number? You again, you got 16 06 6888, that the next ones were the car sets, and then 98. And you know, it's kind of funny, you could do this in any class doesn't have to be a math class. And this actually has nothing to do with math. It's funny, I shown this to a AP math class. And interestingly enough, the student that got it probably was one of the weaker students in the class. It's kind of just like a mind thing. But here's the number that should go in here, what you do, you turn it upside down, maybe draw it again, upside down. And you'll see that those numbers are now 86, the car 8889 90 and 91. So obviously, that cars parking spot number is number 87. So that's kind of a cool little game to play with parking spaces. I will tell you one more, this one. Again, I'm going to save them I've saved kind of the most complicated ones, they're not really complicated. They're easier than you think. The last one, the one that's going to be the one that's going to get the most attention actually have three more. So I think I'll go with easiest, most complicated. Here's the next thing I want you to do, right? These, you're gonna write these numbers up on the board. All right, 8549176 10, three, and two. Now, here's what I want you to do. Pause this podcast, and you see if you can figure out the significance to the order of the numbers. So pause the podcast. All right, you probably figured it out. Some of you did. Some of you, you know, some people are just I'm not gonna take the time to figure it out. I just want to know the answer. So you listen straight through. Those are the numbers one through 10 in alphabetical order. The first one is eight that starts with an E, the last one is two that starts with a T w. So that's kind of a cool little stumper to put up on the whiteboard as well. All right, our last two, this next one's the one that will take the most explanation. And then the last one actually does, in fact, involve math. This one is as this one gets the most class participate Listen, this one is the jaw dropper. I've had many classes from middle school, all the way through high school is the student's eyes got big and they're thinking, How in the world did you do that? You might not be able to do this in grade school, maybe fifth grade, I mean, all the students have to know is how to add. But here's how you're going to do it. All right, you're going to tell them to give you a number, a four digit number less than 9000. Okay. All right. When you see that four, I'm going to tell you what happened, and then explain how it happens. When they give you that four digit number, you write a five digit number down on a piece of paper, I would use a piece of copier paper with a dry erase marker so that it's big enough, you're going to let a student hold it up later and show it to the class, fold it, give it to a student tell them not to open it. So you've got a four digit number on the board, then you ask another student, give me another four digit number less than 9000, they're going to do that, then you're going to write a four digit number of your own. And then one more time you ask a student for another four digit number. And you're gonna write your own four digit number after that. Alright, so now you have five, four digit numbers on the whiteboard, draw a line under it, and tell them to use their calculator on their Chromebook, whatever they should have. Add up those five digit numbers. Well, somebody's going to tell you what the answer is you write that five digit answer up on the board, and have your student open the piece of paper. Sure enough, you did that in seconds. And the number that you wrote on that piece of paper is the same as the number that they just added up from those five numbers. That sounds crazy, doesn't it? Here's how you do it. I actually tried to explain this on a previous podcast did it in a big hurry, I'm not going to do it that way today. So here's how the the problem works. When the kids now I would recommend you start out by saying give me a four digit number less than 9000. And mix it up a little bit. Don't give me 1234. Don't give me 8888 Mix it up a little bit to make it harder. We're really you're saying that for a reason. I'll explain the reason here in a moment. But here's what you're gonna do. Let's say that first number is 8234. Okay, 8234. On your paper, I won't tell you why Yeah, but on your paper, the number you're gonna write is a two, it's always a two first, then you write the four digits of that number that you just wrote on the board, except you're going to subtract two from the last number. So if they gave you 8234, you're going to write on that piece of paper 28232, you put a two in the front, you subtract it to from the end, I'll explain why here in a moment. Okay. Now, the next four digit number they gave you, when you see that the number you're going to write right after that each of the sets of digit adds up to nine, that sounds complicated. But if their first digit other number is two, you would write down a seven because two and seven is nine. If the next number is three, you would write down six, because three and six are nine and so on all the way across, then you do that exact same thing one more time, they write down a form, they give you a four digit number, you write down a four digit number, making sure that all the numbers add up to nine each of those sets of digits. Alright, so the reason this works, just think of what you just did, the numbers that each of those sets, the numbers that the student gave you, and then the number you wrote, while they add up to well, you made sure each sets of digits added up to nine. So that means, in total, those two sets of four digits added up to 9999. Right? Same on the next set of digits. Your numbers added up to nine. So those two sets of four digits add up to 9999. Okay, well, 9999 and nein nein nein nein again is close to 20,000 Except that it's too short, right? So remember While I had you right to that very first number, they gave you a two in the front for 20,000. And subtracting two from the end, because you were too short of 20,000. Now, I hope that doesn't sound confusing. I've explained it to some of my older students, some of them got it, some of them didn't care about it. But go back through, just remember that the the last four numbers up there, the first two, add up to 9999, the second to add up to 9999, that's 20,000 minus two. So you put a two in the front of the first number, subtract two from the end, okay. And then finally, I'm going to give you one that actually has to do with math, good to do in a math class, here's what you're going to write, you know all about algebra and how you use letters sometimes to represent numbers that are not yet identified. So in parentheses, write down x minus a, so you got a left bracket, x minus a and a right bracket, right next to that, write a left bracket, x minus b, right bracket, and then left bracket x minus c, right bracket. Now, if you remember math, I want you to put three dots through three periods right after that not multiplication dots, but three periods. What that means is, you continue the series all the way through the last number I gave you, so three dots, and then the last thing you write is left bracket x minus z, the letter Z. And then right bracket equals question mark. Okay, so you've got x minus a. And since brackets are against that bracket, that's multiplication, so it's x minus a times x minus b, times x minus c.dot.or. In other words, all the rest of the series X minus d x minus eight all the way through the last 1x minus z equals question mark. Well see if your maths students can figure that out. And it really doesn't have that much to do with math. I mean, how could you possibly get an answer when it's all letters up there? Well, here's how you figure it out. If you've got every number in the series, X minus A x minus b, x minus C all the way through x minus z, and they're all all those brackets are being multiplied together. One of the series of brackets is going to be x minus x, right? X minus X is going to be in that series. You know, by definition, x minus x is zero. And you also know anything multiplied by zero is zero. So the answer is zero. All of those things x minus a times x minus b times x minus C all the way through x minus z. Since x minus x is zero, and your multiplication The answer is zero. Okay. I hope that wasn't too complicated. I love those specific examples. I've, I've done a bunch of others, but they didn't go over as well. So I shared with you the ones that seem to get a lot of attention every time so that's your whiteboard. stampers. If you have some of your own, please go to the substitute teachers lounge Facebook group that continues to grow every week, and share some of yours on there. And we'll see what we can do in next week summer episode.

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