About Us
Our Team
Our Impact
Contact Us
Corporate Programs

Virtual Math Portfolio

Page Views: 4588

Email This Lesson Plan to Me
Email Address:
Subscribe to Newsletter?
Log in to rate this plan!
Overall Rating:
(5.0 stars, 1 ratings)

Keywords: school website portfolio
Subject(s): Algebra, Photography, Math
Grades 7 through 9
Original Author: Dan Reinke, Fort Collins

I am a Junior High math teacher and to I am trying to get all of my students more excited about their math class, especially the hard-to-reach, less-motivated learners. I hope to do this by (1) integrating more of their technology-driven world into class projects, (2) giving students a personal ownership of their work in the class, and (3) involving them in real-world examples of the topics covered throughout the year.


At the beginning of the year, students would use TOOL FACTORY HOME PAGE to build a personal web page. They would check out the cameras to get pictures of family, pets, etc. to post on their site. They can use the TOOL FACTORY PAINTER to spice up their website and their personal pictures. This will serve as a great way for me to get to know each student – connect with them – and it will be the place that they created where they will post their projects throughout the year.

Our school uses the Connected Math series that consists of eight books, each covering a math topic through a series of investigations. I will make up a general outline, with very specific goals, of eight possible projects that students can create throughout the year, each one integrating the math topic covered in that book and their lives. When the project is finished, it will be posted on the student’s website, effectively giving them a virtual online math portfolio that evolves throughout the year. At the conclusion of the school year, their portfolio will be burned onto a CD-R – an individual math yearbook.

Students will buy into this because of the personal involvement in their work and because a website is a very tangible way to show what they have learned. The projects will be structured to reflect the curriculum, but will still give students the freedom to put their own imprint. If they have a new idea that will cover the topic, they can run with it.


Comparing and Scaling Unit: Students will use the Olympus FE-Series Digital Cameras to take pictures of themselves next to some taller object, preferably their house or a local landmark. They will use the TOOL FACTORY software to find the height of the building using the scale factor of their actual height to their height on the picture.

Stretching and Shrinking Unit: Students will use pictures of themselves or other items to discover what it means to be similar. They will use the TOOL FACTORY software to change the x and y scales to discover the characteristics of two objects that are mathematically similar. We normally do it on graph paper, but it will be easier to see similarity with pictures that they have taken, as the distortion will be more obvious.

What Do You Expect? Unit: To show probability, students will photograph a bunch of colored blocks, a busy parking lot from above, a plate full of jellybeans, or anything with a variety of repeating colors. They can use the TOOL FACTORY DATABASE to organize their photographs and the TOOL FACTORY SPREADSHEET to organize their data – counting the colors of each item. Then, they can use their data to create a pie chart “spinner” to model the probability of each color. They will then spin the spinner 100 times to test their experimental probability versus their theoretical probability.

Filling and Wrapping Unit: Students will design packaging in the form of a can or a box that will hold a product of their choice. They will use the TOOL FACTORY PAINTER to create a “flat pattern” of their packaging that can be folded into the shape they choose. This will tie into the unit as they figure out the volume and surface area of their container. For extra credit, students can also photograph different packaging in a grocery store for an online discussion on what drives the shapes and sizes that companies choose (i.e. why not use perfect cubes, as that shape gives the most volume for the least surface area?).

Accentuate the Negative Unit: Students will use TOOL FACTORY WORKSHOP to create a booklet explaining rules of adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing positive and negative numbers. Students will use chip boards and number lines to derive clever ways to remember how positive and negative numbers interact.

Samples and Populations Unit: Students will use the TOOL FACTORY WORKSHOP to create a school-relevant poll to be given to students throughout the school. They will give the poll and keep track of the poll-taker demographic (to decide if they have a representative sample) and will organize the results of the poll in the TOOL FACTORY DATABASE. Students will create graphs of their results using the TOOL FACTORY SPREADSHEET software, with their final product to be given as an oral and written presentation.

Frogs, Fleas, and Painted Cubes Unit: In this unit on quadratic equations, students will use the Movie Mode of the FE-100 Camera to tape students (or animals if they are able) while they are jumping. They will then use the software to stop the movie at different stages to create a quadratic equation to describe the shape of the jump.

Clever Counting Unit: In this unit about combinations and permutations, students will create a mystery story on the TOOL FACTORY WORKSHOP that will be solved using clues containing different types of combination problems. The stories can be illustrated with pictures of the students acting as characters in the story. Examples of the math problems include: counting the possible license plate combinations when knowing only part of the plate number and figuring the number of combinations on a lock and the time it would take to try every combination.
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
My school is planning a school-wide 8th grade unit on the 30s and 40s. This can be integrated with all subject areas easily.
Links: Link to Connected Math Website
Materials: Worksheets, Slideshow, Web Page, Database, Spreadsheet, Word Processor, Camera Bags, Point and Shoot
Other Items: 1 Duracell NiMH Battery Charger with 4 AA batteries, $24.99 each, total of $24.99
1 Inkjet printer paper, 500 sheets, $7.49 each, total of $7.49
2 Inkjet printer paper, 500 sheets, $5.49 each, total of $10.98
1 HP 95 color inkjet cartridge, $25.99 each, total of $25.99
1 HP 94 black inkjet cartridge, $19.49 each, total of $19.49
1 HP PSC 1610 all-in-one printer, $129.99 each, total of $129.99
2 100-Pach CDRs, $34.99 each, total of $69.98
3 256 MB Memory Cards, $39.99 each, total of $119.97
3 Camera Cases, $15.99 each, total of $47.97
2 Duracell AA Rechargeable Batteries (4 pack), $14.99 each, total of $29.98