Making Curriculum Pop

PLAYLIST: Reading Reflections + Mathematical Expression Fun LEO© - K-College PDFs

As most of y'all know I started my work in education as a high school English teacher and college social studies teacher.  Since then I have branched out into every discipline as an instructional coach in the Bronx and teacher trainer.  I suppose that's why I'm getting a doctorate in something named Interdisciplinary Studies.

You've also probably gathered that I get excited about articulating cool, interesting and differentiated ways for students to interact with texts and learning experiences.

Multiple choice tests and essays will always be part of our repertoire but I'm constantly looking for new ways we can process and reflect on learning.

You may have a sense of how I operate from other playlist entries like:
As you may have noticed, a lot of these ideas are informed by popular culture.  Today's playlist addition is no exception to that rule. The advent of new and more powerful technologies for processing mathematical and visual data has created an bit of a pop culture sensation around infographics - a genre Wired Magazine gleefully refers to as "Infoporn."  

This artistic & mathematical mode of expression that entered American popular culture through USA Today is now so pervasive that there are International Infographic Awards and the New York Times maintains a mind blowing Infographics department - see these samples and this wild interactive graph.

Pop books like The Visual Miscellaneum - a book given to me by homeboy and MC POP chemistry teacher Alexander - are using mathematical expressions to explore "the worlds must consequential trivia" (BTW - if you don't own this book, buy it, it is super fun and useful for the classroom).

Magazines like Fast Company have a monthly section of the magazine called "Numerology" where they add cool grapics to a "number story" like this one:

Academics like Edward Tufte (Yale), are collecting and popularizing their visual data in books like Visual Explanations & Beautiful Evidence.  Other academics, like my former professor Graeme Sullivan (Columbia) is busy articulating ways that visual representations can be viewed as research.  The qualataive and quantitative are finding ways to "connect the minds!"

This exciting merge of visual and mathematical culture is slowly becoming an integral part of TV and online humor.  If you want a quick mathematical insight or laugh visit Indexed, Graph Jam, or More New Math.  Maybe you were watching Comedy Central and caught mathematical expressions on television shows like Dimitri Martin's Important Things - note the graphs used in this montage from season 1:

Important Things with Demetri Martin Thursday, 10:00pm / 9:00c
Exclusive - Visual Aids
Joke of the Day Stand-Up Comedy Free Online Games

Naturally, this pop culture phenomenon was something I thought we could use to MAKE CURRICULUM POP!

To those ends, I created the Mathematical Expression Fun LEO© as a way for Logical/Mathematical students to strut their stuff in humanities classrooms.

When you have a learning experience or reading you want students to reflect on YOU DON'T ALWAYS HAVE TO ASSIGN A TRADITIONAL STUDY GUIDE, JOURNAL, ESSAY OR TEST!  You can have students create mathematical expressions about the things they've learned using this LEO©

I designed four versions of this LEO©'s first page - one each for post-seconday, high school, middle school and elementary school (although this will probably only work for the upper elementary set) teachers.

I bundled the post-secondary and high school first pages into one PDF and the middle school and elementary into another (attached below). I tried to select age appropriate mathematical expressions for each group - and yes, it took a while.

Here are first page samples:



Better yet, here's a sample of "student" work from Kim an MC POPPER, and Jr. High Social Studies teacher who is in my Differentiation of Instruction class this term:

She was reflecting on the first three chapters of one of our textbooks - Differentiating Instruction in the Regular Classroom.

Pretty cool, eh? Like the Cartoon "Did You Read?" Quiz and the CTM Quiz, this bad boy is easy to grade and allows for an infinite number of "right answers." 
I'm into assessments that tell us "what students know" as opposed to "what they don't know" -  as such this bad boy fits the bill.

I'm proud of this creation, because I DO NOT lean toward mathematical thinking - but that is the point, isn't it?  I want students that AREN'T LIKE ME to find ways into whatever curriculum we're studying.

I hope you enjoy this playlist addition. if you USE it please do scan some of your coolest student work an share it with folks here at MC POP.  Student models are extremely helpful to all of us!
As always comments, suggestions and general discussion are always appreciated!
Enjoy your journey to Math Magic Land! (scroll to second video on this link if you REALLY want to go to Math Magic Land!

MC POPPER Camille Napier Bernstein (no known relation to the bears of the same last name) shared / attached a rubric she developed for this as well as some student samples from the novels Into the Wild and The Great Gatsby below. I thought that they were so cool that they needed to become a permanant part of this post.  Talk about higher-level thinking!!! Enjoy...

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Thanks for resending this stuff. I had more than half of them downloaded on my laptop and had successfully adapted and used them in my classes. Then my laptop was stolen with the originals and my adaptations. Unfortunately, I had no back up, forgot what you originally called it, and could not replace them. I've learned my lesson and will now back up what you've sent.

Shirley - that is awesome to hear - so glad you're using them - any interesting feedback from students on the tool?


Thank you so much for these ideas.

I thought others might like to use (or offer feedback) on my mathematical expressions rubric to go with your LEO.  I've attached it below.  By the way, I became a little obsessed with making examples for my students for Into the Wild and The Great Gatsby.  I have attached my examples too.  (I didn't include explanations for mine.)

All best,



I LOVE your categories, especially "Meh." The language will be a bit much for my students, but I love challenging them and appreciate your attention to detail and the examples!


If anyone has ever done a reduction, I'd love to see some! It's a similar process whereby students must show in picture or graph form how themes, characters, etc are related. I've attached some instructions for a reduction for Lord of the Flies, but it works for lots of novels, especially ones with parallel or multiple story lines like To Kill A Mockingbird.


I am going to try this out with my AP seniors and some of the poems they read.  Boiling down all that analytic thinking into mathematic visuals is going to be a fun challenge.  Thanks, Ryan.


Lori - that is great to hear - when you give it a whirl - please consider scanning and sharing some of the student work - it would be great to get more examples on the post!  I hope you're doing well!  RRG:)



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