Class Openers

Class Opener – Day 26 – Some Sums

A famous face met students as they enetered today:


Our friend Gauss…someone on my math Mount Rushmore.  It makes me sad that our country puts politicians on money, while others have used the opportunity to recognize real contributions…end of rant.

Today I offered a challenge whose tone has changed in the face of technology:

Find the sum of the first 10,000 positive integers.

In the past, I have used 1,000 as the ceiling, and observed as students mostly used a “brute force” method to find a sum. Offering candy to the first person to provide a sum, I settled in, knowing this task often takes some time and discussion.

Then….an “I got it” from the back of the room, and a correct answer from a student who Googled the answer.  Sigh…..  Damn you technology and good wifi!  I guess I haven’t given this problem since before I served as a district instructional coach – 3 years makes a big difference here.

In my afternoon class I altered course, providing a clear “no Googling” message with the problem. But I was once again (almost) sabotaged as students used my technology openness against me. Yesterday, we had learned about summation notation, and had a brief tutorial on how to enter summations on graphing calculators. This led to some attempts to simply enter the sum…but with some semi-disastrous results:


So close, but yet so far. And while I’ll save my story of Gauss and his amazing sums for tomorrow, we had a fun debate on notation and communication.


By Bob Lochel

HS Math Teacher. Hatboro-Horsham School District, Horsham, PA.

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