Engaging students: Truth tables

In my capstone class for future secondary math teachers, I ask my students to come up with ideas for engaging their students with different topics in the secondary mathematics curriculum. In other words, the point of the assignment was not to devise a full-blown lesson plan on this topic. Instead, I asked my students to think about three different ways of getting their students interested in the topic in the first place.

I plan to share some of the best of these ideas on this blog (after asking my students’ permission, of course).

This student submission comes from my former student Anna Park. Her topic, from Geometry: truth tables.

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How could you as a teacher create an activity or project that involves your topic?


The student’s will each be given half a sentence. The student’s have to walk around and talk to everyone in the class and compare their slivers of paper. They have to logically match up with someone in order to finish their statement. For example, one student will have “If I have a flat tire,” and another student will have,” then I will have to change the tire” then they would be matched together. Once all of the students find their match the student’s will stand up with their partner and present their sentence and explain why it logically works.



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How can this topic be used in your students’ future courses in mathematics or science?


Truth tables will be used in geometry and in nearly every math class that follows. In college, truth tables are used in discrete mathematics, real analysis, and any proof based class. Truth tables help develop logical thinking, which is needed when one writes a mathematical proof. Many students understand the idea of cause and effect, but they do not logically think out their actions before they do them. Truth tables allow you to think deeper in cause and effect. Which, they will need later in life when making big decisions. For instance, in college there are many things to juggle. For example; assignments, sleep, physical activity, social life, and work. I have to consider all of my options logically in order to get everything done. I think about how many hours I have left in the day after I have class and work, then I look at my assignments and their due dates and see which ones I can complete given the time I have. Then I plan my workout to go with the exact amount of time left over, and still manage to get around seven hours of sleep. I have to think to my self, “ If I get this assignment done today, then I can do my other assignment tomorrow.” Students will need to learn cause and effect and truth tables is a good place to start.


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How can technology (YouTube, Khan Academy [khanacademy.org], Vi Hart, Geometers Sketchpad, graphing calculators, etc.) be used to effectively engage students with this topic?


There are many youtube videos that show you how to do truth tables, which is great for when you are learning. But there is a website where students can practice writing truth tables and get immediate feedback if they are right or wrong. The students’ can practice for as long as they want, and it is great repetition for the student to remember how truth tables work and the rules they must follow. With the website when the students get it wrong it will explain why the student was wrong and why the table should be what it is. Below is an example of what the website does when the answer is incorrect.



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