Saturday, September 5, 2015

9/5/15 - Blast From the Past . . . This Is Why I Teach Math!!

The primary roadblock for student success in mathematics is a lack of self-confidence.  Many students see themselves as missing some innate skill necessary for math success and are powerless to change it.  Parents and other adults reinforce this fixed mindset with phrases like, “I was never good at math” and “I’m not a math person.”  These simple phrases have devastating consequences.  Students believe there are those who get math and those who do not and no amount of studying will change that fact. As a teacher, I take on a variety of roles, but my most important role is cheerleader.  Offering continued encouragement, communicating clearly and sincerely that I believe in them, is the most essential thing I can do to change this mindset.  One way I do this is by seeking out students to share problem-solving strategies.  Allowing students to share a variety of methods encourages students to experiment with different strategies, even when they do not feel completely confident. 

Students who struggle with math see it as a confusing jumble of numbers and letters, abstract ideas with no connection to the real world.   Providing opportunities for students to make those connections reinforces the concrete nature of math.  At the end of a unit focusing on area, volume and surface area, I collaborated with Aida Jarrett and Julie Barker-Rachow, two amazing educators with a real passion for teaching and learning. Together, we created a series of stations with a geometry focus. One station consisted of a model of a toy goat attached by a chain to the middle of a grassy area and the prompt, “If a goat will eat all the grass it can reach, how much grass will it consume?”  Students were encouraged to manipulate the model and collaborate with their team to devise a strategy to determine the amount of grass that was eaten by the goat.  Of the twelve stations, this was a student favorite.  The tactile nature of the model helped students solidify their understanding of the underlying mathematics, making geometry tangible.  Equally important, students were having fun and fully engaged as they demonstrated their learning. 

Since our last textbook adoption, I have not made the opportunity to integrate these stations into my curriculum. A couple of days ago I began to ask myself why.  I designed these stations with the express purpose of encourage collaboration, critical thinking and perseverance; the very qualities I tryto encourage in my students now.  Why wouldn't I use them now?? I couldn't come up with a reason, not that I really tried. ;-P  So, here they are . . .

Station A - Painting a Half Court

Students explore irregular area by calculating the amounts of different paint colors needed to paint a half court.

Prompt (doc)  (PDF)     Record Template (doc) (PDF)

Labeled Diagram of Half Court

Flip Chart Model of Included Shapes

Station B - A Goat in the Field

Students explore area of circles by calculating the amount of grass a goat could eat if staked in the middle of a field.

Prompt (doc)  (PDF)    Record Template (doc) (PDF)

Goat Model with Removable Fence and Chicken BFF

Station C - Ping Pong

Students explore volume by calculating the number of ping pong balls that will fit in a cylindrical container.

Prompt (doc)  (PDF)    Record Template (doc) (PDF)

Cylindrical Container with Ping Pong Balls

Station D - Rice Krispies Cereal

Students will explore volume and compare the ratio of cereal to empty space in an average box of Rice Krispies.

Prompt (doc)  (PDF)    Record Template (doc) (PDF)

Station E - Swimming Pool

Students will explore the volume of water in a swimming pool and the time it will take to fill the pool given the rate the water is following.

Prompt (doc)  (PDF)     Record Template (doc) (PDF)

Station F - Wrapping a Gift

Students will explore surface area by determining the amount of paper needed to wrap a gift.

Prompt (doc)  (PDF)     Record Template (doc) (PDF)

Station G - Stocking a Shoe Store

Students will explore volume by determining the maximum number of shoe boxes that will fit in the storeroom.

Prompt (doc)  (PDF)     Record Template (doc) (PDF)

Station H - Skruffy's Yard

Students will explore area of circles by determining how much grass will need to be replaced in this yard.

Prompt (doc)  (PDF)     Record Template (doc) (PDF)

Station I - Your Bedroom

Students will explore area by determining what percent of their bedroom floor is covered by dirty clothes.

Prompt (doc)  (PDF)     Record Template (doc) (PDF)

Station J - Painting an Accent Wall (missing model)

Studnets will explore area by determining how much paint will be needed to paint a wall in a house.

Prompt (doc)  (PDF)     Record Template (doc) (PDF)

Station K -  Picture Frame

Students will explore irregular areas by calculating the cost of matting needed to frame a collage of pictures.

Prompt (doc)  (PDF)     Record Template (doc) (PDF)


Station L - You're a Star

Students will explore area by determining the maximum number of stars that can be cut from a sheet of foam.

Prompt (doc)  (PDF)     Record Template (doc) (PDF)

1 comment:

  1. Great blog post. Great activities. Thanks for sharing.