Thursday, July 31, 2014

#70Days Projects in Math Class

Today I wrapped up my plans and handouts for the presentations I am doing on Monday.  I am a bit nervous since it has been a while since I presented to teachers ... and because I am relatively new to this district.

One of my goals is to share #MTBoS and all the fun found in blogs and Twitter.  The focus of the morning presentation is on projects.  The focus of the afternoon session is on warm-up routines.

The presentation on projects has been the most difficult to pull together.  I don't have a great list of projects to share!  Last year I did two projects that I thought worth telling about.  One was on "exploring math" ... based on Fawn Nguyen and Sam Shah's posts.  I describe the project we did here.  The second was graphing art with Desmos.  Asking students to graph a picture and label the functions is pretty standard in Algebra classes.  Using Desmos just made the project amazing and reinforced very well the concept of domain and range.

So to help the participants think through projects in math class next week, I decided to do two things.  First participants will complete four short mini-projects that could be adapted for any middle or high school math class. Then I curated projects from the Internet for us to discuss - how we might adapt one or more of them to meet our goals for students.

The four mini-projects that we will do are ...

  1. Your life in numbers ... to introduce ourselves, workshop participants will make a mini-poster about themselves emphasizing the numbers that shape their lives. The purpose of this project is obvious - we get to introduce ourselves and of course, we could use this in our classes as well.
  2. Round Robin Suspense Story Writing ... in groups of 3 or 4, workshop participants will write a story using this sentence starter, “Last Monday was an average day, it wasn’t odd or weird - till numbers all around our town completely disappeared!” Each person will write for 1 minute, then pass the paper. After about 5 to 8 minutes we'll stop and share our stories. I'll read Missing Math, a Number Mystery by Leedy. We'll talk about how you could use a story like this one or The Math Curse by Scieszka and Smith as a "first week activity."
  3. Participants will respond to this prompt ... If the world were a village made up of only 100 people, how many of those people do you think… speak English, are 9 years of age of younger, have enough food, go to school, have electricity, have safe water. I'll share the book, If the World were a Village by Smith and Armstrong. Obviously our discussion could be about percentages in middle school math, but I'm wondering if there might be other statistical projects that could arise.
  4. The last mini-project we will do is a circuit (a loop or a scavenger hunt) in which participants work math problems to find the missing words in quotations by Descartes.  Here are the links to the puzzle and the circuit.  This mini-project illustrates how one might mesh routine skills with a project.  Students could research something in math and create a puzzle to challenge their classmates.
Obviously these are all "lightweight" projects.  So in between those activities we will be building a case for doing projects and how doing projects help us to get at the math process standards (similar to CCSS mathematical practices).

Then, I'll share a dozen or so projects I found online.  The projects will be on 3 different pieces of paper - one, two, three!  So I'm going to ask table groups to read through just one page, discuss, determine possibilities, and share out.

The last minutes will be open for discussion.

I look forward to meeting folks in our district!

What projects do you use in your classroom?  Would you share with us?


  1. Here's 2 that I have used in calculus - the links are from similar ones on the web so mine are a bit different but easier to post here in the comments -
    1) the function signature is a fun, beginning-of-the year review
    2) the personal polynomial - I expect them to use calculus methods of derivative tests, etc. for the relative extrema and any points of inflection - I flip a coin for +/-

    Both can be adapted to various levels - I got both from math conference workshops.

    1. Thank you for sharing! So awesome! I did a birthday parabola based off of this post from another blogger: Glad to have ideas from calculus!!

  2. I did a square roots project with my sixth grade class that worked well for me, but it might not work in a self-contained middle school. Because our campus is PreK-12, I had the opportunity of meeting elementary teachers, and the third grade teacher was thrilled to let my sixth graders teach a math lesson.
    Also, I did a Circle Theorem RAFT with my ninth graders that was fun.

    I'd like to try the Desmos thing, but reserving a class slot in the computer lab can be tricky, and the internet at our school is very iffy (disadvantages of teaching in Africa).

    1. Celeste - thank you for sharing! I'll take your projects with me! I have not used the RAFT writing strategy much. Will try it this year!

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