We Need a Serious Math Revolution Part III

First things first.  Before we start talking about different ways to teach math with the kids, the teacher has to look at math in a different way.  Math is everywhere.  The hard part is opening your mind, once you do that it is easy.  Don't worry about the kids, it comes much easier for them. There are 3 main parts to my class.  Stump the class (vocabulary), Group Projects, and Math Journals.

Group Projects
In my class we don't use the textbook and worksheets and I don't lecture.  We do projects and I love them.  The kids are much more motivated and really have fun doing them.  The main math connection is they have to justify their answer mathematically.  Sometimes I tell them what math we are going to cover.   We also have had a lot of success when I show them a video or infographic and we as a class ask curiosity questions.  Then the kids pick a question or two to solve and I pick a question for them to solve.  They create a presentation justifying their answer by showing the math to us.  They present their findings and the rest of the kids ask questions and try to find errors.  Some really good conversations have come from these presentation days.

Here is a list of projects we have done this year and the math connected to them:

Egg drop - the kids built contraptions to protect their egg.  We calculated the speed and had to convert it to mph.  Then they had to explain why their idea worked or not.  We analyzed the speeds of breaks to not breaks.  They love building things.

Business Logo -  The kids designed a business logo and a business.  Then I showed them this infographic on business colors.  Then they had to decide whether or not to change their logo and explain why by reading and analyzing the info from the infographic.  They worked in partners and they each had to take a topic they have learned in a math journal (will cover that below) and write a story problem that connects to their business.  They had to solve it and teach it to the class as part of their presentation.  Since kids all learn our math standards in different orders there was a lot of kids teaching kids.

Halloween costumes - The kids dressed up for Halloween and picked a category to compete against the other kids.  We used perimeter, area, volume, surface area, and lateral surface area.  They could choose biggest of each category or smallest.  Then that day we calculated each kids costume.  Here are the winners.  We had a blast!

Canstruction - Our student council had a food drive for Thanksgiving.  We took the cans and created sculptures or designs.  Then the groups created story problems in two of these categories: perimeter, area, volume, surface area, and lateral surface area with answers.  Then the kids rotated around the room and solved each others problems.  Here is a castle and a mushroom.

Minecraft -  I gave the kids a week to build things in minecraft (not class time).  They had to build everything on their own.  Then they found lines and learned slope and y-intercept and had to apply y=mx + b to the pictures.  They also had to find right triangles and learn the pythagorean theorem, legs, and hypotenuse.

Xmas shopping - The kids learned markup, discount, sales tax, and tip.  They went xmas shopping for people in their families.  They choose presents or took their family out to dinner and applied the math concepts to the prices.

Candy Infographic -  We used an infographic about candy consumption to learn ratios and proportions.  The kids brought in candy and pop and we used those stats also to help us learn the concepts.

Their Choice -  The kids were given 9 project choices.  They picked the one they were the most interested in and answered questions that came from a class brainstorming session.  They also had to create a proportion story problem and solve it.  I had two honor students try and find the speed of the basketball coming through the net to the floor.  Why?  They were curious and motivated.  I think that is physics, high school physics.

Math Journals
Math journals are how we learn our standards.  The kids pick a lesson, read it, connect it to something they like, create the problems, solve the problems, write a summary of the math steps, and explain it to me with out looking at their work.  I give them two days a week in class to work on these.  I love these.  The kids really enjoy them and learn the concepts really well.
Here are links to my math journal pages. 
Math Journals A - D
Math Journals E - G
Math Journals H - Q
Math Journals R - Z

Stump the Class
I play a game with the kids called stump the class.  It is very simple.  The kids present a picture or a video with a list of 5 - 7 of our math vocabulary.  The other kids in class try to guess how the math word fits into the picture.  As they explain the connection they also have to explain the definition or the math steps.  If no one guesses correctly after 10 - 15 guesses that student is the Stump the Class Champ until they are dethroned.  The kids really have fun with this and you can't believe how creative they get.  Below is an example.  
Surface Area
Multiplying Integers
Two Step Equations

Here are the connections that the kids would say out loud in class.
Prime = Bears player 31
Composite = Lions player 21
Percent = Percent of bears fans to lions fans.  Numerator divided by denominator, move decimal two places.
Surface Area = Leather covering football.  Covering a 3D shape.  Multiplying Integers = Both players numbers are odd.  Even # of negatives = positive answer.  Odd # of negatives = negative answer.  Slope = The trajectory of the ball or the players arms.  Rise over run and positive and negative slope.  Two step equations = Quarterback hikes it then throws it.  Do the opposite of adding and subtracting then opposite of multiplying and dividing.

Yeah, but where is the proof?  How do you know this is better?

I taught for 11 years of worksheet homework (15 problems a night, two nights a week), tests one every other friday, and I was the deliverer of new concepts.

I quit all that a year and a half ago. The environment in my room has completely changed.  I use to feel that some days we were just trying to make it through a day.  Sometimes just going through the motions. Those days are few and far between.  I have more project ideas than I can even do in a year.  Kids are way more engaged.  They have wonder, fun, ask questions (good thinking questions),  and learn on their own.  I have had more aha or ohh moments (where you can see in their faces they got it) in this year and a half than in all other years combined.  I love it, I just smile, turn around, and walk away.

Picture Source.  http://www.realizedworth.com/2012/11/is-your-corporate-volunteering-giving-program-a-perk-or-a-revolution.html/revolution
Picture Source. EA Sports

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