After being out all of last week to stay home with my wife and newborn son (best week ever, by the way) I came back to school today. As I was walking through campus in the morning, one of my 8th graders ran up and gave me a big hug and told me that she was so happy I was back. It’s always nice to be missed.
Did Buffon’s Needle with my classes today with 200 pencils. Students thought it was really fun and we got pretty good results! Fun day.
Since it’s Pi day on Friday, I had students measure the diameters and circumferences of several circular objects in our classroom to see exactly what pi is and where it comes from. It’s amazing to see 7th graders, who have used pi for several years to make calculations, know that its decimal approximation is 3.14 but have no idea where that number comes from. The sounds of “ooooh,” after seeing that it’s the ratio of the circumference to diameter of a circle was great. Taking the mystery out of math, one concept at a time.
Inspired a while back by Chris Lusto’s “What’s in a Circle?” blog post, I’ve been saving this question for this week specifically, since it’s Pi day this Friday. So I asked students, “What is a circle?” I had them write a definition on their own, then share with their groups, then pick the “best” definition to share with the class. Finally, I had each group write a set of instructions for drawing a circle, for someone with no idea of what a circle is or the concept of what “round” means. It was great. Tons of struggle and debate over the best way to do this. Then I had groups rotate through the room and follow other groups’ instructions, which produced plenty of odd shaped figures, none of which were circles. It’s always great to see students struggling with ideas that seem very straightforward on the surface, but have much more to offer when you dig in. Great lesson.
Since Pi day is this Friday, this week we’re talking about circles. After our number talk for our warm up, I asked students why they thought we were going to be talking about circles this week. After a few guesses, one student raised his hand and asked, “Because your wife is pregnant?” I thought for a moment and then busted out laughing as I asked, “You mean because her belly is kind of round right now?” Everybody got a good laugh out of it.
We had an extra 15 minutes at the end of my 7th grade classes today, and since they enjoyed this so much last time, I decided to give my students another Canstruction problem from Yummymath. Once again, every student went right to work trying to estimate how many cans were used in the figure. What was REALLY awesome is that one group in each of my two classes that worked on this problem actually got the EXACT number of cans listed on the Yummymath solutions page! They, and the entire class, got so excited and were cheering for them! It was really cool!
LOVED this tweet from Dan Meyer yesterday, so I gave my classes the Day 46 calculator problem from Math Arguments 180 today. It was awesome! Immediate confusion, questioning, and arguing. Some students changed their minds half a dozen times while listening to the reasoning of others, and some even wanted to argue that both calculators were correct. Great discussion! My only regret is that I didn’t “drop the mic, and walk away,” like Dan suggested. Maybe next time.
Students finished up their life-size Barbie pictures today and as they finished up I came across this group’s picture. It made me crack up! It was clearly one of the most realistic drawings in the class, but the shirt and name were hilarious! Sometimes I fear that my humor is at a similar maturity level as my students!
We were finishing up our Barbie scale projects today and, after 3 groups of boys tried to draw mustaches on Barbie in my 6th period class, I was talking to my 7th period about not making their Barbie pictures look ridiculous on purpose. After I said they couldn’t draw mustaches on their Barbies, one of my 6th graders raised his hand and asked (completely honestly and with a straight face), “can we draw full luscious lips on our Barbies?” The rest of the class started giggling and as much as I tried to keep a straight face I just couldn’t. I started cracking up because it was a totally honest question, but the whole “full luscious lips” part just got me. It was hilarious!
If you would have been observing me today you wouldn’t have noticed anything unusual, but one of my 8th grade boys, you know, one of my “rambunctious” ones, was totally engaged during our class today and was focused and participating the whole time. He even tried to start working ahead. It’s always great when students display the potential we see in them.