Today we started a new math unit on measurement, and I wanted to try something new to launch it. Before beginning, I decided to ask the kids what they already knew about measurement and what more they already wanted to know. We looked at the idea of creating mind maps (or concept maps) to lay out what we already knew, and then took off on an inquiry to find out what other areas of measurement we could find out about. The traditional stuff a lot of them already knew about included, measuring for length, width, height, perimeter, area, volume (mm, cm, m, km, mL, L etc...) Then all of a sudden I started seeing student discover words like capacity and temperature and dimensions, protractor, mass, distance, metric units and more and more.
After the concept mapping, students were asked to think of questions that they wanted answered about measurement (related to the key concept questions if possible) . We will hopefully get a chance to inquire into some of these in between meeting our curriculum goals.
In a math class where there are so many students working above grade level expectations, I sometimes struggle to find activities that are appropriately challenging and engaging for all students in the room. I have a small group of students that are working at a high school math level and so they often enjoy the challenge of working together to solve problems.
Here is an example of a project I had two group of students working on during our recent fractions, decimals and percentages unit. I started by collecting the data for them, but next year I think I will see if they can brainstorm ways to collect this data on their own, and perhaps even work in a way for them to meet with the admissions office. I was happy that both groups of students chose to display the data differently!
Students were engaged for about 40 minutes with this activity. Most took the opportunity to show we had been learning in class : drawing and representing fractions, comparing and ordering fractions, equivalent fractions, turning fractions into percentages and decimals. Others showed their newly strategies for adding and subtracting fractions while others even showed their own abilities and strategies for multiplying and dividing fractions. The results were varied. Some were very surprising. Some students had to be encouraged to keep writing more, but ultimately, everyone did the best work they could.
These tables are one of the coolest things that has happened in my classroom in recent years. They were purchased/manufactured through a local company in Beijing (http://www.makespace4learning.com) and have completely revolutionised the learning in my classroom. Collaboration is up 1000% and students are so much more eager to work and share their learnings. We use them most regularly for math lessons, but have used them for brainstorming sessions, games, small group instruction and for group presentations.
I received an email a few weeks ago from a student's mom after completing a Unit of Inquiry about Migration. It was a heavy topic and we often talked about the Syrian Refugee Crisis amongst other things. As a teacher, you hope your students will have perspective and you hope your students will feel empathy and ultimately you look for evidence that somewhere, somehow, action is taken. How can kids truly understand the impact of something so big, when most adults and people in power don't even get it?