I've been trying to find ways to get my students to talk about use of fractions in practical terms. My thoughts went to food and recipes. Since I don't like to reinvent the wheel, I placed my hopes in Our Lady of Google and looked around the Church of the Interweb.
The majority of fraction activities that I found were for 4th or 6th grade. I wanted my activity to be a bit more challenging but not so hard that they give up.
I went to the library and grabbed 10 cookbooks of various styles, purposely omitting Paula Deen's But Mom, Butter IS A Vegetable: A Healthy Cookbook For Children.
The students were asked, in their new groups of 4, to pick any recipe they wanted, and copy it to a separate page. They then needed to double the recipe, half the recipe and then show how many of each ingredient would be needed to serve that recipe to 20 people.
I was incredibly impressed by how well the groups worked on this! The original project that I found included a poster presentation and was for individual students. I wanted to solidify the new groups working together and I wanted them to complete this in a single class rather than a few days.
What I found the most interesting was the choices of recipes. The majority of the groups picked desserts, mostly with strawberries. One group picked hamburgers.
And one group picked pot au feu.
This is a meat soup with 5 different kind of meat, including oxtail, veal knuckle and beef shin. When finished, this dish looks like it's for a carnivore who doesn't care about the appearance of food.
I want to try it...
In the second class, the majority of the groups picked either fried chicken or desserts.
And one group picked chicken livers.
I suppose there's always one group...
In geometry, we continued talking about the Seven Bridges of Konigsberg. We moved into the idea of networks. They had a collection of 16 shapes with points and connected lines and were asked to determine which ones could be drawn without picking up their pencil, or going over the same line twice.
Here are 4 examples. Which ones can be drawn without lifting your pencil from the page? What quality do they have that lets you say yes or no?
I LOVE these puzzles.
I especially love them for this unit on conjecture and counterexample! Students were asked to come up with conjectures about the shapes and their groups were told to try to find counterexamples that destroyed that rule.
I was very impressed with the effort they put forth and the amount of time that they were willing to spend working on this single problem. I was, however, slightly distressed by their thought processes. In very few cases was there any sort of method to their conjectures. It seemed very much like shotgun blast of ideas.
As the class continued, however, several groups started to narrow their focus a bit.
I tried to stay out of the conversations except when they thought they had an a good conjecture and wanted to check it. Even then, I only gave input by drawing a counterexample if I could and asking them to refine their conjectures.
I was VERY pleased with the work that they did. I believe that it's activities like this one that helps them to better understand my goals for the class.
After a rough start, I feel as though I may be starting to win over more students in that class. I have a feeling that the year is going to get better and I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes.