Monday, March 2, 2015

Day 113: Popcorn

Fawn Nguyen and Julie Reulbach are two of the most amazing math teachers that I have ever met.  They are passionate, creative, funny, kind and clever.  They never fail to inspire and motivate me to develop better and more interesting lessons.

Mostly, that inspiration comes in the form of THEIR lessons which I shamelessly steal and modify for my classes.  Today's lesson in all of my classes was about problem solving and volume maximization.

When the kids showed up today, they were greeted by the smell of air-popped popcorn wafting down the hall.  On a desk in my room, I set up a 35-year-old air popper and started filling a 5 gallon popcorn tin.

After the daily warm-up, I threw this up on the screen:

I put index cards on the list because I was toying with the idea of having them do the same activity with a smaller container and filling it with M&Ms.  I even bought 6 lbs of the chocolatey deliciousness.  They sat on the counter, taunting the kids.

My first Math 8 class and the Geometry kids did REALLY well on this activity.  They were excited to find boxes that had slightly more volume than their friends.

About half of my afternoon Math 8 class also did a really great job, although their behavior leading up to the activity made it impossible for me to reward them with the snack of popcorn.

I was tempted to cancel the activity all together for them, but I absolutely hate punishing an entire class for the actions of a few students.  I then thought that I would have the rude kids work in their workbooks while the rest did this activity.  This activity, however, in addition to being fun, has some very solid problem solving and persistence skills involved.  Since those are the things that I value, I don't want to put a damper on that learning just because I'm annoyed at being talked over.

So instead, they did the activity and I gave popcorn to the students who earned it.

Then I spent an hour cleaning the room.

Tomorrow, we will talk about strategies that they used. 

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