Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Pumpkin Math - Day 2

Now that we have our data collected about "The Average Pumpkin", today my students were required to represent the data in the form of a graph and present it to the class.

Being grade 8, my students have had quite a bit of prior learning experiences with graphs, so I did not do any pre-teaching prior to this activity. However, if graphing is a newer concept to your students I might do this as a culminating activity to your unit. You can download my FREE set of graph posters here.

Back to our pumpkin data...
I kept my students in the same groups as yesterday and each group was given a sheet of data (the sheets that they recorded their data on yesterday as a class), along with an assignment to complete using that specific data.

Group 1 was required to show the average pumpkin's mass in the form of a horizontal bar graph.

Group 2 was required to show the average pumpkin's width and height in the form of a line graph.

Group 3 was required to show the preferences of eating pumpkin pie in the form of a pie graph.

 Group 4 was required to show the "rollability" of the average pumpkin in the form of a double bar graph.

Group 5 was required to show the amount of ribs the average pumpkin has in the form of a picture graph.

Lastly, group 6 was required to show the circumference of the average pumpkin in the form of a vertical bar graph.

Being grade 8, my main goal was for the students to not only be able to represent the data in the form of a graph, but be able to "teach" the rest of the class about the graph and the way it represents the data. For the younger grades you may choose to place the emphasis on a different part of the activity.

So far I think we've made pretty good use of our pumpkins, but I have yet another group challenge for tomorrow.


Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Pumpkin Math - Day 1

Ok, so now that I have all these pumpkins, let's do some math!

Today I split my kids into 6 groups of 4. Each group was given a pumpkin, and a booklet to work through. Within the booklet they needed to collect data related to their pumpkin. In order to collect the data they needed to travel around to a few different stations throughout the room.


The measurement station

 At this station students measured the height, width, and circumference of their pumpkin. They also measured the length of the stem.

The volume station

At this station students determined the volume of their pumpkin using the water displacement method.

The weigh station

At this station students measured the mass of their pumpkin by weighing it on a scale.

The "rollability" station

At this station students had a little fun by testing the rolling ability of their pumpkin. They tested it on a low inclined plan and a high inclined plan.

Students were also required to describe the appearance of their pumpkins, determine whether a pumpkin will float or sink, as well as survey their group regarding preferences for eating pumpkin pie.

Once the students were finished collecting all the data about their pumpkin, one group member was asked to come up to the front of the room to add their data to the charts provided. This way we have the class data compiled all in one place. This information will be used tomorrow, to help the students represent the data collected about "The Average Pumpkin".

Stay tuned...


If you are interested in trying this activity in your own classroom, you can find everything you need here.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Pumpkins A-Plenty

I don't know about the other middle shool teachers out there, but sometimes I find myself a little jealous of all the creative things elementary teachers come up with to do with their students, especially around the holidays/seasons. I find when it comes to teaching middle school, especially if you are a subject-specific teacher, it can sometimes be a challenge to incoporate themes into your activities.

There are a few reasons why I think this is:
1) I always feel like I am in a race against time to meet all my outcomes/standards. Sometimes it seems like there just isn't the time to be creative, and let the kids have some fun.
2) Dealing with teenagers, sometimes it can be a challenge to come up with something that will hold their attention long enough and not come across as too juvenile.
3) If you are a teacher who teaches only 1 or 2 subjects to multiple groups of students it can be hard to integrate your theme into the other subject areas in a way that will be beneficial for the students. It can also be difficult to spend a lot of time preparing your lesson to have to rush through it because you only see a group of students for one period a day.

Even with some of these extra challenges in the middle grades, I always try to incorporate a few themes throughout the year.

So here we are at the end of October, with fall all around us, and Halloween just a few days away. With all the excitement of Trick or Treating and the looming Halloween dance, I figure I better make this week a little different, to keep my students engaged.

What better way to incoporate Fall and Halloween than to bring in some pumpkins! 50 of them to be exact, since I teach 2 different classes of students. Luckily we have an awesome Pumpkin patch fairly close by, and they were more than willing to deliver a truck load of pumpkins to the school.

So how do I plan on making good use of these pumpkins? Well first thing was to get my team of teachers on board. Each subject area teacher will be integrating the pumpkins into his/her lessons in some way. As for me, I have a few ideas up my sleeve.

Here are just a few of the things I plan to incoporate into this fun-filled week:
1. Team work
2. Data collection
3. Graphing
4. Problem Solving
5. Design Process

Stay tuned to see what I do tomorrow...


Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Math is Real Life - October Edition

Now that things have settled down a bit, I am eager to join back up with the fabulous linky hosted by Miss Math Dork, 4mulafun, Fourth Grade Studio, and Teaching to Inspire in 5th!

With all the craziness of back to school last month, I am sad to report I didn't get a post up about how I used math in my life, but rest assured I used it more than a few times.

So here we are, the first Wednesday of October already!
This month, I wanted to think a little out of the box for my example. I am always telling my students that math can be so simple, you don't even realize that you are using it half the time. I tell them I use math the second I wake up and look over at the clock to see that it is time to get up and start my day. So this month's example is about timing...and a few other things.

The Boat:

This summer my husband and I decided to join a dragon boating team. I first got started with dragon boating through school when we were approached about putting together some teams of students for some charity races. I immediately fell in love and finally found an opportunity to join a recreational team close to our new house...and dragged along my husband (I think he enjoys it more than me now!)

Now, what does dragon boating have to do with math? Quite a bit actually.

You need to have the right number of people in a boat. The typical dragon boat holds 20 people, with a steer person in the back and a drummer in the front. We were in a mini boat which holds 10.

You need to have roughly equal weight on each side of the boat. I wasn't interested in testing out my swimming skills by flipping!

You need to be aware of your angles. The way you hold a paddle is very specific, you basically need to have your arms and paddle in a triangle shape or A-frame when you hit the water, being very mindful of not bending your arms. (It is very different from canoeing)

You need to know the distance you are going. We practiced both a 200 and 500 meter race. By the end of the 500, I swear my arm was going to fall off!

You need to determine the speed which you are going to travel. In order to go the fastest the secret is not to paddle as fast and strong as you can, the secret is the be synchronized. If you are in stride with everyone in the boat you you are going to go faster. The drummer sets the pace of the boat with his beat/counting. In order to get a strong start you do 3 counts of five strong, deep paddles, after the boat is moving you slow the cout down to counts of 10 until you pass the finish line. Depending on where you are in the race the drummer may slow the count or speed it up.

You will also want to be aware of your times. In the end dragon boating is a competitive sport. You want to set goals for yourself and eventually beat them. You want to keep track of your progress to see how you are improving.You also want to be aware of your competitors times, in order to beat them!

The Big Race:

So, after praticing once a week during the summer our team signed up for a charity race to raise money for Cancer Care.

We competed in a 500 meter race. How did we do, you ask?

We came in 2nd place with a time of 2 minutes and 35 seconds, missing out 1st place by only 4 seconds!! We were pretty proud of ourselves!!

How have you used math this month?
Let me know how in the comments. Feel free to leave a link to your own blog post.