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Math Happens

September 16, 2011

It was a great week for me at school this week. Sure it was the first full week and it was busy but I felt charged. Great students, great parents and great people to work with. The math team at the school is second to none and always welcome to help out. The other staff members are equally welcoming and always welcome my “newbie” questions with a welcoming smile and all the help you could hope for. I am tired but I am also charged.

Today was a particularly good day. It was a day when “math happens.” Earlier in the week math teachers dressed in togas and went outside to talk about how mathematics would have been discussed in the time of Pythagoras. The students enjoyed using the sidewalk chalk and sand to bisect angles and create perpendicular bisectors. I really enjoyed the comment from one person who asked what the “alien language was in the parking lot was for.” Although it was in jest it was nice to raise the profile of math.

This afternoon went equally as well. I started the afternoon hoping to have students draw some circle and start to talk about circle properties, how to use a compass and some of the advantages of this tool. I still managed to do this but not quite the way I planned. It was a day when …. math happens.

As the class walked outside staring us in the face was a great opportunity to do some practical math and have some fun. There was nothing less than several basketball hoops with no “key” (free throw lane) painted on the pavement. As a result, student started with some string and sidewalk chalk and were tasked to create a basketball “key” (free throw lane) where one did not exist. The task involved students:

  • creating a plan and defining the task
  • working collaboratively in groups
  • determining the main characteristics of parallel lines and circles
  •  developing a strategy to create parallel lines using string
  • developing a strategy to determine the centre point for the circle between two parallel lines
  • using a referent (height of a student in one case and height of the hoop in another) to add the foul line at a reasonable distance
  • solving and correcting errors (yes there were a few and that was some of the best learning)

I think in the end the students enjoyed the lesson and the problem solving involved.  Best of all students got to shoot some free throws at the end of the class.

Score one for mathematics!!!!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 17, 2011 10:29 am

    Great Post! What grade levels do you teach? We have a new Workplace and Apprenticeship math in our province, and I can see this activity fitting right in. All I need to do is find a school with no key! Thanks.

    • September 17, 2011 10:33 am

      Hi Nat.
      I teach grades 7 and 8 and know the AWM program quite well. I think this would be a great hands on activity to do with students. I really found some of the learning that was outside of the math content equally as important. I was able to address most of the math processes with this activity. technology did not really fit in with this but you certainly could if you wanted to. I

      If you try it let me know what could make it better. Thanks for the comments.

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