Tuesday, February 2, 2016

2/2 Space Math

This week started with lower problem of the week participation than in the past probably due to the fact I didn't provide a handout and just orally gave the problem. (Take home lesson: its always worth making a hard copy of anything.) So after white-boarding I told the kids that I'd give the no rectangle 4x4 problem out again for another week and to see if anyone could beat our best solution so far of 9. Of course this was again given orally, so I'm going to take care to send an extra copy of the problem home in the weekly email send to the parents.

We then moved onto a Kenken warm up. As I learned from last year the first time you give these out its best to choose the easiest versions. So I printed a simple 4x4 and 5x5 version from http://www.kenkenpuzzle.com/.  These went over well and I'm hoping to ramp up to more complex versions over the next few weeks.

For the main activity I then chose a pre-canned NASA packet that I learned about from a
another Math facebook group a week or two ago that I'm trying out: 1001 Math Circles.  So far the page looks promising for connecting with other math circles. I've also read about some of their books like "Mobeius Noodles" in the past but haven't yet had a chance to try them out myself.

Space Math Packet:  https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/files/Transit_Math.pdf

After trying out the packet myself, I thought of two problems. First, it involved a lot of photocopying so it would be a bit of a preparation splurge and I'd need to have the kids share packets to make this practical. Secondly, I thought the Astronomy was interesting myself but I wasn't sure how the problems would go or how many of the sets the kids would finish. I did like the contextual material and I thought the ratio problems were a good curriculum fit. This was partly why I chose a warmup activity. So if things went South we wouldn't spend the whole hour on it.

Overall, I'm still not sure how well received it was. Most kids finished the first two problem sets but it took a bit of hand holding to keep the room moving. My one thought was that if repeated it might make sense in these situation to have the kids read aloud some of the intro and to do the first quiz together as room. I asked a few kids what their impression was and received mostly positive reviews but my own son was not a fan. I think I'll open up next week with a post-mortem with the whole group to get some more data.  With this much photocopied material, I usually hope for a lot of bang for the buck.

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