Paul Lockhart’s Lament

During the first days of summer, I usually catch up with my guilty pleasure TV shows and get a few projects around the house completed.  However, I found myself jumping into my first book “A Mathematician’s Lament” by Paul Lockhart.  It is sold on Amazon, but I also found a PDF here. Someone on Twitter had posted a quote from the author and it spoke to me.

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Why did this speak to me?  During the NTCM 2018 Regional conference in Seattle, Christopher Danielson gave a talk on the word “play” and how playing unofficially becomes the 9th standard of math practice.  Play is such friendly, non threatening word.  Play gives people permission to explore freely.  Unfortunately as we grow up, sometimes we forget that element from our childhoods.

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Back to the Lament…as I started reading Mr. Lockart’s Lament, I wondered when it was written.  According the Keith Devlin’s forward, it was written in 2002.  This little fact fascinated me because this was written 17 years ago.  17 years ago, I was a 3rd year teacher learning about the STAR (Standardized Testing and Reporting) and the CST (California Standards Test).  This was a time of teaching facts and tricks.  We memorized formulas.  We taught strategies of how to get through the multiplication test.  Do you recall “No Child Left Behind”?  It was a time of too many standards to teach and not enough time for depth.  I shudder thinking about how mechanical teaching was and time to “notice and wonder” where far off into the future.

What struck me about Mr. Lockhart’s statements were that it’s still relevant to today.  There are many of us in the math community that are trying to be “math rebels”.  We don’t necessarily need textbooks and tests.  Those entities kill the beauty of mathematics. And it’s those entities that make students hate math.  No one has shown them that it’s one big puzzle that you have to keep hacking away and understanding the “why” of it.  The beauty of mathematics shouldn’t be brought down by drill & kill worksheets, timed multiplication tests, and useless work.   As Mr. Lockhart says, “mathematics is the purest of the arts as well as the most misunderstood.”  Would we deaden a photography, ceramics, sculpting, painting, or ballet class with a worksheet?  Can you imagine?  So why are we doing that with math?

And so I found it refreshing to read this piece because I like finding kindred spirits of the math kind who have similar views like myself.  Paul Lockhart and Jo Boaler have both given me relief because I thought I was the only one out there with similar thoughts.

Here’s a section of the book that caught my attention the most.

By concentrating on “what,” and learning out “why,” mathematics is reduced to an empty shell.  The art is not in the “truth” but in the explanation, the argument.  It is the argument itself that gives truth its context, and determines what is really being said and meant.  Mathematics is the art of explanation.  If you deny students the opportunity to engage in this activity–to pose their own problems, to make their own conjectures and discoveries, to be wrong, to be creatively frustrated, to have an inspiration, and to cobble together their own explanations—you deny them mathematics itself.” 

I implore you to read it yourself.  Ponder what’s going on in your classroom, school, or district that would deny students the beauty of the math.

Happy Summer everyone!

Until next time,

Kristen

NCTM 2019 San Diego

It’s Monday night and my head is still reeling from all that I learned, experienced, and witnessed at NCTM San Diego.  Whenever I go to such a big conference, I just act like a sponge and soak it all in.  NCTM is a place where we all learn from each other.  I haven’t been to the NCTM Annual conference since 2015 in San Francisco.  That experience just left me inspired to be the best math educator I could be.  Sounds corny…right?  But it’s completely true.

I left with a bunch of take aways and would love to share a few of my favorites.

Graham Fletcher

  • Do we want to be teachers who learn math to solve problems to solve problems to learn math?
  • Speeding doesn’t get us to where we want to go faster
  • Estimate = strategic choice of a number
  • be intentional and purposeful with choosing tasks, don’t have a one night stand.

Kassia Wedekind presented a session on hands down conversations.

  • Invest in turn and talk partnerships
  • (can’t wait to try that in my classroom).

Sara Van Der Werf – The Matthew Effect

  • “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer”
  • those who start school with a small advantage continue to benefit, while those with a slight disadvantage continue to lose ground.
  • Teacher will LEAD the way to change structures so all students are successful.
  • How will I support student who arrive to school without the advantages some students have?
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    Sara Van Der Werf – tall math girls stick together!

    One of my favorite quotes I saw was in Sara’s presentation.   And I left with much food for thought….how can I do better? How can I advocate for all my students no matter who they are, where they’ve been, or where they are going?

Maya Quotes 3

 At ShadowCon, I saw Bethany Lockhart, a kindergarten teacher who spoke about risks worth taking and trying a #BraveBoldMathMove.  She was a phenomenal speaker.  

I also saw Chrissy Newell speak about #MathGals.  As a matter of fact, I bought the book “Power in Numbers” because of this.  

Day 2 featured a great talk about PhotoTalks by Beth Barnes.  Also saw Jennifer Moffett do a session on Middle School Clotheslines.  Jennifer asked the question of “What do instincts have to do with math?”  Math inspires curiosity and we try to make sense of things.  

By Day 2 of the conference, my brain was starting to fill super saturated, so I didn’t take as many notes as I would have liked.

It was a bummer that I didn’t make it into the exhibit hall.  I would have stopped by the MTBoS table to get some goodies, but I was having a ball learning from so many great minds.

Until next time,

Kristen

What’s Our Purpose?

Something has been rattling on my mind for about a week.  I wasn’t sure if I should write a post about it, but then again, I haven’t posted in a while. (6th grade can really kill your free time).

If you were asked as a math teacher, “What’s your purpose?“, what would be your response?  I know that it’s a pretty profound question, but take a moment to think about your answer.  

While you are thinking of your own question…ponder some of these answers when I asked this question to my Twitter peeps.

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Aren’t these answers incredible?  And I’m sure if I took to Twitter again, I would get a bunch more answers.  

 

Last week while at a district math committee meeting (for secondary teachers), the group was asked this very question.  My very own son’s teacher (who has a similar mindset as I) responded “student learning” and was told she was wrong.

The correct answer was….”TO RAISE THE CAASPP TEST SCORES.”

 

I’ve been teacher for about 20 years both in middle school, elementary school and as a coach.    And when I asked a few of my colleagues, they responded, “Kristen, that’s been going on for years.”  I’m not impervious to what’s been going on in education.  It’s been embedded in each of us for years.  However…is it the sole reason that I teach?  Is it the sole reason the any of us teach?  I strongly doubt that any of us got into teaching for the purpose of “raising test scores.”   Do I look at my students and see little labels above their heads “Standard Met”, “standard nearly met”?   Do tests understand that one of my students still sees visions of her father dying–so she has to deal with that?  Do tests understand how my student put so much pressure on himself that he starts crying?

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Is this how we are looking at at students now?  

I’ve been disturbed with how many tests outside of my own curriculum assessments that my students are expected to take.  

First we have been given iReady this year.  For this program alone, we take the beginning diagnostic, the mid year diagnostic and probably and end of year diagnostic.  Each of those parts takes my 6th grades 2-3 hours at best.  It’s long, it’s tedious, and it takes A LOT of instructional time away from my students.  And it’s mostly used for predictability/foreshadowing of….wait for it….how are the kids going to do on the CAASPP.  Ugh. I even joined in on a Twitter discussion about using computerized screeners in the classroom.  Here are a few comments. 

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Next my district decided to implement the CAASPP interim assessment.  It’s only purpose (at our district) is to have the kids practice logging into the testing site using their numbers.  Again…this happens at least 3 times in the school year.  2-3 hours a session.  More instructional time lost.  

Here are a few questions that I ponder for the future of education….

  • Have we lost our direction in education when it comes to assessment?
  • At what point are we  OVER ASSESSING our students?
  • Do these computerized screeners really help us get an accurate picture of our students?
  • Is this our future–putting students in front of computers to learn math via programs, videos, etc?
  • Is education just obsessed with test scores?
  • Is there another way to keep schools accountable without the CAASPP scores?
  • Does anyone understand what all of this does to a child (stress, pressure, anxiety)? 

 

My purpose in the classroom is to instill my love of math to my students (or teachers that I coach).   Usually when they get older, math becomes a hated subject.  It’s my job to show them how “playful” this subject can be.  Let’s have conversations! Let’s look for patterns! Let’s get to the bottom of this mysterious problem! Let’s grow as mathematicians!  

That’s my purpose.  And there’s no test that will show me the thrill, enjoyment, and excitement when we explore mathematics in my classroom. 

Until next time,

Kristen

 

Combining Like Terms

Since being back in the classroom, I find myself doing activities with my lessons and thinking “I gotta blog about that.”  These ideas may not be profound, but you never know if there’s some teacher out there in the universe that could use this cool thing.

One of my goals every year is for my students to make sense of math.  And recently, one of our units (6th grade) was on equations and expressions.  One of the topics was combining like terms.

I first pass out playing cards (poker cards) to each student.  I made sure to use numbers 1 through 10.  I also make sure I pass out a variety of clubs, diamonds, spades and hearts usually just the numbers 2-10.

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Then I instruct the students to “combine like terms”.  Now this is usually when they give me the most quizzical look.  Then they try to ask a million questions, but I find myself just repeating myself with those 3 words.  “Combine Like Terms!”

When it looks like the students have settled down and found their partner, I take a survey of what cards they put together.  Here’s what they come up with.

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We recorded the pairs of cards when given the instructions to “combine like terms”

Without even looking, I can predict this every year.  And without any direction, I ask the students what their thinking was in pairing up.  The answers I get are usually 1. The 2 cards are the same color.  2. the numbers are the same.  3. The numbers are even or 4. they cards are sequential. 

After this initial pre-assessment, I show them examples of like terms and unlike terms.  Usually I have at least one student who will connect the lesson with the card activity.  

“Hey Mrs. A, what if we matched up the cards by the symbols?”

Bingo!  Now we are onto something.  

I proceeded to turning the  playing cards into algebraic expressions.  We used variables like D to represent for the diamond and H to represent the heart.  Those can’t be combined because they don’t have the same variable.   If you check back on the above picture…the only two cards that could be combined are the 7 of clubs and the 8 of clubs.  Those students partnered up because the cards were “in order,” however they realized during our post-lesson discussion that they were the only pair that could be considered the same terms.

By using manipulatives and contextualizing an abstract algebra topic, it makes it a little easier for the students to grasp.  

Until next time,

Kristen

CMC 2018

I love having a 3 day weekend, because I can catch up with a blog post or two.

Came back last weekend from a wonderful weekend of sunshine, the desert, and math.  Yes…I’m talking about California Math Council’s conference in Palm Springs.  Haven’t been in 2 years so I was anticipating some amazing ideas.

First of all, I had the honor and pleasure of co-presenting 2 sessions.  The first session was about the Progression of a Clothesline with Chris Shore, Andrew Stadel, and Dan Luevanos.  We had a packed house of participants who wanted to look at how Clothesline Math could not only impact the students in your classroom, but also you entire school (or your entire district).   Participants laughed, engaged, and were completely excited by the possibilities of the clothesline.  Heck…I even noticed (& wondered) Annie Fetter sitting in the audience (and she used it in the classroom immediately after).  

And then it was Stacy’s and my turn to lead our own K-6 Clothesline session to a room that help 140 people.  ***Gulp***  No pressure.  I have to admit that we are used to presenting to groups of 40, so this was a daunting and thrilling experience.  I wondered if our stuff was good enough.  I wondered if we would get anyone in our room.  Well…when I soon saw our room filling up to the point that we were at capacity (they closed the doors for fire codes)….then the nerves really kicked in.  Alas, we did well.  It helped that word got out that we had free giveaways for the elementary peeps.  Saturday morning, I woke up with what I’m calling my #sexymathvoice.  Didn’t realize how much I had to project til I was hearing my groggy voice the next morning.  I’ll take it!  It’s all good.

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 I went to other impressive presentations as a participant.

Robert Kaplinsky – Math Modeling Can Make you Filthy Rich.  Robert stressed the importance of real authentic math modeling.  And most of all, how do we make sense of math modeling?   

Megan Franke – Student Participation & Learning: Explaining and Engaging with Others. Megan asked the question of “why do we care about young people explaining their math ideas?”  As teachers, do we allow our students the opportunity to engage and explain?

My big AHA! moment in Megan’s session was —we shouldn’t expect all our kids to participate in the same way  

Jeremiah Reusch – I adore this guy.  He’s been a big supporter of mine with clothesline math and with my 3 act lessons.  He sat in on my session with a big smile on his face.  And to be fair, I sat on a few minutes of his session on Desmos vs. Geogebra – the Smackdown.  This guy is so full of energy and had the entire room in fits of laughter.  Thanks Jeremiah.

Dan Meyers – talked about #mathematicalsurprises.  He discussion led to how we create order from expected order….and also how we create order from expected chaos.  

A magnificent experience.  I love going to conferences because they always leave you full up hope, excitement, and new ideas to help our students.  

Onto the next conference in Seattle (NCTM regionals).  

Until next time,

Kristen

 

 

Ten Percent Increase – Pt.2

During the last blog post, I described the circumstances at the beginning of the year (September 2017).  Teachers were fired up about comments made by our superintendent.   As a matter of fact, there were teachers who attended and spoke at a board meeting.  Let’s just say the board wasn’t thrilled by our superintendent’s words.  

And this brings us back to my school.  My principal called me into her office one afternoon and we had a long chat.  She wanted to make the after school intervention strictly about math. (We already do 4-5 hours of reading intervention each week within the school day).  She wanted to overhaul what was happening.  She wanted the after school program to have direction/purpose.  (I don’t know what the program was like in years prior).  She asked me what I could do for the school.  Um…..where/when do I begin?!?!  Off the top of my head, I bounced some ideas to her.  She liked what she had heard.  I got to work on the preparations.

She was looking for consistency across all grade levels.  She was looking for routines beyond the textbook.  My K-5 colleagues had been dealing with Envision Math for years, so they needed something fresh.  Biggest obstacle of all, we needed to make math engaging and worth a child’s time to come after school for 3 extra hours a week.

Here are questions that I grappled with before I started planning.  How do I hook students into an engaging hour of math afterschool for 3 hours a week?    How can they become active leaners rather than it becoming a study hall/homework help?  Most importantly, how do I convince my colleagues that my program is worth their time and energy?  How do I get everyone on the same page?

And for the next 6 weeks, I was teaching 6th grade and designing a full math intervention (from the ground up).

  • First I built a schedule and it looked like this…..

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Take notice that this was a schedule built on everything I learned in the past 4 years in conferences and via Twitter.  My principal was giving me the chance to train our teachers on all that I had learned (well….maybe not ALL…but certainly a lot).    

Here’s the breakdown of each component.

Number Talks – consisted of a bunch of pictures from my files and other websites.   Each teacher was given a a file of over 200 pictures that included “Which One Doesn’t Belong”, dot images, and powerpoint of any number talk images.  Some pictures were found on ntimages.weebly.com while others were pictures I have collected over the years.  All teachers had to do was find a picture they liked, show the image, and have a conversation.

Fluency Games – rather than practicing our fast facts with worksheets, students would engage in games/activities in which they practiced their facts.  I gathered all kinds of games from Pinterest or TPT (Only the free ones that looked worth while).  

Front Row/Freckle – this is a free website for students to get more experience with problem solving.  It’s engaging (unlike some others I’ve seen).  Students gain coins as they  conquer different topics.  They love it!  

Numberless Word Problems  Brian Bushart introduced math educators to numberless word problems.  Taking the numbers out of a word problem and then “layering” information helps students focus on the context of a problem versus becoming “number pluckers.”   

Performance Tasks  –  In the Envision text my teachers were using, the performance tasks were really weak.  Performance tasks can be effective for students to apply what the skills they have learned.  With a discerning eye, I gathered performance tasks for 7 grade levels (kinder – 6th) for them to practice with the students.  

I wish I had a picture of all the binders of information that was given to the teachers.  7 grade levels worth of all these magnificent routines.  Each binder was at least 1 1/2 inches thick.  Each teacher had number talk pictures downloaded onto their desktops ready to go.  They were thrilled.  Maybe I went overboard with providing  them with each and every single piece of this puzzle, but I didn’t want any excuse as to them NOT doing the program.  The only thing they had to do was figure out which performance tasks or game to use.  No research needed.  And NO EXCUSES.

It was a labor of love to put the program together.  However I would be remiss if I said it was all me.   It wasn’t all me.  I can put together an A+ program, but it achieving a 10% increase was a team effort.  There was buy in from every teacher at my school (including the Transitional Kinder team!)  There was support and leadership from our principal.  It was a school wide effort to help the students.  

  • We were the only school in our entire district to pull a double digit increase in mathematics.
  • 6th grade nearly doubled their scores!  
  • Every grade level increased!

I need to get packing for Palm Springs (CMC – South).  Excited to do not one, but 2 sessions on Clothesline.  Stop by and say hello.  

Until next time,

Kristen

Ten Percent Increase- Pt 1

Oh the joys of the start of school.  The smell of the newly sharpened pencils, clean unmarked whiteboards,  and teacher’s CAASPP scores being reviewed.

As part of my district’s annual tradition, we always start off with a district wide kickoff.  The Board of Ed waves and smiles.  Our district’s Teacher of the Year says a few inspiring words.  Teacher with mucho years of service are honored.  Lastly, schools’ scores are announced.  This year my school’s math scores went up 10%.  That was the highest math gain in our entire district.  Our superintendent also gave us a shout out in his speech.  

And that brings us to an interesting story of how we got the 10 percent increase.  

(Sept. 2017) Within my first month of joining the elementary school, our superintendent came to a staff meeting to do a Q & A with our staff.  It was an opportunity for him to speak to teachers about the going-ons of the district.  I saw it as the perfect time to ask him my burning question–math.  My exact question to him was I know that the district’s focus for the past few years has been the reading initiative, but what are you doing for elementary math?”   Since my position as the elementary math TOSA was dissolved months prior to this question, I wanted to hear directly from him .  My elementary colleagues were upset that they had gotten rid of my position (so many of them had been making such incredible strides in their teaching), however they had my back in asking this question. They also gave me a warm welcome in joining their staff.

The superintendent was completely taken by surprise and started telling us of his wife who teaches 2nd grade.  She and her colleagues always taught math like a checklist of standards.  They rather teach art instead. And so in his mind, he figured “elementary teachers don’t like teaching math.”   

Now let me paint you a picture...  with his statement…you saw wide eyes and gaping mouths.  You heard absolute silence (with the exception of a few gasps).  When the teachers’ minds finally processed what he said, slowly many of them started raising their hands and shouting “I like teaching math.”   His reply was “really, because your scores don’t show it.”  At that moment, there were a few people ready to start flipping tables.  

Now… I could very well give my opinion about this encounter with our superintendent, but I’m just gonna leave it alone.  Let’s just say that he didn’t leave with a fan club.  

If anything, this encounter got the teachers fired up.  In the days following, many of the teachers broke out their math t-shirts and truly showed their love of math. (It was also rumored that he was going to come back for a tour and they wanted to send him a message)  Here are a few of them…

 

Now…I know this doesn’t explain our ten percent increase.  However, it is the precursor to the rest of the year and the work that was done.  

In the next blog post….I’ll explain details our the math intervention that we put in place.

Until next time,

Kristen

 

12 Ways to Get 11

As I have said countless times in previous posts, my 6th graders have been math buddies with a kindergarten class.  The other kinder teacher and I spend numerous hours trying to create and plan different activities for both classes to do.  One of the books I came across on Twitter was 12 Ways to Get 11 by Eve Merriam.  

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While planning, we purposely waited to do this activity when kindergarten was much more in tune with their addition facts and when 6th grade needed a break from testing.

I let my collaborative partner perform and read the book.  She’s so expressive with her reading.  The kinder students involved themselves at counting everything to 11.  After the book was read, we counted things around the room to 11.  For instance, students noticed that there were exactly 11 clouds hanging from the ceiling (complete coincidence!).  Students also noticed 11 months that were listed next to the calendar (May was being used on the calendar).

 

Next, we let both sets of students explore combinations of 11.  We explained that more than 2 numbers could add up to 11. My students love working with cuisenaire rods (their manipulative of choice).  

This is what they came up with.  I loved seeing how each set of students would represent the combinations.  Kindergarten mostly just used the rods, where as my students had to represent the combinations with drawings, sketches, or some sort of visual representation.

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Here’s some footage of what we observed.

 

We wish we had more time to do more with this activity.  We meant to go back to it, but other things get thrown at us at the end of the school year.

Until next time,

Kristen

 

Tallest Teacher

In the fall, my kindergarten collaborator and I did a heights unit with her students and with my 6th graders.  She covered the standard that directly compares 2 objects with a measureable attribute (K.MD.2) while I covered my standard on inequalities.   Both Mrs. Z and I thought it went extremely well.   It really contextualized the math standards.  

But our unit and planning didn’t stop there.

May—

Because of all the stress and pressure of testing in May, I wanted to keep my afternoons less stressful, but engaging.  During math time, Mrs. Z and I set up another week of exploration with heights, but this time we made sure to hit different standards and design different activities.  Kinder was going to use the heights of themselves and a buddy to figure out the difference between the two measurements.  My students were going to convert the measurements into feet and inches.  (6.RP.3d Use ratio reasoning to convert measurement units; manipulate and transform units appropriately when multiplying or dividing quantities)

Day 1 – We introduced both groups to a 3 Act lesson we called “Tallest Teacher.”  We combined both our classes so that we could deliver the lesson only once.  Plus we wanted to see if the buddies would help each other out.   They also discovered that my partner likes to cheat.

Lots of notice and wonder as seen here….IMG_4607

Act 2 consisted of a little bit of information…

 

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Act 3 was this grand finale.  Yes—Mrs. A is ginormous.

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Here is some pics of the student work from kinder.  Don’t have pictures of 6th grade work, but I can report that half my class did exceedingly well…except they don’t know how to convert a remainder into part of a foot.  

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Day 2 –  Now it was time to trace our bodies.  Giggles and laughter was heard throughout the hour.  Mrs Z. and I could be seen running back and forth between both our classrooms making sure everyone was ok and not being stepped on.

This took some prep work on our part.  Gathering over 50 pieces of bulletin board paper was not an easy feat.

Day 3/4 –  It’s measurement time.  Unlike the last time, students were only allowed to use unifix cubes.  We combined each color into units of 10 to make counting easier.  Ironically, my 6th grade students didn’t catch onto this as I caught a few counting each individual cube.  

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Final Thoughts…

  • My 6th grade students love that we do things differently.  I’m not the textbook kind of teacher (and neither is Mrs. Z).  We like when we can make the standards come to life.  
  • Again…this has the potential to be noisy and disturb other teachers.  However the learning is amazing.  The engagement is incredible.  Stick with your gut and go for it!
  • Using cubes as a measurement was pretty cool, but my students had a difficult time converting them into inches.  I had to spoon feed it to them a bit.  
  • Here’s a copy of tallest teacher

 

Until next time…

Kristen

New Heights

One of the reasons I decided to make the move to elementary was due to my strong partnership with a kindergarten teacher.   When my coaching position was dissolved, I had the choice of heading back to middle school.  However, she convinced me to teach 6th grade at her school (and literally across the hall from her).    I really do like having a broader range of students to access.  At my school, we have 700 TK through 6th grade (ages 4-12).  

In being the new addition to the school, I was eager to collaborate with other grade levels.  Mrs. Z (kinder teacher) and I took advantage of our proximity and became “kindergarten buddies.”   My 6th graders partnered up with her kindergarten students.  At first my students would mostly read books to her students, but as the year progressed we started doing some very cool math stuff.  We learned how to make any activity work for her kindergarten math standards as well as my 6th grade standards!!!  It was pretty amazing (they’ll be more blog posts about other activities—I’m so behind in blogging).  

November —

Mrs. Z wanted to do a height activity that she’s done with her students before.  She asked me if she could get assistance from my students.  This involved taping the heights of her students (as well as mine) on the outside of our classrooms for the whole school to see.  This would actively engage the students in her standard  K.MD.A.2 – Describe and compare measurable attributes. Directly compare two objects with a measurable attribute in common to see which object has “more of”/ “less of” the attribute and describe the difference.  

Day 1. We started off asking them who was tallest, Mrs Z or myself (Mrs. A).

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We figured out which teacher was tallest.

Day 1—6th graders mark/taped the kindergarteners’ heights.

Day 2 – 6th graders mark/tape their own heights using painters’ tape.  6th grade also measures their heights in inches.  Kindergarten proceeds with discussing who’s taller/tallest/the same height.

 

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Day 3/4—-  Now you might be thinking that 6th grade should be way past this kind of stuff.  Little did my students know, this would be valuable information for one of their standards.  

6th grade standard – 6.EE.B.8 Write an inequality to represent a condition in a real world or mathematical problem.

Before we started this unit, I told the students that they were going to Knotts Berry Farm.  Thanks to Robert Kaplinsky, we used his lesson “Which Ride Can You Go On?”   After 6th grade found their heights (in inches), they ran across the hallway and measured their kinder buddies’ heights.   Then they figured out the inequality for each ride and figured out if they or their buddies could go on the ride.  

Our principal didn’t know what was going on, but she saw engagement.  Other kinder teachers soon followed suit asking us what we doing (same goes for my 6th grade colleagues).  Kindergartners really enjoyed quality time with their 6th grade counterparts.  And of course, Mrs. Z and I completely played off each other (as per usual).

Here’s what we learned….

  • Always use painters tape, however don’t leave it on too long as the sun will melt the adhesive and make it quite difficult to peel off the walls.  
  • pre-tape/section off where students will measure themselves.  Mrs. Z made name stickers, while my students wrote their names somewhere using Sharpies.
  • 6th graders still need practice using a ruler.  I didn’t even dare to ask them to convert inches into feet.
  • This activity has the potential to be noisy.  Warn the classrooms around you….But remember…this is great learning.
  • Loved that my students got a more conceptual understanding of what inequalities are and a real world connection.  Ironically, we actually went to Knotts Berry Farm months later and they still remembered this lesson!


This wasn’t the end of our unit.  This was only part 1!!!!  Part 2 was done in the spring and will be written as a separate blog post.  Coming soon…..

Until next time,

Kristen