Towers & Tests

Its been a great 3 days…looking forward to working with this group of students!  They seem eager, some timid – but I’m sure that will rub off soon enough.

I began Wednesday with a WCYDWT?   A simple paper plate – just to get them brainstorming – they created a list of mathematical things they could do with a paper plate”post” on a way with the item/picture and students can add to the list throughout the week. 

Thursday they were laughing & left the room with smiles – I used “The Tower” activity I had seen mentioned on Twitter as our first small group task.  They were given 1 marshmallow, 1 yard of tape, 1 yard of string and 20 pieces of spaghetti.   Groups were asked to build the tallest tower possible with the marshmallow being on top.  Several were successful with completing the task – however, the group with the tallest tower of the day failed to get their marshmallow on top before time was called (it was too heavy and tilted over when they added the mashmallow).  The tallest tower of the day was around 72 cm.  The winning group used the string to anchor their tower on different sides, taping it to the flat surface.  There were some great ideas and I saw a lot of improvements in their designs as they realized the first plan would not be successful.  Of course, the my goal was to initiate good communication.  It was a great day!

Today, however, was a different story.  We took our course pre-test, simply as a diagnostic to give me a baseline.  I know they realized it meant we have a lot to learn throughout the year.  I even encouraged some of them to write themselves a note – they could read later in the year as we used it for a study guide.  (I will be posting the list of standards assessed on the test with linked resources for students/parents to use and have available.)  I reminded them, there were some problems they may have never seen before and to not get down – it was not an indicator of their ability – but the beginning point of our learning progression!  I knew it would be tough for some of them and it saddened me not to see their smiles like yesterday.

Mathematics is not a careful march down a well-cleared highway, but a journey into a strange wilderness, where the explorers often get lost. 
                                                                                                                                                ~W.S. Anglin

That’s where I come in – if you happen to get lost, I am here to encourage, challenge, push you to be your best ~ but be right beside you along the way ~ my answer to your question may be a question itself ~ may you learn to look at your world mathematically…may you be intrigued by numbers ~ and the beauty hidden in so many of their patterns…

Learn more about The Marshmallow Challenge.


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