problem solving

This week, in math class……

So what did my students do in math this week? Lots.

 In grade 7 math we solidified understanding of factors and multiples and then moved on to divisibility. I also introduced some great challenges to them this week that they had fun exploring.

Courtesy of @Mathnasium, they tried this problem:

 If two monkeys can eat three bananas in two minutes, how many monkeys will it take to eat 18 bananas in six minutes?

I gave them a few minutes in class to attempt it. Some students figured it out quickly, while others thought they had the answer, only to be disappointed when I told them it wasn’t correct. Their homework for the evening was to continue to work on the challenge, and to clearly write out the strategy that they used. The next day everyone came back to class with the answer. I am not saying that they all figured it out independently, but they left class more curious and enthused than I ever could have hoped for. What is important, too, is that they all came back with strategies. So even if they had received help, they got to a point where they could explain the reasoning behind the solution.

From the nRich website, on Friday they tackled Take Three from Five. For the weekend, I left them thinking about why this challenge always works. I don’t expect them to come up with the solution provided by nRich, but I am curious to see what they discover. 

In grade 8 math we have been working on prime factorization and I also introduced scientific notation.  The students are slowly working their way through the Power Mad challenge from nRich, which is a great follow up for the concepts that we have been covering. I find that even in grade 8, the most common mistake students make with powers is multiplying the base by the exponent. If anyone has any tricks that help students avoid this, I am all ears.

I love all of these challenges that I can directly incorporate into the curriculum, but I also know that students have other interests, as well. So I brought out about ten to fifteen different resource books of math puzzles, logic, and games, and had students put sticky notes with their names on the books with the puzzles that interest them. Next week I will go through their choices and personalize some extra challenge booklets for each student. I haven’t quite figured out when that is happening, as it seems like a daunting task, but I know that the reward of having engaged students will make it all worthwhile.

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Sunshine Math

A friend of mine told me about Sunshine Math. It is a resource that can be found on the website for Saint Mark Catholic School in Florida. When you click on a grade, it opens a zip file with about 20 different math problem sets. Each problem set has 10 questions, and the questions are marked with stars. The more stars beside the question, the harder it is. The problem sets are not “pretty”  – they look as if they were scanned.

I mention this site because I am always looking for good bell ringer questions. These question sets are already labelled with difficulty levels, allowing students some choice as to how much of a challenge they want to tackle. And if you really hate how they look, then you can retype them before use (as I probably will).

Have a great week.

**Sunshine Math worksheets are no longer available on the above link…go here instead.

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