First off, if you haven't heard about #MTBoS (or the MathTwitterBlogosphere), it is an 8-week series of missions designed to connect dedicated math teachers who are willing and interested in sharing their tips, tricks, and experiences. Sounds awesome right?! You should definitely head over to their Wordpress site and learn more about it!
Mission #1: The Power of the Blog
What is one of your favorite open-ended/rich problems? How do you use it in your classroom? (If you have a problem you have been wanting to try, but haven’t had the courage or opportunity to try it out yet, write about how you would or will use the problem in your classroom.)
As a first year teacher, who is new to math, I don't have a large resource of open-ended questions that I have been drawing from. I can, however, share a question that I posed to my Grade 8 students last week that got them really excited about math and got them thinking out of the box (including my reluctant learners)!
I came across the following video via one of my YouTube subscriptions, Numberphile. I was immediately engaged because it got me thinking about math in a way that I hadn't been before. As we had been discussing integers and fractions in class, I decided to share the question with my Grade 8 math class.
*Note: I did not show them the video on the first day, I simply presented the question:
"The following series 1-1+1-1+1-1+1-1+1-1... continues forever, using your knowledge of integers, what do you think the answer(s) to this question might be?"
I had some students say that the answer would be 1, some said 0, some said 2, and I had some students that were unsure. The following day, I showed them the video that I had seen online:
This was the first time all year that I can honestly say that ALL of my students were excited about math! The possible solutions to Grandi's Series got them thinking about math differently than they had before and the fact that the video ends with a challenge had them even more engaged. They are planning on completing the Thompson's Lamp experiment on their own at lunch this week to see how it turns out!
I have always been a fan of including video clips in class as a differentiation method to meet different learning needs but I hadn't specifically thought of videos that ended with open questions. This is definitely something that I will want to explore more with my students as we progress throughout the year!
On a side note, my students decided to feature this video and question on their class blog and Dr. James Grime (the man featured in the video) actually saw it and commented to them! It was so exciting to see their enthusiasm and surprise when they checked their blog comments this morning!
So, I have officially completed Mission 1 of the #MTBoS journey! I look forward to connecting and sharing with you!