Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Using post-it notes and a flip cam to answer math questions

 Does the price of engagement and real learning have to be in the $1 000s?
The price of a flip cam - $159. 99
The price of a pack of post it notes - $5. 00
The price of class time – 84 minutes
The price of true engagement – Priceless
The above items are all that was required to have students complete a statistics question with meaning and creativity, which is illustrated by the video.
What was the task?
In class we were investigating the average shots on goal per game in an NHL game.  The class was put into groups of 3 or 4 students and given various questions.
With this project I tried to create meaning to the questions, and not just give students meaningless numbers.
Students worked in groups and then had to create stop videos using post-it notes and illustrating how they solved each question. 
What truly made me smile….
At the end of class, my students asked me what I was going to do with the videos.  One student even asked if we could upload them onto YouTube.  I informed them that I would compile them all, remove the names, and attach some music.  The uproar that occurred was amazing.  Students were upset that I was going to remove the names!  Here are the comments:
“I am proud of this and want to show it off!”
“Can I get a copy of our video to upload on my USB drive?”
“Don’t delete our names, I want my name on in it”
Students were truly proud of their work.  In my 4 years of teaching, I have yet to witness a student be proud of the worksheet he/she completed, or the meaningless task he/she accomplished.  I am not implying this has never occurred, but I have not witnessed it yet in my own classes. 
I still remember back to my first year teaching when a student informed me, “Worksheets suck and I told my teacher that.  He still gives them to me.  I now hate [the subject]”.    What amazed me by this comment was that the student started to hate the course and not the teacher.
The most eye opening experience for me was when a student told me, “The way you have asked me to do math was what made it difficult”.  I had to truly leave my ego aside and embrace this comment.  Maybe I was the one who made the class difficult!   This comment was from 3 years ago, and in a class with the same lesson plan every day:
1)      Review homework
2)      Give students hand-outs to follow while I write on the board questions of increasing difficulty.
3)      Show and complete a word problem
4)      Hand out worksheet
5)      Give Pg. XX questions 1-XX odd for students who finish early
Since then, I have burned this lesson plan alive!
Many people have asked me, “why did you start changing the way you teach?”, and my true answer is “Because I don’t want to hear another comment like that from a student”
 I also have to say thanks to Geoff, or twitter: @emergentmath for recommending I look at the site:

1 comment:

  1. Just found two amazing ways to use our newly purchased flip cams and post it notes.
    I am very excited to introduce this to my class. Too many math classes consist of getting through the curriculum as fast as possible, therefore depending on the textbook.
    Forever in search of engaging, meaningful projects :)