This project is designed for the 7th grade Engage New York Math curriculum for Module 1. It involves the topics taught from lesson 16-20. I tried to include all the concepts introduced in the tail end of this module in project form. If you have standard 40-45 minute periods expect this project to last about 5 days.
We kicked off the project with an animated Google Presentation that I posted on my website and in Google Classroom after we went through it in class. This was helpful for students who missed the class. I still needed to go through the presentation with each student who missed class but it was nice to have the presentation guiding us as it enabled me to help other students who were staying after school for other reasons. I could help multiple students a little more easily.
At the end of the presentation/notes the kids selected groups. Students were guided to choose a partner or be in a group of 3 but they could also choose to work alone. I wanted to see who they select and how they choose to work (solo, doubles or groups of 3).
After a full period of notes on the first day, it was time for the kids to have a work period. The 2nd day was an entire period of work time. It didn’t exactly happen the way I expected. I wanted to set the stage and have them work with their newly chosen partner groups on the project. I gave them 15 minutes to work and said we’d check in after that time. Some groups had no troubles with this and others really struggled. After some time to work, we came back together after 15 minutes and my co-teacher and I alternately guided the kids through the problems, trying to make sure most left with an understanding of the material. Home practice was assigned and the kids had a few minutes to begin.
For our 3rd day the kids were given a warm-up on the board that was identical (different numbers) to the first problem of the problem they’d kick things off with in the 3rd packet. They were also given the worked out solutions for the home practice to check answers with. We gave them about 10 minutes to do both of these things while I checked to see if their home practice was complete.
In Pre-Algebra, I frequently hand out worked out solutions so the kids can check their papers closely and carefully. This is working extremely well in that environment and I’d like to see it work in Math 7 too. I think people gain a lot from seeing how someone works through a problem, and over time students learn how to ask questions to help their growth and learn how to model their papers a little better than if all solutions are worked out in real time on the board. I find it easier than posting on the SmartBoard because everyone can see easily. This was the first time I did this for Math 7 and the results were mixed. Some kids were frantically copying, hoping to get enough down that I’d think they did their work by the time I got around to them to check. Others were carefully checking their work. I didn’t allow time for questions because we didn’t have the time in that lesson.
The last page of this day turned into Home Practice for the long weekend as we didn’t have time to get through the entire thing. Despite the first two pages of work and discussion guiding students to the relationship between scale factor for lengths and the scale factor for areas, very few left the classroom with a solid understanding. My co-teacher (for period 1 and 3) and I agreed that most students would likely come in with this material incomplete or not even started. I felt disheartened as I knew Tuesday would be a monitor and adjust day.
Day 4 came around and the kids were moving toward project making. This is where things got interesting! Most groups embraced the idea of creating their own space and stayed solidly on task. This was the point in the project where the groups that were struggling began to struggle more and the groups that got it flew through it a little faster. We had a couple of work days in class and a lot of kids in during lunch, recess and after school. Many groups were able to finish before the Monday due date.
I meant to take pictures of all the classes working on this, but didn’t remember until period 9. This slideshow includes period 9 working and one pose with a completed project. I may add more by taking some completed project pictures before they go home with the kids.
There are so many things that went well with this and so many things I’d do differently.
Changes I’d make:
- Hand out the entire project at the start. I didn’t have the full thing written when I started, and it hurt the flow and progress of the assignment.
- Put page numbers on every page. I put page numbers on the front of each packet, but it still confused the kids and some had everything but thought they were missing something.
- The rubric needs improvement. For better assessment I needed to separate things out a bit more. Some of the students had pages 1-5 filled out very well but then things fell apart on pages 6-7. By tying pages 1-7 together, it was hard to assess this part of the project effectively. The actual project grade should not have required moveable furniture to get a 5 and should have been sub-divided into more categories. Lastly, the section on showing calculations could have been omitted. Most students chose scales that could be done in their head or with simple math, so the calculation portion wasn’t terribly relevant.
Things that worked well:
- It was mostly a good choice to have the kids select their own groups. Kids that prefer to work alone appreciated the opportunity and the groups were almost all well functioning teams. There were a couple of situations where the group didn’t mesh well or wasn’t productive.
- The extension options. I had 3 groups decide to make a 3D model and all 3 were really excited about it. Having a larger paper choice was fun for several groups and offering the opportunity to keep it simple was helpful for most of the grade. Reflecting on this, I’d require that the group turn the full project in and then start the extension. Some groups that did an extension project got so excited about that but their math portion wasn’t complete.