Entry 19 – Let’s Get A Math Exhibition Going

We’re trying something new at my school this year; a Math Exhibition of sorts.  Students will explore a math topic or concept and give a visual presentation.  We actively avoided ‘math fair’ because that sounds boring.  But MATH EXHIBITION!  Sign me up!

We do something somewhat similar to this each year with Project Week.  The difference is that Project Week has students explore ANY topic of interest for a week and then present on it.  They get a week off of school to do it.  The video below by yours truly sums it up:

So as a math team we’re trying to figure out how to pull this together; how do we make this something that’s running alongside the content we’re teaching and not just be ‘another thing’ we have to do?  How do we get kids excited about it and not just have them see it as another big project on their plates?  Here’s the current plan I have for my 6th and 7th graders.

6TH GRADE MATH SKILLS

Students are learning about all operations with fractions right now.  Recently a colleague sent me a fractions project her daughter was doing at another school.  Students take a recipe that has fractions in it and modify it for two different sized parties; one party where they have to triple all the ingredients and one party where they have to halve all the ingredients.  They then put their findings on a poster.  Bam.  6th grade Math Exhibition project done.  I’m going to have them actually make their recipe for the presentation fair.  Below is what I’ve got planned for it so far:

7TH GRADE PRE-ALGEBRA

This one is going to be a bit more challenging as I’d like to see a bit more variety amongst the students in what they explore.  My first idea was for them to pick one of the topics they wrote a math blog on previously, but I know many students may just end up regurgitating everything they wrote for the blog without going super in depth; they won’t know how to go deeper than they already have.  With those blogs, I tried to provide some more conceptual writing prompts to get them thinking.  I don’t like the idea of having to back and coming up with more prompts or questions to lead them deeper into that concept, but how to teach the students to learn how to ask those types of questions themselves?

I’m going to make the previous blogs an option, but I’m also going allow them to look ahead at what we will be learning later on this year and start exploring one of those topics now.  Perhaps they’re intrigued by geometric transformations or all the various ways we can work with and use percentages.

And for the student who really isn’t into any of the Pre-Algebra content but really likes the idea of exploring Fibonacci or infinity or math in music or whatever, that option is available as well.  They really can do anything but I know if I present it in that way, students will likely just stare at me blankly.  I’m curious to see if most students just pick topics they’re already written about or if more go towards ideas they have yet to explore.  Content wise, it’d be a lot easier if students just stuck with Pre-Algebra content because it would serve as built-in spiraling, but them getting excited about a math project is more important at this point.

Below is the overview sheet for them:

QUESTIONS I STILL HAVE

  • I have no idea what the presentations will be (for Pre-Algebra).  I’m hoping they aren’t all just slide shows and tri-folds.
  • How do I support students?  I usually tell them ‘Google (insert math concept) for kids’ to find kid friendly resources but how in-depth will the kid-friendly website be?
  • What will I do with kids who just have no idea what to do?  I’m inclined to just have them pick a concept they’ve already written on but do I just come up with a bunch of questions for them to research and send them on their way?
  • [insert question that I don’t even know to ask yet].

Most of the math department will be really getting started with this project this week.  Wish us luck 🙂

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