Friday, May 2, 2014


What a great day. After spending over nine hours the last four days watching my 8th Graders work on their state assessments, I could actually teach today! I was looking for a great way to get the kids re-energized about learning after taking those "silly" exams for four days. I found two great projects for my students to work on: Create Your Own Carnival Game and How Will I Survive?

The Seventh Grade just completed a unit on Probability, and I wanted a different method to evaluate their understanding of the different standards within this topic. The groups were asked to create an original game of chance. They were provided with a brief introduction and then turned loose. Within fifteen minutes, I had students bouncing ping-pong balls into cups to test the Experimental Probability of someone winning their game. What I really enjoyed watching was how the students reacted to their errors. They quickly realized that adjustments needed to made to their game. Some had to make it more challenging, others less so. I thoroughly enjoyed circulating around the room listening to the discussions of each group. I was there simply to ask questions to get a deeper understanding of the concepts the were calculating or a change they made to a process or procedure. It looked like a circus in my room, but man, was there a lot of learning going on!

The Eighth Grade will be tackling a project on budgeting and working with graphs (How Will I Survive?). Here, they are given a job and a family status to factor in while creating their fictional family budget. They are being asked to research where they are going to college to earn the education for that job. In addition, they will be gathering information about the kind of car to drive as well. I was very happy to hear them question each other. They asked why someone was choosing to go there when a cheaper school was also available. In addition, a number of students whispered to me that they were looking to buy a used car to save more money. All I could say to them was: "Welcome to the Real World!"

What a great day at school! What a great change of pace for both myself and my students. Do not get me wrong, there was still a lot of planning that went into these activities, but when you see the excitement on their faces, it is all worth it. We did not crack open one textbook all day, yet it was a day full of learning...For ALL of us in the room!

What projects/activities have you done just to throw a change-up to your students?

1 comment:

Dave Mulder said...

I would love to visit your class, Jim. What a great way to bring the focus where it ought to be: learning! Thanks for bringing passion, challenge, and joy to your students--hallmarks of great teaching! #GreatTeachers