Our 2nd market was a huge success! Our entrepreneurs are learning important lessons about commerce, and it seemed today's lessons focused mainly on "demand." A few businesses struggled to get customers in the beginning, as many flocked to one booth and stayed for a while. They learned that business can be slow in the beginning, but as customers' interest in one product or service dies down, they will go to another. A product of mine, touchable bubbles, was in such high-demand that I decided to auction it off! I only had one package of the bubbles, yet 6 customers wanted to buy it. This forced the students to consider how much value this product had to them. Was it worth spending all of their money? Half? The bidding started at 5 albino bucks. In the end, one student was willing to spend all of her money - 65 albino bucks!
Below you will find videos from the market. You will hear negotiations, advertisement, communication between business partners, and financial decisions being made. And as if I had paid him to do so, one student remarked, "This was like the most fun learning experience ever!"
Is it possible to create a shape with one right angle and no parallel lines? Give it a try! At the end of this post you'll see what some of the 3rd graders came up with.
For over a week now we have been delving into Geometry. The big idea of this unit is "relationships," specifically the relationships between shapes. We began by exploring different quadrilaterals (4-sided shapes) using 3 criteria: parallel lines, side length, and right angles (which we call "square corners.")
Side note: I taught them my famous "parallel" song which is to the tune of Earth, Wind, and Fire's "September." Ask your child to sing it to you!
Looking at our quadrilaterals and the properties we found, we were able to see a sort of hierarchy of terms. For example, a square is a special type of rhombus, which is a type of quadrilateral, which is a type of polygon. After becoming familiar with these properties and relationships, the students were put into groups of 3. Each group was given a Venn Diagram and a set of quadrilaterals. They were to choose 2 properties for the diagram, and place the shapes in one category, the other, or the "both" category. Interestingly, every group chose to label one side "square corners" and the other "parallel lines."
What they found was that 0 quadrilaterals fit in the "square corners" category alone. Each shape was either parallel, or parallel with a square corner. This led to a natural question: Is it possible to create a shape with a square corner, but no parallel lines?
After lots of trial and improvement, they were able to come up with a right triangle!
A few days later, our reasoning about relationships led to a similar natural quandary. The students were constructing polygons using rubber bands and a pegboard, per my directions. For example, "Use 1 rubber band to create a polygon with only 1 set of parallel lines." This direction had them creating trapezoids, and we noticed some trapezoids had square corners and some didn't. In fact, the ones with square corners all had 2 square corners. So I asked, "Is it possible to create a trapezoid with only 1 square corner?" They were so enthusiastic about trying to solve this mystery! What they discovered is that once you give a trapezoid 1 square corner, you have to give it another, or else you will create 0 sets of parallel sides, rendering that polygon no longer a trapezoid.
Through these types of challenges, the students are discovering the relationship between shapes, and the relationship between the properties that define the shapes. All of which is developing their higher-order thinking skills and ability to reason abstractly and defend their thinking. What little mathematicians they are!
When running a classroom where students work at their own pace, one of the biggest challenges is what to do when some students are finished with a task, but others are still working. This year I have employed a puzzle! The idea is this: I put a 500-piece puzzle in the back of the room, on a table that exists only for this purpose. Next to it is a little water fountain to add a calming atmosphere. The students have the option of working on the puzzle anytime they are finished with their work or if they need a 5-minute "brain break." A few students have really responded positively to this solution. The puzzle has created an opportunity for them to work together, strategize, and negotiate, as well as work long-term on a calming activity.
Today, after 2 and a half months, they finished the puzzle!
It's hard to see from the picture, but one piece of the puzzle is missing. A group of dedicated students have created a plan to recreate the piece using the thick back-cover of a notebook! Time to buy a new puzzle!
If you walked by the 3rd grade classroom today between 9:30 and 10:30, you may have been taken aback. Perhaps you heard knock knock jokes. Perhaps you saw students making objects out of clay or negotiating prices. Maybe you saw money being exchanged for jewelry and other goods. Whatever you saw, whatever you heard, it looked like fun. It was market day!
Market day is where our growing knowledge of economics comes to life! The students have prepared for this day by creating our class currency, earning their weekly salaries, creating business proposals to sell goods or services, and advertising for their businesses using posters, invitations, and word-of-mouth. Market day takes place on the first Friday of every month. More details about the creation of our mini-economy can be found here.
Let's take a look at the fun!
Here are some pictures of the students shopping at the various booths:
The student-run small businesses were by far the most exciting aspect of the market. Hover over each picture to read about their businesses!
After the commotion died down, the buyers and sellers got a chance to reflect on their first market experience. On their market reflection sheet, they wrote about ways to attract more customers to their businesses, and gave me feedback about what items they would like to see more of at the booths. We also took time to balance our accounts to make sure everyone kept track of how much they spent and earned. So far, everyone has put some money aside to save for the end of the year SUPER-market! Keep your eye out for items you may be able to donate to that or any other monthly market.
Little people, big minds.