Remember at the end of this post where I told you to stay tuned to read about our makerspace project? If not, please familiarize yourself before continuing. You'll want the whole story, trust me.
After the students had gathered sufficient knowledge about their topic of choice (Women's Suffrage Movement or Civil Rights Movement) it was time for them to share what they learned. Challenging myself to provide new and authentic ways for students to share knowledge (other than an essay), I decided they would use the design thinking process to create an artifact from that period in time that could teach passersby something about that movement. In order to do this, we first had to learn what an artifact is! Each student was told to bring something from home that is a "little piece of their history." We then did a gallery walk, where students looked at different artifacts and tried to make inferences about that person. For example, looking at a used pair of roller blades, students guessed that perhaps their owner is athletic, adventurous, fun-loving, and a kid (based on size)!
Next, we thought about what artifact could a person find that could teach them something about the two movements. Students drafted an initial design and then shared with the group. The Women's Suffrage kids shared their designs first. When they were done, I asked a question to the rest of the class (who did not study Women's Suffrage). "What questions do you still have about the Women's Suffrage Movement?" I then wrote down their questions. Students asked questions like, "Why couldn't women vote?" and "When did this happen?" We repeated this process with the Civil Rights group. This process allowed the creators to develop a sense of empathy for their audience, which is actually the first step in the design thinking model. Once students understood what the audience's needs were, they were ready to improve their design. For example, one student added the year 1876 to her ballot box to show that women were not allowed to vote in that specific election year. Another student labeled his two schools "black" and "white" to correlate the fact one school looked nicer than the other with race. Meeting with the audience, hearing their questions, and improving their designs allowed the creators to move closer to their mission of creating an object that could educate someone.
The students worked in the makerspace to bring their design to fruition, and you can see them in a display above their cubbies. Behind each artifact is an article that student wrote describing why and how they made it. You can also look at their design sketches. I will post pictures below, but I highly recommend coming in to take a closer look!
The part of me that loves balance wishes that I weren't blogging about math games after just having posted about a math game. However we are in the midst of a long-term humanities project, so a language arts / social studies post will have to wait. Therefore, the part of me that loves excess will now tell you about two math games in one post!
Our current unit is all about exploring our base-10 number system. A huge part of undertanding base-10 is becoming familiar with patterns that have to do with 10. For example, ten ones make ten, ten tens make one hundred, ten hundreds make a thousand, etc! Being able to compose and decompose ten also lends itself to understanding multiples of ten. For example, 3+7=10, therefore 30+70=100 and 300+700=1000!
The game Take 1,000 is meant to help students use their knowledge of what makes 10 to help them make 1,000. It goes like this: Partners have a deck of cards face down in between them. The cards have multiples of 50 on them (100, 700, 50, 350, etc.). One at a time, the students flip over a card, creating a line of numbers. They continue to flip over cards until someone sees a combination that makes 1,000, at which point that person says "1,000!" He/she then must justify how those numbers add up to 1,000. If he/she is able, he/she gets those cards. This game is challenging at all levels. In the beginning, students are looking for two cards (usually multiples of 100) that together equal 1,000. As they become more automatic with what makes 1,000, the students are better able to recognize combinations of 3 and 4 cards that together equal 1,000.
As we delve into the conceptual complexities of the base-10 system, it's important that we not lose the valuable computational skills we've gained along the way. Triple-digit subtraction that involves borrowing is one of those skills that needs lots and lots of practice, which is why I love the game Take Down.
In Take Down, both partners begin with 1,000 points. They take a series of turns, flipping over cards to make 2-digit numbers, and subtracting those numbers from 1,000. The goal is to get as close to 0 as possible without going into negative numbers. For instance, I might flip over a 7 and a 3. Because I want to get to 0 first, I choose to subtract 73 from 1000 (a triple borrowing problem). I now have 927 points. On my next turn I will create the largest number possible to subtract from 927. The students love the competition aspect of this game so much that they don't complain about the fact that I'm basically just asking them to subtract a bunch.
In the end, there are many benefits to exploring number concepts through games. Aside from the academic practice they provide, the children are also gaining interpersonal skills. We speak explicitly about these skills and their purpose before, during, and after group work sessions. I'll leave you with a simple chart the class dictated about the do's and don't's of group work.
Little people, big minds.