I’m Fried. Here’s Some Circles.

It’s the middle of May and I feel fried to a crisp. Like bacon, or fakon, or sopapillas, or beignets, or churros. I have done some research and have found that I am not the only teacher who feels this way. My students, most of whom hated school to begin with, are right there with me, and sometimes against me. I could go on and on about this but that’s what happy hour is for. Instead, I need to write about something that reminds me why I am teaching. I could talk about in-roads I am making with kids in really tough, sometimes dark situations, but let’s keep it light-hearted today and talk about something less important but fun. Here’s a math lesson:

I want to do a design project about circles with my geometry class to finish up the year. Here is an article about that which we will be reading together. My plan is to do some math, give them a couple design challenges, and then let them choose their own final project where they design whatever they want, a painting, a website, a new piece of furniture, whatever. I started off with arc-lengths using this three-act of Elmo in a microwave by Andrew Stadel. The next day I put this image up on the overhead for their warm-up:


I got it from this Illustrative Mathematics task but I didn’t want to give them the actual task, I wanted to see what they would come up with. Here are their questions: IMG_0743.JPG

It was a great discussion because I could only see the actual task, which was to find the area of the green space. The students did come up with that question but much more. Their first questions were “What’s the point?” and “How is this math?” which lead to an awesome discussion of just what math really is. It was existential, fun, and crazy. Not what they expected. Then they started asking about whether the circles were spinning, or if it was a top-down view of cones or cylinders. Not what I expected. I also liked their perimeter question. I told them that I would put together a portfolio problem for them next week based on their questions. Here’s the problem.

I may be fried, but I’m still determined to end this school year by blowing a few more minds on my way out.

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