Knowing I had to lead 8th graders in a discussion about rational & irrational numbers drew me back to junior high school math. Ugh. It made me shiver just to think about it. So boring. Remembering that I kept thinking and thinking about what I could do inject something into this activity.
Then I remember Kagan's Mix-Up strategy....not sure that would work for my 8th graders. (At least I think it's what it is called...took those workshops so long ago. I remember the structures but maybe not their official Kagan name.)
But a dance party would!!!!
So I re-mixed the old musical chairs kindergarten game into Property of Numbers Dance Party. Who knows what it should be called?
Thank goodness for Pandora because I gave DJing responsibility to one of my most trusted 8th graders who knows Pandora much better than I do. She selected the Michael Jackson channel. We were off.
For all the negative Nellies who didn't want to play or thought they were above it all....I simply said, "This is as good as it gets. It's a math class. Let down your guard and have fun with it." I had to tell myself that because, of course, I looked ridulous dancing. That's probably part of the fun of the class is laughing at me and my dancing style. Honestly...don't care a lick because I had a blast and I never really thought I was a good dancer!!!
They initially sat as pairs. Then we'd call right or left partner and the music would start...and around they'd go...some dancing like crazy people, some sheepishly waving an arm or hand in the arm, some just praying the music would end their misery of having to look they are participating when they wouldn't dance if I paid them a $1,000,000 bucks. The music would stop and they'd scramble for the nearest chair.
Partner A would explain their position to Partner B...and then Partner B would ask questions and then share their position on these 8 statements
- The sum of a rational number and an irrational number is irrational.
- The circumference of a circle is irrational
- The diagonal of a square is irrational.
- The sum of two rational numbers is rational.
- The product of a rational number and an irrational number is irrational.
- The sum of two irrational numbers is irrational.
- The product of two rational numbers is irrational.
- The product of two irrational number is irrational.
Now wouldn't the possibility of discussing these statements make you want to jump up and dance??? These are the statements that are part of a fantastic math resource called the Mathematics Assessment Project.
While it all may seem pretty silly, I used the Dance PARTY as a way to interject playfulness into math class. These are conversations where students must risk taking a stand on something that can be pretty daunting....and you want to convey to them that it's the process of the discussion not if they got it right or wrong. It's also why they wrote their mini-posters in pencil and were free to change them as a partner helped them see a mistake or counter-example that changed their idea.
It was a brilliant success. Students had at least 7 or 8 different partners with whom to discuss their ideas....they refine/edited/fixed their positions...and they smiled and laughed. This is the meat of the lesson and I got them to talk more and do a better job discussing than if I'd done this in a serious, be on-task kind of activity. They danced & were loud AND then they settled to do their 3 or 4 minutes of serious math discussion. Repeated over and over until everyone was tired and ready to sum things up. To wrap up the class period, we had an "All Dance" and then finished with a class discussion where we decided what we collectively believed to be true about these statements one by one.
Lots of learning. Lots of smiling. A good way to inject some "spicey stuff" into Properties of Numbers.
Picture licensed under CC Attribution http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeremywilburn/5428009431/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/commonbond/500397279/