Math = Love: Day Three: Rainbows, Rules, Cubes, and Llamas

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Day Three: Rainbows, Rules, Cubes, and Llamas

I'm not entirely sure what to blog about.  After a long, trying day of teaching and a forty-minute walk around the neighborhood, I don't exactly have the energy to recap everything we did today at school.

All of my classes are in different places at the moment which both makes things very exciting and super complicated.  When each class comes in, I have to have them remind me exactly what we did the previous day.  One good thing that results from this is it means I've been able to use almost all of the group work activities I prepped this summer.  My students just each got introduced to a different subset of those activities.

So, I guess here's a quick overview of what went down today.

* Some classes completed Rainbow Logic.  I'm realizing just how much practice with logic they need.  I challenged them to figure out the grid in as few questions as possible.  SO many of the groups took this to mean "Ask two questions and guess where things go after that."  Then, they would brag about solving the puzzle in only two questions.  Yeah, if you ask two questions and then every group member "guesses" a different solution, one of you will probably guess it correctly.  Of course, they insisted that they weren't guessing.  We need to work a lot on making informed decisions this year.  Whenever group work hasn't gone as planned this year, I keep reminding myself that the activities aren't magic.  But, they are revealing so many areas in which we need to work this year.  And I guess that's exactly what I'm going for during these first few days of school.

*  My trig students completed the Lonesome Llama project from IMP.  This took waaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyy longer than I thought it would.  One group figured it out in 32 minutes with one wrong solution along the way.  My other group also worked for about 30 minutes, but they were only able to present me with 3 different solutions.  The one problem that plagued this group was that they didn't notice some of the cards had octagons while others had hexagons.  After doing it with juniors/seniors, I'm too scared to do it with my freshmen.  This activity did keep this group super engaged.  And, I got to eavesdrop on a lot of student communicating and plan making/revising.    

I told myself this was going to be a short post, but it's turning pretty long.  I guess I like to talk about teaching!  ;)

* Another of my classes played Guess My Rule.  Again, I realized just how much practice my students need with logical thinking.  Instead of trying out different cards and making sure their rule was absolutely correct, they were just blurting out a million rules and hoping one of them would stick.  I wish I could police this better, but there is only one of me and so many groups of them.

* Guess My Rule only took about half the class period, so we worked on Build It for the last half.

I learned about Build It from Stanford's website.  The activity is from the book Get It Together: Math Problems for Groups Grades 4-12 (affiliate link).  

Here's the task card I gave my students:

Each student was given one or two cards.  Without showing their cards to their teammates, they had to use their linking cubes to build the prescribed object.  

My students struggled with this activity at first, but as the activity continued they definitely got into it.  They were so excited when they figured out each puzzle.  I'd definitely like to do more activities like this!  

* I had the "five minutes left and not enough time to do the next activity" scenario happen a few times today.  With one class, I challenged them to "Count to Ten" as a class.  No talking allowed other than saying numbers.  If two people (or more!) say the same number at the same time, the class has to start over again at 1.  My first period was really struggling with this until a student yelled out that they should raise their hands before they said a number.  This helped them complete the activity, but they weren't supposed to talk.  So, it kind of defeated the purpose of the activity.  

* The other time filler activity I utilized today was Julie Morgan's Thirteen game.  The kids really enjoyed this activity, and they begged to play again.  It's a definite keeper!  There are also a bunch of other great ideas in the same post!     

And, this is only what went on in my math classes.  Physical science is another story.  But, we didn't finish, so I can get away with blogging about it tomorrow!  


  1. Sarah you make me feel better that I am behind my colleagues bc I spend time creating culture. Thanks for sharing all you do!

  2. I just want to comment that I love hearing how your first days are going day by day! :) I'll be so sad when August ends if you stop blogging every day (although I'm sure it's exhausting:D)!

  3. I am wondering if you do any debrief after doing these activities, to discuss collaboration, problem solving, communication, etc. Would love to hear your ideas on that.

  4. Love your blog, just curious where I can find the Lonesome Llama activity, looks like a good one

  5. When I have 5 minutes remaining (or less) at the end of class, I like to play a 60 second adventures in thought. This is a cartoon generalization of 6 different thought experiments. It's approachable and my students love to discuss what they mean when it's done playing. I had a class once come back at lunch to continue their discussion on the grandfather paradox.

    1. Take a look at them first, the Einstein has smoking and underwear. I showed these to my principal and she thought they were excellent and approved them.

  6. Thanks for sharing all your ideas. Do you know where I can get a set of the Lonesome Llama cards?

  7. Build It looks like a great lesson! Can I get the activity pdfs?

  8. I really like the Build It too!!! Could you please post the activity pdfs?