Monday, June 22, 2015

Sticky Note Task

Since our school year is over, this is being posted after the fact, but regardless, this was the final task for my 6th grade students. The sticky note task comes courtesy of @mr_stadel. The task involves placing sticky notes on a cabinet and deciding how many pads/packs of sticky notes you would need to cover said cabinet. I thought it was very helpful having a similar filling cabinet in the room just so students could look at the cabinet for a visual during the process, but it wouldn't be necessary. The videos provided are more than enough to get the point. Here is what my students saw on my television as they entered the classroom and the connecting standards:

One interesting thing I have noticed from doing these tasks with video introductions is that my students will rely on the videos in different ways that I had not thought of. For instance, the video included shows the first 48 sticky notes being placed on the front of the cabinet. My feeling is that the introductory videos are normally used to just set the situation. I found a lot of my students taking those 48 sticky notes and trying to estimate how many sets of 48 would fit from top to bottom. Since the side is half as wide as the front, it was that many sets of 24. I guess all of my work with Estimation 180 (created by the same @mr_stadel) has put them in this mindset, which isn't a bad thing. 

For the most part we had two different approaches to discuss. One involved the area of the sticky note while the other dealt with how many columns and rows of sticky notes could fit on each face. It's interesting to see which the students choose because we have actually done a task earlier in the year that prominently featured both approaches. Even though we shared both methods during the Tile Floor Task, when I went back to the previous student work, about 80% of the students used the same method for both tasks. I'm not sure what to think about that or if there really is anything to analyze, but it is interesting. 

Finding how many packs of sticky notes needed should be easy, but this is one of those cases where a student that does a division problem on a calculator really has to think and justify why I would round up to the next pack of sticky notes. Without context, the "rule" would generally say round down, so this gives the students a real look at a decimal answer and the purpose of rounding. 

I added the third question in hopes that students would see that not all sizes of sticky notes would fit perfectly on the cabinet without needing to be cut...some factor/multiple thinking. Many students jumped into this question without considering the fitting in perfectly component. When it was time for the justification, some students had to go back to the drawing board. The number of notes worked out, but upon further review, that dreaded 4 wouldn't go into the side of 18. The 6 by 4 was a popular sticky note with this problem. If you chose the 6 by 4, students discovered that you could turn the note a different direction and make it fit. Those selecting 4 by 4 weren't so lucky. 

Below is the final set of student work for the year. I am finding new tasks all the time to try out next year. I can't wait to get started again! If you are on the fence about implementing mathematical tasks into your classroom, the benefits will outweigh any concerns you have. My students are better problem-solvers, communicators, and have an overall toughness to them where they do not give up. These are all great traits to have in the mathematics classroom as well as society. If you ever need any tips on implementing these tasks, feel free contact me and/or consult some of my previous posts. All my contact info and other pertinent links are below. 

Student Task Work Examples

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