Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Whiteboard Task

I don't claim to be a great creator of these mathematical tasks...in fact most of the tasks I use I adapt from the Internet. Every once in awhile I will come up with a situation that the students will enjoy or be excited about that I can parlay into a task, and in this case the situation came from difficult experience from the previous year for my students. I left for a year to teach at the collegiate level, which I enjoyed, but I decided to come back this year to the middle school. I was in my old classroom last year a lot, and I wanted to come in so much as a college professor to still have the credibility of having a connection with middle school students. I think my college students appreciated this and knew what I was telling them was relevant and not coming from someone who hadn't worked with a middle school student in 20 years. Anyway, my classroom was much different last year in philosophy by the person who replaced me. I am not sure if it was necessarily bad, just very different. I had noticed that many of my students got bored or something during class and would write middle school type phrases on the back of my whiteboards (if you watch intro video one, you will see my favorite...it's hard for me to even be mad because it was clever). These whiteboards were clean on the wooden backs the year before, and now the whiteboard backs were covered with writing. I wanted to get rid of this writing, because I wanted the students to see that this wasn't how we operated, so I decided to cover the backs with contact paper that doubled as a whiteboard. This wasn't cheap to do, so I decided to incorporate this covering of whiteboards into a task.

When the students were watching the videos for this task, I could see a lot of smiles on faces because these were the same students who had written on the backs of these boards the year before. This was a great chance for them to reflect on how much had changed in just a year's time.

Here is the task:

Info One: 20 Whiteboards needed to be covered…
Info Two (the price has changed since we did this task): Contact Paper Specs

Question One: How many rolls did I need to cover the boards?
Question Two: How much contact paper was left over?
Question Three: Draw a real-sized rectangle that the remaining pieces could cover.
Question Four: How much did I spend on contact paper?
Question Five: If the store let me take back the extra contact paper, how much money would I get back assuming that the cost/amount received is proportional?

There were a different ways students approached this task. Some of the students found the total area of the boards and fit them into the rolls. This made everything a lot cleaner and easier, but not as interesting. A few students created an actual picture showing where the white boards fit onto the paper, and then showed how the scraps were utilized. Other students figured out how many boards could fit in one roll in a numerical value, and saved the leftover in number form until there was enough square inches to trade in for another board. Students are always amazed when discussing with other students and groups how different some of these methods are while having many similarities.

While I may not be the best task creator, this task checked many of the objectives I look for (not related to content). These objectives include multiple entry points, something interesting for the student to discuss both mathematically and situationally, and a situation the students would enjoy. Not bad for one of my first attempts creating from scratch! I have included a variety of student work below to give you an idea of what I expect. 


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