Math Mondays: Projects in math workshop

This week in discussing math workshop, I will talk about our project time.  You can read previous math workshop in action here and an introduction to math workshop here.

Project time is what my students liken to math in action. 

1. Warm-ups: Sometimes, we simply warm up with a puzzler or logic problem, but other times we are working on whole class projects. 

2. Whole Class Projects: We've done business simulations, studied probability and genetics, and conducted statistical analysis on real world data. Currently, we are working on geometry concepts such as volume and surface area with baking (more on that in the coming months).  

3. Mini-Projects (1-2 days): Sometimes we do one or two day projects such as playing with Tessellations, slope or visualizing irrational numbers

4. Student Designed: And the final project type is student designed. About once a quarter I challenge students to conduct their own math exploration. I've had students practice concepts such as using Cartesian coordinates to map the battles of the civil war or research and present different types of scale as part of their measurement study. One of my favorites was when after showing my students this picture with a math error, the student went in search of other math errors in the real world. It was a big hit. We hold a family math night for students to display their projects and then we have math games and refreshments.

So project time can really be anything.  The projects should be:
  • Open ended enough for students with different skills and knowledge base
  • Apply math in different ways
  • And include cooperative learning opportunities. This last one is especially important because much of the rest of math workshop is individual learning.  
For those of you interested in incorporating projects in your math class, I have included some great math projects from other teacher-authors below.  Next week, I'll talk about the logistics of math workshop, particularly for differentiating during individual skill development.