Tuesday, 17 January 2017


In our measurement unit, one area we are exploring is VOLUME, in particular VOLUME of a rectangular prism.

Before the break, during our OUTDOOR DAY on Dec 21, students were tasked with creating snow houses (for our Imaginary Snow Town which we created in the forest of the yard).

I provided three different 'bricks': snow bricks (small), recycling bins (medium) and Rubbermaid tubs (larger). Students could use any combination of brick sizes to build their houses.

Snow is an amazing sculpting material. Usually, it is 'free'. You just pick it up off the ground. But in the world or Snow Town, snow costs $1.50 per cubic cm.

So how much did their snow house cost (closest approximation)?

This was an exploratory activity. Not every house builder got to figure out the cost of their house.

But it paved the way to yesterday's math class, where we took the practical experience of snow building and turned it into a more theoretical, role playing exercise.

This was the challenge/task.

Students jumped right in and went full blast on the math for TWO FULL PERIODS!

A task like this is so much richer than typical text book work.

  • Students already have links to a real life experience (from Outdoor Day), and can draw on that experience.
  •  The problem facing them is also real world (in essence, they are role playing a construction business, providing a customer--me--with a quote and a recommendation). 
  • The challenge requires students to apply their understanding of volume but also of money (decimals) and operations (multiplication)
  • This challenge requires a multi-step response. Students need to think through the steps, their process. 
  • Students need to communicate the results of their thinking in a clear and organised way, both in writing (to me) but also to their partner (in conversation). 

One math question = LOTS AND LOTS OF RICH MATH

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