In Adv. Precalculus in our previous class, I had kids work on Dan Meyer’s Toothpick 3-act. I do this every year before our unit on sequences and series. They totally got into it. I didn’t need to be there. They solved that problem brute force.
So I gave them the extension: You have 40,197 toothpicks.
I told kids to spend 25 minutes working on the problem. They could stop then, or continue if they had time and were obsessed. They had to figure out how many rows the final figure had.
I collected the work kids did. A few actually got the right answer! It was awesome! One kid told me he really enjoyed working on it. A couple other kids half raised their hands when I asked if anyone got obsessed with it. I’ll take it!
I took that same class to see the math-art show that I helped curate at my school. I wanted the gallery to be a space where kids enjoyed math. The last two classes I took were fun – but today, these kids totally got into it. They were psyched to go, they looked through everything, they were serious about the discussion prompts I showed, and we had some very insightful observations. Seeing the kids interact with the art in this way made me gloriously happy.
Similarly, the Lower School math specialist showed me a cool pattern that the kindergartners were making with tiles we ordered for the show.
At lunch today it was “thanksgiving” – which mean mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, tofurky… MY FAVORITE THINGS!
It’s funny… I had a lot more other good moments today. But the day still felt long and exhausting. So I’m glad I took a few moments to recount some of these moments.