The Secret to Math Success is CREATIVITY

This week I threw Dan Meyer’s Graphing Stories opportunity at my 6th graders.  It is not for a grade, I am not giving (much) class time to work on it.  However, I have rarely seen them work so hard.  And, I have never seen students care so much about something related to math that isn’t even graded!  What’s the secret – CREATIVITY!

I showed them some of Dan’s original Graphing Story videos for illustration.  I showed them my 7th graders videos for inspiration.  And then I let them go.  They worked over the weekend, at night, and during down time at school to come up with ideas and produce their videos.  They are asking other students to be in their videos, they are helping each other film, and they are measuring heights like crazy.

They are asking me fabulous math questions:

  • “How can I get the height of myself when I am on the amphitheater stairs?”
  • “Can I use the elevation of just one foot?”
  • ” Can I slow down a part of my video to stretch it out so it will be 15 seconds but I will be moving in slow-motion?”

They are doing extra math:

  • “I am 76 inches but need to use feet.  Wait, I remember how to do that!”
  • “If each step is 14 inches high and there are 6 steps, that is 84 inches.  But, that can’t be high enough.  Oh yeah, I need to add MY height to the 84 inches.”
But mostly, they are working like crazy – and begging to do it!  That is saying a lot for 12 year olds in the last ten days of school!
Now for the hard part – I need to develop “creative math” that teaches my entire math curriculum.  After seeing them light-up and work so hard on the creative pieces I have assigned throughout the year, I am no longer happy with “regular” instruction, no matter how fun or “investigative” I have made it.  I want them to learn through creating.  I want them to have to search for answers to finish their creations.  I love to see them thinking so hard.  I love to see such active and excited learning.
If you have any great creative curriculum pieces I would love to see them.  I want more!

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