Let's Help the 6th Graders!

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The students will be able use sample data from a 6th grade "boat building" project to draw statistical conclusions.

Big Idea

Multi-dimensional collaboration and real application of concepts… all with the goal of helping the 6th graders analyze and understand their polystyrene cargo ship data!

Roll Out Entry Document / Reveal Groups

20 minutes

Roll out the authentic entry document! 

Background:  While sitting in a summer professional development opportunity, I casually entered into a conversation with teacher whom I had not previously met.  Naturally, we got to know each other through-out the day and eventually winded up talking about what our favorite activities of the year were with our students.  This particular teacher was an industrial technology teacher at our local middle school.  After talking about how his favorite activity involved the students designing, building, and testing cargo ships made out of polystyrene, he explained how he had his students gather data to test their different designs compared to how much cargo they could haul.  When I asked him what he had the students do with the data, he chuckled and mentioned that they could probably do a lot more.  Immediately I thought how great this could be for my statistics kids!  What an opportunity to dig into real data, allow for uniqueness of approach, illustrate the relevance of the mathematics, AND make connections with middle school students!  The teacher even mentioned that many of my high school students should remember doing the boat activity in middle school because it is a class favorite.  What a great way to make connections!

Group Creation: (4-5 minutes) For this activity I actually draw names out of a hat for my groups.  Prior to this, I remind students that they are expected to act professional during the process.  Not only do I not want to hear “Aw man!” because they are not happy with their partner, but I also do not want to hear “Yes!” if they are excited about who they are working with.  I tell the students that it should be essentially silent for the 2-3 minutes that it takes to draw the groups.  Group size = 2 students.  (Feel free to group your kids in different ways, but I do not recommend going larger than 2-3 students.)

Roll Out: (5-6 minutes) To roll the out the Entry Document, I have the students read it once silently – then I read it – then I have them read it with their partner prior to establishing the need to knows (N2Ks).  If you don’t do this, many students will miss vital knows/N2K’s because they haven’t thoroughly read the problem!

Knows/N2K’s: (10 minutes) Strategies Folder Video Narrative: Know's/N2K's Protocol

ADDITIONAL NOTE:  This problem is so authentic that I do not even have the data at this time!  The middle school students this school year (2013) will be emailing the real-time data to my high school kids (or myself) for analysis.  We also may hold a class-to-class skype session!  The data and analysis will come in a future lesson reflection.  I truly can’t wait to run this in my class, collaboration with other teacher is a beautiful and exciting thing!

Whole Class Know's/N2K's

10 minutes

Next Steps

15 minutes

During this final portion of the lesson, the students take time to devise and write out their next steps in the problem.  This takes place back in their individual groups.  I tell the students that these next steps need to be clear and specific.  Having the students do this is time well spent because in large problems with a real world context, there is often a lot to take in!  As a teacher, how many times have you looked at your to-do list and said “Wow, where do I even begin!”  The students will be going through a similar sensation, but it is healthy for them AS LONG AS we allow them the opportunity to sort out their ideas!  By allowing this to happen you will achieve a few important things:

  • Creative and innovative angles on the problem will emerge
  • Additional questions and clarifications will be answered as you rotate the classroom
  • A culture of true collaboration will be fostered as the students organize an effective problem solving approach

NOTE:  In the next lesson, the students will dive even deeper into the investigation and begin carrying out their next steps.