Math Mysteries!

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SWBAT explain, analyze, make conjectures, monitor, evaluate, and check their answers when solving a variety of problems.

Big Idea

With the focal point being on the mathematical practices, student’s will become math detectives searching for evidence to solve mathematical mysteries.

Opening Video

1 minutes

Learning Target

1 minutes

Learning Target: This lesson is intended for students to immerse themselves in Mathematical Practice 1.  Allowing students to put on their Detective Hats, and explore this practice in a fun and engaging way that will build their interest in struggling with problems.

For student’s to truly immerse themselves in this practice, provide students with word problems and tasks that will provide the opportunity to struggle, determine starting points, preserve through, and solve problems.

Let’s not turn our students off on the second day of class.   Try to choose problems that they will truly feel successful in solving.  We do not want to make these too easy though.  We want the problems to be rigorous, yet engaging enough to where they feel compelled to solve.  Please see the resource available in the student activity section for example problems that may be used, and to help you create your own resource conducive to your student body.  

Creative twist examples to build excitment

1 minutes

A Creative Twist to build student interest in the lesson: It would be fun to hand out magnifying glasses that could possibly be borrowed from one of the science teachers in the building, along with detective hats or other detective accessories.  You may also find cool mystery music to play while giving the instructions, while the students solve their mysteries, or at the conclusion of the lesson.  Anything to build the excitement of this very important mathematical practice.  MP 1 is one of the most empowering practices for students to grow from dependent learners to independent thinkers, doers, and solvers. 

Bell Ringer

15 minutes

Bell ringer – Before getting started with the bell ringer, have students sit in their designated seats and build up the excitement of students becoming math detectives for the day.  This will be a phrase you will hear throughout the lessons in this course. Please refer to the resource video for an example clip on how I build the excitement with my students.  Give the instructions for the upcoming student activity.  Please allow 15 minutes for students to complete the student activity from day one.  It is important that the resource in their interactive notebooks, are completed.  This will be a very important resource for students to refer to throughout the course of the year.  Students who have completed their interactive notebooks can get started right away, and for those students who do not need the full 15 minutes they can get started on the new activity as they finish. 

Student Activity

30 minutes

Student Activity- Students will be given their Math Mystery Tasks to solve.  Included in this lesson is a variety of problems and tasks students may solve that will be inclusive throughout the course of the year.  

Procedures of activity: I would chunk each section from the resource into timed sections.  The Individual Think Time will give students the opportunity to practice MP 1. If you are allowing 5 minutes for individual think time for each section, I would give pair up time 10 minutes.  The extended time during pair up time will allow students to engage in rich conversations, which will lend itself to MP 3. The tasks and problems from the activity will lend itself to all mathematical practices being used sometime during the learning experience.   There are 2 sections to this activity.  The total time that will be needed for individual think time, and partner pair up will be 30 minutes.  The goal of the activity is for students to identify and practice the mathematical practices, if you give more than 2 sections that may take away from the true experience of the learning target. 


Teacher Role in Student Activity

1 minutes

Teacher Role: Remember, you are the Lead Detective, it is your job to create an environment where struggle is expected and mistakes are ok.  Encourage a variety of tools and strategies for your detectives to use, discuss with them appropriate behavior for respectful dialogue, give them individual think time before discussing with a partner (set a timer if this helps), frame math challenges in a clear way,  and check student progress.  If students are stuck, scaffold the problem to a similar problem and ask students how are they similar, point out throughout the lesson which mathematical practice is being practiced, and allow students to share out their thinking with a partner or group to solve problems. A great way to formatively assess your students is to ask them, “Which mathematical practice do you think you are engaging in right now?”  “Why do you think you are engaging in that particular practice?” “Are there more than one practice that is being used at this time?”  These responsea will vary throughout this lesson because students will be in different places in the activity, and this is great.  You will allow students the opportunity to seek out other students who may be working at the same pace.  This is differentiation at its best! 

Students should be aware of when it is individual think time, and partner pair up time. When I do individual think time, I turn off my lights and turn on the lamps I have in my room to create a mood of silence.  I have found that classical music playing in the background is a tremendous help for focus.  During pair up time, my timer on the Smartboard will go off, and I turn on the lights and instruct students on the amount of time they have for partner pair up.  I will reset the timer, once the timer goes off, they are instructed to go back to their individual think time seats, lights go off, and it’s on to the next section.  You will need to practice this the first couple times but once students own this as being a part of the culture of the classroom, it will work like clockwork.  It will be necessary for you to keep conversations on task, be sure students are pairing up with students who are on their same pace, and not their friends, and monitor student thinking so they are engaged in solving the mysteries.  This may be daunting at first but the rewards of this practice will allow students to truly immerse themselves in the mathematical practices throughout the course of the year.  I always tell myself, “Do the hard work needed for a well-oiled machine on the front end and reap the benefits on the back end.” Trust me it is worth it!


Closing of Lesson

5 minutes

Closing- When closing this lesson, have students return back to their individual think time seats.  Have students share out which mathematical practices they used throughout the activity, when in the activity they feel those practices were being used, what evidence do they have to support their thinking, and ask them to compare this experience with their previous year.  Students may find that they have already been actively engaging in the mathematical practices and now they will be able to identify which practice is being used and when that practice is being used.