Going on a Math Hunt

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SWBAT ask questions of adults they know about how they use math, then students will design a method to share what they have found.

Big Idea

Most people use math in their jobs but for children this use is usually unknown. This lesson will help children see some of the ways math is used by adults in their daily life.

Getting Started

10 minutes

I start today by asking students what they remember about how people use math from yesterday. I show them the pictures from the day before to remind them about what they had talked about.

I tell students that today they will go on a Math Treasure Hunt around the building. They will go in small groups and  ask the adults in the building how they use math. They will then draw pictures, or write words for every example of math they see.  I planned ahead by talking to different people in the building about the visits, so each group could to a different part of the building to talk to a different person (principal, secretary, nurse, custodian, librarian, etc.). 

I divide the students into groups of 4 or 5. I provide each group with paper, clipboard and pencil for recording. I remind students of how they should behave. I used Parent volunteers to walk with each group to their destination and then bring students back to the classroom.  I suggested each group visit for 5 - 10 minutes and then  return to class.


Putting it All Together

25 minutes

As children return to the room I begin a chart on the board listing the things they found, followed by tally marks for how many of each thing was found. Students did not go with a particular check list, but with ideas of things to look for such as clocks, money, calculators, etc. 

After each item is recorded I ask students how we might share this information with the rest of the school. We talk about sharing using pictures and numbers. I want each group (the same groups that went together to visit someone in the building) to generate some form of visual representation in graph form of what they found.  I asked leading questions such as: "Could I show what you saw in pictures ? What might that look like?" "Could I use blocks to represent what we found on our chart about how many people use calculators, or clocks, or money? How might I do that? What would it look like? " I am asking students here to try to make sense of the problem that I have posed (how might we share what we found about how people in our building use math?) and then find a way to solve it (MP1).

I explain to students that we do not want just a collection of random pictures, but a way to show how often something is used either by the 1 person they interviewed, or by the adults as a whole (our school data). I suggest a graph and ask students if they remember graphs from first grade? I ask if we can put our pictures, numbers or blocks in a graph form to show what we have found out. I provide an example by making a graph of how many times a day the lunch ladies use a cash register in each lunch. I mark 4 lunches across the bottom of my graph, and then count by 10s up the side. I show the number of times the ladies reported using the cash register at each lunch by creating a bar graph. I want students to be able to model with mathematics the information that they found. (MP4)

I lay out blocks, plain paper and graph paper and ask each group that had interviewed together to think of a way to show what they had found as a group, or to choose to display what we found out as a group from the data on the board.. I encourage them to talk first and then to go and get the materials they might need to represent our findings. 

Students work in small groups to create the visual representation. The representation is a graph form.  The Common Core (2.MD.D.10) says that students should be able to draw a picture graph to represent a data set with up to 4 categories. In this activity we ended up with 9 categories so students will go above the minimum level of proficiency for this standard.

What Math Treasures Did We Discover?

10 minutes

At the end of the activity I gathered the students together and asked them to sit with their teams and to bring their displays. I gave each group a chance to present their representation of the data. Other groups were able to ask questions or give comments about the representation. Here again students were critiquing the arguments of others (MP3). 

Because several of the groups chose to use blocks for their representation, I decided to display the student creations on a bookshelf so they can be the base for math word problems and comparisons with tonight's homework.  

I ended the lesson by assigning homework: Students are to go home and ask a family member how they use math and bring back what they find tomorrow.