Reflection: Routines and Procedures Using Area as an Architect (Stations Day 1) - Section 3: The Four Stations


As they worked on the paper model, students were working off the checklist.  After the first day, I required that they check off each room as they added it to their floor plan, and also that they stick to the rooms on the plan, though they could vary the quantity.  I know this seems restrictive, but here's the reason.

I left it totally open-ended and I was excited by the different creative avenues they traveled down. That is the kind of engagement that leads to true learning because they care about what they are doing, and what they are doing is related to the mathematical concept in which they are developing proficiency.

This was problematic, from the teacher end only.  They were getting so creative that many of them weren't even close to finishing within the hour I allotted for this activity.  From a management perspective, this was challenging because the next day everyone but this group was ready to rotate, so their materials had to be stacked on the math table for later.  

The second reason that leaving this totally open-ended was a challenge from the teacher end is that they were adding layer upon layer of complexity to their floor plan that both made it much more challenging and time consuming for them when they had to compute the area. Also, given the context in which we are doing this activity, a bare-bones orphanage in war-ravaged DR Congo, this complexity is unrealistic. My sweet students put in elevators, multiple floors, pools, playrooms, and one would have put in a hot tub if I hadn't talked to him in time.

I praised them authentically and specifically for their ability to generate ideas, and their unbridled optimism.  I told them that at a later date I was sure we'd be able to add more features on to the orphanage, but for the purposes of this activity, this first time around, we were going to stick to a simpler plan.  It is evident from the student work samples which groups received this guiding messages and which did not.

It's up to you, of course, but I wanted to warn you that if you leave it very open ended, this activity will be much longer than an hour, and it will take more time on the part of the teacher to make sure they've filled out their list of rooms, calculated the area for each one, and analyzed their overall plan.  In some cases, the students who seemed to relish this activity the most are the ones who least like to transcribe on paper, and aren't even that thrilled about it when the writing is done digitally.

  Managing a Complex Task
  Routines and Procedures: Managing a Complex Task
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Using Area as an Architect (Stations Day 1)

Unit 14: Area and Perimeter
Lesson 3 of 8

Objective: SWBAT develop their understanding of area through developing floor plans for an orphanage in the DR Congo and a tiny restaurant for a refugee family in Kampala, Uganda. They support both of these goals with student centered fundraising. Note: Activity works with other floor plans as well - orphanage does not have to be the them!

Big Idea: In this multi-day activity, students make 3 different models of an orphanage floor plan using Google Drawing, Virtual Graphpaper, and a construction of rectilinear shapes, to calculate the area of each room using units square.

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