I must start off today saying that I have never experienced such a fantastic start to the school year than I have this year. The energy within our department is almost palpable, and I know that the students are catching on as well. Here’s an email I got from one of my co-workers this morning:
The group that impressed me the most today was my first hour, math recovery. These are kids who have previously failed a math class and are recovering credit. You can imagine the lack of math love in the room. Here was their prompt:
SPOILER ALERT: I’m going to reveal the answer so if you’d like to try it for yourself, stop reading.
I had them come up with ways they could make 37 using different amounts of numbers. It seemed that we could get 36 using 10 numbers or 38 using 10 numbers but couldn’t quite get 37. Then we tried getting 37 using 9 numbers or 7 numbers. We had some good discussion about which strategy seemed the most useful.
One student in particular mentioned that he wanted to add some and subtract some but he felt he would always be short without a 2. I had them share their results on the board and I was very satisfied with the effort I’d seen.
I was nervous about the answer reveal because as it turns out, it’s impossible to make 37 with 10 numbers. What we were able to do is focus our attention on what we DID discover, rather than the fact that there was no answer. We discovered that Odd + Odd = Even, Even + Even = Even, and Even + Odd = Odd. Because there is an even number of odd numbers, an odd sum is not possible. I was more pleased with this result than any single answer they could have given me. I expected a backlash from a group of students used to answer-getting but found that they were able to embrace a learning activity that didn’t one final answer. I’ll mark that class period in the win category.