Again, back to this area chapter. Once the basics of finding area is taught, it’s a great chapter to get them to start thinking of different ways to solve a problem. But how do we get our little trained monkeys to do so?! Especially when they are so used to teachers teaching them exactly how to do a problem and then having them mimic our process? I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand hearing “but you didn’t teach us how to do this!” when there’s really nothing new to have taught!
Here’s one solution: Raffle tickets!
I used this for group work on one very difficult problem that required multiple steps. For example, for this chapter, ONE problem that looked similar to the following examples. (This came after finding the area of a regular polygon given the apothem and a side length.)
- Find the area of a regular octagon with side length 6 cm.
- Find the area of a regular octagon with radius 20 in
Every group had these hints written under their one problem:
- Did you try drawing a picture?
- What do you need in order to answer the main question?
- Can you draw any other parts that might be useful?
- Did you try it multiple ways? (Try to re-draw, rotate the picture, split the picture, etc.)
- Did you try using our extremely useful RIGHT triangles?
- Did you double check your work? (Make sure you did not make any assumptions, that your answer makes sense, used units, maybe even try it a different method, etc.)
- REMEMBER: You already have all the information you need in order to solve this problem!
- Every team receives 5 raffle tickets to start.
- Up to 3 bonus raffle tickets will be awarded for the correct answer with proper and clear work.
- One bonus ticket can be earned for working well together.
- Each question that the teacher answers or hint that the teacher gives will cost 1 raffle ticket.
- Answer check is free only when the problem is finished. If correct, receive award. If incorrect, it will be made clear that there is a mistake. Each group can either try to find their own mistake without losing any tickets, OR teacher can point out where the mistake is at a cost of one raffle ticket.
20 minutes were put up on the timer to solve just one of these problems on their own as a group of 3 or 4. In my classroom, each group also had their own large white board to work on.
And wow! did they work their butts off! It gave every student an incentive to fight through the problem. I had a couple of groups refuse any hints and tried to find the mistake themselves. I had a few groups not get the extra 3 tickets because they did not finish on time, but they still kept the first 5 so they still had a chance at the prizes at the end. It was awesome. At the end, they all wrote their group number on the back of their raffle tickets and we pulled one ticket from a shoe box and the whole group won a prize. Can’t wait to try this again soon.