Saturday, August 26, 2017

Ratios, Proportions, Chocolate Milk, and Hummingbird Feeders

Photo Courtesy of Krissy Venosdale
I am kind of an unconventional math teacher... I want my students to find other ways to solve problems that do not involve blindly following rules that I give them, oh I don't give them rules.  I spend an abundance of time asking them to problem solve and use critical thinking to solve problems.  They also have to show proof of understanding and share their processes, thinking, etc...

Over four years ago when I was in the classroom as a middle school math teacher one of my favorite activities was Dan Meyer's Nana's Chocolate Milk - 3 - Act Math  activity (love these problems and there is a plethora of them).  I love this activity because it it gives students an opportunity to solve ratio problems using proportional reasoning and problem solving without following a rule.  They can find "their" way to solve the problem using what they know.  It provides opportunities for math talks that create a community of mathematicians and "lead learners" rather than blind rule followers (obviously I have issues with step by step).  And on some days students have to embrace their "Ishness" - Here is a past post on that - CLICK HERE

Now back to Nana's Chocolate Milk and what it has to do with Hummingbird Feeders...

Ironically, I had a recipe mess up moment when I was making the potion we put into our hummingbird feeders.  I mistakenly used the 1/3 cup instead of the 1/4 cup.  So, of course I turned it into a proportional reasoning problem for my 7th and 8th grade students as a warm up problem for the day after we did the Nana's Chocolate Milk problem.  It was a bit more challenging, but the students
worked in groups and made meaning of the problem in ways that made sense to them instead of blindly following a rule I gave them.

I'm looking forward to later in the year when the students will start creating their own 3-Act math activities to share with their classmates and the world!

Here is the link to the slide deck I used to introduce the problem to my students: CLICK HERE.  Please Steal, Copy, etc... and use it with your students and/or create your own.